The 2016 Olympic champions from France continued to reign supreme when winning today’s opening leg of the FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping 2017 season at Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates. And it was an historic moment when, for the very first time, the host nation joined Qatar in qualifying for the hugely popular series final in Barcelona, Spain this September.
It was a close-fought battle for the top placings, with the runners-up from Qatar and Italy chasing the French all the way to the line. Germany and Switzerland finished equal-fourth ahead of Ireland in sixth, UAE in seventh and the three-member British team in eighth place. A total of nine countries competed, but only Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia contested the two qualifying spots for the final on offer to teams from the Middle East. The Saudi team’s hopes were dashed when finishing last in round one.
France, Italy and Qatar shared the lead with four faults apiece at the halfway stage. The winning Chef d’Equipe complimented course designer Bernardo Costa Cabral from Portugal afterwards. “He found a good balance. To have a competition with only three double clears and with teams being tied in first place for large parts of it means he did a great job!” said Philippe Guerdat.
The first of those double-clears came from his pathfinders, Philippe Rozier (54) and Rahotep de Toscane who were in his Olympic team gold-medal-winning side in Rio de Janeiro (BRA) last summer. French chances were then further boosted by a clear from Abu Dhabi-based Frederic David (46) and Equador van’t Roosakker who faulted just once first time out.
But it was anchorman Patrice Delaveau (52) who was the hero of the day when bringing Aquila HDC home with a double-clear to seal the result. Sheikh Ali Al Thani and First Devision, who placed sixth individually at the Rio Olympics, produced the third fault-free effort of the day to help secure the second spot for Team Qatar who completed on eight faults ahead of Italy on 12.
Philippe Guerdat was also delighted with the performance of 21-year-old Adeline Hecart who overcame a refusal at the Longines triple combination first time out to complete with just four faults in round two, and today’s success has fueled the French team manager’s ambitions for the year. “It is a good sign winning here because, if last year is anything to go by, then we will be winning something big in 2017! The aims for this season are to stay in Europe Division 1 as well as to qualify for the final in Barcelona. We will try very hard to win at home in La Baule, but the focus now shifts to the Longines FEI World Cup Final in Omaha and we’ll start planning again after that!” he said.
Final Team Placings, FEI Nations Cup Al Ain:
1. France 4 faults: Rahotep de Toscane (Philippe Rozier) 0/0, Equador van’t Roosakker (David Frederic) 4/0, Pasha du Gue (Adeline Hecart) 10/4, Aquila HDC (Patrice Delaveau) 0/0.
2. Qatar 8 faults: Appagino 2 (Hamad Al Attiyah) 12/4, Tamira IV (Khalid Al Emadi) 4/0, Armstrong van de Kapel (Faleh Al Ajami) 0/15, First Devision (Sheikh Ali Al Thani) 0/0.
3. Italy 12 faults: Belony (Michael Cristofoletti) 4/0, Otta Meraviglia di Ca’ San Giovanni (Paolo Paini) 4/4, Quinoa des Pres (Francesco Turturiello) 0/4, Ares (Emilio Bicocchi) 0/8.
4. Switzerland 16 faults: TwentyTwo des Biches (Romain Duguet) 4/0, Cordel (Claudia Gisler) 8/4, Casanova FZ (Philipp Zuger) 4/8, LB Eagle Eye (Christina Liebherr) 0/4.
4. Germany 16 faults: Cayenne WZ (Felix Hassmann) 4/0, Carella (Niklas Krieg) 12/8, Monodie H (David Will) 4/4, Baloubet 4 (Mario Stevens) 4/0.
6. Ireland 20 faults: Belcanto Z (Michael Duffy) 4/0, Chessy 17 (David Simpson) 8/4, Cartown Danger Mouse (Paul Kennedy) 0/4, Balzac (Anthony Condon) 12/9.
7. United Arab Emirates 36 faults: Pour le Poussage (Mohammed Ghanem Al Hajri) Elim/8, Cha Cha Cha (Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi) 8/4, Colton (Sheikh Majid Bin Abdullah Al Qassimi) 4/9, Sama Dubai FBH (Abdullah Mohammed Al Marri) 4/8.
8. Great Britain 37 faults: Con Man Jx (Joseph Clayton) 0/4, Golvers Hill (Nigel Coupe) 4/4, Cordalis (Louise Saywell) 12/13.
9. Saudi Arabia, 24 faults in first round: Cayen van Het Hobos (Abelkarim Abbar) Elim, Ted (Ramzy Hamad Al Duhami) 8, Varo M (Abdulrahman Alrajhi) 12, Delphi (Kamal Abdullah Bahamdan) 4.