Belgium take victory at Longines EEF Series Luxembourg

Belgio vittoria della EEF Series di Lussemburgo

The second of the Region West Longines EEF Series qualifiers took place in Roeser, Luxembourg this afternoon. The action packed Nations Cup competition saw Ireland and Belgium match each other round for round from start to finish, resulting in a nail biting jump off which saw Belgium come out on top. Ireland took second place, with Great Britain finishing third.

Course designers Peter Schumacher (Ger) and Paul Engel (Lux) gave the riders plenty to think about, with most of the faults coming later on the course. A steep right hand turn to two tall verticals after the water jump accounted for quite a few penalties, as did the thin blue top plank of fence 10. The final line of a treble combination followed by the yellow Longines EEF Series oxer took accurate jumping, and caught out many who were clear up to that point.

In the first round, Belgian rider Jeroen Appelen got things underway for his team with a superb clear round aboard the 11 year old chestnut gelding Monte Blue PS. Second line rider Aaron Tijskens provided the discard score of 4 faults when he had the last part of the treble combination down with the 12 year old gelding, Hurricane. Third line rider Frederic Vernaet put in a particularly eye catching clear round with the 10 year old black stallion Orak d’Hamwyck, and the Belgian anchorman Yves Vanderhasselt followed up with another super clear round with the 12 year old stallion Merald Van’t Zorgvliet.

The Irish team pushed Belgium all the way, and in the first round Max Wachman, Michael G Duffy and Cian O’Connor all delivered beautiful clear rounds. 19 year old Tom Wachman provided the discard score of 4 faults, when his diminutive chestnut mare Cathalina S chipped out the back rail at fence six.

With Belgium and Ireland both going into the second round on 0 penalties, the competition really began to hot up. Belgium’s Jeroen Appelen faulted at fence 10, but Irishman Max Wachman and the brilliant grey gelding Kilkenny also faulted at the same fence. Aaron Tijskens finished his second round on four faults for Belgium, followed by Ireland’s Michael G Duffy and his 11 year old grey gelding Clitschko 17 just catching the front rail of the Longines EEF Series yellow oxer, leaving the scores level once more.

Third line rider for Belgium Frederic Vernaet again delivered a stunning clear round, but Ireland’s Tom Wachman made amends for his first round blip and finished fault free. With both teams still level and fighting for the top spot, Irish rider Cian O’Connor kept the pressure up and delivered a flawless clear round on the 9 year old stallion, Fancy de Kergane. Yves Vanderhasselt answered right back for Belgium, and his clean sheet meant that Ireland and Belgium would go to a jump off to decide the winner.

Ireland Chef d’Equipe Michael Blake put forward Cian O’Connor for the jump off, who set off at a good pace. However, an uncharacteristic two fences down in a time of 44.06 left the door wide open for the opposition. Belgian Chef d’Equipe Fabienne Daigneux-Lange nominated Jeroen Appelen to jump, who could afford to take his time. Delivering the goods in a time of 48.88, Appelen sealed the victory for Belgium.

The British quartet of Mark Edwards, Adrian Whiteway, Oliver Fletcher and Robert Murphy took third place on the podium, finishing with 9 penalties. Switzerland and France both finished on 20 penalties, but Switzerland were 0.47 quicker, clinching fourth place. Ukraine, Austria and Columbia took the next three spots, and they were followed by Luxembourg and United States of America to round out the top 10.

With only five teams from Region West moving forward to the Longines EEF Series semi-finals in Deauville in two weeks time, it was also all to play for in the hunt for league points. After the Peelbergen and Luxembourg qualifiers Belgium, Ireland, Great Britain and Spain will progress to the next round.

Report: Christa Dillon

Press release EEF Series | Photo (c) EEF

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