The Italian showjumping renaissance continued today when Roberto Arioldi’s side followed up their historic home victory a week ago with another stunning performance to win the fourth leg of the FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping 2017 Europe Division 1 league at St Gallen, Switzerland. The result has promoted them to second place, behind France, on the series leaderboard ahead of the next leg in Rotterdam (NED) in three weeks’ time.
Not long ago Italy was struggling to put together a team capable of remaining competitive at the sharp end of the sport, but how that has changed. Last Friday they won their own Nations Cup for the first time in 32 years, and in another remarkable moment this afternoon they claimed the Swiss Nations Cup title for the first time since 1959, and with only one member of last week’s winning side.
“we never had two good teams like this before and that was always a problem, but now we are very strong, we have many good riders and horses so I’m not surprised we won again. Our Chef d’Equipe, Roberto Arioldi, is doing a great job – he’s always positive, and that helps us a lot!”
Lorenzo de Luca (Team Italy)
At the end of round one it seemed France had it all sewn up with their zero scoreline giving them an eight-fault advantage over Switzerland in second place while Belgium and Italy were close behind in third with nine faults each. However the second round brought a sensational upheaval, the French plummeting to sixth when adding 25 faults despite a brilliant double-clear from anchorman Roger Yves Bost (Sangria du Coty).
Belgium added eight, but fault-free runs from Luca Marziani (Tokyo du Soleil) and Paolo Paini (Ottava Meraviglia) kept Italy in the game despite a single pole down for team-mate Emilio Bicocchi (Sassicaia Ares). And when Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs (Clooney) fell victim to the vertical after the open water, and Paul Estermann (Lord Pepsi) made two mistakes, then the result was hanging in the balance as Lorenzo de Luca set off. A third Italian clear would clinch it, and the rider who was the only one of last week’s winning side in action today did it in style.
Steve Guerdat confirmed runner-up spot for Switzerland with his second double-clear in a row with the fabulous mare Bianca, while Germany, lying seventh at the halfway stage, improved to third spot when finishing on their first-round total of 13.
Photo: FEI/Richard Juilliart