Dutch show champions class to win FEI Nations Cup qualifier at Falsterbo
The Netherlands demonstrated why they are the reigning world and defending Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Jumping champions after clinching victory at the sixth leg of the Europe Division 1 League in Falsterbo, Sweden.
It took just three of the four members of Rob Ehrens’ side to clinch it when Harrie Smolders, Maikel van der Vleuten and Leopold Van Asten all jumped double-clear rounds to leave the Dutch side on a zero score. Such was the strength of the winning team that last-line rider, Gerco Schroder, did not have to jump either round with Glock’s Cognac Champblanc as none of this fellow-countrymen lowered a fence all afternoon.
There were five nations – hosts Sweden, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland, all chasing qualifying points for the 2015 final in Barcelona in September and it seemed that the Germans might force the eventual winners into a third-round jump-off.
But in the end they had to settle for joint-runner-up spot along with the hosts, while Switzerland slotted into fourth ahead of Spain in fifth and USA in sixth place.
The extraordinary run of Di Lampard’s British side ground to halt as they could not add to their three victories so far this season and finished seventh despite a fantastic double-clear round performance from Michael Whitaker.
A total of 13 clear rounds in the first round was marginally bettered by 14 clears in the second, with a total of eight double-clear round performances throughout the competition.
There were two eliminations - for Great Britain’s pathfinder William Funnell when his 14-year-old stallion, Billy Congo, refused twice at the Longines triple combination in round one, and for Polish anchorman Piotr Morsztyn for a fall with Osadkowski van Halen, and one retirement - by Spain’s Alberto Marquez Galobardes and Belcanto Z in the second round.
The real battle was played out by the Dutch and Germans neck-and-neck on a zero score at the halfway stage followed by the Swedes and Swiss with four apiece. Like Dutch chef d’equipe, Rob Ehrens, Otto Becker hadn’t held back on his selection for the German side. But second time out, pathfinder Marcus Ehning and Comme Il Faut 5, hit the first element of the triple combination as three more clear rounds from the Dutch put major pressure on fourth-line rider Stuhylmeyer second time out.
By now the Swiss had lost their grip with eight faults to add, but the Swedes held firm with three great clear rounds. Although Douglas Lindelow and Casello fell victim to the penultimate oxer this time out, both Helena Persson (on Bonzai H) and Henrik von Eckermann (on Cantinero) left all the poles in place to ensure they completed on their first-round tally.
The Dutch could be seen checking the jump-off course before last-line German, Stuhylmeyer, came into the ring because if he left all the timber up then it would come down to a two-way ride-off to decide the result. However when Lacan hit the middle element of the Longines triple combination of fences it was all over, and the Dutch had wrapped up victory.
The result sees Sweden and the Netherlands move up behind France at the top of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Jumping 2015 Europe Division 1 leaderboard, but for many of the other teams there is still plenty more work to be done.
Despite their great season to date the British were only on a points-gaining mission at two of their three winning venues and will be hoping to improve their seventh-place position over the remaining two legs of the series, firstly on home soil at Hickstead in two weeks’ time and then a week later in Dublin, Ireland.
Each country has four qualifying opportunities during the season, and with only one more left to go, Germany, now lying fifth, will be feeling some of the heat at Hickstead. All the three teams on top have collected points at four legs and cannot collect any more.
The next leg of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Jumping series is round five of Europe Division 2 which takes place in Budapest, Hungary on Friday 17 July.
1. Netherlands 0 faults
2. Sweden 4
2. Germany 4
4. Switzerland 12
5. Spain 14
6. USA 22
7. Great Britain 28
8. Poland 58
Standings after round six at Falsterbo, Sweden
1. France 310 points
2. Netherlands 295
3. Sweden 295
4. Belgium 250
5. Germany 225
6. Ireland 205
7. Great Britain 200
8. Spain 195
9. Switzerland 160
10. Italy 155