France wins the coveted Agha Khan Trophy in Dublin  

8 Aug 2003

Bravo la France! 
 
Despite all the predictions that the home side would come out on top, it was the longtime Samsung Super League leaders from France who reigned supreme to claim the Aga Khan trophy for the second year running at Dublin Horse Show today. Irish Chef d’Equipe, Tommy Wade, was not happy with the performance of his team which finished equal third with Holland behind Britain in runner-up spot and was brutal in his criticism afterwards – "the horses were good enough but the riders weren’t, they threw it away" he said. Wade is a difficult man to please even when things are going well, but yesterday that "luck" which he says always plays such a big role in the end result just did not go Ireland’s way. The French however did not need any luck at all. They were, once more, just too good for the rest of them. They already held the lead at the halfway stage after clear rounds from Florian Angot (First de Launay), Christian Hermon (Ephebe For Ever) and Michel Hecart (Quilano de Kalvarie) but they were not alone as the Dutch, at last beginning to show the kind of form usually expected of them, matched their zero total. Marc Houtzager and HBC Jacomar, winners of the Dublin Grand Prix last year, joined Eric Van der Vleuten (Audi’s Jikke) and Wim Schroder (Eurocommerce Montreal) to leave all the fences standing and that was quite a feat as course-designer, Linda Allen, had set them a real challenge. Just three horse-and-rider combinations completed double-clear rounds – Hermon and Ephebe For Ever for France, Jos Lansink and the enormous grey Ak Cumano Z for Belgium and Britain’s Robert Smith with Mr Springfield. The British were lying third as the second round began, carrying just the four faults collected by William Funnell and Cortaflex Amber du Montois at the bogey middle-element of the treble at fence seven which caused huge problems throughout the competition. Linda had set a real trap, with a line of fences from a triple bar at fence six to the tight-distance combination at seven and on to an oxer at fence eight but after victory at Hickstead, British confidence is considerably higher and Michael Whitaker sealed the four-fault tally when steering the volatile mare, Fleur, home without incident at his first attempt. The Belgians were in fourth with 12 faults at this stage, Sweden and Ireland next with 13 faults each, Germany in seventh with 16 faults and Italy trailing the field with 17 on the board. Dutch chances slipped away as the second round unfolded and the French began to look just a bit vulnerable when Angot hit the infamous treble and the following oxer for eight faults. Goffinet and Flipper d’Elle however, who had already become real favourites with the spectators earlier in the week, improved on their four-fault first-round result to go clear this time and when Christian Hermon completed his double-clear, the result was already assured. Carrying eight faults with just three riders gone in the second round they could not be caught. Despite Whitaker’s good start, Fleur became increasingly difficult and lowered three fences for 12 faults to provide his team’s second-round discard score so, counting four from Nick Skelton and Arko who had two down at their first attempt and just a single time fault from Funnell, whose skill was tested to the full by his heady chestnut mare, to Smith’s second clear Britain completed with nine on the board, a full eight faults ahead of the Dutch and Irish in third. Belgium finished fifth (20 faults), Germany sixth (24 faults) and Sweden seventh (26 faults) while Italy was eliminated when only two riders returned to the ring in the second round. Italy are now staring relegation in the face as their total of 8.5 points at this stage in the series leaves them at the bottom of the order behind Sweden with 11 points, Holland with 15, Belgium with 16.5, Germany with 23, Great Britain with 33, the Irish carrying 41 and the French, still holding all the aces, with a total of 47. French Chef d’Equipe Jean Maurice Bonneau was smiling broadly at the end of the day. "It was funny because over the first two days here the courses were too low but Linda was clever today and it was not so easy for really scopey horses" he said. That was exactly what Tommy Wade had said he did not want the previous day. Big, bold fences are much suitable for the Irish who were much-fancied to top the line-up on home ground but the American course-builder got just the result she wanted. It was just the result the French wanted too and gives them their third Samsung Super League victory, setting the reigning World Champions up nicely ahead of the European Championships in Germany in two weeks time. Ireland will field a squad including the same four which competed yesterday along with Peter Charles to defend the European team title so hard-won in Arnhem two years ago and yesterday’s performance may leave Tommy Wade with some worries about that. But for the French it was celebrations all the way. "Last year we won here for the first time in 45 years and it is a great pleasure to win again in this country which is so famous for producing good horses" Bonneau said. He was well-pleased with the performance of new recruit, 27 year old Laurent Goffinet and the truly exciting little stallion Flipper d’Elle. The horse is owned by the French National Stud and could have been given to many more experienced riders instead of going to the young man from Normandy but they have established a great partnership as Goffinet allows the horse to use his exuberance to great effect and, following a series of Grand Prix victories in France and a good performance at the French National Championship, they excelled in this their Nations Cup debut. "We must give our good horses to new riders as well as to the more experienced ones – that way we have more to choose for our team" Bonneau said before commenting on the need for all Samsung Super League venues to take care of the ground conditions for their legs of the series. He was highly critical of the conditions at Hickstead where the Grand Prix took place before the Nations Cup. "We must look after the welfare of our horses – two weeks ago we decided not to go in the Grand Prix there and it was a good decision" he said but added that the going in Dublin was excellent. "It is Ireland, England and France who will have a good battle at the end of this series" he predicted and that is how it looks as the series moves on to Rotterdam later this month. Results: 1. France - 8 faults: Florian Angot/First de Launay 0+8, Lauren Goffinet/Flipper d’Elle 4+0, Christian Hermon/Ephebe Forever 0+0, Michel Hecart/Quilano de Kalvarie 0+DNS. 2. Great Britain – 9 faults: Arko/Nick Skelton 8+4, Fleur/Michael Whitaker 0+12, William Funnell/Cortaflex Amber du Montois 4+1, Robert Smith/Mr Springfield 0+0. Equal 3. Ireland - faults: Robert Splaine/Coolcorron Cool Diamond 4+4, Cian O’Connor/Waterford Crystal 4+4, Billy Twomey/Luidam 5+0, Kevin Babington/Carling 8+0 and Holland - 17 faults: Marc Houtzager/HBC Jacomar 0+10, Eric van der Vleuten/Audi’s Jikke 0+8, Wim Schroder/Eurocommerce Montreal 0+1, Peter Geerink/Norit Joint Venture 8+8. 5. Belgium - 20 faults: Philippe Lejeune/Karioka del Follee 8+4, Jean-Claude Vangeenberghe/Quintus 4+4, Stanny Van Paesschen/Bioagrico Ohio vd Paddenborre 31+10, Jos Lansink/AK Cumano 0+0. 6. Germany – 24 faults: Rene Tebbel/Farina 8+8, Franz-Josef Dahlmann/Pikeur Carlo Cassini 13+4, Andreas Ripke/Holsatia 4+0, Fritz Fervers/Diabolo D’Ysieux 4+4. 7. Sweden - 26 faults: Malin Baryard/Irco Sun 7+5, Helena Persson/Classic H 4+4, Rolf-Goran Bengtsson/Mac Kinley 4+8, Maria Gretzer/Cinderella 5+4. 8. Italy - Elim: Massimo Grossato/Loro Piana Elkintot 16+DNS, Enroco Maria Frana/Dohitzun Guernica 12+12, Bruno Chimirri/Landknecht 1+5, Roberto Arioldi/Loro Piana Dime de la Cour 4+DNS. Keep up to date with the latest news from Dublin Horse Show at website www.rds.ie. For further information you can contact Press Officer, Niamh Kelly, at Tel:             00 3531 2407227       or Mobile:             00 35386 3828531      , Fax: 00 3531 6604014, Email: marketing@rds.ie. ALSO PLEASE NOTE that the website for the SAMSUNG SUPER LEAGUE FINAL IN BARCELONA in now up and running at www.csiobarcelona.com. Isabel Suter is Press Officer at Barcelona and if you have any questions about the Final you can contact her at Email: hanspeter@infonegocio.com. Hans Peter Vogelsanger is Show Director for Barcelona. SAMSUNG SUPER LEAGUE LEADERBOARD 1. France - 47 points 2. Ireland - 41 points 3. Great Britain - 33 points 4. Germany - 23 points 5. Belgium – 16.5 points 6. Holland - 15 points 7. Sweden - 11 points 8. Italy – 8.5 points. SAMSUNG SUPER LEAGUE – NATIONAL PRIDE, INTERNATIONAL PASSION!
 

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