The French Renaissance Continues in the Meydan FEI Nations Cup
RELEASE: July 6, 2009
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Malina Gueorguiev
The French recorded a back-to-back double when winning the Mercedes Benz Prize, the fifth leg of the 2009 Meydan FEI Nations Cup™ in the hallowed Aachen arena in Germany last Thursday night.
Winners in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, two weeks ago they secured this second victory with the only zero score of the competition, while Germany and The Netherlands shared runner-up spot on a four-fault tally, and the USA slotted into fourth on a total of five.
The anxious Irish had the worst of the draw but coped admirably to line up fifth ahead of Belgium in sixth, Switzerland in seventh and Sweden in eighth. It was another tough day for the Swedes, and they now lie below the Irish in the standings going into the next leg of the series on their home soil in Falsterbo in two weeks time.
Italy and Great Britain failed to qualify for the second round, and things are now looking grim for the Italians. With just four points after five legs of the series, they are really struggling, but the British will need to smarten up next time because they now occupy that second-last position on the leaderboard—a dangerous place to be since two of the 10 participating nations will be relegated at the end of the season.A Kind Track
Frank Rothenberger's track appeared kind when five teams—France, the USA, Germany, Switzerland and The Netherlands—shared a zero score after round one. Sweden carried five faults into round two, and the Irish carried only seven despite the dramatic departure of Denis Lynch and Lantinus who fell on landing over the second element of the triple combination. This proved the bogey of the day and would play an even greater role as the second round unfolded. Belgium was lying eighth with eight faults, but the competition was still wide open.
Horses seemed to tire as the second round progressed however, and it really fell apart for the Swedes and the Swiss, the former adding 33 faults this time out and the latter adding 30 to their scoreline. The Americans were compromised when Lauren Hough and Quick Study hit the narrow planks at fence nine and also picked up a time fault before Todd Minikus and Pavarotti added eight more at the triple combination. A single error from Harrie Smolders (Walnut de Muze) and two from Albert Zoer (Oki Doki) damaged Dutch chances, and although Marcus Ehning produced another copybook clear from Plot Blue, the 17 collected by relative rookie Phillip Weishaupt (Souvenir) left them vulnerable and Carsten-Otto Nagel's single mistake at the second-last with Corradina laid to rest their chances of a home-side win.Cool Second Clear
Because by this time the French already had it in the bag. A cool second clear from 30-year-old Timothee Anciaume and Lamm de Fetan clinched it after fault-free performances from Penelope Leprevost (Jubilee D'Ouilly) and Roger-Yves Bost (Ideal de la Loge); Kevin Staut and Kraque Boom Bois Margot would jump only for their grand prix qualification.
To ensure joint-second for Germany however World No. 1 Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum would have to leave the course intact, and she did it effortlessly with Checkmate.
Marcus Ehning congratulated the French team afterwards. "They have improved so much over the last few months, and they were the right winners tonight," he said. He had produced one of the seven double-clears of the competition with Plot Blue and said, "we have a nice team here, with good relationships between us, and we are happy with our second place." Team Spirit
When it comes to team spirit however, the French are right out in front. "It is the most important thing to us—we have a strong team because we work so well together," he pointed out. He has a great mix in his side, Roger-Yves Bost supplying the maturity, Kevin Staut an asset to any side, and there is a strong friendship that goes right back to their childhood between Pe