By Celeste Wilkins, in Barcelona
The Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Final came to a close today in Barcelona.
The Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Final has been anticipated since the first event was won by the Netherlands in Al Ain. The series has proven to showcase some of the most exciting show jumping seen in years and the final aims to be the jewel in the crown for the FEI.
On the one hand, Furusiyya has meant a fresh, new face for an age-old tradition, while on the other hand it has become synonymous with the most dynamic, exciting and intense show jumping. The combination of top riders, top prize money and superb venues has revitalised a tradition that would have perhaps fallen by the wayside as a result of an increasingly global show jumping circuit.
Today’s Final was not won easy, with only four clear rounds produced by Scott Brash of Great Britain riding Ursula XII, Eric Lamaze of Canada riding Powerplay, Jeroen Dubbledam of the Netherlands riding Utascha Sfn and Aymeric De Ponnat of France riding Armitages Boy. De Ponnat and his teammates Patrice Delaveau riding Orient Express HDC, Simon Delestre riding Qlassic Bois Margot and Penelope Leprevost riding Nayana finished on a total of 8 faults to claim the victory. Brazil finished in second, with 9 faults and Ireland finished in third with 12 faults.
MASSIVE COURSE FOR THIS MONUMENTAL OCCASION:
The course designed by Spain’s Santiago Varela Ullastres challenged riders from start to finish. Many riders including Canada’s Eric Lamaze called it a true championship course. Fence 1 claimed several riders including France’s Leprevost who chose to retire at that point, as her score could not influence the final placings. Two areas of the course caught many riders out. The line from fence 4, an oxer, to the open water, to the tallest vertical on the course with a plank as the top rail elicited many faults from the riders. Canada’s Foster said that the distance from the open water to fence 6 was “on a half stride”, explaining why so many faulted at that immense but delicate fence. The other area of difficulty was the line from the triple combination at fence 11 to the final Furusiyyaoxer. Fence 11b fell on many occasions, and even top horses like Tripple X III with Ben Maher failed to keep the rail in its cups.
The time allowed proved to be a challenge in itself, as has been a constant over the weekend’s rounds. It was adjusted to 81 seconds after several riders had produced flowing rounds but still faulted on the clock. The crowd started to cheer as they thought they would witness the second clear, produced by Marlon ModoloZanotelli riding Clouwni, but as he cantered through the finish timers, 1 fault was added to the clock, exhibiting how hard to come by these clear rounds were.
CLEAR ROUNDS PAY OFF:
It would take many attempts before anyone produced a flawless round à la Amyeric De Ponnat. It came down to the anchor riders. Canada’s Eric Lamaze broke the spell with a brilliant clear for his team, although it was too little too late for the Canadians at this point with 17 faults despite his clear effort.
Scott Brash and Ursula XII have been on form all season, and today was no exception, as they elicited great cheers from the crowd for their flawless performance. Great Britain finished on 21 faults, in eighth place. JeroenDubbledamfor the Netherlands rode a precise, foot perfect round on Utascha SFN to produce the clear they needed to slip into 4th.
The Canadian and British teams may be disappointed with the outcome, but they can take pride in their riders, Lamaze and Brash respectively, who will split the 200,000 Euro prize fund for riders who achieve a double clear in Friday and Sunday’s Furusiyya classes. Lamaze was elated, saying, “The double clear for me personally is something really close to my heart. I’ve had so many great moments in the sport and this will go down as one of the best.”
FURUSIYYA FEI NATIONS CUP SERIES: THE VERDICT
This final and new Furusiyya series will certainly go down in history as one of the finest show jumping events of the year, and potentially in history. From the beginning at Al Ain, to the final in Barcelona, no victory was assured and the competitions failed to disappoint, forever asserting the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup series as one of the most exciting sporting events in the world.
All results here: http://tinyurl.com/o7bjxrx
Photo of Aymeric de Ponnat: @Arnd Bronkhorst/FEI
Photo of teams: @Celeste Wilkins/HT