France wins its second Samsung Super League 

18 Sep 2004

Italy is relegated 
FLYING FRENCH DO THE DOUBLE – BUT IT’S A TOUGH FIGHT TO THE FINISH…… The French team made a remarkable recovery to clinch the Samsung Super League title for the second time in a gripping conclusion to the 2004 series at the Real Club de Polo in Barcelona today. Lying eighth of the nine participating teams after the first round, Jean-Maurice Bonneau’s side looked to be in real trouble but three clears in round two changed the situation dramatically and although Germany won the competition the joint-second placing achieved by the French was good enough to secure the league victory. The British were heading the leaderboard with just four faults at the halfway stage when The Netherlands, USA, Belgium, Ireland and Italy were lying joint-second with 12 faults each. Spanish course designer Avelino Rodriguez Miravalles set them a 12-fence track that produced problems everywhere - the water jump at four, the vertical on a left-hand turn at seven, the following combination and the tricky line from the penultimate double to the final oxer proving most difficult. Robert Smith (Marius Claudius) and Scott Smith (Cabri d’Elle) were foot-perfect however and when both Robert Whitaker (Nicolette) and Nick Skelton (Russel) each made just a single mistake the British were looking very strong. Lying second on the Samsung Super League leaderboard after the second-last leg of the series in Dublin it looked quite possible that if they could maintain their advantage they could not only win the final competition but also the league title as well and with their nearest rivals from Germany holding seventh position after round one and the French even lower down the order in eighth it was looking good. The non-Super League team from Spain were just one fault behind the French in ninth spot at this stage and, despite a valiant struggle, failed to make any headway in round two. The British began to lose their grip however when Robert Smith returned an eight-fault result second time out and their hopes were further eroded when Scott Smith, having hit the second fence, then proceeded to lower six more to complete with 28 faults. The French meanwhile rallied strongly with clears from both Laurent Goffinet (Flipper d’Elle) and Patrice Deleveau (Envoye Special) but when Pia-Luise Aufrecht (Hofgut Liederbach’s Abrisca) added another eight faults to her tally Germany was still struggling. A clear from Rene Tebbel however improved their prospects and when Ulrich Kirchhoff followed suit with Damhus Carino it seemed possible they could discount Aufrecht’s second-round score if their last rider, Heinrich Hermann Engemann (Aboyeur W), could leave all the fences standing. Engemann, winner of Friday night’s Longines Grand Prix, did just that to leave his side with a total of 16 faults but the British were back in the frame after a great clear from Robert Whitaker and Nicolette, leaving all the pressure on the final British partnership of Skelton and Russel. The very last rider into the ring, Skelton could win it for Britain if he stayed clear but he hit both the second fence and the narrow gate at fence nine to leave his side with a total of 20 faults and when Jean Marc Nicolas, who had collected 21 faults in round one, recorded a clear at his second attempt with JPC Modesto Equifoam then France completed on the same score. Germany had won the day but France had won the 2004 Samsung Super League and the French celebrations were already underway. Jean-Marc Nicolas strode into the post-competition press conference posing as Napoleon Bonaparte with his Samsung cap sitting sideways on his head and, in an atmosphere of genuine fun and camaraderie, the season closed in just the right mood. French Chef Jean-Maurice Bonneau admitted that he now felt a great deal better than he did between the first and second rounds of the competition. "This result has proven that this series is difficult to win – we had to put up a real fight and the best three teams finished on the podium. I want to pay tribute to my riders, owners and the equestrian industry in France that supports us so well" he said. France fielded 14 riders in the eight legs of the five-month series – "and that’s very hard to do, there are so many top-level competitions – this year we had nations cups, the Samsung Super League and the Olympic Games. For nations like Belgium and Italy that do not have enough riders it is very difficult. In France we are lucky because we are a horse-producing country with good riders and we can give experience to our younger riders like Laurent by mixing them with more seasoned riders – it helps them to improve" Mons Bonneau pointed out. For Italy however it was a very sad day as they must now say goodbye to the Samsung Super League family. It had seemed impossible that they could be saved and that was how it proved when, despite the best efforts of Bruno Chimirri, Andrea Heroldt, Natale Chiaudani and Juan Carlos Garcia their joint-fifth placing could not bring them back from the brink. Nothing could take away from the delight of the French however and there was a loud roar of laughter when Ulrich Kirchhoff removed the French banner from the top of the results board at the press conference and replaced it with the German banner. "No sorry" said Jean-Marc Nicolas, "today is our day – perhaps next year?". It was the perfect conclusion to the tough season and Michael Stone, FEI Sports Director said that since Samsung is really pleased with the success of the series "hopefully we can look forward to many more years of fantastic competition". Jean-Maurice was acutely aware of how dangerously close his team had come to losing out on all the hard work which had kept them at the top of the Super League leaderboard all year by a poor early performance today. "It has been our failing this year – at Aachen and Hickstead we were weak in the first round but came back in the second while last year we were good in the first round and then poor in the second. I’m not quite clear why this has been happening but we need to avoid this so that we can be stronger" he said, admitting that he had "shouted at some riders more than others" during the interval between the two rounds of competition when Olympic bronze medallist Beatriz Ferrer Salat was awarded honorary membership of the Real Club de Polo de Barcelona in a special ceremony. It was big smiles all the way now however and the disappointment of the Athens Olympic Games was put behind them as the French took their rightful place as the Samsung Super League heroes once again. RESULTS: 1. Germany – 16 faults: Pia-Luise Aufrecht/Hofgut Liederbach’s Abrisca 8/8, Rene Tebbel/Farina 4/0, Ulrich Kirchhoff/Damhus Carino 4/0, Heinrich Hermann Engemann/Aboyeur W 8/0. EQUAL 2. France - 20 faults: Laurent Goffinet/Flipper d’Elle HN 8/0, Patrice Deleveau/Envoye Special 4/0, Christian Hermon/Ephebe for Ever Ecolit 8/4, Jean-Marc Nicolas/JPC Modesto Equifoam 21/0. EQUAL 2. Great Britain - 20 faults: Robert Smith/Marius Claudius 0/8, Scott Smith/Cabri d’Elle 0/28, Robert Whitaker/Nicolette 4/0, Nick Skelton/Russel 4/8. 4. USA - 24 faults: Peter Wylde/Fein Cera 4/0, Judith Garofalo/Oliver 16/20, Norman dello Joio/Peace Train 4/8, Chris Kappler/Primeur 4/4. EQUAL 5. Ireland – 28 faults: Marion Hughes/Heritage Transmission 4/4, David Quigley/Ashdale Futuro 16/8, Marie Burke/Chippison 8/4, Shane Carey/Killossery 0/8. EQUAL 5. Italy - 28 faults: Bruno Chimirri/Landknecht 4/8, Andrea Heroldt/Nanta 8/8, Natale Chiaudani/Harland d’Authieux 8/4, Juan Carlos Garcia/Albin 0/4. EQUAL 5. Belgium – 28 faults: Ludo Philippaerts/Kira 4/8, Nick Vrins/Nagano 4/4, Marc van Dijck/Verelst Goliath 4/4, Dirk Demeersman/Clinton 13/8. 8. The Netherlands – 32 faults: Eric van der Vleuten/Audi’s Jikke 4/0, Angelique Hoorn/BCO VDL Oranto 4/12, Emile Tacken/Miss Montana 8/12, Wout-Jan van der Schans/Broere VDL Atlantic 4/8. 9. Spain - 45 faults: Rutherford Latham Moorehead/Galoubette Mondian 4/8, Cayetano Martinez de Irujo/Delon 1/8, Pilar Lucrecia Cordon Muro/Haut de Val 16/20, Jesus Garmendia Echeverria/Espoir de la Haye 24/8. For full details about the 2004 Samsung Super League final at Barcelona on Sunday 19 September telephone:             + 34 932031008       or fax: + 34 9320556616. Show Director is Hanspeter Vogelsanger and you can email him at Press Officer is Isabel Suter and you can visit the CSIO Barcelona website at SAMSUNG SUPER LEAGUE 2004 LEADERBOARD – FINAL STANDINGS: 1. France - 56.3. 2. Germany - 52.3 3. Great Britain- 44.5 4. USA - 33 5. Belgium - 32.3 6. The Netherlands- 30.5 7. Ireland - 29.5 8. Italy - 14.