Vive La France! France Clinch The Top Spot At Longines EEF Series Gorla

28. Apr 2023 / Category: Press Release

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Report: Amy Powell

Vive La France! A Young French Team Clinch the Top Spot at Longines EEF Series Gorla.

After a nail-biting finish in Gorla Minore, a young team France win the Longines EEF Nations Cup under the Italian sun for the first leg of the Longines EEF Series - the only team to finish on a perfect score of 0.

Although this leg was not a Longines EEF Series Qualifier for France, as it was a region south qualifier, they arrived in Italy with the sole intention of utilising the venue to give the fledgling team vital experience ahead of competing here later in the year at the FEI Jumping European Championships for Young Riders. “We’re using this brilliant series to improve our young riders ahead of the championships in July,” Chef d’Equipe Edouard Couperie said ahead of the competition. “We are lucky to have Olivier Robert [riding Iglesias D.V] here with us who is very experienced and is jumping first so that he can feedback to the rest of the team, as well as help them in the warmup ring”, team tactics which obviously paid off.

The remaining team of Dylan Levallois (Artiste de l’Abbaye) and William Ligier De La Prade (Galilee) who are making their CSIO3* debuts, and Jules Orsolini (Charlotte) “who has slightly more experience and is therefore going in last” said Edouard, are all just 20, 18 & 19 years old respectively and have gained a massive amount of confidence from this experience.

“We are really happy with the horse’s performance,” said Jules, “at the beginning, we were not expecting to be in this position, although we obviously had the mindset of winning, but we had not anticipated such a strong first round. This has really helped us to build for the Europeans.”

“It was a fantastic course and the team designing it did a great job today” Olivier said, “it was really good for the young riders and those with less experienced horses, so this was a super day all round.”

Matching France fence for fence in the first round with both teams closing on a clean sheet, Portugal looked like strong contenders for the top spot heading into the second round, but an unfortunate fence down each for the team’s two final riders, Adir Dias De Abreu (Dartanion) and António Matos Almeida (Chippo Z), saw Portugal having to settle for a total score of 4, which was good enough for second.

The fight for third place between Germany and Belgium was an equally hot contest, with Germany bringing 5 penalties forward from the first round and Belgium carrying four. Both teams posted two early clears – respective team stalwarts Michael Jung on Fischerchelsea looked like they were never going to touch a pole for Germany completing one of six double clears of the day, and Belgium’s Thibault Philippaerts making up for four faults in the first round with a classy clear to finish – it was down to the final two riders of each team to hold their nerve and apply the pressure. Ultimately, both teams had to carry through four faults a-piece into their round 2 total, meaning Belgium’s final score of 8 just pipped the Germans to the post by a single fault. 

Meanwhile, away from the podium, the contest for Longines EEF Series points was going strong between the Southern nations. Both Turkey and Bulgaria saw a multitude of clears in round one carrying over just four faults each, with current Series champions Italy and team Ukraine hot on their heels, both scoring 8 penalties heading into round 2.

Longines EEF Series debutant, Bulgaria’s Konstantin E. van Damme and his 11-year-old mount Caesar Z had a blazing first leg experience, not touching a single pole in either of their rounds for a double clear, and steering their team to a 9-penalty point final score, just slightly slower than the Germans and therefore finishing in 6th overall. This meant Bulgaria took the all-important 100 points, standing them in good stead for aiming towards the Series semi-final later in the year.

Italy’s anchormen, Francesco Correddu onboard 17-year-old stallion Necofix and Bruno Chimirri with the young 9-year-old Mare Samara brought the team back from a disconcerting 8 penalties in round one, producing final clears with their mounts to secure them the vital 90 qualifier points. Sadly, Turkey couldn’t repeat their first-round achievement, tallying up an additional 12 faults in round two and completing on a final total of 16 to earn the 80 qualifying points – just ahead of Ukraine who, take 70 points.

Behind Ukraine and finishing with 60 qualifying points was Greece which saw all four of its team either equal or improve on their first-round score, with team lynchpins Ioli Mytilineou and the 10-year-old stallion Casanova Hastak DWB racking up one of the six double clears of the competition. Although it wasn’t Romania’s day with just one clear round to note for the team, they do earn themselves a handy 55 points to take through into the next Southern Region qualifier, taking place in Athens on June 4th.
Andrea Colombo & Elio Travagliati’s 1.45m course certainly gave riders plenty to think about over two rounds of the 12-fence track, taking the battle for the top three spots and the Series points right down to the wire.

The most troublesome fence of the day was towards the end of the course at fence 9, a narrow vertical with dark poles that appeared on a dog-leg after the Longines treble which found itself to be the bane of many a rider this afternoon.

The welcoming track was clearly designed to give the more inexperienced riders and combinations the opportunity to gain some valuable exposure to international competition, whilst its cleverly positioned fences kept the competition tight with poles falling throughout the course, still allowing horses to visibly grow in confidence.

The Longines EEF Series now moves to Mannheim, Germany, next weekend which will see its teams battle it out for the first Central Region qualifier, to earn those crucial points to start their bid for the Ebreichsdorf (Austria) Semi-Final which will see the top 5 teams from Central and South go head-to-head for a place in the Longines EEF Series Final in Warsaw this September.