Switzerland Edges Out Sweden to Take First Meydan FEI Nations Cup™ Honors
RELEASE: May 20, 2009
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Malina Gueorguiev
In a fantastic fight to the finish, the Swiss team beat the feisty Swedes for the very first Meydan FEI Nations Cup™ honors at La Baule in France on Friday, May 15.
After two grueling rounds, the countries were tied on a score of eight faults each, so it came down to a thrilling jump-off between Swiss veteran Marcus Fuchs and Sweden's Svante Johansson.
The Netherlands and Germany shared third place following a tremendous recovery by the latter who very nearly slipped out of contention at the end of Round One, and France returned to top-level team jumping with a solid performance that put them into fifth ahead of Belgium in sixth, the USA in seventh and Italy in eighth place.
It was a deeply disappointing start to the season for Great Britain and Ireland however when they were left sitting on the sidelines as only the top eight of the 10 participating teams went into the second round.
Cian O'Connor produced a classic clear from Complete, but his fellow team members racked up 18 faults to leave them last on the leaderboard at the halfway stage, while the British collected 17 despite just one time-fault for Peter Charles.High Praise
Course designer Frederic Cottier's track produced six double-clear rounds. He said from the outset that he knew he had a variable standard of riders to cater for, and he created a test that earned high praise at the end of the day.
"I wish more course designers would build like Frederic," said winning-team rider Steve Guerdat. "It should not be necessary to put huge pressure on our horses. The way he builds his tracks, it is the rider who is under pressure and not the horse; this is better for the sport, and for our horses, as we saw today."
Guerdat and Pius Schwizer produced two of the double-clears, the remainder coming from World Champion Jos Lansink and Spender from Belgium, The Netherlands' Harry Smolders riding Walnut de Muze, America's Ashlee Bon,d who was spectacular on her Nations Cup debut with Cadett and Sweden's Johansson riding Saint Amour.Halfway
At the halfway point the Swedes and Swiss were both on a zero score, Malin Baryard-Johnson providing the Swedish discount score when lowering the second element of the bogey double at fence four, putting a toe in the water at fence seven and hitting the first element of the triple combination at ten riding H&M Actrice, who lived up to her name with a little theatrical tantrum before starting her round.
One of the biggest sensations of the competition was the great round from 19-year-old Alexander Zetterman and his father's steady and reliable 13-year-old gelding Isaac who jumped a classic first round clear while Peder Fredricson secured the Swedish position when foot-perfect with H&M Arctic Borealis.
Werner Muff's eight faults with Luminos could be discarded when Guerdat and Jalisca Solier, Markus Fuchs and La Toya and Pius Schwizer with Carlina all went clear for Switzerland, and the Belgians were lying close behind in third at the end of round one when carrying just the single time fault picked up by Philippe Lejeune and Vigo d'Arsouilles, and despite the elimination of Judy-Ann Melchior, whose stallion, Aktion Pur Z, ground to a permanent halt at the triple combination.
The Dutch were next at this stage carrying four while the home team of France shared fifth spot with the USA on eight faults ahead of Italy with nine and Germany carrying 12—saved from exclusion from the second round by a double-error from Britain's John Whitaker and Peppermill.Showdown
The real action was played out between the two leading nations however, and when they were still level&dmash;now on eight faults—at the end of Round Two, it would go to a final two-way showdown against the clock.
Swedish team manager, Maria Gretzer, chose Johansson to go into battle while the Swiss Chef d'Equipe relied on th