Team France continued to reign supreme when winning Thursday’s February 16, 2017, opening leg of the FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping 2017 season at Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates. And it was an historic moment when, for the very first time, the host nation joined Qatar to qualify for the hugely popular series final in Barcelona, Spain this September.
It was a close-fought battle for the top placings, with the runners-up from Qatar and the Italian side that eventually finished 3rd, chasing the French all the way to the line. Germany and Switzerland finished equal-4tg ahead of Ireland in 6th, UAE in 7th and the three-member British team in 8th place. A total of nine countries competed, but only Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia contested the two qualifying spots for the final on offer to teams from the Middle East, and the Saudi side lost out when finishing last in round one.
France, Italy and Qatar shared the lead with four faults apiece at the halfway stage. The winning Chef d’Equipe complimented course designer Bernardo Costa Cabral from Portugal afterwards. “He found a good balance. To have a competition with only three double clears and with teams being tied in first place for large parts of it means he did a great job!” said Philippe Guerdat.
“This is a good place for us, a lucky event to come to. I came here as Chef d’Equipe for the first time three years ago and it’s brilliant. I keep coming with different teams and this is my second time winning with a varied line-up; the one rider who has been part of the three teams is Frederic David.”
“This is a good place for us, a lucky event to come to.”
The first of those double-clears came from his pathfinders, Philippe Rozier (54) and Rahotep de Toscane who were in his Olympic team gold-medal-winning side in Rio de Janeiro (BRA) last summer. French chances were then further boosted by a clear from Abu Dhabi-based Frederic David (46) and Equador van’t Roosakker who faulted just once first time out, but it was anchorman Patrice Delaveau (52) who was the hero of the day when bringing Aquila HDC home with a double-clear to seal the result. Sheikh Ali Al Thani and First Devision, who placed sixth individually at the Rio Olympics, produced the third fault-free effort of the day to help secure second spot for Team Qatar who completed on eight faults ahead of Italy on 12.
Philippe Guerdat was also delighted with the performance of 21-year-old Adeline Hecart who overcame a refusal at the Longines triple combination first time out to complete with just four faults in round two, and today’s success has fuelled the French team manager’s ambitions for the year. “It is a good sign winning here because, if last year is anything to go by, then we will be winning something big in 2017! The aims for this season are to stay in Europe Division 1 as well as to qualify for the final in Barcelona. We will try very hard to win at home in La Baule, but the focus now shifts to the Longines FEI World Cup Final in Omaha and we’ll start planning again after that!” he said.
See the complete results at this link.