Friday, 16 September 2011

Things are steaming up in Spain.......

We eventually tracked down the final Team scores on Wednesday night (hint – if you want the scores try rather than the Championship website):  Going in to the second round (Thursday) (often referred to as the first round of the Nations Cup) the Team scores are;

1st FRA – 2.95 penalties
2nd GER – 4.41
3rd SWE – 6.74
4th NED – 7.42
5th GBR - 9.46
6th BEL – 9.78
7th ESP – 11.53

So we were within 1 fence (4 penalties) of Bronze and 2 fences of Gold – all to play for.

It is interesting that all 9 of the teams that have finished 1st / 2nd in a 5* Nations Cup competition this year are in the top 10 – making up the 10 (in 8th) is ITA who of course won a Team medal in 2009 and have been part of the FEI Nations Cup series in the past.  Sweden looked very strong at Falsterbo CSIO earlier this year and were impressive again yesterday.  But it is FRA and GER (yet again) that are looking like the teams to beat – FRA have not had a great season by their own high standards but they were stronger towards the end of the FEI Nations Cup Series and certainly look on form here.  NED had an excellent beginning and middle to the Series but the last three Nations Cups have not gone quite to plan – along with SWE they will have their eyes firmly fixed on qualification for London 2012.

I admit that I was feeling a little tired on Wednesday night and opted for a snack in my room and an early night; work was completed by 2230 and after 30 minutes of reading (all about the successors to Ghengis Khan) I turned my light off and started to drift off to sleep.  But sleep was to be about 2345 hrs, auditions started in the corridor (no carpets, wooden floor) to find the combination of the next Usain Bolt / Eurovision Song Contest Winner (junior version) – three (I think) kids charging up and down the corridor screaming their annoying heads off.  We don’t so much need the BIG SOCIETY.....just a little respect and parental control.  Baroness Bomburst (work it out....flying car) had a point.....  So, yes, I was a little grumpy yesterday morning; although I did manage to speak to people at breakfast...which is rare – breakfast should be taken in silence....breaking the fast..not exercising the eardrums.

Thursday started with a non Championship Class – a Table A speed competition (i.e. faults count first, then time); Nick rode the very talented 8 year old Big Star and jumped a wonderful clear – this is a really exciting horse and very much one for the Team for the future.  Guy Williams and Depardieu Van’T Kiezelhof had one fence down but otherwise jumped well.  Scott Brash and Bon Ami were out to “have a crack” and they did just that.....Scott was just headed by an Italian rider but secured a well deserved second.

And so, once again, battle was joined.  The Teams placed 11th – 16th jumped first; it is quite clear that this is a competition of two divisions – until the top 10 teams jumped poles were flying everywhere (I think there was one clear) and cricket scores were being racked up.  Nick was 5th to go of the Top 10 teams:

Discussions take place in front of the water jump that caused so
many problems during the first round of the Nations Cup

The offending water jump

Nick and Beverley Widowson’s Carlo – Another classic round; only the second clear of the day – the perfect start.  Nick finished the day in individual 3rd overall.

Guy and his own Titus – Lowered the first which was annoying and then another two rails – nervous glances on the GBR benches but other Teams were finding the track not so easy.  All to play for

Ben and his own Quainton Stud’s Tripple X – Brilliant round.....b****y water jump; 4 faults

John and Rebecca Stones’ Pepermill – And again.....brilliant round.....b*****y b****y water jump; 4 faults

GBR have had a hate hate relationship with water jumps in the past but neitherTripple X or Pepermill really appeared to do anything wrong.  The water jump was causing problems for all the teams and I am sure was the most influential fence on the course.

I am told by the experts that the low take off fence in front of the water did not help the horses get high enough and the tape on the landing was very ill-defined.  There was much discussion going on behind the scenes and the jump has been changed for the second round of the Nations Cup today (Friday).

GBR moved up to 4th less than 2 penalties off Bronze......  I make no predictions but NED (currently in Gold) look very strong, GER (in Silver) look dependable and FRA (Bronze) have slipped a little since Wednesday’s impressive performance.  BEL are right on our heels and like FRA, GER and ourselves do not have Olympic qualification to worry about.  Of course NED will be “going for Gold” but I am sure Olympic qualification will be their number 1 priority.  The other two Nations apart from NED that sit in London 2012 qualification slots are SWE (in 6th) and IRL (in 7th):  SWE have 11.38 penalties over IRL but IRL are only1.54 ahead of SUI and 3.41 ahead of ESP....the battle for the third London 2012 slot is going to be exciting. 

Today the Top 10 Teams and any other riders still wanting to contest the Individual competition, go again.  It is going to be hot hot hot and that is not just the temperature.

On the subject of hot hot hot.... In front of the stands there are some stalls selling candy; not the only candy on weather + Spanish señorita = hot hot hot eye candy........sorry chaps, no photos...the lens keeps steaming up.

Contender for daft decision of the week..... Ben Maher may not be able to jump his specialist Puissance horse in the Puissance as it is not qualified to jump in the Championships!

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