On the podium after winning today’s fourth leg of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping 2016 Europe Division 1 leg at St Gallen (SUI) are (L to R) Team Ireland’s Denis Lynch, Greg Broderick, Robert Splaine (Chef d’Equipe), Bertram Allen and Cian O’Connor. In front of podium (L to R) Irish Ambassador to Switzerland H.E. Breifne O’Reilly, Regierungsrat St Gallen Benedikt Würth, FEI President Ingmar De Vos, Saudi Arabian Chargè d’Affaires to Switzerland and Liechtenstein Farouk Mohamad Wazeer Ali, Longines Vice President and Head of International Marketing Juan-Carlos Capelli, President CSIO St Gallen Nayla Stössel and CSIO St Gallen Event Director Urs Schiendorfer. (FEI/Katja Stuppia)
Irish clinch classic victory at St Gallen
by Louise Parkes
The Irish team gave their Chef d’Equipe, Robert Splaine, an extra reason to celebrate his birthday today when, in a gripping competition, they won through in style at the fourth leg of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping 2016 Europe Division 1 leg at St Gallen (SUI).
As so often happens at this Swiss fixture, the weather played its part, with heavy rain piling extra pressure on the last-line riders in the closing stages. But the Irish stood firm, producing three fabulous second-round clears to add nothing to their first-round scoreline of eight faults, while Greg Broderick once again confirmed the pure talent of his 10-year-old gelding, MHS Going Global, when producing one of four double-clear performances on the day.
Sweden, France, USA and Germany shared second place when finishing with 12 faults on the board, while the hosts lined up sixth ahead of last year’s series champions from Belgium in seventh and Czech Republic in eighth and last place. In their first season in Division 1 the Czech side are already visibly improving, and the performance of 19-year-old Anna Kellnerova, who had just a single fence down in each round on her debut at this level of the sport with her nine-year-old stallion, Classic, augurs well for the future.
First time out
Swiss course designer, Gerard Lachat, set them a strong 12-fence track that only six horse-and-rider combinations managed to leave intact first time out. The impressive German foursome of Ludger Beerbaum (Casello), Janne Friederike Mayer (Goja), Marcus Ehning (Pret a Tout) and Hans-Dieter Dreher (Cool and Easy) held the lead on a four-fault tally at the halfway stage, but the Americans, the Irish and the Swiss were in hot pursuit, just a fence behind, while France and Sweden were next in line, tied on 12 faults.
The Swedes and the Swiss were a man down second time out, when both Rolf-Goran Bengtsson (Unita ASK) and Martin Fuchs (Clooney) were disqualfied by the Ground Jury after leaving the arena in round one. Sweden’s joint-second-place finish was therefore all the more creditable as the remaining three riders had to hold their nerve.
Plenty of tall verticals, an open water measuring 4.1m wide, and a difficult penultimate oxer where the front plank regularly hit the floor ensured plenty to think about, and there were multiple errors at the 1.60m that followed the water as well as at the next water-tray oxer at fence six. The Longines triple combination at fence seven proved relatively trouble-free until Ireland’s Bertram Allen got into a muddle here with Molly Malone who couldn’t find her stride after landing over the first element, slicing through the oxer in the middle before stopping at the third element.
Typically stoic, the 20-year-old rider who taken the sport by storm over the last two years, just brought the mare back to get it perfectly right at his second attempt, and in round two made it all look very elementary. “It was just one of those things”, Allen said afterwards.
Stood their ground
As the second round played itself out the French and Swedes stood their ground. Swedish Chef d’Equipe, Sylve Soderstrand, has been given a big boost over the last few weeks with the emergence of two fantastic partnerships in Peder Fredricson with H&M All In and Malin Baryard-Johnsson with Cue Channa. But it was Helena Persson’s gutsy last to go run with Bonzai, who had two fences down in round one, that was the clincher when they stayed fault-free to ensure a zero second-round result for their side.
America’s Lauren Hough and Ohlala were also double-clear while Lucy Davis and Barron left all the poles in place at their second attempt. But when Margie Engle’s Royce kicked out the oxer at fence eight and Todd Minikus fell victim to the penultimate white oxer, with a thunderstorm crashing overhead, then they had to add one of those four faults to join Sweden and France on a final tally of 12.
Ireland’s Denis Lynch and All Star had a pole down in each round, but second-line rider Greg Broderick went double-clear with MHS Going Global, and when Allen and Molly Malone were foot-perfect at their second attempt then Cian O’Connor and Good Luck needed to do likewise to keep the pressure on the leading Germans. Good Luck had lowered the second element of the double at fence 10 in round one, but this time around there would be no mistake, and that left last-man-in, Germany’s Hans-Dieter Dreher, really feeling the heat.
His team-mates, Beerbaum and Meyer, both collected four faults at their second attempts, so even though Ehning had soared effortlessly around the course for his second clear of the day, Dreher could not afford a mistake if he was to clinch it for his country. So when the second fence fell, he held up his hand and retired. The deal was done, it would be an historic Irish victory, the first in 13 years and for Robert Splaine’s men there was a whole lot hanging in the balance.
Because today’s Irish team were all battling for a sole individual qualifying spot for this summer’s Rio 2016 Olympic Games. “There was a lot of pressure due to the announcement of that spot for Rio next week, but these guys are all top professionals, and they could take it!” said Splaine tonight. He said he felt quietly confident of victory today, “it doesn’t surprise me, we expected a good result with these great riders, although you have to keep your feet on the ground, this sport is tough and you can be up or down in a heartbeat!” he added.
Splaine himself has enjoyed some great moments in the St Gallen arena. He was member of the last Irish team to win at the Swiss venue in 2003. “It was a three-rounder and I went against Markus Fuchs in a jump-off, riding Coolcorran Cool Diamond and we also won the Grand Prix at the same show that year - we were made of hardy stuff in those days!” Splaine said with a laugh this evening.
Broderick was delighted with his fault-free afternoon. “My horse is a Nations Cup specialist and he was in great form here, everything was right” he said. Talking about the weather conditions he said, “of course we were a bit worried about the rain, he (MHS Going Global) would definitely prefer the top of the ground but so would 99 percent of showjumping horses. It takes a bit to adjust to it when the ground changes, but he’s such a talented horse he just jumps within himself and makes it easy” he pointed out.
Broderick is all the more pleased because he has been out of action following surgery for a groin injury so his preparation for St Gallen was short. “We did a 2-Star in France last week, my horse has all the scope in the world and he’s brave and fit - he’s a proper championship horse” he said.
Reflecting on today’s great performance, Robert Splaine concluded, “A win at St Gallen historically doesn’t come with an easy tag on it. It has always been a top show and a tough show run by great people, but it’s not for the fainthearted. My guys were great and the team spirit is fantastic!” he said.
1. Ireland 8 faults: All Star (Denis Lynch) 4/4, MHS Going Global (Greg Broderick) 0/0, Molly Malone (Bertram Allen) 10/0, Good Luck (Cian O’Connor) 4/0.
2. USA 12 faults: Ohlala (Lauren Hough) 0/0, Barron (Lucy Davis) 4/0, Royce (Margie Engle) 8/4, Babalou (Todd Minikus) 4/4.
2. Germany 12 faults: Casello (Ludger Bierbaum) 4/4, Goja (Janne Friederike Meyer) 12/4, Pret a Tout (Marcus Ehning) 0/0, Cool and Easy (Hans-Dieter Dreher) 0/Ret.
2. Sweden 12 faults: H&M All In (Peder Fredricson) 0/0, H&M Cue Channa (Malin Baryard-Johnsson) 4/0, Unita ASK (Rolf-Goran Bengtsson) Disq/Disq, Bonzai (Helena Persson) 8/0.
2. France 12 faults: Saxo de la Cour (Cedric Angor) 4/0, Cannavaro (Fabrice Dumartin) 12/0, Kiamon (Timothee Anciaume) 4/4, Quod Coeur de la Loge (Roger Yves Bost) 4/0.
6. Switzerland 20 faults: Clooney (Martin Fuchs) Disq/Disq, Bianca (Steve Guerdat) 4/4, Lord Pepsi (Paul Estermann) 4/4, Quorida de Treho (Romain Duguet) 0/4.
7. Belgium 28 faults: H&M Zilverstar T (Nicola Philippaerts) 4/4, Caracas (Jos Verlooy) 4/0, Sea Coast Pebbles Z (Gudrun Patteet) 12/27, H&M Cabrio van de Heffinck (Olivier Philippaerts) 8/8.
8. Czech Republic 38 faults: Caleri ll (Suzana Zelinkova) 8/5, Classic (Anna Kellnerova) 4/4, Charly Brown (Emma Augier de Moussac) 8/9, Acovaro (Ales Opatrny) 16/Ret.
Facts and Figures:
St Gallen in Switzerland hosted today’s fourth leg of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping 2016 Europe Division 1 League.
8 teams competed and Ireland came out on top with a final scoreline of 8 faults.
Course designer was Switzerland’s Gerard Lachat.
6 horse-and-rider combinations jumped clear in the first round.
4 double-clear rounds - Lauren Hough and Ohlala (USA), Greg Broderick and MHS Going Global (IRL), Peder Fredricson and H&M All In (SWE).
4 nations shared runner-up spot on a final score of 12 faults each - France, Germany, Sweden and USA.
The youngest rider in today’s competition was 19-year-old Anna Kellnerova from Czech Republic who collected just four faults in each round with Classic on her Senior team Nations Cup debut.
The last Irish victory in the history of the Swiss Nations Cups was in 2003 when the side included current Chef d’Equipe Robert Splaine along with Cian O’Connor, a member of today’s winning side, and Billy Twomey along with Kevin Babington.
Irish Chef d’Equipe, Robert Splaine: “I was disappointed when we had eight faults in the first round, but the mistakes were unlucky ones. I was very confident that, bar a disaster, we would do better in the second round,”
Robert Splaine, talking about the mistake for Bertram Allen and Molly Malone in the first round: “it’s easy to correct those kind of mistakes and we owe Molly a lot more than she owes us! On analysis Bertram corrected it the second time around, adding in an extra stride, he figured it out and it was perfect. He’s like that, he knew he needed to do something different and he would tell you the same thing. He nailed it.”
Bertram Allen IRL: “Molly was brillIant, she didn’t want to knock a fence today. She slipped when trying to shorten in the combination but I’m delighted with her - it was just one of those things.”
Greg Broderick IRL: (talking about the course) “a white plank on flat cups is always testing at the end of a course. The combination rode very short.”
Greg Broderick IRL: “my horse jumped the only double-clear here in St Gallen last year. I don’t go to a lot fo 5-Star shows unless I’m well mounted, I produce a lot of young horses in Ireland because the only way to survive is to sell good young horses and that’s where Lee Kruger, (Canadian owner of MHS Going Global) comes in. I’m very grateful to her for keeping this horse for me, and for Ireland, he’s one of the best horses in the world!”
Cian O’Connor IRL: “I’m thrilled, my horse has been very consistent over the last year. Everyone was trying so hard, and everyone was aiming for the big day today. My ethos is to aim for Nations Cups, there are so many other things going on that you don’t always get riders saving horses for Nations Cups. Good Luck was brilliant last year at the two majors - the European Championships and the Furusiyya Final. The second round of the Furusiyya Final we jumped clear over the biggest track of the entire year! It’s a crying shame we don’t have a team at the Olympics this summer but today we proved we are a great team on the world stage!”
Standings in Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping 2016 Europe Division 1 League after fourth leg at St Gallen (SUI):
1. France - 165
2. Netherlands - 160
3. Great Britain - 155
4. Germany - 135
5. Belgium - 100
5. Ireland - 100
7. Sweden - 75
8. Switzerland - 55
9. Italy - 47.5
10. Czech Republic - 45
Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ St Gallen SUI Steve Guerdat riding Bianca for Switzerland Pic Katja Stuppia
Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ St Gallen SUI Cian O'Connor riding Good Luck for Ireland (winners) Pic Katja Stuppia