FRANCE TAKES THE MEYDEN NATIONS CUP TITLE AS ITALY GOES OUT IN STYLE
France scooped the 2009 Meydan FEI Nations Cup™ series title in Dublin today when finishing fourth, but Italy stole its share of the limelight when new coach and manager, Markus Fuchs, spurred his side to victory in an extraordinary conclusion to the eight-leg series.
The Italians could have been forgiven for a lacklustre performance as they already knew that they face life in the Promotional League next season. But instead of simply going through the motions, they came out with all guns blazing this afternoon and blew the rest away with an inspired performance. The British gave it their very best shot too and managed to finish joint-second with the Swiss, but whether this has been enough to save them from joining the Italians in the relegation zone is still uncertain. When the leaderboard calculations were completed at the end of the competition both Belgium and Britain shared eighth place with the same league points, and a lack of clarity in relation to relegation for the ninth-placed team will mean that this issue must be considered by the FEI next week.
France and the USA tied in fourth in today's competition ahead of Germany in sixth while it was a disappointing day for the host side who only managed to finish eighth - just ahead of The Netherlands and Sweden who failed to make the cut into the second round.
OUT IN FRONT
Luck did not seem to be favouring the Italians when they were drawn first to go this afternoon, but at the halfway stage they were already out in front along with the Americans - each carrying four faults. The British and Germans both had eight while the Swiss were carrying 12 and the Irish, French and Belgians completed the second-round start-list carrying 16 faults apiece.
The elimination of second-line rider Jur Vrieling when his stallion VDL Orame refused twice at the first element of the bogey double at fence five did nothing to help the Dutch who joined the Swedes, carrying 32, on the sidelines as only eight of the 10 nations went into round two.
Alan Wade's track presented less problems second time out but both the tricky double at five and the penultimate triple combination continued to take their toll. Juan Carlos Garcia had made the best possible start for Italy when clear with Hamilton de Perhet and only a foot in the water prevented him from doing the same second time out. Giuseppe D'Onofrio and Landzeu improved from a nine-fault result to just the four at the opening oxer and Natale Chiaudani looked en route to a second clear with Snai Seldana until hitting the very last on the 12-fence track.
By the time the fourth-line riders came into the ring in the second round it was clear that a near-miracle might just be about to happen. Markus Fuchs said yesterday that he was quite determined his new charges would not finish last, and his words were about to be borne out with a vengeance.
The Irish continued to struggle and remained in last place, and the Belgians added 12 more to complete with 28 while Germany, hampered by the double-elimination of Max Kuhner whose stallion, Coeur de Lion, was another to strongly object to the double which had a water-tray under the second element, racked up 22 in total. The French rallied to add only four more to their 16 from the first round thanks to clears from both Timothee Anciaume (Lamm de Fetan) and Kevin Staut (Kraque Boom) and completed with 20, and when Switzerland and Great Britain each finished with 16 on the board the Italians, now carrying 12, needed a clear to seal a sensational and unexpected victory.
Piergiorgio Bucci and Kanebo gave them just that.
PLENTY TO CELEBRATE
The French, meanwhile also had plenty to celebrate. They only returned to the premiership of team jumping this season after some time out and now have the inaugural Meydan FEI Nations Cup™ series to their credit. Chef d'Equipe admitted that his team had a difficult time in the first round today "but I was happy with how they coped with the pressure in the second round" he said. "We have had a great season, and this is the best possible result" he added.
While the French were quietly delighted, the Italians seemed almost stunned by their success and everyone wanted to know what Markus Fuchs had done to produce such a turnaround in form for his side. At the betting offices in Dublin this morning you get odds of 100/1 against an Italian victory - "I wish I had put some money on!" said team manager Fuchs. "It wasn't so much my work, it was just our day today. I pushed hard to get all these riders to come to this show, I came to them in San Patrignano and I said I wanted us to put in our best effort for this final leg. I said I believed that if we all pulled together we could finish this series well and that would give the team great motivation for the Europeans at Windsor". However he put it, his magic worked a treat.
Laurent Elias has shown more than a little magic too this season. The quiet Frenchman said that he managed to turn things around for France "because every rider was keen to keep France in this league next year and in every competition this season they gave me everything they had".
RESULT OF FINAL COMPETITION AT DUBLIN:
1. Italy 12 flts; Hamilton de Perhet (Juan Carlos Garcia) 0/4 , Giuseppe D'Onofrio (Landzeu) 9/4, Snai Seldana (Natale Chiaudani) 0/4, Kanebo (Piergiorgio Bucci) 4/0.
2. Switzerland 16 flts; Carlina (Pius Schwizer) 4/0, Louis (Beat Mandli) 4/0, Radja van't Arkelhof (Niklaus Rutschi) 8/8, Cantus (Niklaus Schurtenberger) 4/4.
2. Great Britain 16 flts; Robin Hood (Ben Maher) 4/0, Rosinus (Geoff Billington) 4/4, Fresh Direct Corlato (Tim Stockdale) 0/4, Murka's Pom d'Ami (Peter Charles) 4/4.
4. France 20 flts: Mylord Carthago (Penelope Leprevost) 12/4, Ideal de la Loge (Roger-Yves Bost) 8/4, Lamm de Fetan (Timothee Anciaume) 4/0, Kraque Boom (Kevin Staut) 4/0.
4. USA 20 flts: Urbanus (Charlie Jayne) 0/16, Ublesco (Cara Raether) 4/4, Cedric (Laura Kraut) 0/8, Danny Boy (Beezie Madden) 4/4.
6. Germany 22 flts: Cellagon Lambrasco (Janne-Friederike Meyer) 0/10, Coeur de Lion (Max Kuhner) Elim/ELIM , Neolisto Van het Mierenhof (Andreas Knippling) 4/4, Lolita (Toni Hassmann) 4/0.
7. Belgium 28 flts: Utopia vd Donkoeve (Pieter Devos) 4/0, Aktion Pur Z (Judy-Ann Melchior) 8/4, Top Gun (Peter Postelmans) 12/8, Vigo D'Arsouilles (Philippe Lejeune) 4/8.
8. Ireland 36 flts: Southwind (Cameron Hanley) 8/12, Rancorrado (Cian O'Connor) 8/4, Je T'Aime Flamenco (Billy Twomey) 8/8, Lantinus (Denis Lynch) 0
9. Netherlands 24 faults in first round: Audi's Alpapilllon- Armani (Vincent Voorn) 4/, VDL Orame (Jur Vrieling) Elim/, Olaf (Leon Thijssen) 8/, Opium VS (Marc Houtzager) 12/.
10. Sweden 32 faults in first round: Saint Amour (Svante Johansson) 12/, London Calling (Lotta Schultz) 20/, Isaac (Alexander Zetterman) 8/, Kiara la Silla (Rolf-Goran Bengtsson) 12/.
Markus Fuchs, Italian Chef d'Equipe - "We will be sending this team to the European Championships in Windsor - and we expect to get the same result!"
Markus Fuchs, - "When I took this job I didn't do it to seal FISE's money - I did it to make the Italian team better again"
Laurent Elias, French Chef d'Equipe - "today all my riders did what they had to do".
Laurent Elias, - when asked why Kevin Staut did not attend the post-competition press conference "Kevin is not feeling well - he has a fever".
FACTS AND FIGURES
19 year old Swedish rider, Alexander Zetterman, was competing at Junior level last season - 2009 is his first season in senior Nations Cup compettion and he was the youngest rider in today's competition.
The oldest rider competing today was Great Britain's Geoff Billington, who is 54 years of age.
The youngest horse in today's competition was the 8 year old mare Carlina, ridden by Switzerland's Pius Schwizer.
The oldest horses were Italy's Hamilton de Perhet ridden by Juan Carlos Garcia and Landzeu Z ridden by Giuseppe D'Onofrio - both 14 years old.
All of the horses on the French team were stallions.
The bogey fences were the double at fence five and the penultimate triple combination.
MEYDAN FEI NATIONS CUP™ - Standings after final leg at Dublin
1. France - 48.0
2. USA - 44.0
3. Germany - 39.0
4. Switzerland - 35.0
5. Netherlands - 28.5
5. Ireland - 28.5
7. Sweden - 23.0
8. Great Britain - 22.0
8. Belgium - 22.0
10. Italy - 14.0
MEYDAN FEI NATIONS CUP™
A Meydan FEI Nations Cup™ event is organised as a five-star Nations Cup, i.e. a competition in which official teams representing nations compare their merit. At each event the teams gain points according to their placing. At the end of the season the team with the highest points wins the Meydan FEI Nations Cup™ and the two teams with the lowest points are relegated to the FEI Nations Cup series (Promotional League). The two best placed teams of that series following the Promotional League Final join the Meydan FEI Nations Cup™ for the following year.
The World’s Best Ten Teams: Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, , Ireland, USA, Switzerland, Sweden, and Italy
LISTEN TO PODCAST INTERVIEWS WITH:
Laurent Elias http://www.mixbroadcast.com/users/lloydbell/access/client_zone/RDS_Laurent_Elias_end.mp3
George Morris http://www.mixbroadcast.com/users/lloydbell/access/client_zone/RDS_George_Morrris_end
Ben Maher http://www.mixbroadcast.com/users/lloydbell/access/client_zone/RDS_Ben_Maher_end.mp3
Natale Chaudani http://www.mixbroadcast.com/users/lloydbell/access/client_zone/RDS_Natale_Chaudani_end.mp3