2008 Samsung Super League with FEI Heads to Hickstead; USA Draws Fourth to Defend Title
RELEASE: July 24, 2008
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: Joanie Morris
From an FEI Press Release by Louise Parkes
Lexington, KY - The home team from Great Britain will be first to go in tomorrow's sixth leg of the 2008 Samsung Super League with FEI series at Hickstead when the venue celebrates its 58th anniversary. Team USA returns to defend last year’s win with four riders in the Nations Cup: Hillary Dobbs, Lauren Hough, Michael Morrissey and Nicole Shahinian-Simpson.
The return of Irish hero Eddie Macken, not only to his national team but also to the venue where he recorded some of the most celebrated victories of his career with the great Boomerang, has added extra excitement to the fixture.
The teams will line up tomorrow in the following order:
1, Great Britain; 2, Sweden; 3, Belgium; 4, USA; 5, The Netherlands; 6, Ireland; 7, Switzerland; 8, Germany.
The Germans are at the head of the series leaderboard after back-to-back wins at the previous two legs in Rotterdam and Aachen but have only a 1.5 point advantage over The Netherlands in second place while Great Britain lies third, seven points further behind.
The USA is in fourth ahead of Belgium in fifth, Switzerland in sixth and the Irish in seventh while Sweden continues to languish in last position with just 5.75 points after all their efforts so far this season.
However, this time managed by Ann Catrin Carisson, the Swedes are taking no chances and have made a strong selection that includes Lotta Schultz with Calibra, Royne Zetterman and Isaac, Erika Lickhammer and Magic Dream and Helena Lundback with Madick. It is the Irish who need to stay smart on this occasion if they want to avoid the danger zone should the Swedes, for once this season, enjoy some better luck.
However Hickstead's unique challenge, with its big, open arena, and wide, intimidating fences holds no fear for the boys in green who have a tremendous record here. They captured the Prince of Wales Cup as nations cup winners in both 2000 and 2001, and Macken's return has created a real buzz in the Irish camp. Living in Canada in recent years the man who hails from County Longford and who remains a household name in his home country following his tremendous success during the 1970's has been noticeably absent from the national side for almost 10 years but he never stopped competing and, having forged an exciting new partnership with the 12 year old Belgian-bred mare First Tedechine Sept, he is right back at the sharp end.
“Eddie has earned his place here based on his performance; it is not a nostalgic decision," insisted Irish team manager Robert Splaine today. "He has been consistent in the US and in Canada - particularly in Calgary - and the arena in Calgary is similar to here. He is a strong and steady influence, and we are very happy to have him" he added. Joining Macken tomorrow will be Denis Lynch, Cian O'Connor and Capt David O'Brien.
Swiss Chef d'Equipe, Rolf Grass, named his team as Theo Muff, Jane Richard, Celine Stauffer and Pius Schwizer while Germany's Sonke Sonkssen has just four to call on - Andreas Knippling, Anna-Maria Jakobs, Holger Wulschner and Philipp Weishaupt.
The Netherlands' Rob Ehrens will send out Mathijs Van Asten, Jur Vrieling, Gerald Geessink and Wout Jan Van der Schans while Peter Postelmans, doubling-up as both rider and team manager today when deputising for Belgium's Lucien Somers who will arrive tomorrow, proudly announce that his national side will include Patrik Spits, Peter Devos, Niels Bruynseels "and me!".
Britain's Derek Ricketts said that Geoff Luckett, 22-year-old newcomer Charlotte Platt, Duncan Inglis and Michael Whitaker will fly the home flag. The British record on their home turf is impressive - riders have been competing for the Prince of Wales Cup since 1929 and the home side has claimed the trophy 30 times.
However it is the 2007 winners from the USA who go into the ring as defending champions, and Melanie Taylor-Smith, deputising for