USA 2nd As Dazzling Dutch Win Nations Cup Final

Credit : Scoopdyga

Sunday 01 October - 11h51 | Lulu Kyriacou

USA 2nd As Dazzling Dutch Win Nations Cup Final

The Dutch have won the Longines FEI Nations Cup Final in Barcelona, Spain last night by adding only one time penalty to their score with the USA second and the Belgian's in third.  

 - USA 2nd As Dazzling Dutch Win Nations Cup Final

Credit : Sccopdyga

The evening had not started well when one of the floodlight towers failed leaving one corner of the ring in darkness, prompting course designer Santiago Varela to start rebuildin the course to avoid the dark spots. But the electricians  worked quickly and the class started over the original course, albeit an hour and a half later.

​The course was large and technical with the open water folowed by a double off a curving six or seven strides with the combination at the second last followed by a huge oxer to finish.  Werner Muff was first in and rode a fantastic clear on his Dublin GP winner Daimler but thereafter clear rounds were not so easy to come by. 

Lauren Hough riding the diminutive Ohlala became the first person to be clear in this competition who was also clear in Thursday's qualifier. Any rider doing so would win at least part of a €100'000  bonus which ended up being shared between Hough, Gregory Wathelet (BEL), Jur Vrieling (NED), McLain Ward (USA), Harrie Smolders (NED) and Eric Lamaze (CAN).

But the evening was really all about the Dutch. They were the first team to post two jumping clears in the one round competition when Michel Hendrix added just a time fault to the clear already posted by Jur Vrieling with VDL Glasgow van Merelsnest.  When Beezie Madden had one down on Darrylou, and Mclain Ward (HH Azur) and Gregory Wathelet (Corrie) went clear, this left their two teams level on four faults each and Harrie Smolders needing only a clear to take the title.

​Smolders can do no wrong at the moment. European silver medalist, Global Champions Tour winner, if anyone was destined to jump a clear round, it was the Dutch number one  and riding Don VHP, the result was never in doubt.  That gave the Dutch the win and the faster cumulative time of the Anericans earned them second place.

​Afterwards Smolders made light of the late start and paid tribute to his team mates. "​In Spain everything is always later. They start later in the morning, and they finish later in the evening - we wanted to win anyway! I felt he (Don VHP)  started to get a little tired and that I had to carry him around a bit in the second round today, but he gave everything. He gets a rest now that he really deserves. I’m super confident this season because he jumps clear after clear, but still you have to do it, and it was a big track today, a big challenge, the time was really tight so I couldn’t afford to leave it somewhere. I had to be really on it, but my horse was incredible!"​

​Rob Ehrens, the Dutch team manager said he job was very easy. "I just tell them when each one will go and when we walk the course together and after that, the team do everything! This formula in the Longines FEI Nations Cup™ Final is excellent and very exciting. Also when we had a little struggle starting tonight, a yes, a no, lights on, lights out, they are professionals and they finished the job really well so we are very, very happy. This is a bit of a new team, new horses, and they were in a good shape already at the European Championships, although we had a little bit of a slow start there. But we had a good feeling and here on the first day on Thursday the horses also jumped very nicely, they were fit to compete, the riders were motivated and today again they showed that they can do what they have to do."

Second Spot for the USA

Second Spot for the USA - USA 2nd As Dazzling Dutch Win Nations Cup Final

McLain Ward, double clear on HH Azur
Credit : Scoopdyga

The Americans improved on their 2016 third place by finishing second with two clears from Lauren Hough and McLain Ward.  Lauren Hough spoke afterwards about her brilliant mare who coped so well with the delayed start to the class. ​"She’s been amazing this week, I’m so proud of her double clear, there was a lot of waiting obviously, being the first rider I think I got on three times to do that round so under the circumstances I’m absolutely thrilled and so proud to be part of such an extraordinary team. Everyone performed brilliantly, both Laura and Beezie are on younger horses, but they are incredible riders and they kinda held their horse’s hand and we are thrilled with the result today"

Further reading...

Talk