Belgium clinch Nations Cup win in Rome

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Belgium took first place at the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Europe Division 1 series at Piazza di Siena in Rome. They finished with eight penalties ahead of the Netherlands and Germany with Great Britian in fourth. Italy finished in eighth place.
It was the first time that the Belgians had won the event in the Italian capital. The teams could remove their worst score from the second round so Ludo Philippaerts and his 24 penalties did not count in the overall score but the rider with his mount Challenge vd Begijnakker had done better in first round with just four penalties and it was this assured riding from all the team that saw coach Kurt Gravemeier’s outfit secure their historic title where Ludo’s son Nico rode them home.
Germany and Britain started well but faltered in the closing stages which left the Dutch who, lying fourth but with just five faults going into round two, threatened for the lead when 2000 Olympic champion Jeroen Dubbeldam (Zenith SFN) and Maikel van der Vleuten (VDL Groep Verdi) each jumped clear at their second attempt.  Jur Vrieiling (VDL Bubalu) collected nine faults, but if London 2012 individual silver medallists Gerco Schroder and Glock’s London could leave all the fences intact that would heap the pressure on the Belgians.  And they seemed on their way to a foot-perfect run until Schroder anxiously pushed his brilliant stallion down to the final vertical only to clip the top plank for four faults which ensured a finishing total of nine for his team.
Meanwhile Niels Bruynseels and Pommeau du Heup and Constant van Paesschen with Citizenguard Toscan de Sainte came to the rescue for Belgium with brilliant double-clear performances so it all came down to Ludo’s son, Nicola Philippaerts at the end of the day.  He could afford one fence down as he came into the Piazza di Siena arena, and when he hit the tall vertical that followed the triple combination at fence seven the spectators held their breath for the rest of the course.  And he used up all his luck, rattled the big oxer three from home but leaving all the poles in place to clinch it for his country.

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