The French, already in the driving seat after the first leg of the Samsung Super League at La Baule last Sunday, look strong favourites to make it two-in-a-row when they line out in the second competition of the series in Rome next Friday, May 23. Brimming with confidence after their convincing opening victory, they are also returning to the Piazza di Siena as reigning champions following their success at the 70th anniversary Nations Cup show there last year and, despite the fact that they are fielding a totally different team this time out, they still look menacing. Edouard Couperie, Bruno Broucqsault, Christian Hermon and Michel Robert will be flying the flag on this occasion but they can expect powerful opposition from the Germans who are lurking in second place, only three points off the leaders at this stage. Helena Weinberg, Franke Sloothaak, Marcus Ehning and Andreas Ripke will be under orders to snatch the maximum 10 points and reverse the placings at the top of the table if they can. The British put up a stalwart performance to finish third last weekend and Nick Skelton, now back in flying form following an excellent recovery from the neck injury which very nearly finished his career, will be joined by Tim Stockdale, Keith Shore and Di Lampard in attempting to consolidate their position. American-based Kevin Babington, competing in Europe for the first time this season as he prepares for the defence of the European team title later in the summer, is the most experienced of the Irish squad which also includes Conor Swail who has been campaigning very successfully on the Italian circuit. The Irish share fourth position at present with Sweden who send out Maria Gretzer, Rolf-Goran Bengtsson, Maria Sundberg and Henrik Ankarcrona but with just 3.5 points each, both countries will be hoping to improve their respective positions as will the Dutch whose squad includes the Schroder brothers, Wim and Gerco. With just one point on the score-board the Belgians are trailing badly so Jos Lansink, Dirk Demeersman, Peter Postelmans and Ludo Philippaerts will be trying to put that to rights but the real pressure is on the home side which was awarded only 0.5 points when finishing at the bottom of the pile last Sunday. The Italian selectors have not yet confirmed their choice of team and Chef d’Equipe Duccio Bartalucci is keeping an open mind until after the CSI-A which takes place in Tuscany this weekend. He has 26 riders to choose from, but still faces a truly tough task to ensure the best possible result for his country next Friday. Gianni Govoni, Massimo Grossato and Vincenzo Chimirri look likely starters but no final decision will be made until next Monday. The Piazza di Siena, located in the Villa Borghese which this year celebrates it’s centenary as a Public Park, has always been a favourite venue for riders. Nothing can quite compare with it’s unique setting in the heart of one of the most beautiful and historic cities in the world, and as always this year’s CSIO has attracted a strong contingent of individual riders along with the eight competing Samsung Super League teams. After the 2002 fixture attracted a record crowd and with the Samsung Super League bringing increased national and international attention and interest, there is nothing the Italians would cherish more than to hear their own national anthem ringing out around the showground when the Nations Cup concludes next Friday. They have a bit to do to make that happen, but no team will be trying harder. For press accreditation and further information you can contact Press Officer, Caterina Vagnozzi, at EQUI-EQUIPE – Ufficio Stampa, Via L. Luciani 1 - 00197 Roma, Italy. Tel: +39 06 3218857 . Fax: +39 06 3610419. Mobile: +39 335 6107070 . The website for CSIO Rome is http://www.piazzadisiena.com. SAMSUNG SUPER LEAGUE TABLE – AFTER FIRST LEG AT LA BAULE 1. France - 10 points 2. Germany - 7 points 3. Great Britain - 5 points Jt. 4. Sweden - 3.5 points Ireland - 3.5 points 6. Holland - 2 points 7. Belgium - 1 point 8. Italy - 0.5 points. YOU CAN SEE IT ON TV! The second leg of the Samsung Super League series, which takes place in Rome on Friday May 23, will be broadcast as follows: Eurosport - Wednesday 28 May 22.00 – 23.00 Thursday 29 May 9.00 – 10.00 (Repeats) Equidia - Friday 23 May 18.00 – 19.30 Saturday 24 May 11.00 – 12.00 (Repeats) Sunday 25 May 23.00 – 00.30 (Repeats) TV4 - Wednesday 28 May (no time confirmed) M-Net - Friday 13 June (no time confirmed) CNBC Sports CNBC Europe (GMT)- Saturday 7 June 13.00 – 14.00 CNBC Asia (HKT) - Saturday 7 June 15.00 – 16.00 ESPN Star Sports Star Asia - Wednesday 4 June 18.00 – 19.00 Sunday 8 June 5.00 – 6.00 Star SE Asia - Wednesday 4 June 17.30 – 18.30 Thursday 5 June 6.00 – 7.00 Star India - Friday 6 June 15.30 – 16.30 Saturday 7 June 5.00 – 6.00. Want to know more? You can check the full rules for the Samsung Super League Series on the FEI website, section reference – rules http://www.horsesport.org/fei/reference_03/ref_03_02.html. For more information: FEI Communications Muriel Faienza email@example.com or consult FEI website www.horsesport.org.