10 May 2003
10 May 2003 Author: webmaster
France wins the first Super League event in La Baule 
It was French flair all the way as the host nation claimed an emphatic victory at the thrilling first leg of the Samsung Super League in La Baule today. Taking the lead with just four faults after round 1, the French added nothing more to their score and their final rider, Gilles Bertran de Balanda did not have to jump a second time as they stormed to victory on their home soil. It was a tense and nervous opening competition, with riders very much aware that a good performance was vital if their country is to stay within the top-eight show jumping nations in the world. The Samsung Super League has captured the imagination and commitment of riders, Chefs d’Equipe and National Federations alike and it is now a matter of pride as each nation strives to maintain their Super League status but, at the end of the series in September, one team will drop out as the winner from the normal Samsung Nations Cup series is promoted. Relegation was far from French minds yesterday however as, in front of their home crowd, Michel Hecart (Quilano de Kalvarie) and Gilles de Balanda (Crocus Graverie) jumped clear over the 12-fence first-round track. Course-designer, Serge Houtmann, had created a course which was technically clever but not over-big, providing the perfect first test of the series and when both Eric Levallois (Diamant de Semilly) and Reynald Angot (Tlaloc M) lowered just one fence each France was already in the driving seat at the halfway stage with Levallois providing the discount score. The Irish were only one fence behind, following four-fault performances from Friday’s Grand Prix winner Billy Twomey (Luidam) and from Peter Charles (Corrada) who made a remarkable recovery from a bad mistake in the middle of the treble at fence 9 while Robert Splaine (Coolcorran Cool Diamond) jumped clear. Germany was lying third with 12 faults going into round 2 after a single error each from Markus Ehning (For Pleasure), Otto Becker (Grandilot) and Ludger Beerbaum (Gladdys S) while Great Britain was only one fault further adrift on a total of 13 when Michael Whitaker picked up a single time fault in an otherwise excellent round with Handel to add to the 4 collected by Scott Smith (Cabri d’Elle) and the 8 picked up by Mark Armstrong (Elise). Belgium, Italy, Sweden and Holland all shared a first-round tally of 16 but the Swedes made a good recovery in round 2 following a footperfect run for Royne Zetterman (Richmond Park) this time out and a second clear for Helena Lundback (Mynta), and Sweden eventually tied for fourth place with the Irish when completing on a score of 20 as Maria Sundberg (Carlot) made just a single error at her second attempt. Lundback, Ireland’s Robert Splaine and Frenchman Michel Hecart produced the only three double-clears of the competition but the Irishman’s superb feat with this relatively untried home-bred stallion could not prevent his side from slipping down the scoreboard when Cian O’Connor (Waterford Crystal) added four more faults to the eight collected first time out and both Twomey and Charles left two fences on the floor. The British, meanwhile, rallied strongly with Richard Davenport (Grand Marnier) redeeming himself admirably with a faultless round following four errors first time out and when Smith made just a single mistake once again and Whitaker was once more beaten only by the clock for a single time fault their total of 18 proved good enough for third spot. The Germans however were leaving nothing to chance and when Marco Kutscher (Montender) got it absolutely right after a disappointing first-round total of 12 then Becker’s 4 faults could be discounted as Beerbaum and Ehning galloped home fault-free. But the French were, once more, in a class of their own and de Balanda could watch happily from the sidelines as Levallois, Angot and Hecart sealed victory with unmistakable ease. French Chef d’Equipe, Jean Maurice Bonneau, had said at Friday’s Press Launch and Draw that the Samsung Super League was his team’s main priority for 2003 but this opening victory was particularly satisfying for a lot of other reasons too. "It was a point of honour for us to show that we did not take the team Championship in Jerez by chance" he said afterwards. "We wanted to show our home crowd just how good we can be and I am very happy that we did ourselves proud" he added. He had advised Reynald Angot not to jump in the second round of the Grand Prix on Friday to save his horse and he was pleased that it paid off. "I have no real strategy with my riders" he pointed out. "I have told them that I will not always have the same horse and rider opening and closing the competition – I will be moving them around because that way they always have to keep an open mind and cannot become complacent". He was particularly delighted with the double-clear performance of Michel Hecart’s Quilano de Kalvarie as the horse had been suffering from tendon problems and only recently returned to work – "Quilano is an exceptional horse and it is great to have him back in the team but my challenge now is how to manage the squad so that I have the best possible teams for Rome and St Gallen – I have to keep looking ahead" he said. For France this was the perfect result and with maximum points from this fixture the reigning World Champions are feeling very good indeed but for Italy, who finished last of the eight teams on a total of 49 faults after disastrous second-round performances from the Chimirri brothers Vincenzo and Bruno the road ahead must seem very daunting. Rome hosts the next leg of the Samsung Super League in just two weeks time and the Italians will want to show considerably better form on their home turf. Perhaps however they can take some encouragement from Jean Maurice Bonneau’s final comment yesterday – "I BELIEVE in this competition – the top teams in the world are competing against each other but it’s a case of going step-by-step – each competition provides a new opportunity to show what you can do" he said. Italy will be hoping to shake off today’s experience when the teams all next line out in the Piazza di Siena on May 23rd. Results : France – 4 faults : Eric Levallois/Diamant de Semilly 4+0, Reynald Angot/Tlaloc M 4+0, Michel Hecart/Quilano de Kalvarie 0+0, Gilles de Balanda/Crocus Graverie 0. Germany – 12 faults : Markus Ehning/For Pleasure 4+0, Marco Kutscher/Montender 12+0, Otto Becker/Grandilot 4+4, Ludger Beerbaum/Gladdys S 4+0. Great Britain – 18 faults : Scott Smith/Cabri d’Elle 4+4, Mark Armstrong/Elise 6+12, Richard Davenport/Grand Marnier 16+0, Michael Whitaker/Handel 1+1. Equal 4 – Ireland – 20 faults : Robert Splaine/Coolcorran Cool Diamond 0+0, Cian O’Connor/Waterford Crystal 8+4, Billy Twomey/Luidam 4+8, Peter Charles/Corrada 4+8. Sweden – 20 faults: Helena Persson/Classic H 12+Elim, Royne Zetterman/Richmond Park 4+0, Maria Sundberg/Carlot 12+4, Helena Lundback/Mynta 0+0. Holland – 28 faults : Gert Jan Bruggink/Joel 0+4, Eric Van Der Vleuten/Audi’s Jikke 12+Abb, Wim Schroder/Eurocommerce Berlin 4+0, Angelique Hoorn/Hascal 18+4. 7. Belgium – 28 faults : Philippe Lejeune/Nabab de Reve 12+0, Stany Van Paesschen/O de Pomme 12+4, Jos Lansink/AK Caridor Z 4+8, Ludo Philippaerts/Verelst Raspoetin 0+8. 8. Italy – 49 faults : Massimo Grossato/Loro Piana Elkintot 0+8, Vincenzo Chimirri/Askoll Defi Platiere 8+21, Bruno Chimirri/Landknecht 8+Abb, Filippo Moyersoen/Loro Piana Garibaldi 12+4. SAMSUNG SUPER LEAGUE TABLE – AFTER ROUND 1 AT LA BAULE: 1. France - 10 points 2. Germany - 7 points 3. Great Britain - 5 points 4. Ireland - 3.5 points Sweden - 3.5 points 6. Holland - 2 points 7. Belgium - 1 point 8. Italy - 0.5 points. YOU CAN SEE IT ON TV! The first leg of the Samsung Super League series at La Baule will be broadcast as follows – Equidia (Host Broadcaster) Sun 11 May 18.00-19.30 Sun 11 May 23.00-00.30 Eurosport Wed 14 May 22.00-23.00 Thurs 15 May 09.00-10.00 CNBC Sports (Europe GMT) Sat 24 May 13.00-14.00 (Asia HKT) Sat 31 May 15.00-16.00 ESPN Star Sports (Star Asia) Wed 21 May 18.00-19.00 Sun 25 May 04.00-05.00 (Star SE Asia) Wed 21 May 18.00-19.00 Thurs 22 May 04.00-05.00 (Star India) Thurs 22 May 14.30-15.30 Sat 24 May 05.00-06.00. M-NET Fri 6 June (no time confirmed) TV4 Weds 14 May 20.00 NOS (Netherlands) Live/Delayed Live RAI (Italy) Live/Delayed Live TVE (Spain) Live/Delayed Live. A reminder of the schedule for the Samsung Super League series: Round/Venue/ Date/ Nations Cup Day 1. La Baule FRA (8-11 May) Sunday 11 May 2. Rome ITA (22-25 May) Friday 23 May 3. St Gallen SUI (29 May – 1 June) Sunday 1 June 4. Aachen GER (17-22 June) Friday 20 June 5. Hickstead GBR (23-27 July) Friday 25 July 6. Dublin IRL (6-10 August) Friday 8 August 7. Rotterdam NED (28-31 August) Friday 29 August 8. Barcelona ESP (18-21 September) Sunday 21 September. You can access all the latest Samsung Super League news and information on our new website and don’t forget that Biographies on all Riders competing in the series are available at . For full results, start lists, course plans and press releases from this weekend’s CSIO you can view La Baule website at . Want to know more? You can check the full rules for the Samsung Super League series on the FEI website, section reference – rules For more information: FEI Communications Muriel Faienza or consult FEI website