3 September - The Netherlands lie top of the team standings while French star, Patrice Delaveau, heads the individual leaderboard after the first round of the team Jumping competition at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Normandy (FRA) today.

On day two of the Jumping championships Frederic Cottier’s exquisite course design again played a significant role. From a start-list of 144 horse-and-rider combinations only 20 managed to return without penalty, while just two teams managed to add nothing to their score lines.

 One of those that held onto a clean sheet was the Dutch side which, in overnight fifth, soared up to pole position, while three clear rounds from Brazil saw them rocket up from overnight 12th to fifth place. This earned them a spot in tomorrow’s team finale in which only the top 10 nations will compete. And it’s going to be a nail-biting fight to the finish, with less than one fence separating the Dutch leaders from Team USA who are currently holding second place, while Germany and France are less than one fence further adrift in third and fourth spots.

Dutch Chef d’Equipe, Rob Ehrens, wasn’t getting over-excited by his team’s prominent position tonight however. “I’m really pleased,” he said, “all my riders did a great job between yesterday and today, but we are realistic. We are facing another difficult day tomorrow, but we are ready!”


 The beauty of the fence material was little short of breathtaking today. A medieval fortress, a Viking ship, the Bayeux tapestry, a tribute to Normandy’s impressionist painters, a cockerel representing the national symbol of France and a gun with its barrel tied in a knot, representing the theme of reconciliation, were just some of the extraordinary scenes through which horses and riders made their way. Competitors often commented on the fact that their horses were distracted by the creativity they encountered, but all agreed the course was, in every way, another work of art from the French master designer.

 Starting out over the castellated triple bar there was a right-handed turn to the FEI vertical at fence two and a curving left-hand line to the Viking ship oxer at three to which a number of horse-rider-combinations found it difficult to find their distance. The triple combination - oxer, vertical, oxer - at four also saw plenty of action and that was followed by a vertical at five before riders circled right to approach the open water. The line from here to the Bayeux tapestry wall at seven and the following wide oxer at eight proved difficult throughout the day, many horses forced to reach for the far side of the latter and failing to clear it.

 A vertical at nine was followed by an oxer at 10 before riders swung right to the final three questions. The wide oxer at 11 was quickly followed by a very influential double and the final vertical.

 Describing the technical difficulty of the two most influential lines on the track, America’s Beezie Madden explained: “the water really opened you up, because you had to ride at it a bit, and the six (strides) to the wall was only a little bit steady, and then the distance to the oxer (fence 8) afterwards was a steadier seven than it walked. There was quite a bit of width on the oxer (at fence 8) so if you lost your power or your rhythm when you went to fit the seven (strides) in it was difficult to cover the oxer. In the last line, the oxer (fence 11) rode a little big off the turn, and the distance to the double (fence 12) was a little bit flatter than you would have liked and it was difficult to get to the “in” perfectly. The liverpool on the back side of the vertical (fence 12a) made it more difficult. And then you had a wide oxer coming out (12b), so you had to take your time coming in and stretch coming out.”

 Juggling of positions

 As the long day progressed, there was some juggling of positions amongst the leading teams, and in many cases the pressure was placed on the final rider to decide their side’s finishing spot. This was the situation for the Dutch who were relying on a foot-perfect run from Gerco Schroder and Glock’s London following clears from both Jeroen Dubbeldam (Zenith SFN) and Maikel van der Vleuten (VDL Groep Verdi), but a nine-fault total for Jur Vrieling (VDL Bubalu). Schroder obliged however, and with nothing to add to their first-day total of 4.83 they settled comfortably at the top of the leaderboard at the end of the day.

 The host nation lost their first-day lead when Delaveau was the only one of his side to keep a clean sheet. Penelope Leprevost (Flora de Mairposa), Simon Delestre (Qlassic Bois Margot) and Kevin Staut (Reveue de Hurtebise HDC) all left just one fence on the floor which saw them slip down the order to fourth. Sweden lay second as the action began, but only their anchor partnership of Rolf-Goran Bengtsson and Casall ASK could manage to leave the entire course intact, and with 12 faults to add the team dropped all the way to seventh.

 This opened the door for the Americans, and Beezie Madden’s last-to-go clear with Cortes C sealed their rise from overnight third to a hold on the silver medal position when they only had four to add after a foot-perfect run from McLain Ward and Rothchild at the start of the day. Meanwhile clears from both Marcus Ehning (Cornado NRW) and Daniel Deusser (Cornet D’Amour) saw Germany take over bronze medal spot.

 Gutsy performances

 Some of the gutsiest performances of the day came from Brazil and Colombia, the former showing the absolute determination instilled into the side representing the country that will host the 2016 Olympic Games. Guided by former French Chef d’Equipe, Jean-Maurice Bonneau, the Brazilians have formulated a clear plan on the road to Rio de Janeiro in two years’ time where they fully intend to be seriously competitive. And the clear posted by Doda de Miranda today was indicative of their determination, as the rider who took a nasty fall from AD Rahmannshof’s Bogeno in yesterday’s competition cruised around today’s much tougher track to put them well on the way to an improved position.

 Pedro Veniss (Quabri de L’Isle) collected four faults, but Marlon Zanotelli’s clear with AD Clouwni was followed by a brilliant anchor performance from Rodrigo Pessoa and Status. Another three clear rounds from this side tomorrow may leave those ahead of them under serious pressure.

 As it stands, when the action begins in the morning the team leaderboard is topped by The Netherlands, who will be joined by the USA, Germany, France, Brazil, Canada, Sweden, Ireland, Colombia and Ukraine to decide the five teams that will be heading to Rio for the Olympic Games.

 Sadly the Chilean team was eliminated following a nasty fall for Tomas Couve Correa, who parted company with his horse Underwraps at fence 8. He was fully conscious when he left the stadium by ambulance en route to hospital for evaluation

 Lost his grip

 Ireland’s teenage sensation, Bertram Allen, lost his grip on the individual lead with a single mistake at the second element of the bogey penultimate double. The fence down cost him dearly, dropping him to 14th place, so second-placed Delaveau stepped up to take the lead following his flawless performance. This must go a long way towards compensating the Frenchman for the deep disappointment of having to withdraw after sharing the early lead at the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final in Lyon four months ago when his horse was injured.

 The Frenchman’s lead in the individual standings is only a hair’s breadth however. He carries forward 0.08 , but second-placed Beezie Madden has only 0.16 while third-placed Rolf-Goran Bengtsson has 0.34. Lining up in quick succession behind these three are Germany’s Daniel Deusser, Dutch riders Jeroen Dubbeldam and Gerco Schroder, Denmark’s Soren Pedersen, America’s McLain Ward and Qatar’s Sheikh Ali bin Khalid Al Thani, while The Netherlands Maikel van der Vleuten is currently in 10th spot. Ireland’s Allen, in 14th spot, is only a fence behind them all.

 With faults from tomorrow’s second and final round of the team event to add, there is still a whole lot to play for, but by tomorrow night we will know the winners of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 Jumping team title.

Team Competition, results after first round:

Team standings: 1, Netherlands, 4.83; 2, USA, 8.72; 3, Germany, 8.82; 4, France, 10.08; 5, Brazil, 12.95; 6, Canada, 14.00; 7, Sweden, 15.01; 8, Ireland, 18.51; 9, Colombia, 21.86; 10. Ukraine, 22.98.

Individual standings: 1, Orient Express HDC (Patrice Delaveau) FRA, 0.08; 2, Cortes C (Beezie Madden) USA, 0.16; 3, Casall ASK (Rolf-Goran Bengtsson) SWE, 0.34; 4, Cornet D'Amour (Daniel Deusser) GER, 0.70; 5, Zenith SFN (Jeroen Dubbeldam) NED, 1.25; 6, Glock's London N.O.P. (Gerco Schroder) NED, 1.29; 7, Tailormade Esperanza de Rebel (Soren Pedersen) DEN, 2.49; 8, Rothchild (McLain Ward) USA ,2.56; 9, Vienna Olympic (Sheikh Ali bin Khalid Al Thani) QAT, 2.89; 10, VDL Groep Verdi TN N.O.P. (Maikel van der Vleuten) NED, 3.05.

  Full results and startlists at www.normandy2014.com

 Facts and Figures:

 144 horse-and-rider combinations competed in today's first round of the team competition and second individual qualifier.

20 clear rounds over the 13-fence track.

6 eliminations and 2 retirements.

The Netherlands improved from fifth place overnight to take the lead going into tomorrow's second round of the team competition which will decide the team medals.

The USA lies second and Germany third with the host nation of France in fourth place when tomorrow's action begins.

French rider Patrice Delaveau leads the individual standings ahead of America's Beezie Madden in second and Sweden's Rolf-Goran Bengtsson in third.

Bertram Allen, the young Irishman who topped the individual standings overnight dropped to 14th with Molly Malone when lowering just one fence today.

Just 10 teams go through to tomorrow's second round – Netherlands, USA, Germany, France, Brazil, Canada, Sweden, Ireland, Columbia and Ukraine.

Brazil enjoyed a meteoric rise from overnight 12th all the way up to fifth place today thanks to three clear rounds.

The only other team to produce three clear rounds today were the new leaders from The Netherlands.


 Michael Whitaker GBR: "I'm frustrated because I rode good but my horse was distracted by the atmosphere - he was spooky and tense so I had faults."

Pius Schwizer SUI: "My horse is quite young, only nine years old. He is still quite sensitive and showed it today. He never makes mistakes like this at home or at other shows, and he never makes a mistake twice. But here I think he was really impressed by all the things around the fences, and the difference of light between the sunny part of the course and the parts in the shade. He kept shying at all this and felt like a piece of wool under my saddle. Switzerland is lucky to have other good riders on the team."

Jeroen Dubbeldam NED: "The course is more difficult than yesterday but my horse felt good and fit. The oxers were extremely wide but Zenith is very good at that. I believe in taking time to prepare a horse for this kind of competition. I took two years with this horse and its going well because all the buttons are there!"

Simon Delestre FRA: "My round wasn't bad but having one down is always painful. It is a very subtle course, the fences are beautiful and the course is well built and the time is tight. You have to ride each fence very carefully, they are all light, and there are quite a few verticals at the end of the lines."

Yann Candele CAN: "I came a little bit early to see McLain (Ward) ride. It's a step up from yesterday, and you probably won't see as many clear rounds as yesterday either. It's bigger, wider, lighter but fair at this level, and Showgirl jumped it really well. I really appreciate that the French also cheer for me since I used to live not far away, in Soliers, for about 10 years."

Maikel van der Vleuten NED: "I'm very happy, it wasn't easy and I lost a stirrup at one stage so I was a bit out of balance."

Marcus Ehning GER: "Christian (Ahlmann) was very unlucky with one down and I had a really good round. The course is nothing crazy, it's a championship and it's technical with a few really big oxers....the last double is very hard, I think it is a good world championship course. If you go to a championship as a German rider there is always a lot of pressure. But in our sport I think it's a bit closer. You can see after yesterday the first six teams within one fault (of each other), then if you have one rail down it can be not so good! The pressure is on every jump."

 By Louise Parkes

Caption: Jeroen Dubbeldam and Zenith SFN produced one of the three clears that promoted the Dutch team to pole position ahead of tomorrow’s final round of the team Jumping championship at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Caen, France today. (Dirk Caremans/FEI)