New Zealand scored their second victory of the FEI Nations Cup™ Eventing 2014 season with a fine win in a thrilling and competitive final leg at Boekelo (NED) CCIO3*.
An all-female British team ran the Kiwis close to the wire, coming second by just 1.6 penalties, but it wasn’t quite enough to regain their position at the top of the FEI Nations Cup™ Eventing 2014 leaderboard.
Britain remained in second place overall, four points behind the series champions Germany, who clinched victory despite an unusually off day at Boekelo. France, whose Thomas Carlile took the individual honours on Sirocco du Gers, finished sixth at Boekelo but it was good enough to put them into third place in the final series standings.
The British team was in the lead after Dressage at Boekelo, with the USA in second place and the Netherlands third, but an exciting day’s Cross Country over what Australian team member Paul Tapner described as “the best Sue Benson course I’ve seen” considerably re-arranged the leaderboard.
There were 54 clear rounds from the 85 Cross Country starters but the ground was soft and it took until the very last rider on course, Ireland’s Joseph Murphy on Westwinds Hercules, the only rider in the competition to finish Cross Country on his Dressage score, before the optimum time of 10 minutes 30 seconds was achieved.
The British achieved four good clear rounds, but time penalties eroded their lead, especially when anchorwoman Laura Collett, third after Dressage, added 18 on her strong, big-jumping new ride Grand Manoeuvre, dropping the team to third.
Emilie Chandler, who was best of the British team in 11th on the CCI3* first-timer Coopers Law, said: “This is one of the most amazing events I’ve had the privilege to be part of. The course rode really well, the presentation was immaculate and everyone has worked very hard on the ground, considering the weather turned it into a bog last year.”
The Australians also produced four clears and their faster times pulled them up from sixth to second, with Tapner rising to second place individually on Indian Mill after incurring just 0.4 of a time penalty.
However, bold rounds from Lucy Jackson (NZL) on the experienced Willy Do, eventual individual runner-up, and her team mates Tim Price (Bango, 12th) and Boekelo first-timer Jock Paget (Bullet Proof, 29th) gave the Kiwis the slenderest of advantages, with just 0.7 penalties separating the top three teams at the end of Cross Country.
For Jackson, the day laid the ghost of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Normandy when, challenging for an individual medal, she and Willy Do fell near the end of the Cross Country course at Haras du Pin. “I’m over the moon, but a little frustrated with my (9.2) time penalties,” she said. “There were a couple of places where I should have trusted him, but he’s the sort of horse that will do anything I ask him to, which is a huge responsibility.”
The USA, who were down to three riders, dropped out of the reckoning when the Dressage leader, Clark Montgomery, had the terrible luck to suffer a run-out at the very last fence when his horse, Loughan Glen, swerved sharply left-handed.
Germany was down to three riders when world champion Sandra Auffarth retired The Blue Frontier during the Dressage. Andreas Dibowski finished ninth on Hans Dampf, but Peter Thomsen had a run-out with Unessa 6 at fence 7 and Andreas Ostholt withdrew Pennsylvania 28 before Jumping.
There was no margin for error in the Jumping phase for the three top teams, and Australia slipped down the order when Tapner had had an unfortunate 24-fault round.
The Netherlands produced the best performance, with three clear rounds which elevated the team from sixth to third and Alice Naber-Lozeman, sixth on ACSI Peter Parker, took the Dutch national title.
Suspense was maintained right to the end when Britain pressed New Zealand to the line thanks to a clear from Gemma Tattersall and Dinky Inky and two four-fault rounds, but Jackson, who had to go clear to clinch the New Zealand win, produced a brilliant round when it mattered to provide a fitting final to the FEI Nations Cup™ Eventing 2014.
Germany’s five wins clinches FEI Nations Cup™ Eventing 2014
Germany, Great Britain, and France each contested seven out of nine legs, but Germany’s five consecutive wins at Strzegom (POL), Aachen (GER), Malmo (SWE), Montelibretti (ITA) and Waregem (BEL) made them invincible in the final reckoning.
Britain scored one win, at Ballindenisk (IRL), plus four seconds and two thirds; France won the opening event on home ground at Fontainebleau (FRA).
New Zealand secured fourth place overall with just three outings: two wins, at Houghton Hall (GBR) and Boekelo (NED), and fourth place at Aachen (GER).
A total of 15 nations took part in this year’s FEI Nations Cup™ Eventing.
“This has been a brilliant finale to what has been a very exciting and successful FEI Nations Cup™ Eventing season,” Catrin Norinder, FEI Director of Eventing, said. “It’s particularly pleasing that so many nations contested the final.”
About the individual winner:
Thomas Carlile (FRA), 27, won the FEI World Breeding Eventing Championship for Young Horses on home ground at Le Lion D’Angers last year aboard Sirocco du Gers.
“I have a fantastic horse,” he said. “He’s only eight and this was his first CCI3*. They don’t come much braver and more honest than him. My main aim was to give him confidence, and I was determined not to fall in the water – it was much too cold!” he added referring to the near-miss in the first water complex when the horse tripped and the rider lost his stirrup.
The combination were recently sixth in the eight-year horse class at CIC3* Blenheim (GBR).
Results at Boekelo
1 New Zealand, 177.2
Lucy Jackson/Willy Do, 49.2; Tim Price/Bango, 58.5; Jock Paget/Bullet Proof, 69.5; (Annabel Wigley/Frog Rock, WD before Jumping)
2 Great Britain, 178.8
Emilie Chandler/Coopers Law, 57.9; Gemma Tattersall/Dinky Inky, 59.1; Laura Collett/Grand Manoeuvre, 61.8; (Sarah Bullimore/Lilly Corinne, 62.2)
3 Netherlands, 197.5
Alice Naber-Lozeman/ACIS Peter Parker, 54.5; Tim Lips/Bayro, 60.7; Theo Van De Vendel/Zindane, 82.3; (Raf Kooremans/MC B Vulcano, EL Cross Country)
4 Australia, 197.5
Christopher Burton/Haruzac, 59.6; Sam Griffiths/Favorit Z, 67.3; Paul Tapner/Indian Mill, 70;6; (Kevin McNab/Casperelli, 84.2)
5 Ireland, 203.7
Joseph Murphy/Westwinds Hercules, 65.0; Jonty Evans/Double Dutch, 65.6; Austin O’Connor/Kilpatrick Knight, 73.1; (Padraig McCarthy/Simon Porloe, WD before Jumping)