The hometown team took it wire-to-wire today in Rotterdam as 8 countries battled for a win at the 14th qualifier of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping series. With the Rio Olympics looming, there was added pressure as riders made their final bids to represent their countries under the scrutiny of their Chef d’equipe.

The course, designed by the Netherlands’ own Louis Konickx, consisted of 15 efforts in a tight time allowed of 79 seconds. The first half of the course was technically challenging, while the second half opened-up and included long gallops.

Mistakes occurred throughout the first round, with some horses dipping a toe in the water and others struggling through a tight triple combination at fence 8. The time allowed served as a bogey for 7 of the riders, including Dutch rider Harrie Smolders and his lovely Emerald NOP whose single time fault would be the only blip on the Dutch scoreboard today.

Riders rode round 2 with speed in mind, eliminating the time-allowed bogey. The Dutch weren’t to be stopped and, with their win sealed, Mikael van der Vleuten would sit out the second round. Olympic and World Cup champion Steve Geurdat - with his #1 partner Nino Des Buissonets – and teammate Martin Fuchs would lead the Swiss team to 2nd place, both turning in two textbook clears.

Third place went to Germany, with Marcus Ehning and the unconventional Funky Fred boasting a double clear and the team finishing on a score of 8.

The French team, a favorite heading into the day, struggled in both rounds with atypical rails from Simon Delestre aboard Qlassic Bois Margot and Patrice Deleveau whose Orient Express is just coming back into form after time off. The bright spot for France today was Penelope Leprevost and Flora De Mariposa who were double clear and look ready for a trip to Brazil.

Team USA - not looking for qualifying points since they compete in an alternate league - used today as the “final observation event” in advance of selecting the Olympic team. Beezie Madden with Cortes C, Kent Farrington with Voyeur, and Laura Kraut with Zeremonie each had a single rail. Callan Solem, whose impressive World Cup performance in Gothenburg put her on the international radar, had a disappointing day with VDL Wizard, the pair totaling 17 faults over 2 rounds. Team USA finished in 5th place.

1. Netherlands: 1
2. Switzerland: 4
3. Germany: 8
4. Sweden: 13
5. United States: 16
6. Belgium: 21
7. France: 28
8. Great Britain: 33

Article by Ashley Fairfield-Remeza