Italy take the win in Athens!

02. Jun 2024 / Category: Press Release

Report by Emily Bevan

Italy proved the team to beat at the Longines EEF Series South Group qualifier, which took place at the Markopoulo Olympic Equestrian Centre in Athens, after they finished the two-round competition on a score of four. In second place were hosts Greece while Romania rounded out the podium.

Victory for Italy ensured they will progress to the semi-finals as will Greece and Ukraine who both picked up valuable qualifying points.

The Italians were in imperious form from the outset with their first three horses and riders – Roberto Turchetto with Heidelberg, Filippo Bassan on Cerruti de Kreisker and Antonio Maria Garofalo riding Abelle Degli Assi – all producing stylish clear rounds in the first round. These performances meant Italy led by eight penalties at the halfway stage and their fourth rider, Bruno Chimirri on Samara, opted not to jump in the opening round.

Double clears for Roberto with the 12-year-old bay KWPN gelding Heidelberg and Antonio riding Abelle Degli Assi and just four faults for Filippo on Cerruti de Kreisker, a 12-year-old Selle Francais mare, in the second meant their win was assured and Bruno and Samara were not required to jump in the second round either. Bruno has jumped in the arena before however, having been a member of the Italian team at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

“It’s a beautiful day for us. We are very happy, our horses jumped very well. Congratulations to Roberto and Antonio for their double clears,” said chef d’equipe Marco Porro.

The star of the class was undoubtedly Abelle Degli Assi, the daughter of the renowned showjumping stallion Arko III, owned by Domenico Merlani. The talented eight-year-old mare belied her tender years and made Andreas Bamberger’s showjumping track look easy, she never looked like touching a pole as she produced two notable clear rounds.  

“I’m very happy. My horse is young, she’s only eight years old. I’ve had her since she was four and I’m really happy with this result. I really hope she has a big future ahead of her,” said Antonio.

There was a close battle for second and third between Greece and Romania. Both teams finished the first round on eight faults and then some impressive second round performances meant neither team added to that total so they had to be separated by time. Much to the home crowds delight it was the Greeks who had been quicker and consequently secured the runner-up spot.

Special mentions should be given to Greece’s Kriton Zafiropoulos with the experienced 16-year-old KWPN stallion Dicaprio and Romania’s pathfinder Gyula Zarug riding the 10-year-old stallion Cold Blue Boy who both produced rare double clears.

Ukraine occupied fourth place, opting to debut several younger horses in their squad, while the only other team in the competition, Bulgaria, were sadly eliminated in the first round.