They waited 32 years to win again on home ground, so the celebrations were wild today when Team Italy came out on top in the FEI Nations Cup™ at Piazza di Siena in the heart of their capital city.
“there was so much expectation and a lot of pressure, but in the end we had a really strong team and we are very proud…it was time!”
Lorenzo de Luca (Team Italy)
The hosts already held the record for most wins at their prestigious fixture which this year celebrates its 85th anniversary, but their last success was way back in 1985. Strong recent results however suggested that today may be the day when they could bridge that very long gap and put their country’s name on the roll of honour once again.
In an edge-of-the-seat contest, they shared the lead with The Netherlands on a four-fault result at the halfway stage, and then held on for victory without having to rely on their anchor rider Bruno Chimirri (46). It was Lorenzo de Luca (30) who clinched it despite a foot in the water and a time fault with Ensor de Litrange second time out, because a second-round clear from pathfinders Piergiorgio Bucci (41) and Casallo Z, and a magnificent double-clear performance from the youngest team member, Alberto Zorzi (28) with Fair Light van T Heike, meant they couldn’t be beaten when the Dutch threat fizzled out.
It was heartache for third-line Dutchman Jur Vrieling who looked set to sail home to a second fault-free round with the extravagant VDL Glasgow vh Merelsnest which would keep the pressure at boiling point, only to hit the very last on Uliano Vezzani’s 12-fence track. The retirement of Jeroen Dubbeldam and the off-form SFN Zenith had left them vulnerable as the second round got underway, as did a mistake from Gerco Schroder and Glock’s Cognac Champblanc, and they finished with a 13-fault total while the Italians registered just nine. Third spot was divided between Ireland and Spain who each collected 17 faults.
France finished equal-fifth with Sweden on 20 faults and the French maintain the lead in the Europe Division 1 rankings heading to the fourth round of the eight-leg series at St Gallen, Switzerland next Friday. But it was Team Italy who claimed the maximum 100 points today to move up to fourth place and with the FEI Nations Cup™ 2017 Final in Barcelona (ESP) in September clearly in their sights.