Vidauban (FRA), Feb 28, 2014: Last year The Netherlands kicked off the FEI Nations Cup™ Dressage inaugural pilot series with a win at the first leg in Vidauban (FRA), and the 2013 series champions returned to the French venue to reign supreme once again tonight. The three-man side of Tommie Visser (Vingino), Laurens van Lieren (Ulysses La Haya) and Diederik van Silfhout (Arlando) pipped Belgium for the honours by almost a full five-point margin, while Sweden finished a close third ahead of Germany in fourth place.
The French fixture presented the second leg of the second pilot season for this team event which is proving a big winner with Dressage riders all around the globe. The first leg took place at Wellington in Florida (USA) just over a week ago with an historic victory for the host nation. And as the series continues to spread its wings, it is clear the battle for the 2014 title is going to be a big one.
Riders from six nations – Belgium, France, Germany, Sweden, The Netherlands and Russia – lined out today and just 16 marks separated the first team from the last, as France slotted into fifth place ahead of Russia in sixth.
Scores over 70 percent for both Visser and Van Lieren put tonight’s result beyond doubt. Ground Jury members Jean-Michel Roudier from France, Australia’s Susan Hoevenaars, Poland’s Wojtek Markowski, Maria Colliander from Finland and Great Britain’s Isobel Wessels awarded 70.460 to Visser who competed after the first break in the class of 23 competitors.
Visser knows a thing or two about performance as he is also a singer and TV presenter, so standing under the spotlight is unlikely to faze him. He reached the semi-final of “Holland’s Got Talent” in 2012 and presented a TV show about horses, but he said tonight that his stage appearances “which I only do for fun anyway” are being put on hold while he concentrates on his career in the saddle.
Riding the 12-year-old Vingino, he bounced into the limelight last December when winning both the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Freestyle at CDI3* Roosendaal (NED), and today he said he was “quite pleased” with the Dutch-bred gelding who racked up a quality score. “I was experimenting a bit today, both in the warm-up and in the arena. I only got him six months ago, and we are getting better and better but I am taking my time with him” the 29-year-old rider said this evening. “There was a bit of tension in the canter, but otherwise it was really good” he said of his test.
And he enjoyed a good laugh during the prize-giving, because Vingino is a very big horse. “When they put on the blanket for the winners it was very funny, because it was really short on Vingino – at least a half metre of him was not covered by it!” he said.
Youngest team member, 25-year-old Diederik van Silfhout, was delighted with the result he achieved with the nine-year-old Arlando who posted a mark of 69.300, leaving him in seventh place individually. “He’s really hot and wants to do too much most of the time, so we said we would come here and take it all very slowly and quietly to see how he would be. And today he was really relaxed and worked with me instead of doing his own thing!” van Silfhout explained.
“He’s a stallion, so he can get easily distracted but he has done a (score of) 72.00 in Grand Prix before, everything is there, he just needs more power and more strength, and he needs to piaffe on the spot. I want to get him to relax even more and to get more experience. He can do a lot more than he showed today. I believe he can go up six or seven percent from the score he got today” said the rider who is based 20 minutes from Utrecht (NED).
At 32 years old, Laurens van Lieren was the oldest member of this Dutch team, and the rider who earned team gold and individual seventh place at the FEI European Championship in Turin (ITA) seven years ago when at the height of his partnership with Ollright, today slotted into third place individually when posting 70.060 with Ulysses La Haya. Today’s winning individual score was recorded by Italy’s Valentina Truppa with her hugely experienced Fixdesign Eremo Del Castegno, but they were not part of a team.
Van Lieren was a key player in the campaign that saw the Dutch clinch the inaugural FEI Nations Cup™ Dressage pilot series title last year, competing with Ulysses La Haya at both Aachen (GER) and Hickstead (GBR). He said of his performance with the 13-year-old KWPN gelding today “I was really happy, the test was very clear without mistakes. There was just a little hiccup at the beginning of passage, and the piaffe could have had more energy, but the rest was very safe and we did very good pirouette”.
“I have been riding this horse for a year and a half now and competed here at Vidauban nine months ago when we scored 67.00. We improved by three percent on that today and the only thing we need to do now is to get more energy and higher collection. I have been working on the basics with him for the last six months and he has really improved” van Lieren explained.
The Dutch total was 209.820 while Belgium slotted into runner-up spot with a combined score of 204.880. Claudia Fassaert posted their best mark of 69.540 with Donnerfee while Francoise Hologne-Joux and Wodan scored 68.260 and Philip Jorissen and Le Beau were awarded 67.080. Julie de Deken completed the Belgian line-up with Lucky Dance whose mark of 65.040 was the team discard.
Cecilia Andren Dorselius and Lennox were the biggest scorers for Sweden with a mark of 69.340 while Charlotte Haid Bondergaard and Triviant posted 67.880 and Mads Hendeliowitz and Weihenstephaner put 67.400 on the scoreboard. The fourth member of the Swedish side, Jeanna Hogberg, was eliminated with Liza Minelli and the final Swedish tally was 204.620.
Like the winning Dutch, the German team was also only three-strong but 22-year-old Sanneke Rothenberger produced an impressive 69.600 with Wolke Sieben to help achieve fourth place, joined by Stephan Koberle and Darjeeling (67.920) and Bernadette Brune (63.740) for a team total of 201.260. The French total was 200.100 and Russia posted a final total of 194.180.
The next leg of the FEI Nations Cup™ Dressage 2014 series takes place in Rotterdam (NED) on Thursday 19 June 2014.
1. The Netherlands 209.820 – Vingino (Tommie Visser), Ulysses La Haya (Laurens van Lieren), Arlando (Diederik van Silfhout).
2. Belgium 204.880 – Donnerfee (Claudia Fassaert), Wodan (Francoise Hologne-Joux), Le Beau (Philip Jorissen), Lucky Dance (Julie de Deken).
3. Sweden 204.620 – Lennox (Cecilia Andren Dorselius), Triviant (Charlotte Haid Bondergaard), Weihenstephaner (Mads Hendeliowitz), Liza Minelli (Jeanna Hogberg). —- By Louise Parkes /Photo: FEI/Rui Pedro Godinho.