Irish Best in Falsterbo in the Meydan FEI Nations Cup™; U.S. Team Drops in Standings to Second
RELEASE: July 23, 2009
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Malina Gueorguiev
Three second-round clears secured victory for Ireland at the sixth leg of the Meydan FEI Nations Cup™ series in Falsterbo, Sweden, on Friday, July 17, where the winning side's Darragh Kerins and Night Train and French rider Olivier Guillon and Lord de Theize registered the only completely fault-free performances. It very nearly came down to yet another two-way jump-off against the clock to decide the winner, but the home team from Sweden had to settle for runner-up spot when anchorman Rolf-Goran Bengtsson's inexperienced mare Kiara La Silla faulted in the closing stages.
Switzerland slotted into equal-third with France while the British and Dutch shared fifth spot and the USA finished seventh ahead of Germany in eighth. It was another dreadful day for the Italians who floundered after their opening partnership, Giovanni Principi and Jaguar, were eliminated. Their first-round tally of 72 faults seemed to put the final stamp on their relegation papers, and they were joined on the benches by the Belgians, who also failed to make the cut into the eight-team second round.Tested to the Limit
Frank Rothenberger's track asked for plenty of jumping off short distances and the triple combination tested many to the limit, while the final double—a massive triple bar followed by a vertical with water tray—proved the bogey of the day. "The horses had their eye on the gate coming down to this one," explained Irish pathfinder Cameron Hanley afterwards, "and then when they turned to the fence they could see the water through the triple bar so they took their eye off that too. It was a really difficult one to ride," he added.
The Swiss were in the lead at the halfway stage with five faults on the board, but the Irish and Swedes were close behind with nine each while the French were next carrying 12. The British and Dutch were next with 13 and the Germans and Americans were also on level pegging with 16 faults, but at this stage the competition still seemed wide open. It would be the ability to improve on first-round performances that would mold the final line-up, and as it turned out the Irish would be the best at doing just that.Tricky Triple Bar
Phillip Weishaupt (Souvenir) hit just the middle of the triple combination second time out while Marco Kutscher and Cash clipped the tricky triple bar when almost home, but a total of 13 in the second round would prove too expensive for the Germans who totalled 29. A 20-fault scoreline for Charlie Jayne and Urbanus and 24 faults for Michelle Spadone and Melisimo left the Americans vulnerable despite an impressive four-fault result for rookie Cara Raether riding the big-jumping Ublesco, and when Beezie Madden steered the promising but relatively inexperienced Danny Boy to an eight-fault total, the series leaders completed with 28 faults and would lose their grip on pole position on the leaderboard.
The Dutch and British both registered eight-fault second rounds, with Eric Van der Vleuten producing an inspired ride on VDL Groep Tomboy because the Dutch duo got into a real muddle at the final fence and were eliminated first time out but came back to clear it next time in a four-fault round. Leon Thijssen and Olaf were clear for Holland in round two, and Britain's Geoff Billington followed suit with Rosinus but the 21-fault tally for their teams would never challenge the leading pack and it would not be another glorious day for the double-winners from France either. Not even a clear from Patrice Deleveau (Katchina Mail) and a repeat clear from Olivier Guillon (Lord de Theize) could put them into contention as they completed with a score of 17. Foot-Perfect Runs
It would fall to the Irish, Swedish and Swiss to battle it out in the closing stages, and the eventual winners really put it up to the rest of them with foot-perfect runs from Hanley and Kerins. Sweden answered that with copybook