New Zealand may not have got the fairytale ending of hosts Italy at the Rome CSIO5* FEI Nations Cup but the riders take away plenty from the event.
Italy (Luca Marziani/Tokyo du Soleil, Giulia Martinen/Verdine SZ, Emanuele Guadiano/Caspar 232, Bruno Chimirri/Tower Mouche) backed up their historic 2017 victory – their first in 32 years – heading home the nine-strong field on four faults.
The United States (Laura Kraut/Confu, Spencer Smith/Theodore Manciais, Elizabeth Madden/Coach, McLain Ward/HH Azur) and Switzerland (Janika Sprunger/Bacardi VDL. Niklaus Rutschi/Cardano CH, Arthur Gustavo Da Silva/Inonstop Van’t Voorhof, Steve Guerdat/Alamo) shared second place on eight faults.
Germany (Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum/Calle 67, Sven Fehnl/Deep Blue Bridge S, Denis Nielsen/DSP Cashmoaker, David Will/Calvilot), Sweden (Henrik Von Eckermann/Newton Abbot, Fredrik Jonsson/Cold Play, Evelina Tovek/Dalila de la Pomme, Malin Baryard-Johnsson/H&M Indiana) and Canada (Jaclyn Duff/EH All or None, Kara Chad/Carona, Francois Lamontagne/Chanel du Calvaire, Eric Lamaze/Coco Bongo) fourth equal on 12. New Zealand were eighth on 54.
At the end of the first round, Switzerland, the United States and Italy were all locked on zero faults. Canada and Germany were both on four, with Sweden and The Netherlands on eight, France on 12 and New Zealand on 20.
For the Kiwis, Bruce Goodin aboard Backatorps Danny V and Samantha McIntosh on Check In 2 each had a rail, with Daniel Meech and Fine on 12 and Lisa Cubitt aboard RLE Legoland on 20 as the drop score. In all there were 17 clears from the 36 combinations.
The second round saw just 10 combinations leave all the rails in place, including a brilliant effort from Meech and Fine. Italy had a heart-stopping moment when their third rider, Gaudiano was eliminated, but anchor Chimirri delivered for the very vocal home crowd.
The Kiwi riders head home from Italy already looking to the future and reflecting on lessons learnt.
Today produced a career highlight for Meech. “To jump clear in a Rome Nations Cup is a highlight of my career,” he said. “It was an up and down day. Fine jumped amazing in the second round – one of the best rounds of my life. In the first round, she jumped well until the last three after the water where I just lost control. She was more relaxed in the second and I am just so happy with her.”
McIntosh, who didn’t bring Check In 2 back for the second round, said there had been some great rounds jumped. “A little inconsistency between rounds showed up in the end result, but it was another great stepping stone for our little team,” she said. “It’s been a great experience to be here and nice to have so many Kiwi supporters both here and at home.”
Goodin was rapt with the first round efforts of his horse, and claimed responsibility for the last fence falling. “It was my fault at the last fence – I was too deep, but he really showed he can deal with the big time,” said Goodin. “The second round was disappointing. The horse was a bit tired but will get stronger and fitter from this experience.”
Newcomer Cubitt said while the scoreboard was not in their favour, she was “beyond proud” of her horse. “He was so brave out there under the circumstances – he has the heart of a lion,” she said. “I will never forget that time I got to ride for my country in Rome in THAT arena against THOSE riders,” she said.
New Zealand will now field a team at the FEI Nations Cup competition in St Gallen in Switzerland next weekend (May 31-June 3).
The horse details:
Check In 2 – owned by Takapoto Equestrian
Fine – owned by AB Kastanjegärden and Daniel Meech
RLE Legoland – owned by River Lodge Equestrian
Bäckatorps Danny V – owned by Bäckatorp Ryder AB
By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison