Rotterdam Marks Halfway Stage of 2009 Meydan FEI Nations Cup™ Series
RELEASE: June 17, 2009
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Malina Gueorguiev
The tension is mounting as the Meydan FEI Nations Cup™ series arrives in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, this week. This event marks the halfway stage of the team challenge, which pits 10 great show jumping nations against each other in an eight-leg battle for survival in the premiership of the sport. The USA holds the lead after scoring a superb back-to-back double at Rome and St Gallen over the past few weeks, but the pressure continues, and there is no time to rest on their laurels as they face into the next big test.
The Swiss team lies just one point behind them on the series leaderboard followed by Germany, The Netherlands, France, Great Britain, Belgium and then Sweden. For Italy and Ireland, however, the situation is becoming ever-more critical. Filling the last two places on the league table, they desperately need to come up with a good result this time out if they are to have any chance of avoiding relegation at the end of the season. Rescue
The Irish will be hoping that their top-ranked rider, World No. 15 Jessica Kuerten, will gallop to the rescue when she lines out for the first time in the new series this Friday alongside Denis Lynch, Cameron Hanley and Capt. David O'Brien. Italian Chef d'Equipe Emilio Puricelli, meanwhile is relying on Piergiorgio, Natale Chiaudani, Giuseppe D'Onofrio and Paolo Adamo Zuvadelli to move his country out of the danger zone.
The Swedish team has enjoyed mixed fortunes so far, making a superb start when runners-up in La Baule but then failing to make the cut into the eight-nation second round in St Gallen last time out. Maria Gretzer's side looks strong however with Henrik von Eckermann on call again with Montender and Peder Fredricson and Lotta Schultz joined by La Baule hero Svante Johansson.
Belgium will be represented by reigning World Champion Jos Lansink alongside Philippe Le Jeune, Ludo Philippaerts and Marc van Djick while the British field another truly veteran selection—Robert Smith, who celebrated his 48th birthday last Friday is the youngest of Derek Ricketts'crew, which also includes Michael Whitaker (49), Nick Skelton (51) and Geoff Billington (54).Amends
The French will be hoping to make amends for finding themselves on the sidelines along with the Swedes at the end of the first round in St Gallen two weeks ago, and Laurent Elias sends out Nicolas Delmotte, Olivier Guillon, Penelope Leprovost and Kevin Staut to bolster their fifth-place position on the leaderboard to date. The Dutch of course will be keen to impress in front of their home crowd, and Rob Ehrens is sending out his big guns. Jeroen Dubbeldam recently added the Dutch National Championship title to his Individual Gold medal at the Sydney Olympic Games and Team Gold at the FEI World Equestrian Games in Aachen three years ago, and his teammates will be 2008 Dutch Olympians Angelique Hoorn and Marc Houtzager along with the man who missed out on that occasion, the ever-popular Albert Zoer. A broken leg kept Zoer off that team in Hong Kong last summer, but with his great ride, Oki Doki, he is right back to form, and Dutch spectators will be expecting a lot from their representatives this week. Hard to Beat
However with World No, 1, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, and World No. 2, Marcus Ehning joined by Gilbert Bockmann and Caroline Muller, the Germans will be pretty hard to beat. They are just 5.5 points off the leaders and could narrow that gap considerably if things go to plan for them. Switzerland's Steve Guerdat, Christina Liebherr, Werner Muff and Pius Schwizer will have no intention of yielding any ground to them however. They are a very close second to the Americans who have stamped their authority all over the series so far, and U.S. Chef d'Equipe George Morris still has the awesome Ashlee Bond in his armory this time out. Incredibly, Bond and her extraordinary Holsteiner gelding Cadett have not once