The Belgians are Brilliant in La Baule
May 9 - LaBaule, France
The Belgian team came out on top in the first leg of the 2008 Samsung Super League with FEI series in La Baule, France this afternoon. This was a tough start to the season, with fortunes fluctuating as the competition progressed, but it was Ludo Philippaerts double-clear, one of the just two on the day, that sealed the result for the team which only returned to the elite level of nations’ cup show jumping last season after relegation in 2005.
Switzerland, Ireland and the USA shared runner-up spot while the Swiss rallied brilliantly after finding themselves at the bottom of the order at the end of round one, and the Irish survived some shaky moments thanks to solid performances from Edward Doyle and Denis Lynch.
It wasn’t a good day for Sweden however. They have clung on desperately to their Samsung Super League with FEI status over the past two seasons, but although they were very competitive after the opening round today, 12-fault second-round results for both Rigmor Arvidsson-Maggi and Lotta Schultz sent them plummeting to last place. It looks like they could be facing another uphill struggle as the 2008 series gets underway.
The host team from France had plenty to celebrate. The 2003/2004 series winners may not be part of the Super League family this season but they showed they they remain seriously competitive. A copy-book display from 59 year old Michel Robert riding Koro d’Or produced the only other double-clear of the afternoon and helped secure joint-fifth for France along with the surprisingly erratic Dutch, while Great Britain started strongly but fell back to finish seventh ahead of Germany in eighth and the trailing Swedes in ninth.
Course designer Frederic Cottier presented a straight-forward test with no nasty traps but, as always, when the action moves outside to big grass arenas after the restrictions of the winter indoors then horses and riders have to adjust and Cottier came up with a master-plan to help them do just that. The Samsung vertical at fence five hit the ground more than once as anxiety about the following water took hold, while the penultimate triple combination also claimed plenty of scalps. However problems were widespread throughout the 12-fence track.
At the end of round one it was the British who held the whip hand with just six faults on the board after a clear from Nick Skelton and Russel, a single time-fault form Ben Maher and Rolette and five faults for Robert Smith with Ronaldo, Tim Gredley providing the drop-score with four fences down for Omelli.
The Belgians however were already looking strong and lay second following clears from both Philippaerts and his stallion Cavalor’s Winningmood and Judy-Ann Melchior with Aktion Pur Z so that they only counted the eight collected by Philippe Le Jeune and Vigo d’Arsouilles as the three mistakes from Niels Bruynseels and Item de Quintin were discarded.
The French were also impressive, Kevin Staut and Kraque Boom Bois Margot bringing a roar of approval from the packed stands as he kicked off for the host country with a clear and Robert bringing up the rear with Koro d’Or in exactly the same fashion while Timothee Anciaume registered nine faults with Jarnac and Patrice Deleveau left two fences on the floor with Katchinamail Normandie. Sharing second spot with the Belgians and French at the half-way point were Sweden and the USA also on eight faults - Sweden’s Peter Eriksson (Jaguar Mail) and Lotta Schultz (Calibra) making just single errors, and Helena Lundback going clear with Bukowskis Erbblume to discard the 12 recorded by Rigmor Arvidsson-Maggi with Gentano. Anne Kursinski was the American pathfinder and the 49 year old showed the wealth of her experience with a four-fault result for Roxana before Charlie Jayne collected eight with Urbanus. Kate Levy and Vent du Nord left just one on the floor and then Will Simpson rounded up the US effort with a great clear from the little Holsteiner gelding El Campeon’s Carlsson Vom Dach.
The Irish slotted into equal-fifth after four fault results from Edward Doyle (Sequoyah Farms Utopia), River Foyle (Capt Shane Carey) and Denis Lynch (Lantinus) allowed Cian O’Connor’s 12 with Irish Independent Echo Beach to be dropped, and also sharing a score of 12 faults at this stage were Germany’s Thomas Voss (Leonardo B), Thomas Muhlbauer (Asti Spumante), Max Kuhner (Arcantus GK) and Otto Becker (Dobel’s Cordina) - Voss picking up five faults while the remainder collected just four.
Second-last at the end of round one were the Dutch - Angelique Hoorn (Blauwendraad’s O’Brien) and Gerco Schroder (Eurocommerce Berlin) with four faults apiece, Marc Houtzager (Opium) with five and Vincent Voorn (Audi’s Alpapillon-Armanie) providing the drop-score with 12 while Switzerland languished at the bottom. Both pathfinder Christina Liebherr (LB No Mercy) and anchor-man Steve Guerdat (Jalisca Solier) had just one fence down but two errors from both Jane Richard (Jalia de Gaverie) and Pius Schwizer (Nobless M) left the Swiss carrying 16 faults into round two.
Clears from Richard - who showed real promise with a good performance in the Samsung Super League with FEI in Dublin last August - and Guerdat second time out raised Switzerland’s profile dramatically in the second round when they added just four more to their tally to finish on a score of 20. The Dutch added eight - Houtzager keeping a clean sheet this time out but Hoorn and Voorn having one down while Schroder dropped two - to finish on 21. The Germans couldn’t produce a single clear - Voss and Becker collecting eight and Muhlbauer and Kuhner four apiece to complete with 28 while the Irish were saved by a superb last-to-go clear from Denis Lynch after Doyle held firm with another four, Carey picked up a dangerous 16 and O’Connor recovered to leave just one down this time out. American hopes were high when Kursinski repeated her first-round performance of four and then Jayne produced a spectacular clear. If Levy’s 12 could be dropped and if Simpson could go clear then they would finish with 12 on the board and that would really put the pressure on those ahead of them. But two mistakes proved costly although the 20-fault result which left them sharing second place at the end of the day was creditable for this very new American selection.
The Swedes meanwhile were in all kinds of trouble, losing their grip completely when adding 24 faults in round two, while the French looked much more vulnerable second time out until rescued by Robert’s great second clear to finish on 21 faults. Now it was down to the leading nations and when Le Jeune kicked off with a clear this time out, Melchior had just one down and Philippaerts re-enacted his foot-perfect first effort then Bruynseels eight could be dropped to give them a final total of 12. The British still had some leeway but any more than one fence down would threaten their advantage. Russel landed in the water and also picked up a time-fault for Skelton, Gredley collected another nine faults, Maher picked up eight and as Smith entered the ring the chance of taking runner-up spot hung in the balance. If he could stay clear then Britain would complete on 19 faults and that would be good enough to slot in behind the Belgians but a fence down on the last line put paid to that.
Phlippaerts said the course today was ideal. “It was a really nice track - not too big but technical enough for the horses and riders here - the Chef de Piste did a great job!” he said. And he believed that this was a big day for Belgian show jumping because his country has never won a Samsung Super League with FEI competition before - “I believe we won the Nations Cup here in La Baule in 1999, but it was not the Super League then” he pointed out. He complimented his fellow-riders - “Judy-Ann was very good and Philippe too with eight faults and then a clear - also Niels - he is a young rider and he did a good job today” he insisted.
He was delighted with his nine year old stallion Cavalor’s Winningmood who lived up to his name this afternoon. “I bought him when he was six months old so I have him a long time and I always thought he was a special horse - today he proved it” and now he says Belgium looks forward to more good results in the 2008 Samsung Super League with FEI series. “We can put together teams and with some older and some younger riders and it will work well” he said.
At the post-competition press conference there was much discussion about the course which did not appear too complicated but which demanded a lot of respect. Course-designer Cottier said that his philosophy was not too build too big and to make it difficult for the riders but comfortable for the horses and, it seems, he succeeded in doing just that. The Belgian team in particular told him he did an excellent job today - and with a smile Monsieur Cottier said - “that’s nice - now I will go and ask the Germans and Swedish if they think the same thing….”
Their view was probably a little different - but they all have a chance to change their positions on the 2008 Samsung Super League with FEI leaderboard at the next leg in Rome in two weeks time…….
12 flts -
20 flts -
20 flts -
20 flts -
21 flts -
21 flts -
BRITAIN 22 flts - ]
28 flts -
32 flts -
SUPER LEAGUE WITH FEI 2008 -
1. Belgium -
For further details about the first leg of the series at La Baule check out WEBSITE www.labaule-cheval.com
The second leg of the series takes place at the Piazza di Siena in Rome, Italy on Friday 23 May. WEBSITE www.fise.it
LEAGUE - NATIONAL PRIDE, INTERNATIONAL PASSION!
ROUND 1 - La
Baule (FRA) 5-11 May;