Dutch Delight in Rotterdam!  

29 Aug 2003

Victory of the Netherlands at home 
In what can only be described as a bizarre twist to the Samsung Super League, the Dutch came out on top in the second-last leg of the series at Rotterdam today when completing with the only zero score of the competition. Fault-free performances in both rounds for Eric Van der Vleuten (Audi’s Jikke), Jan Tops (Grande Dame) and Albert Zoer (Lowina) meant that the final Dutch rider, Peter Geerink, did not have to jump while the line-up of teams at the end of the competition was in stark contrast to what might have been expected. The French completed with just four faults on the board but few would have dreamed that the Italians and Swedes would join them in second place after their run of recent form and while Great Britain slotted into fifth carrying nine faults ahead of Belgium with 12, it was left to Germany and Ireland, two nations with different but very definite expectations for a considerably better result, to share seventh place with 13 faults apiece. Heavy rain and poor ground conditions combined to set the scene in which it was decided to keep the first-round course at just over 1.40m and this may well have had a strong influence on the end result. Super League courses have, to date, been considerably more challenging but the new grass sown in the Rotterdam arena this summer failed to take root, leaving the going deep and difficult to negotiate, so a reduction in the fence heights was introduced for safety reasons. While this suited some horses very well indeed it failed to inspire others and the German squad found themselves at the bottom of the order after the first round. The Irish fared little better, picking up nine faults while the British carried five at the halfway stage. France and Italy completed round one with just four faults each but it was neck-and-neck between Sweden, Belgium and Holland when all three nations completed their first effort with zero on the board. Anyone familiar with Nations Cup competition knows that anything can happen in the second round but that the lowest-placed teams have little chance of making much of an improvement and this was how it turned out for Germany when, despite three clears at their second attempt and a double-clear for Alois Pollmann Schweckhorst and Candy, they still had to share last place with the Irish. Billy Twomey and Anastasia went double-clear for Ireland while Peter Charles picked up only a single time fault in his first effort with Pershing but reigning World Champion Dermott Lennon and his new ride OBOS Quality provided the discount score in both rounds when collecting a total of 28 faults while Cian O’Connor and Waterford Crystal added four more to their first-round score of eight. Belgium’s chances were severely hampered when Ludo Philippaerts, whose luck has surely left him in recent days, fell on the flat between fences to return with 34 faults on the board in the second round after a perfect opening effort with Kira and when only Jos Lansink and High Valley Z remained clear this time out they had to settle for sixth spot. On a different day, the British performance would have been good enough to secure a much better placing - William Funnell producing an excellent double-clear from Cortaflex Mondriaan even though this is a horse that much prefers bigger fences, Robert Whitaker going clear with Qualite after just a single mistake first time out, nine faults in total for Mark Armstrong and Graf Gold and five faults for Scott Smith and Cabri d’Elle making up their tally. There was, however, nothing normal about this competition as the Italians, who have struggled long and hard throughout the Samsung Super League series carried only the one error from Vincenzo Chimirri and Askoll Rosa in the opening round to complete without anything further to add when Roberto Arioldi (Loro Piana le Mato) was double-clear, and Vincenzo and Emanuel Fiorelli (Western Union Equinoxe Morin) were error-free in round two leaving Bruno Chimirri with no reason to return to the ring again. Surprisingly, Malin Baryard produced the worst Swedish result with just one fence down for Irco Sun in both rounds and the Swedes would have gone into a jump-off with the Dutch for first place but for a mistake from Maria Gretzer and Cinderella in round two after both Helena Persson (Classic H) and Rolf-Goran Bengtsson (Mac Kinley) were foot-perfect at both attempts. The French, normally so much better than the rest, could not improve on their first-round four-fault result when adding no further penalties – Bruno Broucqsault (Dileme de Cephe), Lauren Goffinet (Flipper d’Elle), Hubert Bourdy (Eve des Etisses) and Christian Hermon (Ephebe For Ever) joining the Italians and Swedes in runner-up spot and helping to boost the French position at the top of the leaderboard despite the fact that the 16 available points had to be shared. For the Dutch however it was a clear and definitive victory. In a truly testing Nations Cup competition double-clear performances are somewhat of a rarity but in this remarkable Super League leg in Rotterdam a total of 11 horses left all the fences standing in both rounds and the team from The Netherlands had three of these double-clears. Van der Vleuten, Tops and Zoer were so good that Peter Geerink found himself out of a job for the day and Zoer said afterwards that this was no fluke result. "Three weeks before this show we were at Valkenswaard and these horses were also in good form there – what happened today was that we found form at the right moment and in the right place" he said, and the home crowd certainly appreciated the effort made by their boys which has resulted in a significant movement on the league leaderboard ahead of the final in Barcelona in three week’s time. France still lead the table, now 11 points ahead of the Irish, with Britain five points further adrift in third but the Dutch have shot up two places and now lie fourth ahead of the Germans who have dropped to fifth while Belgium, Sweden and Italy bring up the rear. French Chef d’Equipe, Jean-Maurice Bonneau, was happy enough with how it all turned out. "This was a good day for France because now the difference between us and the Irish is greater before Barcelona" he said. Describing the competition and the ground conditions he added "The course was very much lower than usual but maybe this was a good opportunity for the teams lower down the leaderboard to come back in with a chance. Any faults at all today were dangerous and because the fences were lower there were many clears. The show organisers did well because we were very worried about the footing for the horses – the ground was very bad yesterday and I really thought about whether we should compete with our horses. The new surface was put down I think in June and the grass was not old enough, not heavy enough to carry horses, but the organisers did a lot of hard work and we could ride on it today". So now it really is down to the wire. One last round, one last effort, one last chance but can any other team really hope to finish ahead of the French? Today the Dutch were truly impressive and look to have secured a much stronger position for the end of the league series. Double-points in Barcelona could make a big difference but now surely only a disaster can stop the French from proving once more that they are simply the best. Jean-Maurice put it into perspective yesterday when he said "Yes - I am confident now". Results: The Netherlands - 0 faults: Eric van der Vleuten/Audi’s Jikke 0+0, Jan Tops/Grande Dame 0+0, Albert Zoer/Lowina 0+0, Peter Geerink/Norit Joint Venture DNS+DNS. Equal 2. France - 4 faults: Bruno Broucqsault/Dileme de Cephe 0+0, Laurent Goffinet/Flipper d’Elle 4+0, Christian Hermon/Ephebe For Ever 0+4, Hubert Bourdy/Eve des Etisses 4+0. Italy – 4 faults: Roberto Arioldi/Loro Piana le Mato 0+0, Emanuele Fiorelli/Western Union Equinoxe Morin 5+0, Vincenzo Chimirri/Askoll Rosa 4+0, Bruno Chimirri/Australe 0+DNS . Sweden - 4 faults: Malin Baryard/Irco Sun 4+4, Helena Persson/Classic H 0+0, Rolf-Goran Bengtsson/MacKinley 0+0, Maria Gretzer/Cinderella 0+4. 5. Great Britain – 9 faults: Scott Smith/Cabri d’Elle 1+4, Mark Armstrong/Graf Gold 4+5, Robert Whitaker/Qualite 4+0, William Funnell/Cortaflex Mondriaan 0+0. 6. Belgium - 12 faults: Ludo Philippaerts/Kira 0+34, Jean-Claude Vangeenberghe/Quintus 0+8, Dirk Demeersman/Clinton 4+4, Jos Lansink/High Valley Z 0+0. Equal 7. Germany - 13 faults: Helena Weinberg/Albfuehrens Ramonus 9+4, Alois Pollman Schweckhorst/Candy 0+0, Carsten-Otto Nagel/Elwood 4+0, Lars Nieberg/Adlantus As FRH 11+0. Ireland - 13 faults: Billy Twomey/Anastasia 0+0, Dermott Lennon/OBOS Quality 12+16, Cian O’Connor/Waterford Crystal 8+4, Peter Charles/Pershing 1+0. Keep up to date with all the news from Rotterdam at website www.chio.nl. For further information you can contact Press Officer Anita Lussenberg at Email: info@chio.nl or Telephone:             00 3110 452 8900      . PLEASE NOTE 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: hanspeter@infonegocio.com. Hans Peter Vogelsanger is Show Director at Barcelona. SAMSUNG SUPER LEAGUE LEADERBOARD 1. France – 52.30 points 2. Ireland – 41.75 points 3. Great Britain – 36.00 points 4. Holland – 25.00 points 5. Germany – 23.75 points 6. Belgium – 18.50 points 7. Sweden – 16.30 points 8. Italy – 13.80 points. SAMSUNG SUPER LEAGUE – NATIONAL PRIDE, INTERNATIONAL PASSION!