A brilliant clear round by Robert Bevis and Courtney Z in Gijon secured this afternoon’s Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup for Great Britain, just pipping hosts Spain by a single fault, while Ireland finished in eighth place, writes Mike Dunne.
The British team had looked to be in a commanding position at half-way, with just four faults on the board, but a spectacular fightback by the Spanish saw them claw their way back from 13 points adrift to within a single fault of the lead, leaving last-to-jump Bevis with no margin for error. The British rider, who had incurred four faults first time out, rose to the challenge and came home with everything intact over a second inside the time.
Netherlands took third while Switzerland claimed 4th place ahead of Canada, for whom Elizabeth Gingras and Zilversprings posted the only double-clear of the contest. Italy took sixth and France placed seventh, leaving Ireland in eighth place.
The Irish were drawn second in the jumping order and pathfinder pairing Cian O’Connor and Callisto had two poles down and a time fault for a less than ideal start. Second in for the Irish was Anthony Condon and Aristio, who had come here on the back of six clear rounds in three five-star nations cups this year. The pairing looked on course to extend the run until they dislodged the plank which topped the first part of the final double. It was a fence that had caused numerous riders problems, and Ireland’s next-in Conor Swail suffered the exact same fate with Hetman of Colors. Anchor man Billy Twomey had three down for the discard score of twelve faults, leaving Ireland on 17 at halfway. With only four clears in the first round out of 35 riders, Ireland’s tally was good enough to make the cut for round two.
It started well as O’Connor and Callisto shook off their first round mishaps with a copybook clear. Condon, however, saw his good streak come to an end with 16 faults. Swail then added twelve more, before Twomey closed out for Ireland with eight faults which pushed the team total out to 37.
Today’s contest was the last of the qualifiers for this year’s Nations Cup Final in Barcelona next month but none of today’s teams had any qualification concerns with the places having been already been decided. There was, however, good fortune for Great Britain earlier this week with the news that one of the places allotted to the Asia/Australasia region will not be taken up (New Zealand declined and so did reserve team Japan) leaving the way open for the British, who had failed to qualify from Europe Division 1, to be penciled in for the Final.
Ireland had secured their place in the Final as far back as July, and went on to finish second in Europe Division 1 from which seven teams qualify for next month’s Final.
Nations Cup Gijon
1st Great Britain 16
2nd Spain 17
3rd Netherlands 20
4th Switzerland 22
5th Canada 24
6th Italy 25
7th France 29
8th Ireland 37
First round only
9th Egypt 17
10th Mexico 21
11th Portugal 25
12th Norway 34