It's Down to the Wire at Dublin in the Meydan FEI Nations Cup™ Series
RELEASE: August 5, 2009
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Malina Gueorguiev
It could hardly be more exciting as the 2009 Meydan FEI Nations Cup™ series reaches its climax at the Dublin Horse Show in Ireland this week. Just four points separate the Americans from the French at the top of the leaderboard while Germany is only 3.5 points further behind. The Swiss and Dutch are sitting comfortably in joint-fourth spot ahead of the Irish who have pulled themselves out of the danger-zone following their victory at Falsterbo and their third placing two weeks ago at Hickstead.Winner's Prize
It does seem that the French could be the ones to claim the overall winner's prize of €100,000, and Friday could be a very lucrative day for them if they also manage to win the final leg and claim the lions share of the €200,000 prizefund. But there are going to be big losers on Friday, too.
The Italians are already doomed to relegation having picked up only four points over the season, and nothing can save them now. A rule-change at the end of 2008 means that there are no double-points available in this last leg, so even if they managed to turn the formbook completely on its head and win the final competition they cannot move off the bottom of the league table. They won't be the only nation saying farewell to the premiership of Nations Cup jumping however, as two of the 10 countries competing in the 2009 Meydan FEI Nations Cup™ series will go down. And one of the biggest questions of the week is—who will join them? Will it be the British? Little to Chance
To survive, Great Britain must not only win on Friday but will also be depending on Belgium and Sweden to do badly. That could be a tall order however because the Belgians have left little to chance as Lucien Somers sends out Pieter Devos, Philippe Le Jeune, Judy-Ann Melchior and Peter Postelmans. And Maria Gretzer's Swedish side looks pretty effective too with Olympic Silver medallist Rolf-Goran Bengtsson, Svante Johansson, Lotta Schultz and their new young super-star Alexander Zetterman on duty.
British Team Manager Derek Ricketts remains stoic however. "It's been a difficult season with quite a few of our best horses off, but we're not giving up yet," he said. "A lot of people at home are surprised, and shocked, at the position we find ourselves in right now. We have brought the best team we could muster here to Dublin," he added. "It would be great to stay in the Meydan FEI Nations Cup next season but if we don't make it won't be for lack of trying." Geoff Billington, Peter Charles, Ben Maher and Tim Stockdale are the men charged with saving the day. And they have the statistics on their side. In the 136-year history of the Dublin Horse Show, they have won the greatest number of Nations Cup competitions—a total of 23.
The Irish are determined to finish with a flourish, and Robert Splaine has made it clear that if Billy Twomey, Cian O'Connor, Denis Lynch and Cameron Hanley come up trumps this week they will have booked their tickets to the Alltech FEI European Championships in Windsor later in the month, so they have plenty of incentive. Interesting Blend
Switzerland's Rolf Grass has an interesting blend that includes Beat Mandli, Niklaus Rutschi, Niklaus Schurtenberger and Pius Schwizer while Rob Ehrens has Marc Houtzager, Leon Thijssen, Vincent Voorn and Jur Vrieling on call-up.
Carrying 36 points, series victory could still be within Germany's reach, and Sonke Sonksen should be feeling confident following his side's superb winning performance at Hickstead last time out. He has three members of that team—Andreas Knippling, Max Kuhner and Janne-Friederike Meyer—at his command along with Toni Hassman. Meyer was sensational at the British fixture when clinching maximum points in a two-way third-round jump-off, and Germany has a good record at the Irish venue.
George Morris will also be keen to put just the right finishing t