Olympic and European champion Michael Jung and his 16-year-old horse La Biosthetique Sam FBW led the German team to victory in the competitive opening leg of the FEI Nations Cup™ Eventing 2016 at the weekend at Fontainebleau.It was a German 1-2-3 as Jung and Sam also took the individual CIC3* honours for the second year running and was second on FischerRocana FST. Compatriot Sandra Auffarth came third on Opgun Louvo, being the only rider in the field without cross country time penalties, finishing exactly on the optimum time of 6 minutes 15 seconds.
German Coach Hans Melzer commented: “That was a great season opener. The course was built by Pierre Michelet and as usual was very sophisticated, which has obviously been tested already a few ideas for the games in Rio here. It has been shown at the first training in Warendorf that our riders and horses have weathered the winter. But the competition does not sleep, as we have seen here in dressage. This will still be exciting.”
Host nation France finished second, led by former European champion Nicolas Touzaint who finished fourth individually on Crocket 30, and European team silver medalists Thomas Carlile and Sirocco du Gers who placed fifth individually.
Ireland, who won the last FEI Nations Cup™ Eventing meet of 2015 in Boekelo, placing sixth overall in the series, produced another determined performance in Fontainebleau and finished third, led by Jonty Evans, who placed 11th individually on his exciting Olympic prospect Cooley Rorkes Drift.
Speaking afterwards, Irish Team Manager Nick Turner said: “I am delighted with how all our Irish riders performed here this week. We had a record number of Irish competitors with our four team members and the individuals and this is a great start to the season. I was particularly pleased for all the owners and it was great for Irish breeding that the Nations Cup team was made up of four Irish Sport Horses. This was a very tough competition and hotly contested and it’s a great boost for us to finish on the podium ahead of the Olympics later this year.”
An all-male Australian trio led after the dressage, but slipped to fourth when Andrew Hoy (Cheeky Calimbo) had a run-out at fence 10a. Bill Levett finished best of the team, in eighth place on Improvise. A three-rider Swedish team finished fifth, led by the 2012 Olympic silver medallist Sara Algotsson-Ostholt riding Reality 39.
Great Britain, who won the FEI Nations Cup™ Eventing 2015, slipped from fourth after dressage to sixth out of nine teams with refusals at fence 18 for both Gemma Tattersall (Quicklook V) and Dani Evans (Smart Time). Izzy Taylor finished best of the quartet in 14th on Allercombe Ellie with the second fastest cross country time (2.4 penalties).
There were 49 clear rounds from the 71 cross country starters and 59 completions, but the optimum time proved influential around Olympic designer Pierre Michelet’s track, which is always technically demanding thanks to its winding route around the ancient forest of Fontainebleau.
The course at the next FEI Nations Cup™ Eventing 2016 venue, Ballindenisk (IRL), a typically, bold Irish track designed by Peter Fell (IRL), could not be more contrasting, and promises an equally thrilling competition next month (22-24 April).
1 Germany 161.2 penalties; Michael Jung/La Biosthetique Sam, 40.1; Sandra Auffarth/Opgun Louvo, 45.9; Jorg Kurbel/Brookfield Bouncer, 75.2 (Andreas Ostholt/So Is Et, 78.7)
2 France 167.1; Nicolas Touzaint/Crocket 30, 51.6; Thomas Carlile/Sirocco Du Gers, 51.6; Arnaud Boiteau/Quoriano ‘ENE HN’, 63.9 (Gwendolen Fer/Romantic Love, EL XC)
3 Ireland 197.3; Jonty Evans/Cooley Rorkes Drift, 60.7; Cathal Daniels/Rioghan Rua, 67.1; Austin O’Connor/Kilpatrick Knight, 69.5 (Clare Abbot/Euro Prince, 77.7)
4 Australia 204.6; Bill Levett/Improvise, 55.0; Christopher Burton/Haruzac, 63.4; Andrew Hoy/Cheeky Calimbo, 86.2
5 Sweden, 246.9; Sara Algotsson Ostholt/Reality 39, 66.8; Frida Andersen/Herta, 77.3; Jonna Friman/Lady-Grey, 102.8
6 Great Britain, 286.8; Izzy Taylor/Allercombe Ellie, 63.5; Gemma Tattersall/Quicklook V, 93.3; Dani Evans/Smart Time, 130.0 (Laura Collett/Pamero 4, EL XC)
7 Italy, 317.3; Arianna Schivo/Quefira de L’Ormeau, 73.6; Cielia Casiraghi/Verdi, 109.1; Rebecca Chiappero/Quilando Z, 134.6
8 Netherlands, 1,204.5; Merel Blom/Rumour Has It N.O.P., 90.3; Alice Naber-Lozeman/Harry Belafonte, 114.2; Elaine Pen/Vira N.O.P, EL XC (Tim Lips/Concrex Bayro N.O.P, WD HI2)
9 Belgium, 2,084; Giel Vanhouche/Figaro de Verby, 70.3; Lara de Liederkerke-Meier/Ducati Van Dem Overdam, EL XC; Julien Despontin/Waldano 36, EL HI2
Standings (after 1 out of 9 events)
1 Germany 100 points
2 France 90
3 Ireland 80
4 Australia 70
5 Sweden 60
6 Great Britain 55
7 Italy 50
8 Netherlands 45
9 Belgium 40