IT'S VIVA L'ESPANA IN BARCELONA - SPANISH WIN AND CANADIANS SECOND
The Spanish team secured a convincing victory at the Meydan FEI Nations CupTM Final in Barcelona today where Canada finished second. The home side registered only four faults over the two rounds while the Canadians picked up 16 in total, and both are now destined to join the elite group of nations in 2010.
"I'm very happy with the result" said Spanish Chef d'Equipe Marco Fuste afterwards. "It's been difficult to make this happen but I want to thank my riders and everyone who helped us to succeed. Now we are really looking forward to next season!" he added.
Poland finished third following impressive performances from both Krzysztof Lukwickzak with his grey mare, My Lady, and the last-line partnership of Aleksandra Lusina and Castello. The Polish side completed with 41 faults on the scoreboard while Norway and Finland each racked up 44 and were only separated by the combined times of their best three team members in each round - the Norwegians therefore filling fourth place with the Finns in fifth. Hungary lined up sixth, hampered by the elimination of second-line rider Zsofia Sirokai who was unseated in round two by her big-jumping chestnut mare Sissi.
The Spanish were already in the driving seat with a zero score at the halfway stage. Only Rutherford Latham and the experienced Guarana Champeix faulted as Sergio Alvarez Moya and Wisconsin, Pilar Cordon with the classy dark bay stallion Herald and Ricardo Jurada with Julia des Brumes left the 12-fence track intact to give them the advantage. The Canadians were already lying second, carrying just eight faults after single errors from both Amy Miller (Costa Rica Z) and Jenna Thompson (Zeke), and a clear from Amy's brother Jonathon Millar (Contino) which allowed Keean White's 16 faults with Celena Z to be discarded.
The Polish team carried 17 faults into round two while Finland and Norway were already tied with 24 faults each and Hungary was close behind with 26. Sirokai's elimination however put paid to any chances of improvement for the Hungarian side as, despite a superb clear from Mariann Hugyecz and the her big bay gelding Cash, they had to count the 16 faults picked up Balazs Hovarth and Eternally.
Sylve Soderstrand's Norwegian team had a very disappointing day. Favourites to take one of the two qualifying spots for next year's top-league series they struggled to show anything like their usual form, the exception however being Stein Endresen who produced a superb double-clear from his gelding Le Beau. The Finnish effort was more consistent, but they would not overtake the Poles.
THE REAL BATTLE
The real battle was fought between the Canadians and Spanish, Keean White's second-round clear boosting Canada's position after single mistakes from both members of the Miller family and a discard score of 12 from science student Jenna Thompson who trains with Mario Deslauriers. But the host country had the bit between their teeth and they weren't about to let go. Moya lowered the second element of the double at fence six on an otherwise foot-perfect second run, and when Cordon and Latham stayed clear it was not necessary for Jurado to return to the ring - their four-fault result could not be improved upon.
Cordon's fabulous stallion was a real eye-catcher today. A Holsteiner by Heraldik this blood horse, formally ridden by Germany's Markus Beerbaum, is likely to make a real impression on the 2010 top-level series. "I have him for one and a half years now, and he is fabulous!" Cordon said. The Millar siblings were in happy mood too. Their world-famous father, Ian Millar who is best known in the sport as "Captain Canada", kept in touch with them all day by text messaging. "We run the business at home together and go to horse shows together all the time - it's a real family thing" Amy pointed out. So what did he have to say when he heard today's result? "I called him when we were finished and he was delighted - he said he was very proud of the whole team" she added.
And the Canadians had the added advantage of having the Olympic champion helping them out today. Team manager Mark Laskin pointed out that when they needed someone to take one of their parade horses back to the stables Eric Lamaze was the one who did the job - "it just shows you how we all work as a team when you have the reigning Olympic champion prepared to do that for you!" Laskin said.
As Spanish team manager Fuste pointed out, success today was all about combined effort and a strong plan. "It's no coincidence we won today, this has been a great year for the Spanish Federation" he said. Spain won team gold at the FEI European Young Rider Jumping Championship "and we were silver medallists at the Mediterranean Games - it's been hard work, but from the bottom of my heart I want to say thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has made this possible".
And Meydan's Khadija Mohammed Al Turki suggested they should reward themselves for their great success with a holiday in Dubai - "because you deserve it!" she said.
1. Spain 4 faults - Wisconsin (Sergio Alves Moya) 0/4, Herald (Pilar Lucrecia Cordon Muro) 0/0, Guarana Champeix (Rutherford Latham) 5/0, Julia des Brumes (Ricardo Jurado) 0/DNS.
2. Canada 16 faults - Costa Rica Z (Amy Miller) 4/4, Zeke (Jenna Thompson) 4/12, Conino (Jonathon Millar) 0/4, Celena Z (Keean White) 16/0.
3. Poland 41 faults - My Lady (Krzysztof Ludwiczaf) 4/4, Love Parade (Stanislaw Przedpelski) 16/12, Just Cruising (Jan Chrzanowski) 12/16, Castello (Aleksandra Lusina) 1/8.
4. Norway 44 faults/443.39 seconds - Bessemeind's Casino (Morten Djupvik) 16, L'Espoir (Geir Gulliksen) 8/4, Cexanne (Connie Bull) 16/17, Le Beau (Stein Endresen) 0/0.
5. Finland 44 faults/451.35 seconds - St Germain (Maiju Mallat) 8/8, Campari (Noora Forsten) 20/8, Calandro (Sebastian Numminen) 8/9, Isaac de Jonquet) 8/4.
6. Hungary 54 faults - Agropoint Crosshill (James Wingrave) 8/12, Sissi (Zsofia Sirokai) 13/Elim, Eternally (Balazs hovarth) 16/16, Cash (Mariann Hugyecz) 5/0.
FACTS AND FIGURES
Two double-clear performances - from Spain's Pilar Lucrecia Cordon Muro riding Herald and Norway's Stein Endresen with Le Beau.
Canadian riders Jonathon and Amy Millar are brother and sister, and also son and daughter of the legendary "Captain Canada" - Ian Millar.
The bogey obstacles on the 12-fence track were the double at fence 6 and the final line which included the penultimate triple combination followed by a vertical with water tray.
There was one elimination - Hungary's Zsofia Sirokai who was unseated after clearing the oxer at fence three in the second round.
FEI Jumping Director John Roche - "We've enjoyed great sport - well done to both teams and all the best for next year".
Amy Millar, Canadian team member - "I've been so happy to be part of this team - it has been a great experience!"