By Celeste Wilkins, in Barcelona
DOWN TO THE WIRE IN CONSOLATION COMPETITION:
The Consolation Competition of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup was a hotly contested class involving the 10 nations that did not qualify for Sunday’s final. While there was a distinct air of disappointment for many teams following yesterday’s performance, the clean slate granted by today’s class allowed redemption. A generous prize fund of 300,000 Euros, the largest prize fund ever given to a team competition, attracted some of the best and most highly ranked horse and rider combinations.
The inaugural year of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup has been host to some of the most gripping show jumping competitions to date, with the results of many of the competitions in flux until the very last rider. Furusiyya means “for love of the horse”, but after this exciting season, it will also be synonymous with the most gripping show jumping the world has to offer. With both Friday’s qualifier and Saturday’s Consolation Final, the placings rode heavily on the anchor members.
FURUSIYYA FINAL IS SYNONYMOUS WITH GRIPPING SHOW JUMPING:
Friday’s competition saw Canadian Eric Lamaze holding the power to relegate the United States or Ukraine as he rode into the ring, an objective he achieved with a speedy clear round on Powerplay. His round brought into focus an important rule of the new competition – in the event of a tie; the cumulative time would be the deciding factor for placings. The United States was bumped out of the running for Sunday’s final, making them one to watch in Saturday’s competition.
The American riders certainly did not disappoint with McLain Ward on Rothchild and Lucy Davis on Barron posting early clear rounds. Third rider, Katie Dinan had a ‘cheap’ four faults early in the course to leave the onus on Beezie Madden and Simon as anchor riders. As the final riders entered the arena, three teams looked to be in contention. The first two Swiss riders, Beat Mandli on Croesus and Paul Estermann on Castlefield Eclipse achieved clear rounds, while Steve Guerdat and Nasa had an uncharacteristic 4 faults to set them even with the Americans.
The Saudi team certainly came with the intention of making a comeback. An early clear by Ramzi Al Duhami riding Al Capone settled any doubts that the world had about the Saudi talent. His teammate, HRH Prince Abdullah bin Miteb riding Davos, kept the side’s hopes alive, adding only a single time fault to their score. A miscommunication between Talan and HH Prince Faisal Al Shalan resulted in a single rail and a time fault, putting all the pressure on Kamal Bahamdan and Noblesse de Tess to keep the team in contention.
ALL DOWN TO ANCHOR RIDERS:
The arena was a pressure chamber as all the hopes of Consolation Competition victory rode on the final anchor riders for the Saudi, Swiss and American teams. Bahamdan and Noblesse de Tess entered first and needed a clear round to leave the team on a single fault. It was not to be as they knocked the front rail of the oxer at 8b then had two rails in the triple combination, plus a time fault. It looked a sure win for the American side as Toulago ridden by Pius Schwizer gained 4 faults, but this is show jumping after all! Beezie Madden on Simon have been a picture of consistency in this tournament, and their very uncharacteristic stop at fence 6 baffled many in the crowd. She continued and did not incur any further jumping faults, only adding two time faults to her four fault score.
JUMP OFF FORCED TO DECIDE PLACINGS:
Madden’s miscalculation meant that the American and Swiss teams were tied for first place on 4 faults, with the Saudi team an assured third place on 6, forcing a jump off. Simon redeemed himself, jumping clear for Madden. The Swiss team was not so lucky, Mandli’s Croesus and Paul Estermann’s Castlefield Eclipse both scored 4 faults for Switzerland over the shortened course. Young Lucy Davis kept the pressure on Ward and Rothchild to go clear, although with Guerdat’s Nasa, faulting at fence 14, he had a one-fence cushion. Despite these high stakes, Ward commented, “I had faith in my horse.” The very experienced American delivered exactly what was needed to succeed, handing them the victory they so desired yesterday.
Full results here: http://tinyurl.com/nvmalsh
Photo of HH Prince Faisal Al Shalan and Talan copyright Celeste Wilkins and HT