Pratoni Del Vivaro Test Event Offers Sneak Peek Of World Championship Venue

May 16, 2022 - 7:56 AM

Over the weekend, the Pratoni del Vivaro Federal Equestrian Center in Rocca di Papa, Italy, hosted a CCIO4*-S that served simultaneously as the first leg of the FEI Eventing Nations Cup 2022 series, the Italian national eventing championship and the test event for the upcoming FEI Eventing World Championships.

Along with kicking off the Nations Cup series with a win for Switzerland and naming an Italian champion in Susanna Bordone, who finished 15th overall aboard Imperial van de Holtakkers, the competition’s four-star short course gave riders and coaches a feel for the world championship venue—previously site of the eventing competition for the 1960 Olympic Games, 1998 World Equestrian Games and 2007 European Championships—and an idea of what Italian cross-country designer Giuseppe della Chiesa will do when the course is almost doubled in length for the world championship’s four-star long course in September.

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Switzerland’s Robin Godel and Grandeur de Lully CH took first place Sunday in the 2022 FEI World Championships Test Event for Eventing, helping his county win the FEI Nations Cup Eventing competition. Libby Law Photography Photo

“It is amazing here; the ground is wonderful. I have never cantered on ground like this,” said Switzerland’s Robin Godel, 23, whose clear show jumping round with 1 time penalty Sunday clinched the individual prize and a win for Team Switzerland.

France, which was the overnight leader going into the final day, finished a close second, and Sweden, which was the overall winner of the series in 2021, finished third. The home side Italy were fifth of nine teams contesting the Nations Cup.

Saturday’s cross-country shook up the leaderboard and left it tight at the top. Switzerland finished just 0.1 of a penalty behind France going into the final phase. Germany, which led after dressage, was relegated to ninth after just two of their team members completed. Meanwhile Sweden, which was in eighth after the dressage, produced four strong cross-country performances to climb to third overnight.

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Ingrid Klimke (GER) and Equistros Siena Just Do It finished second individually in the test event, adding just a handful of time penalties over Pratoni del Vivaro’s hilly cross-country track to their final score. Libby Law Photography

“From a sports side the cross-country went well here this week,” said della Chiesa, who will be both course designer and director of the FEI World Championships for Eventing and Driving, to be held Sept. 15-25. “From the side of the organization, there’s a lot to do yet, but we are getting there, and it was very important to have this competition as a Nations Cup and also as a test event.

“The nature of the soil here is something unique,” he continued. “Horses love it, and if it rains, it doesn’t change it, and there are very few places in the world like that. It is an important venue as the Olympic venue in 1960 and is one of the very few Olympic venues which is still used for the same purpose.”

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Show jumping day spectators kick up the venue’s volcanic-based soil: “The nature of the soil here is something unique. Horses love it, and if it rains, it doesn’t change it,” cross-country course designer and world championship event director Giuseppe della Chiesa said. Libby Law Photography Photo

The test event also gave show jumping course designer Uliano Vezzani, who will be designing the course for the Nations Cup of Rome CSIO5* to be held May 26-29 at the Piazza di Siena, a chance to design the show jumping track for a three-day event.

The test event was the first time that Vezzani, who has been asked to be the chef de piste for the show jumping test at the September world championships, designed a course for a three-day event.

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Jonelle Price (NZL) and Faerie Magnifico complete their dressage test May 12 at Pratoni del Vivaro. FEI Photo

“The Pratoni del Vivaro is a splendid facility, a really unique one for course building,” he said.

Vezzani talked, too, about the difference in designing a track for straight show jumping versus eventing show jumping.

“What changes is the concept of the course,” he said. “Nowadays the kind of horses ridden in eventing is very similar to those we see in show jumping, but in this case one needs to remember that the day before there has been the effort made in the cross country. One needs to bear this in mind so as to emphasize the quality and technique of these horses and the training done by the riders in preparing for this last test.

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At age 62, after more than four decades of eventing, Beat Sax rode his own Secret IV in the pair’s first Nations Cup to a double-clear cross-country round Saturday that helped Switzerland clench the win. Libby Law Photography Photo

“Consequently the distances between jumps are different, jumps that are not too light as happens in show jumping because the horses have previously jumped a difficult and challenging cross-country course,” he continued. “The concepts of course building change. I have excellent material here for building the course, including both new jumps and others I am familiar with, including the famous ‘birches’, historically always used at Piazza di Siena.”

For complete results of the Pratoni del Vivaro Nations Cup CCIO4*-S, click here.

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Andrew Hoy of Australia and Bloom des Hauts Crets during Saturday’s cross-country. Libby Law Photography Photo
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Italian designer Giuseppe della Chiesa incorporated Pratoni’s hills and natural undulations into his course and fence design. Libby Law Photography Photo
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Maxime Livio and Api du Libaire helped France take second in the FEI Nations Cup Eventing. Libby Law Photography Photo
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The winning Swiss team, from left: Mélody Johner riding Toubleu de Rueire, Nadja Minder riding Toblerone, Robin Godel riding Grandeur de Lully CH, and Beat Sax riding Secret IV. Libby Law Photography Photo
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