In a gripping conclusion to the inaugural Samsung Super League series, France suffered a heavy defeat in Barcelona today but still claimed the league trophy by a ten-point margin. The Irish had to settle for joint-second in the final standings after an emphatic victory in this leg by Germany whose final rider, Ludger Beerbaum, never had to jump a fence while the Italians, clinging desperately to the bottom of the leaderboard, rose manfully to the occasion, avoiding relegation when adding an extra 12 points to their total as double-points were awarded. Sweden however must compete in the second division next season as, despite a brave struggle by Malin Baryard, Helena Persson, Royne Zetterman and Helena Lundback their equal-fourth placing today was not good enough to save them. Few could have predicted the Barcelona result as the Spanish squad, taking part as host country but not entitled to Super League points, slotted into runner-up spot. The Italians, so very weak thoughout much of the series, shared third with Belgium while Sweden and Britain divided fifth, Holland was sixth, the Irish were seventh and the normally brilliant French came last. Even more remarkably, the Dutch, Italians and Germans shared the lead on a zero score at the end of the first round when France, Sweden, Spain and Belgium were next in line with just four faults each. The British carried eight into round two but the Irish were already in trouble, bringing up the rear with 16 on the board at the halfway stage. The absence of so many of their top riders had left them vulnerable and when Harry Marshall’s opening 12 faults from his Gijon Grand Prix winner Splendido was discarded they still had to count four-fault results from both Lt Shane Carey and Cian O’Connor along with the eight collected by Nations Cup debutante Marie Burke. A clear round from Carey and Killossery second time out brought some improvement to the Irish position but with eight more to add when both Marshall and O’Connor each lowered a single pole this time, their finishing score of 24 was always going to leave them well down the order. The French meanwhile were badly hampered by a second-round fall for Bruno Broucqsault when he got it all wrong at the double, and having to count 12 faults from Laurent Goffinet and Flipper d’Elle, eight from Hubert Bourdy and Eve de Etisses and four from Florian Angot and First de Launay they were obliged to add 24 further penalties to their first-round tally to complete on a total of 28. The Dutch also fell apart in the second round when both Eric van der Vleuten (Audi’s Jikke) and Jan Tops (Roofs) left two fences on the floor and Albert Zoer (Lowina) and Gert Jan Bruggink (Joel) each made a single error to finish with 20 but the Italians were seriously impressive, clearly driven to give their very best under extreme pressure. Massimo Grossato (Loro Piana Elkintot), Vincenzo Chimirri (Askoll Rosa) and Roberto Arioldi (Loro Piana Le Mato) had all jumped clear first time out while Bruno Chimirri (Landknecht) had two down and all four riders faulted just once at their second attempt to leave Italy on level-pegging with Belgium. Stanny Van Paesschen and O de Pomme had provided the Belgian discount score when picking up 16 faults in his opening effort but a clear round next time out added to four faults each from Ludo Philippaerts (Parco) and Jos Lansink (AK Caridor Z) left them on a concluding total of 12. All four Swedish team members faulted once in round two to leave them with 16 faults along with Britain’s Michael Whitaker (Abrisca), Scott Smith (Cabri d’Elle), Richard Davenport (Luc) and Robert Smith (Marius Claudius) but the Spanish only had to add Jesus Garmendia Echevarria’s single error with Espoir de la Haye to finish with eight on the board and that was good enough for second place. The Germans showed just how effective they could have been throughout the Super League if they had chosen to send out their big guns. Today they were in a league of their own, Lars Nieberg (Adlantus As), Marco Kutscher (Montender) and Christian Ahlmann (Coster) never touching a pole to seal the cleanest of victories and promoting their country from fifth to joint-second with the Irish at the end of this tough, eight-round series which has seen so many twists and turns since it kicked off at La Baule five months ago. France however are deserving winners of the 2003 Samsung Super League, having committed themselves wholeheartedly and graciously to this new concept in Nations Cup jumping which has helped to bring the sport to a whole new level. FEI President HRH The Infanta Dona Pilar de Borbon joined the 6,500 spectators at the sun-soaked Real Club de Polo de Barcelona to enjoy this final leg of this exciting series which has captured the hearts and imagination of riders and spectators alike. Eight Super Teams, eight Super Venues but only one Samsung Super League title and - this time around - it is VIVE LA FRANCE! -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The website for the SAMSUNG SUPER LEAGUE FINAL IN BARCELONA is www.csiobarcelona.com. Isabel Suter is Press Officer and if you have any questions about the Final you can contact her at Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Hans Peter Vogelsanger is Show Director at Barcelona. Result: 1. Germany – 0 faults: Lars Nieberg/Adlantus As FRH 0+0, Marco Kutscher/Montender 0+0, Christian Ahlmann/Coster 0+0, Ludger Beerbaum/Gladdys S DNS+DNS. 2. Spain – 8 faults: Rutherford Latham/Galoubette Mondain 0+0, Jesus Garmendia Echevarria/Espoir de la Haye 13+4, Cayetano Martinez de Irujo/Delon Va 0+10, Christophe Francois/Oxford 4+0. Equal 3. Italy – 12 faults: Massimo Grossato/Loro Piana Elkintot 0/4, Vincenzo Chimirri/Askoll Rosa 0/4, Bruno Chimirri/Landknecht 8+4, Roberto Arioldi/Loro Piana Le Mato 0+4. Belgium – 12 faults: Maurice Van Roosbroeck/Le Coup C 4+16, Stanny Van Paeschen/O de Pomme 16+0, Ludo Philippaerts/Parco 0+4, Jos Lansink/AK Caridor Z 0+ 4. Equal 5. Great Britain – 16 faults: Michael Whitaker/Abrisca 4+4, Scott Smith/Cabri d’Elle 4+0, Richard Davenport/Luc 0+4, Robert Smith/Marius Claudius 4+8. Sweden – 16 faults: Malin Baryard/H&M Butterfly Flip 0+4, Helena Persson/Classic H 4+4, Royne Zetterman/Richmond Park 4+4, Helena Lundback/Mynta 0+4. 7. Holland – 20 faults: Eric Van der Vleuten 0+8, Jan Tops/Roofs 0+8, Albert Zoer/Lowina 0+4, Gert Jan Bruggink/Joel DNS+4. 8. Ireland – 24 faults: Harry Marshall/Splendido 12+4, Marie Burke/Chippison 8+8, Lt Shane Carey/Killossery 4+0, Cian O’Connor/Waterford Crystal 4+4. 9. France – 28 faults: Florian Angot/First de Launay 0+4, Laurent Goffinet/Flipper d’Elle 4+12, Bruno Broucqsault/Dileme de Cephe 4+35, Hubert Bourdy/Eve de Etisses 0+8. SAMSUNG SUPER LEAGUE LEADERBOARD 1. France – 53.53 Equal 2, Ireland and Germany – 43.75 4. Great Britain – 43.0 5. Belgium – 30.5 6. Holland – 29.0 7. Italy – 25.83 8. Sweden – 23.33. SAMSUNG SUPER LEAGUE – NATIONAL PRIDE, INTERNATIONAL PASSION!