When Eduardo Menezes hit the dirt nine fences into the first round of the Furusiyya Nations Cup Final, things didn’t look too good for Brazil.
But the Brazilian team bounced back to not only qualify for Sunday’s second round, but win the class today, Sept. 27. The Netherlands was second, and Belgium took third.
“Yesterday, I told you in the press conference, I trust them,” said Brazilian Chef d’Equipe Jean Maurice Bonneau. “And I was right because they did the job. Even with an adventure with the second rider—he fell off—at the end of the day, they stayed very close together and did they jobs as the professionals they are.”
Rodrigo Pessoa set the pace for team Brazil, scoring a clear on Citizenguard Cadjanine Z. Second to go, Menezes and Calavda came to grief at Fence 9, a vertical that came down time and time again, but were both on their feet immediately. Relative newcomers to the team, Marlon Modolo Zanotelli and Clouwni picked up a single time fault, and Álvaro Affonso de Miranda Neto clinched the top spot with a crucial clear.
“Even when Eduardo was out, the fact that we really believed that we would do it made me stronger when we went in the ring,” said de Miranda. “When I was last to go, I was talking to Rodrigo. He used to do that, and he’s saved the team so many times. Now I can see just how hard it is to do that job.”
Jur Vrieling (VDL Bubalu) and Maikel van der Vleuten (VDL Groep Verdi) both had clears for the Dutch Team, and Willem Greve (Carambole) had a rail and a time penalty. Though the team was guaranteed a spot in the second round by the time Jeroen Dubbeldam’s turn came around, he still took a spin, as there’s a €200,000 pot to be split between everyone who scores a clear round, but he retired when Utascha SFN ticked a rail.
“We said yesterday we had a good team, but there’s always a battle and a new day,” said Ehrens. “But we’re very happy and hope to do well on Sunday.”
Seventeen-year-old Jos Verlooy, of Belgium, rode Domino to a clear to boost that team to third.
No Stars And Stripes
The top eight teams advance to Sunday’s final, and the United States’ name isn’t on the start list. They finished in a numerical tie for seventh along with the Ukraine and Canada, but the program’s rules state that ties are broken by the top three riders’ time, and the U.S. team of Beezie Madden, Reed Kessler, McLain Ward and Lucy Davis lost that battle by 4 seconds.
Ward led off on Rothchild, logging a single rail at Fence 9. Kessler had a pair of rails on Cylana, which turned out to be the drop score, and Lucy Davis picked up a rail at Fence 5 and a time fault. Anchor rider Beezie Madden finished up with a crucial clear when it counted, but the time turned out to keep us out of the top eight.
John Madden, husband of Beezie and head of the FEI Jumping Committee, had no second thoughts about the rule that relegated the U.S. from the second round.
“We all knew the rules going in,” he said. “The rules were clear: there would be eight teams to advance. The first competition was not on time, but knowing that time would be a tie for eighth place. Eight teams go, ten go. You don’t give away 1.8 million [dollars] easily. It’s a professional sport.
Not that the team is done. The United States will join jump for €300,000 in the Consolation Round tomorrow.
“Obviously we’re disappointed,” said Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland. “We came in expecting to be competing on Sunday. We knew coming in we had five riders, and three riders under the age of 21, and aside from Reed, it was their first really big deal. That being said, it’s part of the sport. We were in a group of seven countries that had 8 or 9 faults and we just were the ones out. We weren’t very far out of the mix. Any one thing could have been corrected, you can’t point at anyone in particular. Any one of those could have changed and we would have been second. We were so close, but so far. It’s really disappointing.
“In some sense for these three this is the beginning of their careers and it’s a learning experience,” he continued. “Nothing bad happened today, it was a cumulative total.”
The rules for this new format allow teams to substitute riders from the original five listed, and Katie Dinan will get a chance to go tomorrow aboard Nougat du Vallet. She’s subbing in for Kessler, who will be on hand in case there’s a problem. Ward will lead off the team tomorrow, Davis will go second, Kessler third and Madden will round out the score.
“I always contemplated there was a possibility that all five riders would play their role in it. We were lucky that Katie was able to make the quick trip over here when she got the call, and she’ll be able to go tomorrow. She’s been on a roll herself and we’ll see. Tomorrow is a new day.”
Beezie’s spirits were lifted somewhat when she finished third in the Longines Grand Prix tonight aboard Cortes C behind Patrice Delaveau (Carinjo HDC) and Michael Whitaker (Elie van de Kolmen) but it was obviously still a disappointing day.
“We were so close. It’s sad,” she said. “We knew [time] was a factor. McLain’s horse was a little unsettled the first couple jumps and he needed to settle a little, so I think he did the right thing [by not going faster.] Lucy I don’t really know where she got her time fault, but I think she lacks a little experience. Same thing for the horse, he’s a little young, she was trying to let him settle into the round. By the time I went it was hard to tell if I should go real fast or not because I think that there were five that needed to have a rail at some point. To go in there and run around really fast was probably not the right risk at the moment.”
“[Heading into the last round] I knew we needed a good score, but I didn’t really know the other teams’ scores,” she continued. “I thought we needed a clear, but I like to rise to a challenge. I have a lot of confidence in my horse.”
Ireland's anchor rider Billy Twomey’s clear on 16-year-old Tinka’s Serenade helped that country finish on 8 faults to earn an invitation to the second round, which is run as a clean slate competition.
“There’s always a degree of pressure,” he said. “Once you go through the stock gate you have to focus on what’s in front of you. We’re back in there with a shot on Sunday.”
And Eric Lamaze’s clear, coupled with that of his barnmate Tiffany Foster, put Team Canada in the running.
“The instruction was clear: Go clear, there’s no room for mistake,” said Lamaze. “The time allowed was challenging for me. He’s not a particularly fast horse and I’m still getting used to him. I had a job to do, and I put pressure on him in the warm up and he came through like a good horse.”
Brazil, the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, France, Great Britain, Canada and the Ukraine will go to Round 2. The United States, Sweden, Colombia, Spain, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Austria, Qatar, Japan and Australia will jump in tomorrow’s Consolation Round.
For lots more from the Furusiyya Nations Cup Final and CSIO Barcelona, check out the Chronicle’s Barcelona CSIO page.