Italy leapt to a spectacular victory in the latest leg of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Jumping series, at the Longines Spring Classic of Flanders in Lummen, Belgium, on Friday.
Only promoted from Division 2 at the end of last season, Hans Horn’s side might have been expected to play it safe on their return to the premier level of the team sport. But instead they came out for the opening leg of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Jumping 2015 Europe Division I League with all guns blazing to pin the host nation and Great Britain into joint-runner-up spot ahead of France in fourth.
Switzerland and The Netherlands shared fifth place while Sweden slotted into sixth ahead of the Irish, who finished last of the eight competing nations.
It was the perfect result for the Italians who have a renewed sense of purpose, and a master-plan that they hope will take them all the way to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. They also collected the maximum 100 qualifying points on offer for the Furusiyya 2015 Final.
When the second round got under way the fences at the end of the track hit the floor repeatedly, and the six-stride distance that seemed to come up so effortlessly between the penultimate 1.60m vertical and the final oxer proved more difficult for some to get.
For Italian anchor, Piergiorgio Bucci, it was all to play for as he came into the arena with a fence in hand and his country now carrying six faults while the British and Belgians had rounded up their scores to 12 apiece. Keeping his nerve, and with Casallo Z again giving all the fences plenty of air, Bucci soared home to roars of delight from the Italian bench.
“It’s great to start the new season with a win again!” said Bucci, who was the hero of the victory on home ground at Arezzo that announced his country’s return to centre stage last autumn.
Lorenzo de Luca’s 11-year-old Belgian-bred, Erco van T Roosakker, was also really impressive. “I’ve only had him since February. He was previously ridden by Daniel Deusser and I’ve only competed him a few times, notably here during the spring tour in April. I can’t believe how well he did today, and I am super happy!” said the 28-year-old .
Daniele Augusto Da Rios described himself as “an outsider” when part of last September’s winning side. The 39-year-old certainly isn’t that anymore. He said modestly: “I’ve been riding my horse for the last five years and I am over the moon to reach such results. Today is very special, and I am extremely proud and happy,” he said.
Irish rider shines in 5* debut
And while it was a disappointing team result for Ireland, the event saw a new star emerge in 29-year-old Greg Broderick with the Irish Sport Horse MHS Going Global.
Making their five-star debut in the top level of the Furusiyya league, the Thurles-based rider and the nine-year-old bay gelding lowered just one fence in the first round and then delivered Ireland’s only zero penalty score in the second.
With the team’s more experienced riders Denis Lynch and Billy Twomey failing to catch fire at the Belgian venue, and Cameron Hanley improving on a nine fault first round to collect four in the second, it was new man Broderick, Ireland’s 2014 national show jumping champion, who lifted Irish expectations.
MHS Going Global, owned by Caledonia Stables in Tipperary, and bred by Ita Brennan in Kilkenny, was one of the youngest horses at the eight-nation competition, but will now be a likely contender for future selection in major Irish team contests.
Ireland’s show jumping manager Robert Splaine said from Lummen: “As it was allocated to Ireland as our first Nations’ Cup of the season, Lummen was always going to be a challenge, as my options for the team proved limited at this point. However, every cloud has a silver lining for, with major challenges ahead, it was great to see a new star emerging in the shape of Greg Broderick and MHS Going Global.”
The next leg will take place at Linz-Ebelsberg, Austria on Friday, May 8.
Additional reporting: Colin McLellan
- Italy 6 faults: Neptune Brecourt (Luca Moneta) 4/20, Erco van T Roosakker (Lorenzo de Luca) 0/4, For Passion (Daniele Augusto Da Rios) 1/0, Casallo Z (Piergiorgio Bucci) 1/0.
- Belgium 12 faults: Dream of India Greenfield (Pieter Devos) 12/0, Pommeau du Heup (Niels Bruynseels) 0/0, H&M Armstrong van de Kapel (Olivier Philippaerts) 4/4, Conrad de Hus (Gregory Wathelet) 4/4.
- Great Britain 12 faults: Dougie Douglas (Holly Gillott) 0/4, Utmaro d’Ecaussines (Joe Clee) 0/4, Titus (Guy Williams) 4/0, Fandango (William Whitaker) 8/8.
- France 16 faults: Flora de Mariposa (Penelope Leprevost) 0/8, Ayade de Septon et HDC (Kevin Staut) 0/8, Qlassic Bois Margot (Simon Delestre) 8/12, Quartz Rouge (Jerome Hurel) 0/0.
- Switzerland 20 faults: Windsor XV (Niklaus Rutschi) 4/4, Aris CMS (Janika Sprunger) 8/8, Admirable (Marie Etter-Pellegrin) 8/0, Clooney 51 (Martin Fuchs) 0/4.
- Netherlands 20 faults: Emerald (Harrie Smolders) 0/8, GK Quentin (Frank Schuttert) 0/12, Vignet (Johnny Pals) 12/4, Eldorado vd Zeshoek TN (Willem Greve) 8/0.
- Sweden 28 faults: Udermus (Douglas Lindelow) 4/16, H&M Flip’s Little Sparrow (Peder Fredricson) 0/12, Bonzai H (Helena Persson) 4/0, Jordan II (Angelie von Essen) 4/8.
- Ireland 33 faults: Abbervail van het Dingeshof (Denis Lynch) 8/8, Living the Dream (Cameron Hanley) 9/4, MHS Going Global (Greg Broderick) 4/0, Diaghilev (Billy Twomey) 9/12.