France claims the Nations Cup in Rome

France claims the Nations Cup in Rome

It was a not-so-good day for Germany but a great one for France as the third leg of the Samsung Super League with FEI series saw the former double-champions gallop away with the honours at the Piazza di Siena in Rome, Italy today. French Chef d'Equipe, Jean-Maurice Bonneau, was in buoyant mood as he celebrated afterwards, and lifted as much by the spirit shown by his team of riders as anything else. The Germans meanwhile have weakened their grip on the top of the series leader board, heading the USA by only 1.5 points going into the fourth leg in Lucerne next week and looking very vulnerable indeed.

The USA finished joint-second with the British and crept closer to the leaders thanks to solid performances from all four riders. US Chef d'Equipe George Morris has plenty of food for thought ahead of his final selection viewing for the World Equestrian Games in Lucerne, Switzerland next week and, as Laura Kraut pointed out this evening, riders were keen to show their strength with that in mind.

The Irish edged away from the bottom of the Samsung series leader board with a typically gutsy performance which earned them fourth spot on the day and, in an unusual occurrence, five teams shared fifth place including the host team from Italy who, much-missed following their relegation in the opening 2003 season, were rejoining the Super League family just for the day on their home turf.

There were several surprises including the path-finding clear from Ryan Crumley and Baltimore for Ireland. Trained by Cian O'Connor, Crumley has been building up a wealth of experience in the Samsung Nations Cup series in recent years and O'Connor flew in from Ireland this morning to join him for the course-walk and offer advice which obviously worked. Crumley's stallion is the horse that was ridden by O'Connor's former girlfriend Hazel O'Callaghan who died tragically in a freak accident three years ago and his new rider has established an excellent partnership with him. They proved their worth when securing Ireland's victory in the Nations' Cup in Copenhagen, Denmark two weeks ago, Crumley winning out in a two-way third-round jump-off.

More surprises came in the shape of nasty falls for Holland's Wim Schroder and Italy's Natale Chiaudani and an expensive stop for Germany's Olympic gold medallist Ulrich Kirchhoff. Schroder bit the dirt when Eurocommerce Vancouver lost his feet when dropping in the water but Chiaudani's was truly spectacular when it all went pear-shaped at the bogey double that followed. In the melee the horse's bridle came off and the Italian was so furious he removed his hat and threw it on the ground in disgust.

The US effort kicked off with four faults for Christine McCrea and Vegas and when Candice King and Targo and Molly Ashe and Neuville both stayed clear then Laura Kraut's single error with Miss Independent ensured a four-fault first-round finishing score. Kraut's second round proved key to the American result as McCrea faulted just once again while King and Ashe left two on the floor and only a clear from Miss Independent would ensure level pegging with the British on 16 faults.

It was however the French performances that won the day – the double-clear from Stephan Lafouge sealing a significant victory and restoring much-needed confidence. “Yes, today felt like a bit of a renaissance” said French Chef d'Equipe Jean-Maurice Bonneau whose team now slots into third place on the Samsung leader board, three points behind the USA while Germany maintains a narrow lead. Another weak German performance in Switzerland next Friday may well open the door for American domination over the second half of the 2006 Samsung Super League with FEI series.

Results (27.05.06)
CSIO***** Roma
Nations Cup

1º FRANCE: 4 points
Jarry Pierre / Haxelle Dampierre: 0/4
Delestre Simon / Inedite De Balme: 12/0
Lafouge Stephan / Gabelou Des Ores: 0/0
Nicolas Jean Marc / Jpc Modesto Equifoam: 0/ –

2º GREAT BRITAIN: 16
Smith Robert / Marius Claudius: 0/4
Skelton Nick / Arko III: 0/4
Gredly Tim / Omelli: 8/4
Whitaker Michael / Portofino: 4/4

2º USA: 16
Mccrea Christine / Vegas: 4/4
King Candice / Tarco: 0/8
Ashe Molly / Neuville: 0/8
Kraut Laura / Miss Independent: 4/0

4º IRELAND: 20
Crumley Ryan / Baltimore: 0/12
Hughes Marion / Heritage Transmission: 16/4
Hanley Cameron / Hippica Kerman: 0/0
Charles Peter / Panthera: 4/16

5º ITALY: 28
Bicocchi Emilio / Jeckerson Kapitol D´Argonne: 4/4
Govoni Gianni / Joyau D´Opal: 8/12
Chiaudani Natale / Hariane D´Authieux: Eliminado/0
García Juan Carlos / Albin Iii: 0/16

4º SWITZERLAND: 28
Melliger Willi / Lea C: 0/4
Etter Daniel / Peu A Peu: 4/12
Muff Werner / Plot Blue: 8/4
Sprunger Hansueli / Ilton Daye: 1)/8

5º GERMANY: 28
Engemann Heinrich Herman / Aboyeur W: 4/8
Kirchhoff Ulrich / Carino: 18/0
Diederichsmeier Mylene / Countess G: 8/8
Sloothaak Franke / Legurio: 4/4

5º SWEDEN: 28
Bengtsson Rolf Goran / Grandina 22: 12/8
Fredricson Peder / Magic Bengtsson: 0/8
Schultz Lotta / Calibra: 12/0
Johansson Svante / Nostradamus: 0/12

5º HOLLAND: 28
Smolders Harry / Oliver Q: 0/4
Houtackers Yves / Gran Corrado: 8/8
Schroder Wim / Vancouver: Eliminado/16
Van Der Schans Wout Jan / Nouvelle: 4/4

Check the course.

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