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June 20, 2014

French Fight Hard For Rotterdam Victory; U.S. Team Eighth

Penelope Leprevost's jump-off round on Flora de Mariposa won the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup of Rotterdam for France. FEI Photo

Team France completed their points-gathering campaign in the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping 2014 series today with a superb victory at the fifth leg of the Europe Division 1 League in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. But they had to fight hard for those maximum points, which have now earned them a qualifying spot for the much-anticipated second annual Furusiyya Final which will take place in Barcelona, Spain in October.

Unfortunately, the U.S. team wasn’t involved in that fight for the top spot, as a young team anchored by Lauren Hough collected a total of 27 faults to place eighth and last in the class.

With just 1 time fault in Round 1 and 
a foot in the water and 2 time faults
in Round 2, Katie Dinan and Nougat
du Vallet turned in the best U.S. 
score.
Photo by Shannon Brinkman

“Obviously today was not the result we wanted; however, we need to keep days like today in perspective,” said U.S. Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland. “Rotterdam is our first stop in Europe, and our objective for this summer is to prepare for the [Alltech FEI] World Equestrian Games. The goal is to produce clear rounds and we have several combinations that were very close to producing those clears.”

Lauren Hough and Ohlala anchored the U.S.
team efort with rounds of 8 and 4 faults.
Photo by Shannon Brinkman

Hough, who jumped to rounds of 8 and 4 faults with Ohlala, was joined by Lucy Davis on Barron (4/4), Jessica Springsteen on Vindicat W (8/12) and Katie Dinan on Nougat du Vallet (1/6). All four riders are on the short list for the Hermès U.S. Show Jumping Team at the World Games, Rotterdam serves as an observation event in the selection process for the team.

The U.S. team has already secured a position in the final of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup series in Barcelona in October thanks to their second place in the Nations Cup at the Spruce Meadows Continental tournament.

High Stakes

But the European teams were battling it out for top points. The Netherlands and France traded fault for fault, forcing a jump-off against the clock and keeping the packed stadium of spectators on the edges of their seats.  

The dream of a long-awaited home victory was snatched away at the last moment however when Gerco Schroder and Glock’s London couldn’t match Penelope Leprevost’s clear in the jump-off with Flora de Mariposa.

It was a tension-filled afternoon, with much riding on the result in terms of qualification for five of the eight competing nations. France, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands were all in the hunt for points, and it was the last chance for both France and Switzerland who have now used all four qualifying opportunities. The French have been strong all season, coming into today’s contest at the head of the Europe Division 1 series, but sixth place for Switzerland today may have left them vulnerable.

There were surprises all the way, with Germany fielding a powerhouse of a team for their first points-gathering outing but having to settle for third place ahead of Great Britain in fourth and Brazil in fifth, while the Irish trailed the Swiss when slotting into seventh and the U.S. team filled eighth place.

The track built by Spanish course designer, Santiago Varela, gave them a flavor of what they might expect when the Final returns to the Spanish venue in October this year with a course that required accuracy, speed and clear decision-making about stride distances.

Jessica Springsteen and Vindicat W jumped
to rounds of 8 and 12 faults for the U.S. team.
Photo by Shannon Brinkman

Dutch team manager Rob Ehrens was very much hoping for success this year, because in his 10-year tenure with the Dutch team they have not won on home ground.  And at the halfway point it seemed that his dream might just come true when his side led the way on a 0 score.  But Switzerland, Germany, France and Brazil were only a fence behind, carrying 4 faults each while the British were on 12 and the Irish and Americans on 13.  

As Round 2 evolved however many of the leading nations wilted under pressure, and the Swiss completely lost their grip when adding 16 to their tally. The Brazilians also disappeared from the reckoning despite a brilliant double-clear from Yuri Mansur Guerios and First Devision and that allowed the British to move up the order when Joe Clee and Utamaro D’Ecaussaine also returned with a second clean sheet, Spencer Roe recovered from a shaky first round to go clear this time out with Wonder Why and newcomer Jessie Drea followed her opening clear with just a single mistake at the very last fence with Touchable.

Germany meanwhile seemed in with a chance of making it into a jump-off if Ludger Beerbaum’s second-round 9-fault result with Chiara could be negated by clears from both Daniel Deusser (Cornet D’Amour) and Marcus Ehning (Cornado NRW) after 4 faults from Christian Ahlmann and Codex One. Deusser, winner of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping title just two months ago, came up trumps, but Ehning fell victim to the penultimate planks like so many others in the second round, and with a final tally of 12 the Germans would have to settle for third place.

To The Bitter End

And so it came down to a battle between the French and Dutch, although French nerves were rattled when Leprevost’s second clear was followed by elimination for Patrice Delaveau when Carinjo HDC, foot-perfect first time out, paddled through the third element of the triple combination and fell with his rider.  

Horse and rider left the arena unscathed and the Frenchman said afterward, “He rode really well in the first round, so I am really unsure about what happened. I think he got a bit spooky just before the triple combination, a pole fell between his hooves and he lost his focus. These things can happen but the horse is fine.” 

Lucy Davis rode Barron to two 4-fault rounds
for the U.S. team. 
Photo by Shannon Brinkman

A clear from the reigning European individual gold medal-winning partnership of Roger Yves Bost and Castle Forbes Myrtille Paulois steaded the French situation however and that meant that Kevin Staut’s single error with Reveur de Hurtebise HDC at the second element of the double at seven brought left them on a two-round total of 8.  

Dutch anchorman, Gerco Schroder, had no choice to be clear if he was to force a jump-off now as both Jeroen Dubbeldam (Zenith SFN) and Maikel van der Vleuten (VDL Groep Verdi) had collected 4 faults while Harrie Smolders didn’t return to the ring with Emerald after they collected 17 faults first time out. Despite all the pressure, Schroder produced the required result with the utmost of ease and a two-way jump-off would follow.

Leprevost was first to go, and her nerve never wavered. Asked afterwards what she had planned before going first against the clock, she replied “I didn’t have a plan, I just trusted my mare and she goes naturally very fast and she’s very careful. I just went in and let her do her usual great job!” Setting the target with a clear in 34.57 seconds, she then sat back while Schroder stepped up to the line.  

You could hear a pin drop as the man who took individual silver with this same horse at the London 2012 Olympic Games returned for the third and last time, but when the second fence, previously the first element of the double, hit the floor it was all over and it would be France on the top step of the podium.

“We have had a great season—two victories and one second place for the French team!” Leprevost said. And she was elated about the performance of Flora de Mariposa today.  

“I am very lucky to have such fantastic horses this year and today Flora was unbelievable! We bought her when she was a 7-year-old and now she is 9 so I have been riding her for two years. The first time she jumped a really big track was in Rome [in May] where she jumped double-clear in the Nations Cup and then finished tenth in the grand prix. I’m so happy with her!” she said.

With only seven of the 10 competing nations making the cut to the final from the Europe Division 1 League, the tension is indeed increasing with every leg of the series. But the French don’t have to worry anymore.  They’ve done more than enough to qualify for the Furusiyya final and, as defending champions, it seems unlikely they will give up their crown too easily.

1.    France 8 faults/0 in 34.57 in Jump-Off: Flora de Mariposa (Penelope Leprevost) 4/0/0, Carinjo HDC (Patrice Delaveau) 0/Elim, Castle Forbes Myrtille Paulois (Roger Yves Bost) 4/0, Reveur de Hurtebise HDC (Kevin Staut) 0/4.

2.     Netherlands 8 faults/4 in Jump-Off: Zenith (Jeroen Dubbeldam) 0/4, VDL Groep Verdi (Maikel van der Vleuten) 0/4, Emerald (Harrie Smolders) 17/DNS, Glock's London (Gerco Schroder) 0/0/Ret.

3.    Germany 12 faults: Chiara (Ludger Beerbaum) 4/9, Codex One (Christian Ahlmann) 0/4, Cornet d'Amour (Daniel Deusser) 5/0, Cornado NRW (Marcus Ehning) 0/4.

4.    Great Britain 16  faults: Utamaro D'Ecaussines (Joe Clee) 0/0, Wonder Why (Spencer Roe) 12/0, Touchable (Jessie Drea) 0/4, Zaire (Guy Williams) 26/9.

5.    Brazil 17 faults: Ad Uutje (Doda de Miranda) 8/8, First Devision (Yuri Mansur Guerios) 0/0, Quintol (Eduardo Menezes) 0/9, Status (Rodrigo Pessoa) 4/5.

6.    Switzerland 20 faults: Castlefield Eclipse (Paul Estermann) 0/11, Pablo de Virton (Jane Richard Philips) 4/4, Quorida de Treho (Romain Duguet) 4/8, Toulago (Pius Schwizer) 0/4.

7.    Ireland 26 faults: Coulisa (Denis Lynch) 4/16, Antello Z (Cameron Hanley) 5/5, Quidam's Cherie (Cian O'Connor) 4/4, Loughview Lou-Lou (Dermott Lennon) 8/4.

8.    USA 27 faults: Barron (Lucy Davis) 4/4, Vindicat W (Jessica Springsteen) 8/12, Nougat du Vallet (Katherine Dinan) 1/6, Ohlala (Lauren Hough) 8/4.

 

 
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