23May -  Belgium won the the thrilling Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ presented by Longines Jumping qualifier at Piazza di Siena in Rome (ITA) today where the utter unpredictability of the sport of team showjumping was underlined by many dramatic twists and turns.

Lying joint-second at the halfway stage, behind the British in pole position on a zero score, the Belgian side snatched victory despite an uncharacteristically poor second round from pathfinder Ludo Philippaerts.  Many very experienced horses disappointed with their second effort today, and Ludo’s 12-year-old Challenge V. Begijnakker left six fences on the floor this time out which seemed sure to dash Belgian chances.

Germany and Britain disappeared from the reckoning in the closing stages but the door seemed wide open for the Dutch who, lying fourth but with just five faults going into round two, threatened for the lead when 2000 Olympic champion Jeroen Dubbeldam (Zenith SFN) and Maikel van der Vleuten (VDL Groep Verdi) each jumped clear at their second attempt.  Jur Vrieiling (VDL Bubalu) collected nine faults, but if London 2012 individual silver medallists Gerco Schroder and Glock’s London could leave all the fences intact that would heap the pressure on the Belgians.  And they seemed on their way to a foot-perfect run until Schroder anxiously pushed his brilliant stallion down to the final vertical only to clip the top plank for four faults which ensured a finishing total of nine for his team.

Meanwhile Niels Bruynseels and Pommeau du Heup and Constant van Paesschen with Citizenguard Toscan de Sainte came to the rescue for Belgium with brilliant double-clear performances so it all came down to Ludo’s son, Nicola Philippaerts at the end of the day.  He could afford one fence down as he came into the Piazza di Siena arena, and when he hit the tall vertical that followed the triple combination at fence seven the spectators held their breath for the rest of the course.  And he used up all his luck, rattled the big oxer three from home but leaving all the poles in place to clinch it for his country.

1.    Belgium 8 faults: Challenge V. Beginakker (Ludo Philippaerts) 4/24, Pommeau du Heup (Niels Bruynseels) 0/0, Citizenguard Toscan de Sainte (Constant van Paesschen) 0/0, Forever D Arco Ter Linden (Nicola Philippaerts) 4/4.

2.    Netherlands 9 faults: Zenith SFN (Jeroen Dubbeldam) 4/0, VDL Groep Verdi Nop (Maikel van der Vleuten) 4/0, VDL Bubalu (Jur Vrieling) 1/9, Glock's London (Gerco Schroder) 0/4.

3.    Germany 12 faults: Fyloe V. Claessenhof (Daniel Deusser) 4/16, Liberty Son (Marco Kutscher) 0/4, Embassy ll (Hans-Dieter Dreher) 4/4, Chiara (Ludger Beerbaum) 0/0.

4.    Great Britain 20 faults: Cella (Ben Maher) 0/4, Diablesse de Muze (Joe Clee) 20/17, Viking (Michael Whitaker) 0/8, Hello Sanctos (Scott Brash) 0/8.

5.    Ukraine 23 faults: Vivant (Cassio Rivetti) 4/8, Light on Old (Ulrich Kirchhoff) 13/6, Chadino (Ferenc Szentirmai) 8/0, Charlie (Katharina Offel) 5/0.

6.    France 25 faults: Flora de Mariposa (Penelope Leprevost) 0/0, For Joy van'T Zorgvliet HDC (Kevin Staut) 12/4, Qlassic Bois Margot (Simon Delestre) 9/4, Orient Express HDC (Patrice Delaveau) 8/12.

7.    Qatar 26 faults: Come Soon (Faleh Suwead Al Ajami) 8/4, Vienna Olympic (Ali Bin Khalid Al Thani) 4/8, Castiglione L (Mubarak Yousuf A Al Rumaihi) 8/4, Primeval Dejavu (Bassem Hassan Mohammed) 1/5.

8.    Italy 36 faults: Elky van het Indihof (Lorenzo de Luca) 8/8, Banca Popolare Bari Cassandra (Francesco Franco) 11/Ret, Loro Piana Canada (Filippo Moyersoen) 8/0, Cocoshynsky (Emanuele Gaudiano) 8/4.

Full result here