In the end, the inaugural Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Final came down to the smallest of margins: A single time fault separated the winning nation of France from second-placed Brazil today Sept. 29 at the Barcelona CSIO in Barcelona, Spain.
“It was a really big emotion, a really big feeling, just fantastic,” said Simon Delestre, whose 4-fault round today on Qlassic Bois Margot helped France take the title. “We have three incredible horses on our team, and that really akes a difference today with that kind of round, which was really big and hard. You need horses like that.”
There was almost a bit more drama in today’s clean slate, single round championship.
Heading into the final rotation, France lay just a time fault ahead of Brazil, and exactly a rail ahead of Ireland. The rules call that the teams tied for first should jump off. So when Pénélope Leprevost’s Nayana ticked the very first fence on course, she pulled up and walked out of the ring. A clear round could have given France the top spot, but anything less would be dropped and she wanted to save her horse for a potential race against Ireland.
In the end, she didn’t need to. Irish anchor rider Billy Twomey and Tinka’s Serenade tipped the planks out of the cups, putting four on the board.
“It was still a great performance,” said Twomey. “If I was clear we were jumping off, but I can’t be disappointed for her. She absolutely did her job on Friday, she jumped clear for us to get back in it. What’s one fence in show jumping—they can all do it.”
Both Ireland and the Netherlands finished on 12, but Ireland’s quicker time gave them third.
Brazilian team stalwarts Rodrigo Pessoa (Citizenguard Cadjanine Z) and Alvaro de Miranda Neto (AD Rahmannshof’s Bogeno) were out of the spotlight, as Marlon Modolo Zanotelli and Clouwni repeated their single-time fault performance from Friday’s qualifier. Eduardo Menezes, who fell on Friday, bounced back to score 12.
“It was very close in this big championship,” said Pessoa. “We were maybe a little unlucky with my mistake, it was a very light rub, and that time fault. But we’re pleased with the result.”
Patrice Delaveau (Orient Express HDC) started the team out with a 4-fault round, and Aymeric De Ponnat followed up with a clear on Armitages Boy. The fifth French rider Eugenie Angot joined her team on the podium.
De Ponnat’s had the ride on that 11-year-old Oldenburg stallion by Armitage for the last three years.
“He jumped really big classes this year,” said De Ponnat. “He was in the European Championships, clear in the second round of the Final, and today was fantastic. I’m really happy with him.”
Those clears were especially difficult to come by. Spanish course designer Santiago Verela put difficulty everywhere. But he demurred when riders praised his genius, pointing out that the pressure of the competition and riding for a €1,500,000 pot created its own level of difficulty.
“Fences don’t need to be higher or wider; it’s today,” he said.
All said, only Jeroen Dubbeldam (Utascha SFN), Eric Lamazze (Powerplay), Scott Brash (Ursula XII) and De Ponnat managed fault free efforts. Brash and Lamaze were especially pleased, as those two double clear rounds mean they get to split a separate €200,000 bonus pot as they were also clean in Friday’s qualifier.
Catch up on the U.S. win in yesterday’s Consolation Final. For lots more from the Furusiyya Nations Cup Final and CSIO Barcelona, check out the Chronicle’s Barcelona CSIO page. Look for a detailed report and analysis in the Oct. 14 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse. You can find results from today’s class at the official Barcelona CSIO website.