In a competition that was most definitely a game of two halves, Team Sweden stood strong to win the fifth leg of the FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping 2017 Europe Division 1 series in Rotterdam (NED) today. With four teams sharing a zero score at the end of the first round, and the remaining four only a single fence behind, it seemed the course designed by Dutchman Louis Konickx was a bit of a breeze.
But when the poles were raised and the fences widened in round two it was a very different story, and it came down to a duel between the winners and the Swiss who eventually had to settle for runner-up spot. The withdrawal of Rolf-Goran Bengtsson and Clarimo Ask piled the pressure on Sweden in the closing stages, but despite not jumping in round one it was anchorman Peder Fredricson (45) and the gelding H&M All In who clinched it.
“I warmed up for the first round but all our riders went clear so I didn’t have to go, and I thought I’d save my horse in case there was a jump-off. The fences were a bit bigger in the second round but he jumped great, and this is his first 1.60m competition since we won the silver medal in Rio because he had colic surgery, so I’m very happy!”
With 16 faults each to add, the German and Irish teams lost their grip on the lead and it was the first-round four-faulters from Italy and Spain who, posting eight more second time out, jointly moved into third spot at the end of the day.
Brilliant double-clears from Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann (Cantinero) and Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat (Bianca) kept these two sides neck-and-neck as round two got underway, and with Bengtsson out of commission the four faults posted by 26-year-old Douglas Lindelow (Zacramento) left them still on level pegging when Switzerland’s Werner Muff (Daimler) also lowered the widened middle element of the triple combination four fences from home after Romain Duguet (Twentytwo Des Biches) put eight on the board.
When Fredricson went clear it was left to Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs to discard Duguet’s score and force a jump-off by doing likewise, but his feisty gelding Clooney clipped the first element of the triple combination to leave his team on a final tally of eight, while the Swedes reigned supreme with just four. The result moves Sweden up to second spot, five points ahead of the French, on the Europe Division 1 league table which continues to be dominated by Italy going into the sixth leg at Falsterbo (SWE) in three weeks’ time.
Team Result – Rotterdam:
1. Sweden – 4 faults
2. Switzerland – 8 faults
3. Italy and Spain – 12 faults