The FEI Nations Cup provided spectators with a wonderful show at the Stade François André in La Baule.
Belgium and the Netherlands battled it out to the extent that both nations had to take part in a jump-off to decide which one would be the winner. It was Switzerland that opened the FEI Nations Cup. The four horse and rider combinations experienced various fates. Steve Guerdat and Nasa found it hard to get their bearings and came out of the arena with 9 faults, but they made up for it in the second round by jumping clear. With 4 faults in the first round, Werner Muff and Kiamon proved that they were dependable team members in the second round by jumping clear, just like Puis Schwizer and Carlina IV, which were double clear. Claudia Gisler and Touchable were less successful with 8 and 4 faults. In the end Switzerland finished in 5th position.
France should not be ashamed of its performance, but once again this year it was unable to be successful in this home stage. Simon Delestre and Valentino Velvet had 9 and 4 faults, while Jérôme Hurel and Ohm de Ponthual came out of the arena with 1 and 5 faults. Pénélope Leprevost and Topinambour performed two rounds without any difficulty and were double clear. Eugénie Angot and Old Chap Tame missed the boat and finished with 12 points in the first round, and then had 1 time fault in the second one. "I was really fazed when I came out of the arena after the first round, because I thought he jumped wonderfully. Initially I wondered if he had been slightly out of breath and then later on when I had time to think about it I realised what had happened: after I had one down in the triple, I was completely focused on my time and I decided that Old Chap Tame would make seven strides instead of the eight I had initially planned to reach the next upright. But he doesn't have enough experience yet in this level of competition and so he wasn‘t able to adapt. In the 2nd round he was in sync with me all the time but it was a bit too tight for him as we went over the allowed time", explained the French lady rider. France finished in 8th position.
As for Ireland, Shane Sweetnam and Amaretto Darco got off to a good start with a clear round, but then had one down in the second round. Jessica Kuerten and Vincente notched up 5 faults in the first round and then jumped clear. Cian O’Connor and Blue Loyd 12 had one down in the first round, but then jumped clear. As for Denis Lynch and Lantinus, they had one down in each round. In the end Ireland also finished in 5th position.
Great Britain was able to count on Nick Skelton and Big Star, which jumped double clear. Guy Williams and Depardieu Vant Keizelhof had 4 and then 8 faults. Peter Charles and Murka’s Vindicat W were clear in the first round and had one down in the second one. Ben Maher and Tripple X had one down in each round. Great Britain also finished in 5th position.
None of the German riders jumped clear in the first round. But they put up a great fight in the second round. Janne Friederike Meyer and Cellagon Lambrasco jumped clear, as did Hans Dieter Dreher and Magnus Romeo, and Philipp Weishaupt and Catoki. Thomas Voss and Carinjo were just slightly over the allowed time and had one time fault. Germany made an amazing comeback but even so just missed the podium and finished 4th.
Sweden didn‘t select its star horse and rider combinations for its line-up but it was able to count on the Fredricson family! Jens and Lunatic had 8 faults and then jumped clear. Peder and H&M Artic Aurora Borealis jumped double clear. Lisen and Matrix had one down and then jumped clear. As for Henrik Von Eckermann and Allerdings, they had just one time fault in the two rounds. Thanks to these wonderful performances, Sweden finished in 3rd position.
That left the Netherlands and Belgium which had already been successful in the first round. Three Dutch rider and horse combinations came out of the arena clear: Leon Thijssen and Tyson, Albert Voorn and Tobalio, Marc Houtzager and Sterrehof’s Opium. Only Albert Zoer and Sam had just one down. The Belgian team had the same result, thanks to World Champion Philippe Le Jeune and Vigo d’Arsouilles STX, Dirk Demeersman and Bufero Vh Panisnhof and Grégory Wathelet and
Euphony Cadjanine Z. Niels Bruynseels and Conisha van de Helle had just one time fault. So both nations were ideally placed before the start of the second round.
The two teams maintained the same level of performance. Philippe Le Jeune and Grégory Wathelet for Belgium both had clear rounds. Niels Bruynseels and Conisha had two down and Dirk Demeersman and Bufero Vh Panishof had four faults. As for the Netherlands, Leon Thijssen and Tyson came out of the arena clear, as did Marc Houtzager and Sterrehof’s Opium. Albert Voorn and Tobalio had one down and so did Albert Zoer and Sam.
As each team had a total of four faults, they both had to take part in a jump-off and choose one rider and horse combination. Albert Voorn (NED) and Tobalio had one down and a time of 44.16. Grégory Wathelet and Euphony Cadjanine Z (BEL) also had one down but with a faster time:41.71.
So Belgium won the first stage of the FEI Nations Cup in La Baule ahead of the Netherlands. Its Chef d'Equipe Philippe Guerdat made an emotional speech in which he dedicated this victory to the memory of René Pasquier.