- News http://chio.nl News - Capica.nl RSS Generator <![CDATA[Back-to-back win for brilliant Belgians puts them top of Division 1]]> http://chio.nl/en/news/back-to-back-win-for-brilliant-belgians-puts-them-top-of-division-1?news_id=3532 2018-06-24 On a day of doubles Team Belgium posted a back-to-back win in Europe Division 1 when coming out on top in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup of The Netherlands in Rotterdam this afternoon. There were seven double-clears in the gripping competition over a really testing course set by Ireland’s Alan Wade. And the man who clinched it for the Belgian side, 22-year-old Jos Verlooy riding Igor, had already scooped the honours in Friday’s Longines Grand Prix with his other top horse Caracas.

However perhaps the most important double of all was the fact that this was only the second time in the 70-year history of CSIO Rotterdam for a Belgian side to take the Nations Cup honours. Their only previous victory was back in 1950, and they did it in great style today, under pressure in front of a packed stadium and under the watchful eye of Dutch royal family member, and former Queen, Princess Beatrix when posting a zero scoreline.

The Belgians are the form team right now, and they know it. “Our horses and riders are very strong this year - we are working towards the WEG (FEI World Equestrian Games) in September and I think we can produce a great result there!” said Verlooy. And his Chef d’Equipe Peter Weinberg was thinking even further down the line, to the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ 2018 Final in Barcelona (ESP) in October.

Alan Wade will be course designer at the WEG and the world’s best are very happy to get experience over his tracks. As always it was built to maximum height and he tested riders more than horses, demanding straightness, balance, control and complete concentration from start to finish.

Belgium and Germany shared the lead on a zero score at the end of the first round, with Switzerland and USA close behind each carrying just four faults and the hosts and Great Britain next in line with eight apiece. Sweden couldn’t recover from a 15-fault first-round effort, but although the French completed with 16 they, like the British, showed evidence of the development of a very exciting string of newcomers.

Mistakes from Marcus Ehning (Comme Il Faut) and Markus Beerbaum (Cool Hand Luke) undermined German chances, but a double-clear from pathfinder Nicola Philippaerts (24) with H&M Chilli Willi got the Belgians off to a great start in the second round. Niels Bruynseels’ (34) lovely mare Cas de Liberte was one of several horses to misinterpret the triple bar at fence three in round one, and they went on to collect an uncharacteristic 13 faults. But second time out they were pure perfection, so when Verlooy also left the course fully intact it was game over and Belgium’s second win in a week following success in Sopot (POL) last Sunday. Pieter Devos (32) who had stepped in to rescue the situation with a brilliant first-round clear from Espoir didn’t have to jump again.

Verlooy was thrilled to have been the one to seal this historic success and was quick to thank his long-time trainer and current world no. 1 rider, Dutchman Harrie Smolders. “Harrie told me - don’t think about the result, think about jumping every fence correctly and only look at the result when you are over the finish line - stay focused on what you are doing all the way!” Verlooy explained.

Belgium has now overtaken Switzerland on the Europe Division 1 leaderboard with Germany in third, France in fourth, Spain in fifth and Sweden in sixth place. Italy, Ireland, Great Britain and Netherlands are sitting at the bottom of the table but they all have three more chances to dramatically improve their positions at the remaining Europe Division 1 legs in Falsterbo and Hickstead.

 Watch highlights here

<![CDATA[Dutch dressage team wins on home turf]]> http://chio.nl/en/news/dutch-dressage-team-wins-on-home-turf?news_id=3521 2018-06-23 The Dutch dressage team have won today’s FEI Nations Cup. Team captain Rien van der Schaft’s equipe already had a good start on Thursday by taking first position in the Grand Prix. In the scenic atmosphere of the Kralingse Bos, they continued down the same road, though the Swedish team ensured a thrilling competition by competing head-to-head with the Dutch right until their final rider Tinne Vilhelmson’s performance. The Swedes came up second. The American team were third. Edward Gal and Glock’s Zonik N.O.P. were the stars of the Dutch team by taking the win in the Grand Prix Freestyle in striking fashion. Swedish rider Therese Nilshagen and Dante Weltino Old were victorious in the Grand Prix Special.

Dutch team captain Rien van der Schaft had plenty of cause to celebrate tonight in Rotterdam. ‘’There were so many highlights in Edward’s test. That’s fantastic to see, and I’d almost consider it his trademark. Hans Peter performed very well too. These guys prove that they can bring their best when the moment demands it. They really give it their all. As team captain, that makes me very happy. It feels really good when your riders are able to deliver something extra, like they have done tonight. Hats off to all four riders. Besides Apache, who is by no means old, they all have really young horses, which promises a lot for the future.''  

Van der Schaft is also pleased with the Nations Cup format. ‘'This Nations Cup concept is a good thing for dressage as a sport. It ensures that you don’t just win if one rider has a score over 80%. You really need the whole team to do well. That ensures excitement in the competition right until the last moment.’' The FEI Nations Cup rankings are calculated with place points. In Thursday’s Grand Prix, the three best results per country counted towards the end result. The same applied tonight for the Grand Prix Special and Grand Prix Freestyle combined. Tonight, The Netherlands beat Swedes by one point.

The riders

Edward Gal and his beautiful horse Glock’s Zonik N.O.P. already won Thursday’s Grand Prix and tonight did the same in the Freestyle. ‘'Zonik felt really good. In the warm-up area he reacted very strongly to Patrik Kittel’s mare and in the ring he was a bit nervous, but he carried on wonderfully. I was glad we got to ride in this stadium today, because he has to get used to an atmosphere like this. We made an error in the pirouette that cost us, but I’m very pleased. There were some really good parts’’, says Gal, who received a score of 80.075%. With this victory, Gal finishes a fantastic week at CHIO Rotterdam. He won all four categories he competed in, two with Glock’s Zonik N.O.P. and two with Glock’s Voice.

Hans Peter Minderhoud pushed to the limit in the Grand Prix Special with Glock’s Dream Boy. His efforts paid off, as he rode a terrific test. ‘’It's the best test I’ve ridden so far with this horse. Dream Boy doesn’t get spooky in this entourage and he never complains, but just does his thing. I’m really happy with it’’, he says right after his test.  

Emmelie Scholtens rode here elegant stallion Apache to a fourth place in the Grand Prix Special and was pleased with that result. ‘’For me it was the first time riding here in the big arena. I forgot a part of the passage and that’s frustrating, but I’m very happy with Apache and can only be proud.’'

Madeleine Witte-Vrees did not ride the Grand Prix she had in mind with Cennin, and she wasn’t satisfied with her performance in the Freestyle either. ‘'There were too many errors. For us, this wasn’t good, we’ve already scored higher than 80%, then this just isn’t good enough’’, the rider says.

Explaining the music

Packed stands had plenty of quality dressage action to enjoy this evening. After every test, Laurens van Lieren provided his expert commentary and for the Freestyle he was assisted by famous Dutch bariton Ernst Daniel Smid who gave his insights on the musical part of the test. This certainly provided spectators with a lesser knowledge of music with new insights.

<![CDATA[Jos Verlooy wins Longines Grand Prix at CHIO Rotterdam’s 70th edition
]]> http://chio.nl/en/news/jos-verlooy-wins-longines-grand-prix-at-chio-rotterdams-70th-edition?news_id=3508 2018-06-22 A thrilling jump-off led Jos Verlooy (BEL) and his 13-year-old stallion Caracas to victory in the Longines Grand Prix. It is the first time in the seventy year history of the event that Belgium has taken a win in this category. Reigning European Champion and last year’s winner of the Longines Grand Prix Peder Fredricson (SWE) came in second with H&M Christian K and Swiss Janika Sprunger placed third with Bacardi VDL.

Out of the fifty combinations to compete, eleven rode the course built by course designer Alan Wade without any errors to secure a place in the jump-off. Five combinations received a time penalty, leaving them just short of the jump-off. Sadly for the home crowd, among those five were Dutch riders Michel Hendrix, Willem Greve and Gerco Schröder.

Obstacle three, a vertical, proved to be deciding in tonight’s jump-off, as only four combinations managed to leave it intact. Jos Verlooy followed his trainer Harrie Smolders’ advice and that worked out well for him. After Verlooy’s run with Caracas, five combinations attempted to better his quick, faultless run but proved unsuccessful.


Our compliments to course designer Alan Wade, who along with Louis Konickx created a tough but fair course for the Longines Grand Prix. Alan Wade will also design the course for the World Equestrian Games in Tryon (USA).

<![CDATA[Great Britain to start first in FEI Nations Cup Jumping, home team The Netherlands fifth to start]]> http://chio.nl/en/news/great-britain-to-start-first-in-fei-nations-cup-jumping,-home-team-the-netherlands-fifth-to-start?news_id=3499 2018-06-22 Team Great Britain will kick off Sunday’s FEI Nations Cup Jumping, this afternoon’s draw revealed. Home team The Netherlands will start in fifth position.

Sunday’s starting order:
1. Great Britain
2. Sweden
3. United States
4. Germany
5. The Netherlands
6. France
7. Belgium
8. Switzerland   

British team captain Diane Lampard remained optimistic about her team occupying the first starting position: ‘’The gentlemen from the other teams put the lady first today. Hopefully they’ll continue to do the same on Sunday.’'

<![CDATA[Strong opening performance for Dutch team at CHIO Rotterdam]]> http://chio.nl/en/news/strong-opening-performance-for-dutch-team-at-chio-rotterdam?news_id=3491 2018-06-21 The Dutch team have made a strong start at CHIO Rotterdam. After the Grand Prix, the first part of the FEI Nations Cup, team captain Rien van der Schaft’s riders are in first place at the moment. In the individual standings, Edward Gal (NED) and his top horse Glock’s Zonik proved the best in today’s test. Therese Nilshagen (SWE) came in second place with Dante Weltino Old and her compatriot Patrik Kittel finished third with Well Done de la Roche CMF. The Swedish team are in second place at the moment, leading the United States in third place.  

Hans Peter Minderhoud (NED) started the competition for the Dutch team this morning with Glock’s Dream Boy and rode a strong test worthy of 73%. Second Dutch rider Emmelie Scholtens rode her beautiful Apache to a score of 74.261%. Edward Gal and Glock’s Zonik N.O.P. started third and produced a fine and very solid test. Their score of 76.975% proved enough to take the win. For the Netherlands, Madeleine Witte-Vrees and Cennin appeared last in the ring. Unfortunately, too many errors in the test led to a rather disappointing score of 70.522%.   

Edward Gal was very pleased with Glock’s Zonik today. ‘'Last year I rode Glock’s Zonik here for the first time in an international Grand Prix and I see we haven’t just improved a great deal but that there is room to keep on improving’’, said the winner. ‘'And the judges like to see Glock’s Zonik perform, that’s nice too!''

Therese Nilshagen also hopes to keep improving with her 11-year-old gelding Dante Weltine Old. ‘'If we do, we could compete here next year at the European Championships’’, says the Swedish rider. Patrik Kittel also likes coming to Rotterdam: ‘'It's not easy to be the last to start and my mare is still young. Still, she performed very well today.''

Rien van der Schaft is satisfied with his team’s performance. ‘'This is a good start’’, he said. ‘'Three out of four have performed really well. It was what I had hoped and expected. If you can win here with a score like Edward’s then that’s a terrific achievement of course. Only Madeleine Witte-Vrees didn’t perform as well. Her horse Cennin all of a sudden was spooky and tense, something he normally never is. In training everything seemed to be going really well, so this of course is a setback, but I’m sure they’ll get past this and then we’ll give it our all again.''

National team competition

For the national team competition in Rotterdam, the team result is made up of the scores of the three best combinations for each country. After this first part of the competition, The Netherlands are in the lead in the FEI Nations Cup, followed closely by Sweden. On Saturday, the FEI Nations Cup will continue. Twee riders per country will compete in the Grand Prix  Special and two will ride a Freestyle test. Again, the scores of the three best combinations for each rider will make up the combined team score.

<![CDATA[Team Belgium reigns supreme in hard-fought battle at Sopot]]> http://chio.nl/en/news/team-belgium-reigns-supreme-in-hard-fought-battle-at-sopot?news_id=3478 2018-06-17 Team Belgium won the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Poland today, but it was no walk in the park. This fourth leg of the Western European League attracted teams from eight countries to the Hippodrome Arena in the popular seaside town of Sopot, and with six of those chasing down qualifying points for the Longines Final in Barcelona (ESP) in October it was always going to be a right royal battle.

Taking the early lead, Peter Weinberg’s side held on to reign supreme ahead of France in runner-up spot and the USA in third. Belgian anchorman, Niels Bruynseels, didn’t have to bring out his brilliant mare, Cas de Liberte, a second time but as he pointed out that wasn’t because it was an easy afternoon’s work. "The course was tough - big and technical - and the time was quite tight, but we came here well prepared, with a strong team, strong riders and a good tactic, and everyone did a super job!"

Olaf Petersen Jr’s 12-fence course was certainly challenging. “The water (fence 5) was wide, there was a huge triple bar to a vertical (fences 9 and 10) and the last double (11) was very difficult” Bruynseels pointed out. The distance to the big final water-tray oxer also caught out several of the big names in the first round, including French stalwart Kevin Staut (For Joy van’t Zorgvliet HDC) and American legend Margie Goldstein-Engle (Royce).

But it was Staut’s second-round clear that pulled his side back into the frame on a day when Mathieu Billot and Shiva d’Amaury, heroes of the French victory in St Gallen (SUI) two weeks ago, will want to forget. Olivier Robert didn’t have to jump in either round at the Swiss fixture because his team-mates were so impressive. But today he helped France secure second spot with the only double-clear of the entire competition from his 14-year-old gelding Eros.

Footperfect runs from Olivier Philippaerts and H&M Ikker and Jerome Guery with Garfield de Tijl des Templiers meant that the four faults collected by Pieter Devos and Claire Z was the Belgian drop-score first time out and Bruynseels single time penalty was all they would carry into round two. Philippaerts double-faulted second time out, but Devos was clear and by the time Guery came home with just four on the board it was all over. Their 13-fault total could not be bettered.

Lying second on four faults at the halfway stage the Swedes disappeared from the reckoning, and a final tally of 16 moved the French into runner-up position while 21 faults secured third place for Team USA on a high-scoring afternoon.

The Belgians now head to CHIO Rotterdam in The Netherlands next Sunday (24 June) for the fifth round of the eight-leg Western European series lying just 10 points behind the league leaders from Switzerland and 20 points ahead of France, and with the tension increasing with every outing.


Result - Sopot (POL):
1. Belgium - 13 faults
2. France - 16 faults
3. USA - 21 faults

Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ series leaderboard, Europe Division 1 Standings:
1 Switzerland 270
2 Belgium 260
3 France 240


<![CDATA[Top combinations choose Rotterdam in their preparations for WEG 2018 and FEI EC 2019]]> http://chio.nl/en/news/top-combinations-choose-rotterdam-in-their-preparations-for-weg-2018-and-fei-ec-2019?news_id=3471 2018-06-12 The competitors have been announced for CHIO Rotterdam’s 70th anniversary addition, to be held from 21 to 24 June at the scenic Kralingse Bos venue. With the Longines FEI Nations Cup Jumping of the Netherlands and the FEI Nations Cup Dressage featured on the program, many riders and chef d'equipes decided to use this edition of CHIO Rotterdam to prepare for the World Equestrian Games later this year and the FEI European Championships Jumping, Dressage and Paradressage to be held next year in Rotterdam.  Alongside the world’s best in equestrian sports, the corporate world has also embraced the 70th CHIO Rotterdam.


“Though seventy years old and the oldest international top sports event in Rotterdam, CHIO Rotterdam is still alive and kicking! Globally, we are among the finest equestrian events and with our team, partners, sponsors and volunteers we work hard to enhance this position in the future. For everyone involved, we want to show we deserve our 5* status’’, says CHIO Rotterdam president Belle de Bruin. ‘’At the same time, we will be using this year’s edition of CHIO Rotterdam to prepare for the three European Championships which are taking place here next year.’'


‘’In eight days from now, the world’s best riders will compete here in our Rotterdam Arena and InterChem Arena in the Kralingse Bos’’, says Managing Director Jan de Mooij. ‘’There's a huge interest in our event. Tickets for the Dressage Freestyle test on Saturday evening and the Longines FEI Nations Cup Jumping on Sunday are as good as sold out and the other days are populair as well. The corporate world has once again chosen for the hospitality services our unique event has to offer. What’s even more wonderful, is that our sponsors are unbelievably loyal. For many years, we have been able to rely on our main sponsor Rabobank en a growing group of Legacy Partners of which Dura Vermeer is our oldest with an attachment that goes back 70 years and of which BMW Kalfsbeek and BMW Breeman, Hunter Douglas / Luxafles and Boels Rental are the newest additions. These wonderful and above all loyal sponsors provide CHIO Rotterdam with a solid base.''



''The change in the program - the Longines Grand Prix will now be held on Friday evening and the Longines FEI Nations Cup Jumping of the Netherlands on Sunday - has received many positive reactions. With this switch we will have a tremendously exciting last day with eight very strong national teams from Germany, Belgium, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Great Britain, the United States and of course The Netherlands’’, says jumping director Yves Houtackers. With, among others, the world number one Harrie Smolders (NED), reigning world champion Jeroen Dubbeldam (NED) and European champion Peder Fredricson (SWE) we have the crème de la crème of the world’s best showjumping riders competing here. The expansion of the program to feature the international U25-category has been received with enthusiasm. This group of riders seizes the opportunity to ride in this type of ambiance with both hands!'' 


His colleague, dressage director Laurens van Lieren, also sees the dressage world taking a large interest in the anniversary edition of CHIO Rotterdam. ‘’It’s not just The Netherlands that have put together a very strong team for the FEI Nations Cup Dressage. The teams for Sweden featuring, among others, Patrik Kittel and Tinne Vilhelmson Silfven, Great Britain with Lara Butler and Michael Eilberg, the United States with Ashley Holzer and Steffen Peters and the Belgian, French and German teams will show their best in the CDIO 5* events. During the Freestyle test, I will be commenting alongside Dutch musical phenomenon Ernst Daniel Smid. I’m sure it’ll be an opportunity for all of us to learn. Besides that, we’ll be seeing a lot of rising stars in the CDI 3* events, those are well worth watching this year. For our own region, the CHIO Zuid-Holland Cup will be a highlight, the finalists are doing their absolute best in their trainings.’'


Alongside the sports program, the arena will feature amazing shows, nice shops and food and drink in the promo village and the cosy Stroodorp. For our young visitors, Hofplein Rotterdam and Horse Creatives will perform a fantastic show on Sunday morning. Of course, there will be a kids party in the Indofin Kinderdorp for four days.


The corporate world opts for the excellent possibilities in hospitality services and increasingly chooses content meetings during the event.


International Competitors:


CDIO5* / CDI3* 




<![CDATA[Foot-perfect French on fire at Longines FEI Nations Cup St Gallen]]> http://chio.nl/en/news/foot-perfect-french-on-fire-at-longines-fei-nations-cup-st-gallen?news_id=3460 2018-06-03 There were great big smiles on French faces when Philippe Guerdat’s side won the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Switzerland at St Gallen this afternoon. The French may be Olympic champions, but what made today’s victory all the more sweet is that there were no riders from Rio 2016 in the team that simply swamped the opposition when never putting a foot wrong all day in this third leg of the Europe Division 1 series.

And, to make it all the more impressive, it took only three of their team-members to do it, fourth-line rider Olivier Robert languishing on the sidelines as his compatriots ensured his services were not required in either round.

This was the 15th French win at the Swiss fixture since 1987, and the first time in 20 years for any country to win the Swiss Nations Cup with a zero score. The hosts lined up second with eight faults while Belgium finished third with 13. There were seven teams in contention and it was Germany who slotted into fourth (16 faults) ahead of Great Britain in fifth (17 faults), Spain in sixth (20 faults) and Brazil, winners at the previous leg in La Baule (FRA) two weeks ago, in seventh spot (21 faults).

Mathieu Billot and the 12-year-old stallion Shiva D’Amaury led the French offensive while Nicolas Delmotte (39) and the 10-year-old gelding Ilex VP were third to go for the winning nation. But the biggest surprise of the day was the superb performance of Alexandra Francart who was on a mission with her lovely nine-year-old stallion Volnay du Boisdeville. The lady who runs a relatively small 12-horse competition yard near the Belgian border, not far from Riems, was competing in her very first 5-Star Nations Cup and only her second 5-Star show. And she admitted that she got her chance only by pestering Chef d’Equipe Guerdat over the last few months.

She took that chance in both hands today when bringing her horse home twice without a hiccup to prove her point. The French were already in the lead after the first round followed by the Swiss carrying just four faults and the Belgians carrying nine. Riding the brilliant mare Bianca, Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat was also double-clear, while the British were unlucky.

Their pathfinder, William Whitaker, produced two spectacular clears from Utamaro d’Ecaussines and Holly Smith followed suit with Hearts Destiny. But Samuel Hutton and Happydam racked up 17 first-round faults and these had to be counted when Louise Saywell’s Golden Wave was eliminated at the open water. Hutton was fault-free second time out and while it was too late to rescue them from a minor placing, today’s British effort suggests Di Lampard’s pool of team contenders is steadily growing.

Today’s winners from France will next line out in round four of the eight-leg Europe Division 1 series in Sopot, Poland in two weeks’ time where they will be hoping to add to their points tally on the league table which continues to be dominated by the Swiss.

Watch highlights here

Result - St Gallen (SUI):
1. France - 0 faults
2. Switzerland - 8 faults
3. Belgium - 13 faults
FULL RESULTS (live link)

Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ series leaderboard:
1 Switzerland 270
2 Germany 180
3 Spain 170

<![CDATA[Brazilians triumph over Europe’s elite in hard-fought battle at La Baule]]> http://chio.nl/en/news/brazilians-triumph-over-europes-elite-in-hard-fought-battle-at-la-baule?news_id=3448 2018-05-20 It took nerves of steel for anchorman Pedro Veniss to clinch the honours for Brazil at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of France in La Baule (FRA) today. In a contest that came right down to the very last ride of the afternoon he had absolutely no room for error if he was to give his country an historic first-ever win at the Francois Andre Stadium in the beautiful French seaside town, and pin Europe’s elite into the minor placings. But partnering the fabulous 14-year-old stallion, Quabri de l’Isle, he produced a super-cool clear that left the 2017 series champions from The Netherlands in runner-up spot and Switzerland into third.

Veniss admitted he was feeling the pressure when last into the arena, but he knew he could rely on his horse.

Mansur’s Vitiki has literally come along in leaps and bounds over the last few months. “I bought him in October and he only jumped his first 1.30m track in November and now he has won the Nations Cup at La Baule - he’s developing so quickly!” said his delighted rider this afternoon.

It was a super-close finish, Brazil posting a final tally of seven faults with the Dutch on eight and the Swiss on nine. The Netherlands had the satisfaction of collecting the maximum points of the six Europe Division 1 nations chasing points towards the 2018 Final. And their anchorman and new World No. 1, Harrie Smolders (Don VHP Z), took a one-third share of the €50,000 bonus on offer for double-clear rounds along with Spain’s Manuel Fernandez Saro (Cannavaro 9) and Germany’s Maurice Tebbel (Chaccos S).

Spain chased the leading pack all the way to finish fourth on 12 faults, Germany lined up fifth with 14 and Ireland slotted into sixth with 17 faults. It was a disappointing day for the French hosts who had to settle for seventh with 20 faults on the board, while Team Canada lined up eighth and last on a 35-fault total.

Today’s result bodes well for the Brazilians who also finished an impressive second at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of the United States of America at Ocala (USA) in February and who now have the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 in Tryon (USA) clearly in their sights.

For the Europe Division 1 teams however their next port of call is St Gallen on Sunday 3 June, where the host nation of Switzerland will be hoping to further boost their lead on the league table with another good result. That’s going to be a busy day of top sport as the third and final qualifier of the North/Central America & Caribbean League also takes place in Langley (CAN).

Result - La Baule (FRA):
1. Brazil - 7 faults
2. Netherlands - 8 faults
3. Switzerland - 9 faults

Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ series leaderboard - Europe Division 1:
1 Switzerland 180
2 Ireland 145
3 Spain 115

<![CDATA[Swiss sweep to victory at opening leg of Europe Division 1 series in Šamorín]]> http://chio.nl/en/news/swiss-sweep-to-victory-at-opening-leg-of-europe-division-1-series-in-amorin?news_id=3437 2018-04-29 Switzerland secured a definitive victory in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Slovakia in Šamorín today. With seven nations chasing points at this first leg of the 2018 Europe Division 1 qualifying series it was a hotly-contested affair, and the eventual winners already looked well poised for success when leading at the end of the first round on a zero scoreline.

However the second tour of the track designed by Uliano Vezzani saw a big shake-up, with Italy dropping from runner-up spot to joint-fifth and replaced by the Irish, while Belgium finished third ahead of Brazil in fourth place. Sweden lined up joint-fifth while the German team collected a total of 24 faults for seventh place and Spain accumulated 38 faults to finish last of the eight competing countries.

The Swiss picked up nine faults in round two, but that was without the services of anchorman Steve Guerdat (35) who didn’t have to return to the arena with his mare, Hannah, because the result was already decided, the Irish finishing on 13, Belgium on 16 and Brazil on 18 faults apiece.

It wasn’t all plain sailing for Swiss Chef d’Equipe Anky Kistler however, because he had to give Paul Estermann a late call-up after selected team-member, Jannike Sprunger, took a fall yesterday. And Estermann’s 10-year-old stallion, Curtis Sitte, was competing in his very first Nations Cup today. The pair collected the discard score of eight faults in round one and put five more on the board in round two, but when youngest team member Martin Fuchs produced one of four double-clears on the day then just the single mistake by pathfinders Werner Muff and Daimler at the influential vertical one fence from home had to be added for the final winning scoreline.

“We brought a really good team here and we were aiming for the win - we knew we could do it!” said Fuchs whose 11-year-old stallion, Chaplin, was sensational. He was particularly delighted because the horse is just returning to top level after injury.

“He won the Grand Prix in Mexico, and in Zurich and Doha but after the GCT in Miami he got hurt and this was his first big show back”, Fuchs explained. Talking about today’s course he said, “the back bars on the oxers were wide and square so there were quite a few faults, but for me it felt quite easy because Chaplin was jumping so well. He was fresh all the way to the last fence in the second round and this makes me very happy because I knew my planning was right - I gave him more time instead of going to some more indoor shows and today he was fit and just perfect!”

The Swiss now head into the second round of the eight-leg Europe Division 1 series in La Baule (FRA) in three weeks’ time at the top of the league table but only 10 points ahead of the Irish whose runner-up finish today was bolstered by a brilliant double-clear from US-based Paul O’Shea riding Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu. The other double-clears came from Belgium’s Nicola Philippaerts (Chilli Willi) and Brazil’s Luiz Francisco de Azevedo (Comic).

Result : Šamorín (SVK)
1. Switzerland - 9 faults
2. Ireland - 13 faults
3. Belgium - 16 faults

Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ leaderboard Europe Division 1, after first leg:
1 Switzerland 100
2 Ireland 90
3 Belgium 80