Team France held on to win the penultimate leg of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping 2015 Europe Division 2 League at Gijón in Spain today. But they had to see off a late challenge from the British and Irish who eventually shared second spot ahead of The Netherlands, Switzerland and Belgium in equal-fourth.

It was an important day for the Ukrainian side who were the only ones chasing points towards the Furusiyya 2015 Final which takes place in just over three weeks’ time. And although they had to settle for seventh place, that was good enough to overtake Finland at the top of the Division 2 leaderboard this evening. However it was a disappointing day for the host nation who slotted into eighth place from the starting field of 10 nations.

Canada and USA failed to make the cut into the second round, but Aymeric de Ponnat was the hero of the day when clinching victory for his side with one of six double-clears, and it was a poignant day for the French. As Chef d’Equipe, Philppe Guerdat, explained this evening, “the father of the fifth rider passed away last night and that was why we wore black armbands. We dedicate this victory to Geoffroy de Coligny’s father, the riders did it for him”, he said.

Superb track

Avelino Rodriguez Miravalles set a superb 12-fence track with a generous time-allowed of 77 seconds. “I tried to maintain a five-star level course that was also easy and fluid to jump for the horses. Other than the combination, which was quite tricky and difficult, the course was good overall to complete” explained the Spanish course designer afterwards. And indeed it was the triple combination that produced the greatest number of faults throughout the competition, although the penultimate vertical with a plank on top also claimed a significant number of victims.

The Americans and Canadians disappeared from the reckoning at the halfway stage after posting 20 and 12-fault results respectively. And as the second round got underway, the French and Belgians looked set to battle it out for supremacy as the only two nations on a zero scoreline. But while many horses showed improving form and confidence on their return to the ring, the two leading sides were already in trouble by the time their second-line riders completed their second tour of the track.

Second fabulous clear

French pathfinder, Alexandre Fontanelle, produced a second fabulous clear from Prime Time des Vagues, but Cyril Bouvard’s handsome stallion, Quasi Modo Z, decided he didn’t want to go down to the triple combination again and indulged in a theatrical tantrum before eventually obliging and making it all look a breeze. Too late however, as the Ground Jury had already rung the bell for elimination.

Meanwhile Belgium’s Fabienne Daigneux Lange and Venue d’Fees des Hazalles were foot-perfect only to be followed by an eight-fault result from Catherine van Roosbroeck and Calumet whose round fell apart over the final two fences. The Swiss had been lying third, carrying just four faults, but when they added eight more then the British and Irish began to threaten. Sharing an eight-fault first-round total with the Dutch, Ukrainians and Spanish they both held firm while the others faltered.

Double-clears from both Robert Bevis (Courtney Z) and Joe Clayton (Velini) boosted British chances. But with two eight-fault rounds from Keith Shore and Mystic Hurricane, only a foot-perfect run from anchorwoman Laura Renwick could keep them in touch. And it was a lot to ask as her eight-year-old gelding, Heliodor Hybris, was almost uncontrollable first time out when picking up 16 faults. A bridle change worked superbly however, and the young horse showed his real potential with a brilliant second-round clear to put the pressure on the rest.

Also rallied

The Irish meanwhile also rallied, with Cameron Hanley producing a great double-clear from Z Acodate DDL, and the second four-fault effort from Anthony Condon and the stallion Aristio - who is a carbon copy of his very famous sire Arko - potentially the discard if Dermott Lennon could match Capt Michael Kelly’s fault-free effort with Ringwood Glen. But the 2002 world champion had also been involved in a battle of wills with his mare-with-attitude, Loughview Lou-Lou, first time out, and only a man with Lennon’s masterful skills could have followed his first-round eight-fault effort with a much-needed clean sheet to keep his side in the game.

A 12-fault result for Wilm Vermeir and Garrincha Hedoniste finally put paid to Belgian chances, and when Adeline Hecart, 20-year-old daughter of French Jumping star Michel Hecart, made her only mistake of the day at the vertical at fence three with Pasha du Gue, then everything depended on de Ponnat. A clear would clinch a clear-cut victory on a four-fault tally, but a fence down would leave France in a three-way jump-off with Britain and Ireland. As he set off with his 10-year-old stallion Ricore Courcelle however, de Ponnat didn’t allow the pressure to get to him. “I didn’t let myself think about what would happen if I had one down, I just tried to jump the best I can, I know my horse and I have a lot of experience, so I just did what I had to do!” he said, after sealing the result with a foot-perfect run.


The French Chef d’Equipe reflected on his team’s success. “It’s difficult to say anything bad when you win, especially when the course designer is sitting just beside you!” Philippe Guerdat said with a laugh. “Considering it is one week after the FEI European Championships, the course today was tough but not over the top. Usually Avelino is tight on time, so I had a chat with him the other day to make sure he would be as generous as possible, especially since we have slow horses here, and it worked!” he joked.

And he is constantly thinking ahead. “My job is to help riders develop, so if I always keep going with the same ones then there is no chance to improve. I will be in Arezzo next week with a completely different team made up primarily of 20 and 21 year olds. We are a little bit behind in France as we keep going for the same riders and it’s important for us to catch up now. We are not going to win every Nations Cup, but it is vital for us to keep improving”, he said.


1.    France 4 faults: Prime Time des Vagues (Alexandre Fontanelle) 0/0, Quasi Modo Z (Cyril Bouvard) 4/Elim, Pasha du Gue (Adeline Hecart) 0/4, Ricore Courcelle (Aymeric de Ponnat) 0/0.

2.    Great Britain 8 faults: Mystic Hurricane (Keith Shore) 8/8, Courtney Z (Robert Bevis) 0/0, Velini (Joe Clayton) 0/0, Heliodor Hybris (Laura Renwick) 16/0.

2.    Ireland 8 faults: Z Acodate DDL (Cameron Hanley) 0/0, Aristio (Anthony Condon) 4/4, Ringwood Glen (Capt Michael Kelly) 4/0, Loughview Lou Lou (Dermott Lennon) 8/0.

4.    Netherlands 12 faults: Quinlan (Vincent Voorn) 4/0, Vignet (Johnny Pals) 8/4, Haertthago (Leon Thijssen) 0/4, Willink (Hen van de Pol) 4/0.

4.    Switzerland 12 fauts: Capuera ll (Nadja Peter Steiner) 0/4, Cordel (Claudia Gisler) 0/4, Nirvana Basters (Frederique Fabre Delbos) 4/4, Copain du Perchet (Edwin Smits) 12/0.

4.    Belgium 12 faults: Venue d’Fees des Hazalles (Fabienne Deigneux Lange) 4/0, Calumet (Catherine van Roosbroeck) 0/8, Garrincha Hedoniste (Wilm Vermeir) 0/12, Papillon Z (Jerome Guery) 0/4.

7.    Ukraine 16 faults: Fine Fleur du Marais (Cassio Rivetti) 0/4, Charlie (Katharina Offel) 8/8, Chadino (Ferenc Szentirmai) 8/4, Forlap (Rene Tebbel) 0/0.

8.    Spain 20 faults: Santiago de Blondel (Manuel Fernandez Saro) 4/0, Cassino DC (Gerardo Menendez Mieres) 4/4, Belcanto Z (Alberto Marquez Galobardes) 13/16, G and C Quitador Rochelais (Sergio Alvarez Moya) 0/8.

9.    Canada 12 faults in first round: Tripple X (Tiffany Foster) 4, Zamiro (Kara Chad) 8, Zilversprings (Elixabeth Gingras) 8, Fine Lady (Eric Lamaze) 0.

10.   USA 20 faults in first round: Kismet (Candice King) Ret, Capital Colnardo (Audrey Coulter) 4, Casall (Ali Wolff) 4, Emilie de Diamant AS (Jack Towell) 12.

Full result here

Facts and Figures:

Gijon in Spain presented the seventh and penultimate leg of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Europe Division 2 league today.

10 teams competed, and Ukraine was the only nation chasing points towards the Furusiyya Final 2015 which will take place in Barcelona, Spain from 24 to 27 September.

The best 8 teams returned for the second round, and it was Canada and USA who missed the cut.

Course designer was Spain’s Avelino Rodriguez Miravalles.

The time-allowed over the 12-fence track was 77 seconds and no horse-and-rider combinations collected time faults.

6 horse-and-rider combinations jumped double-clear rounds.

The winners were Team France who completed on a final scoreline of four faults.

The youngest horse in today’s competition was the 8-year-old chestnut gelding Heliodor Hybris ridden by Great Britain’s Laura Renwick.

The oldest horse in the competition was the 15-year-old bay gelding Zamiro ridden by Canada’s Kara Chad.

The Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping 2015 Final will take place at Real Club de Polo in Barcelona, Spain from 24 to 27 September.

Jesus Martinez Salvador, Gijón Town Council Sports Department President: “This show is the event of reference in Gijon and this class in particular – seeing all the spectators out there is proof that the public absolutely love this competition.”

Philippe Guerdat, French Chef d’Equipe: “The class wasn’t easy. With the old format of the competition, it was a closed league with only 8 teams. Here, for example, you have 10 teams filled with good riders and top horses.”

Adeline Hecart FRA: “This is the first time in my life I’ve had the chance to experience something like this! The feeling is really good, it was my first time competing at this level. I am very happy. We have a very good team and they are all so nice and supportive which is great. For me it’s a really good atmosphere here and the ambiance is really nice for us to ride in; particularly the public.”

Aymeric de Ponnat FRA: “My horse is a stallion with a lot of power, I think that he can maybe jump in a Championship next year. He is a bit slow but the time-allowed was easy so it wasn’t difficult for me. I have confidence in this horse, he has jumped in Grand Prix and big classes at 5-Star level including Rotterdam and St Gallen.”

Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ 2015 Europe Division 2 Standings (after Round 7 in Gijon, Spain):

1.    Ukraine            -    335.0

2.    Finland            -    335.0

3.    Portugal            -    280.0

4.    Poland                -    250.0

5.    Czech Republic        -    245.0

6.    Denmark            -    240.0

7.    Russia                -    227.5

8.    Turkey                -    220.0

9.    Norway            -    210.0

10.    Austria                -    180.0

11.    Hungary            -    165.0

12.    Slovakia            -    147.5

13.    Greece                -      75.0

14.    Bulgaria            -      35.0

by Louise Parkes