The Belgian team came out on top in a tough tussle with a strong British foursome at the second leg of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping 2015 Europe Division 2 League at Odense in Denmark this evening. Joint-leaders at the halfway stage on just a single time-fault, the result was decided by the last-line riders on both sides, and Jerome Guery sprang a nice Belgian surprise when recovering from a first-round 12-fault effort to clinch it with a convincing clear.

On a day of contrasting fortunes for some, Team Italy stood firm to finish third ahead of the Irish who rallied in the second round to line up fourth, while Norway slotted into fifth place ahead of the Ukraine in sixth, Sweden in seventh and Germany in eighth spot.

The maximum 13 teams lined out at the Danish fixture which was staged at the Dyrskuepark, a public park on the outskirts of Odense where animal fairs have been a regular feature over many years.

Difficult to get
Course designer, Denmark’s Bo Bak Andersen, set a time-allowed of 78 seconds over his 12-fence track, and that proved difficult for many to get. But it was just a single time fault that the two leading teams shared at the halfway point, with Ukraine in hot pursuit carrying only four and Italy next in line with nine on the board.

The Irish racked up 14 at their first attempt, but that was still good enough to squeeze in front of Sweden with 17 and the Norwegians on a 19-fault scoreline. Just eight countries returned for the second round, so the host nation joined Poland, Finland, Switzerland and Portugal on the sidelines when Germany clinched the last qualifying spot with 24 already on their score-card. The addition of 25 more ensured that was exactly where Soren von Ronne’s side would stay at the end of the end of the day.

Impossible to improve
The Swedes found it impossible to improve when racking up another nine faults despite a second-round clear for the third-line partnership of Charlotte Mordasini and Romane du Theil. But while it was a difficult day for Dag Ove Kingsroed who collected 20 faults first time out and then retired with Clarkes Ferro, the Norwegians really upped their game when Ole Kristoffer Meland’s single error with Buckle Up second time out was followed by just a single time-fault for Victoria Gulliksen and Bokai and then a great clear from Therese Henriksen with Virtuose d’Hyrencourt.

The Irish also got their act together, fault-free runs from Capt Geoff Curran and Mullaghbane and Thomas Ryan with Caribo ensuring that all they had to count this time was a single time fault from Michael Duffy and Cortina, but the Ukrainians took a serious nose-dive when both Cassio Rivetti (Chataga) and Ferenc Szentirmai (Cassuci) picked up 17 faults each. Szentirmail had posted one of two Ukrainian clears in round one when only Katharina Offel’s four faults with Charlie was taken into account, and although Rene Tebbel’s anchorman double-clear with the nine-year-old Suspens Floreval was highly impressive, they were obliged to add another single error from Offel to post a big second-round total of 21 which dropped them three places to sixth spot in the final analysis.

Moved up to third
With just single time faults from Emanuele Bianchi (Vadetta v Mettenhof), Luigi Polesello (Panama Tame) and Filippo Bologni (Fisdesign Chopin) the Italians moved up to third after the Belgians and British battled it out for pole position.

The British looked a little vulnerable when Harriet Nuttall’s fence down with A Touch Imperious was followed by a great clear from Belgium’s Gilles Dunon and Fou de Toi v Kelhoeve. And when Chloe Winchester’s Avoca Valkyrie put nine on the board then British chances were further shaken because Catherine van Roosbroeck, at 27 years of age the youngest member of the Belgian side, returned with just four on the board with Gautcho de Quinta. But when Emma O’Dwyer posted her second clear of the day with HHS Figero that steadied the British ship and the two sides were now on level pegging. Because if their last-line riders could go clear, they would each finish with five faults apiece.

British anchors, Julie Andrews and Ayrton IV, however left the door wide open when leaving one on the floor and it was down to Jerome Guery to take advantage of that. It seemed like a big ask, as his 13-year-old grey, Papillon Z, collected 12 faults at their first attempt. But the 34-year-old rider kept his cool to come home clear and clinch it.

A great day
“It was a great day for all of us on the team” said Dunon who, last year, won the Belgian National Championship title. “For me it was only my second Nations Cup. I competed once before in a team in Brazil. We had four riders with four new horses that had never competed in a Nations Cup before on our team today, so we did really well” he pointed out.

“This is the horse I rode when I won the Belgian Championship last year. He is now 10 years old and I always planned to bring him here. He is a fantastic horse, he is 1.85m tall, a huge horse, but he is so clever and handy, careful and has all the quality in the world” Dunon explained. He is now hoping to get the call-up for a Europe Division 1 Furusiyya qualifier, “but there are a lot of good riders in Belgium right now with a lot of good horses so it’s not so easy”, he said.

However today’s performance will have attracted the attention of Chef d’Equipe, Maurice van Roosbroeck, who also had every reason to feel extra proud about his daughter, Catherine’s, four-fault effort.

It was Norway who claimed the maximum points towards qualification for the Furusiyya Final in Barcelona, Spain in September when finishing fifth today, but the Europe Division 2 leaderboard is headed by Ukraine followed by Finland and the Czech Republic going on to the third leg in Lisbon, Portugal in two weeks’ time.

1. Belgium 5 faults: Fou de Tol v. Kelhoeve (Gilles Dunon) 0/0, Gautcho da Quinta (Catherine van Roosbroeck) 0/4, Garrincha Hedoniste (Wilm Vermeir) 1/8, Papillon Z (Jerome Guery) 12/0.
2. Great Britain 9 faults: A Touch Imperious (Harriet Nuttall) 0/4, Avoca Valkyrie (Chloe Winchester) 1/9, HHS Figero (Emma O’Dwyer) 0/0, Ayrton (Julie Andrews) 9/4.
3. Italy 12 faults: Vadetta v. Mettenhof (Emanuele M. Bianchi) 8/1, Panama Tame (Luigi Polesello) 1/1, Fixdesign Chopin (Filippo Bologni) 0/1, Corbanus (Giampiero Garofalo) 13/Ret.
4. Ireland 15 faults: Javas Keltic Mist (Brian Cournane) 1/5, Mullaghbane (Capt Geoff Curran) 9/0, Cortina (Michael Duffy) 12/1, Caribo (Thomas Ryan) 4/0.
5. Norway 24 faults: Buckle Up (Ole Kristoffer Meland) 5/4, Bokal (Victoria Gulliksen) 5/1, Virtuose d’Hyrencourt (Therese S. Henriksen) 9/0, Clarkes Ferro (Dag Ove Kingsroed) 20/Ret.
6. Ukraine 25 faults: Charlie (Katharina Offel) 4/4, Chataga (Cassio Rivetti) 8/17, Cassuci (Ferenc Szentirmai) 0/17, Suspens Floreval (Rene Tebbel) 0/0.
7. Sweden 26 faults: Oz de Breve (Evelina Tovek) 8/4, Equita van’t Zorgvilet (Jonna Ekberg) 4/5, Romane du Theil (Charlotte Mordasini) 5/0, Uchin Imperio Egipcio (Petronella Andersson) 12/Ret.
8. Germany 49 faults: Queen Mary (Jan Wernke) 0/8, Carena (Miriam Schneider) 4/13, Corvin (Tim Rieskamp-Goedeking) 20/4, Cashflow (Joerg Naeve) Elim/Ret.

Full result here