Source: News Release/Louise Parkes
LEAGUE LEADERS FROM BELGIUM FIRST INTO THE RING IN ROME
The Belgian team, winners at La Baule, France two weeks ago, will be pathfinders as the second leg of the FEI Nations Cup™ 2012 series gets underway tomorrow at the Piazza di Siena in Rome (ITA). Italian summer-time has definitely arrived, with temperatures reaching 24 degrees this afternoon. And the heat is expected to rise even further tomorrow when the eight Top League Jumping nations battle for supremacy at the world-famous and much-loved CSIO which is celebrating its 80th anniversary.
At the Draw Press Conference for the second leg of the FEI Nations Cup™ 2012 in Rome (ITA) today: Rob Ehrens (Dutch Chef d’Equipe), Henk Nooren (French Chef d’Equipe), Otto Becker (German Chef d’Equipe), Rob Hoekstra (Chef d’Equipe Great Britain), Sophie Ruiz-Leimer (FEI Nations Cup Representative), Antonio Giovanonni (Rome CSIO Event Director), Robert Splaine (Irish Chef d’Equipe) and Stefano Scaccabarozzi (Italian Chef d’Equipe).
Also in action will be the host nation which no longer competes in the Top League, but which is likely to put in a big effort when making a guest appearance in front of the home crowd.
The complete draw for the order-of-go is as follows: 1, Belgium; 2, Italy; 3, The Netherlands; 4, Switzerland; 5, Ireland; 6, Sweden; 7, Great Britain; 8, Germany; 9, France.
THE SAME TEAM
Italian Chef d’Equipe, Stefano Scaccabarozzi, confirmed today that he will be sending out the same team that won the FEI Nations Cup™ Promotional League leg in Lummen, Belgium earlier this month.
That was a tough 14-nation contest, but Juan Carlos Garcia (Bonzai van de Warande), Francesca Capponi (Stallone), Natale Chiaudani (Almero 12) and Luca Marziani (Wivina) proved toughest of all and, on form, could put plenty of pressure on the Top League sides tomorrow.
Mr Scaccabarozzi modestly commented today “we have to face reality, we are not competing at this level normally with these heights and widths. The team jumped well in Lummen but of course the jumps will be 5cms higher and 20 cms wider tomorrow - we do have a good feeling though, and we are very happy to be here!” he added.
CREST OF WAVE
The Belgians arrive on the crest of a wave, having won out in a two-way jump-off with The Netherlands at the first event of the 2012 series. However Chef d'Equipe, Philippe Guerdat, pointed out today “it was a great start at La Baule, but we have a totally different team here in Rome. It will be a mixture of two riders with lots of experience and two 19 year olds who have not competed at this level - I expect them to try hard and we will do our best”.
Although the teams will not finally be confirmed until later tonight, it is Ludo Philippaerts and his twin sons Nicola and Olivier along with 2006 World Champion Jos Lansink who are expected to complete the Belgian line-up.
Only one member of the Dutch team that finished second at La Baule is included in Rob Ehrens' selection. Marc Houtzager jumped double-clear with Sterrehof's Opium at the French fixture and will, this time, be joined by 2000 Olympic gold medallist Jeroen Dubbeldam, Gerco Schroder, Harrie Smolders and Jur Vrieling. It is a strong squad, and they will be determined to make up for that first-leg disappointment when less than three seconds denied them maximum points. They will also be hoping to record a back-to-back double following their victory at the Piazza di Siena in 2011 - only their second in the 86-year history of CSIO Rome.
It was the Swedish side who finished a close third with an impressive all-round performance at La Baule, but once again Chef d'Equipe, Sylve Sodestrand, has recalled just one member of that team. Lisen Friedricson will be joined by Malin Baryard-Johnsson, Helena Persson and two riders who have been making a big impact - 25 year old Angelica Augustsson who shot to prominence with a stunning victory at the Swedish leg of the Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping series last year, and 30 year old Henrik von Eckermann who, riding the elegant 12 year old gelding Allerdings which is owned six-time Olympic gold medallist Hans Gunther Winkler from Germany, produced two stunning rounds at the opening leg in France.
The German team finished a competitive fourth that day, but Otto Becker is bringing out his "big guns" for Rome so he can have a really good look at Christian Ahlmann, Ludger Beerbaum, Marco Kutscher, Christian Ahlmann and David Will. If they perform as expected, then the defending series champions will be very difficult to beat, although they have not stood top of the podium at the Piazza di Siena since 2000.
Switzerland, Great Britain and Ireland all divided fifth place when finishing on the same score of 12 faults each last time out, so they will all be hoping to show some significant improvement. It is a completely new-look Swiss side with Clarissa Crotta, Paul Estermann, Hansueli Sprunger, Janika Sprunger and Simone Wettstein all vying for a place in Urs Gronig's starting four, and as they have only just rejoined the FEI Nations Cup™ series following relegation in 2010, the Swiss need to demonstrate a greater level of comfort now that they are back in the Top League, especially with the Olympic Games on the horizon.
The British looked really strong in the early stages last time out, but faded in the second round despite a phenomenal double-clear from Nick Skelton and Big Star who look well set for Olympic honours on their home turf this summer. Skelton will not line out this time, but Rob Hoekstra has recalled Peter Charles and Guy Williams, while William Funnell, Brash Scott and Tina Fletcher will be vying for a chance to show what they can do.
Despite their long association with Italy through the supply of super-star horses like the D'Inzeo brothers' Bellevue, Gowran Girl and The Rock, and Graciano Mancinelli's Olympic gold medal winning partner, the great Ambassador, the Irish have never won the Rome Nations Cup, so it would be a special moment if they could manage to do it this time around. Chef d'Equipe, Robert Splaine, brings Billy Twomey, Shane Sweetnam, Cian O'Connor, Niall Talbot and Dermott Lennon this year, and they will, as always, be giving it their best shot.
The biggest suprise at the opening leg at La Baule was the poor performance of the host nation who, having made some last-minute changes, finished last of the eight competing nations. The French share the honours with Germany for most wins in the Top League series - both countries have won the title four times.
French Chef d’Equipe, Henk Nooren, said yesterday “we’d like to get away from that last place (on the leaderboard), but we don’t have our best team”. He pointed out that he is trying a variety of horse-and-rider combinations because he wants to keep his options “open for as long as possible” ahead of the Olympic Games. And an extra complication has arisen this week, as Penelope Leprevost’s ride, Topinambour, has developed a foot abscess. “So we have had to make another last-minute adjustment - but on paper we have a group of good riders and good horses” the French team manager said.
And there is no doubt about that with Roger Yves Bost, Patrick Delaveau, Marc Dilassier, Penelope Leprevost and Kevin Staut on call-up. With the last-to-go starting spot, they are highly unlikely to finish last this time out.
Don’t miss a hoof-beat....
You can follow all the action LIVE on FEI TV. The series’ second leg in Rome will be broadcast on Friday, 24 May, starting at 15.15 local time.
Facts and Figures:
CSIO Rome presents the second leg of the FEI Nations Cup™ 2012.
Belgium heads the league table after the opening round at La Baule, France two weeks ago.
The Top League FEI Nations Cup™ is open to the eight leading nations in the world - Belgium, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Ireland, Sweden, Great Britain, Germany and France.
Tomorrow they will be joined by the team from Italy who will be making a guest appearance on their home turf.
The defending champions at the Piazza di Siena are the 2011 winners from The Netherlands.
Italy holds the record for most wins in the Rome Nations Cup - 27 since the event was first staged back in 1926.
Course designer at Piazza di Siena is Italy’s Uliano Vezzani.
Sophie Ruiz-Leimer, FEI Nations Cup™ representative - "the 80th edition of CSIO Rome is a very special occasion, and on behalf of the FEI, I would like to offer my congratulations to the Show Organisers”.
For further information on the second leg of the 2012 FEI Nations Cup™ series in Rome, consult www.piazzadisiena.org/
The FEI Nations Cup™ is the oldest of the FEI series. The team competition has existed for over a century, but it was in 1964 that the Nations Cup became a series when a ranking was established. Since then it has gone through a number of transformations, run as the President’s Cup, the Prince Philip Trophy, and more recently as the Super League. In recent years there has been an awareness that the concept was in need of a major review and the proposed restructuring process is seen as key to ensuring the future of the series.
The FEI Nations Cup™ Top League is currently run at eight selected European venues, but the concept was debated at the Sports Forum in Lausanne and, following further consultation, proposed changes to the format will be voted on at the General Assembly in Istanbul (TUR) in November.
FEI Nations Cup™ 2012 calendar:
La Baule (FRA), 10-13 May; Rome (ITA), 24-27 May; St Gallen (SUI), 31 May – 2 June; Rotterdam (NED) 20-24 June; Aachen (GER) 3 - 8 July; Falsterbo (SWE) 12-15 July; Hickstead (GBR) 19-22 July; Dublin (IRE) 15-19 August.
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