It's not over yet!  

16 Sep 2003

Four days to go before the Final event of the Samsung Super League 
 
With just four days to go the Final of the first Samsung Super League series in Barcelona it seems that France must be firm favourites to take the title but, after a season full of surprises, can we be so sure? Who could have predicted at the beginning of the year that the French would be so dominant, with three outright victories and an exceptionally consistent run of form? It is difficult enough to put together a team of horses and riders capable of winning one major championship but, in the space of 12 months, the French are World Champions and European Silver medallists, yet still managed to head the Samsung Super League leaderboard throughout the entire series – their strength in depth is nothing short of remarkable. The Irish too have been surprisingly effective although they have faltered in the latter stages. They can always be relied upon to put in their very best effort at the most unlikely times and few would have expected them to head the line-up at two of the toughest rounds of the Super League in St Gallen and Aachen. They were snapping at the heels of the French until things went horribly wrong for them at the penultimate leg in Rotterdam but, still in second position and ready to pounce should the long-time leaders find themselves in trouble, they can never be discounted. Rotterdam, of course, created the biggest surprise of all when the home side won through on a day when most of the main contenders floundered and the Dutch now find themselves comfortably placed in fourth behind the British whose victory, also on home soil, bolstered their position. If the French and Irish suffer disaster next Sunday it is still possible that the British could win the series and their squad which includes Richard Davenport, Andrew Davies, Scott Smith and Michael Whitaker will be fully aware of that. Double-points are on offer so the top three teams are all in contention for the title and the 200,000 Euro winning prize, but it would take a very poor performance from the French and a third-placing or lower for the Irish to allow the British take the spoils. The Dutch send Gert Jan and Peter Bruggink, Jan Tops, Albert Zoer and Eric Van der Vleuten but they will be jumping fences a great deal bigger than the modest track at Rotterdam and will do well to retain their position on the league table because the Germans, lying one place further behind in fifth, are sending their big guns including newly-crowned European individual and team champion Christian Ahlmann and European individual silver and team gold medallist Ludger Beerbaum along with Marco Kutscher, Caroline Muller and Lars Nieberg. Ludo Philippaerts will be hoping to break the run of bad luck he has endured in recent weeks when lining out alongside Jos Lansink, Stanny Van Paesschen, Jean Claude Vangeenberghe and Maurice Van Roosebroeck and the Belgians, currently sixth, will be acutely aware that they need to finish ahead of the remaining two teams. Malin Baryard, Maria Gretzer, Helena Lundback, Helena Persson and Royne Zetterman will be flying the Swedish flag with determination to finish in front of the Italians but Roberto Arioldi, Bruno and Vincenzo Chimirri, Roberto Christofoletti and Massimo Grossato will have been well-primed by Italian Chef d’Equipe Duccio Bartalucci and will fight long and hard to avoid relegation. The battle for positions at the bottom of the league table promises to be just as fierce as it is at the very top when the action begins on Sunday. The French seem to hold all the aces. Florian Angot, Bruno Broucqsault, Hubert Bourdy, Laurent Goffinet and Christian Hermon have been designated the task of securing this first-ever Samsung Super League trophy which Chef d’Equipe, Jean-Maurice Bonneau, has had clearly in his sights from the very start. The fact that this is not the most experienced team the French can muster is an indication of the enviable wealth of talent from which their selectors can now choose. The Irish, on the other hand, having lost the services of Kevin Babington who has returned to home to America and both Peter Charles and Billy Twomey due to horse injuries, are considerably weaker. Robert Splaine has had an exceptional season with his stallion Coolcorron Cool Diamond but Cian O’Connor’s Waterford Crystal has not been showing form of late. Lieutenant Shane Carey was on the winning Irish squad at Gijon recently along with Harry Marshall who also won the Grand Prix there so they have earned their stripes along with fifth team member, Marie Burke, but she will be really thrown in at the deep end if she is called up with her stallion Chippison as neither horse, nor rider, have ever competed in Nations Cup at any level before. Despite four Nations Cup wins and qualification for the Athens Olympic Games in 2003, Chef d’Equipe Tommy Wade is coming under increasing pressure from a variety of quarters at home and will be under pressure to produce the best possible result for Ireland this weekend. The organisers have pulled out all the stops to ensure that the Samsung Super League final will be something special and, as host country, a Spanish team including Christophe Francois, Jesus Garmedia Echevarria, Rutherford Latham, Cayetano Martinez de Irujo and Pascal Levy join the eight Super League teams at the Real Club de Polo de Barcelona. It will be a glittering and glamorous occasion in the city that hosted the much-celebrated Olympic Games in 1992 and the FEI has ensured that journalists covering the European Eventing Championships are kept fully up-to-date as a live TV-link will be provided to the Press Room at Punchestown next Sunday showing the second round of the competition. Barcelona promises to provide a nail-biting finale and none will be watching the competition closer than the Swiss, the current leaders of the ordinary Samsung Nations Cup series who are hungry to take the place of the team that will suffer relegation when finishing last on the Samsung Super League leaderboard after this final leg of the series which has brought Nations Cup show jumping to a whole new level… 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!
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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