EUROPEAN team bronze medalist Nadja Peter Steiner was the star performer during the 1.45m Nations Cup at CSIO3* Rabat, Morocco, on Friday night, jumping a double clear round to help Switzerland secure victory.
The second of three legs of the 2017 Morocco Royal Tour saw the only Nations Cup on the African show jumping circuit take place. Conditions in Rabat hit 30 degrees celsius as the eight teams – Switzerland, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Belgium, Syria, France, Egypt and the home nation Morocco paraded in front of the enthusiastic crowd.
On paper Switzerland looked like the strongest team with Steiner, riding her championship mount Saura de Fondcombe, joined by Pius Schwizer, Alain Jufer, winner of Thursday’s Grand Prix qualifier, and 22-year-old Aurelia Loser, who was getting her first cap on a Nations Cup team.
With the 11-year-old Balou du Rouet-sired mare, Steiner got the class of to a great start, producing a foot perfect clear when first into the ring. Clear rounds were hard to come by and just two, Steiner and French lady Julia Dallamano, managed a double clear.
France were in the lead at the half way mark with three clears from Dallamano (Hoepala VH Daalhof), Romain Lavigne (Pharaon Belle Menee) and Severin Hillereau (Radja D’Artemis). The Swiss were lying second with eight faults.
There was disappointment for the home team, who finished on the podium here last year, when they racked up big penalties to lie eighth after the first round.
A break of one hour allowed the sun to go down and temperatures began to cool as the second round got underway under the lights in the impressive arena.
Things began to fall apart for France and with a zero score from Switzerland in the second round – clears from Steiner, Loser (Quelmec Du Gery), and Schwizer (Balou Rubin R) – they took the top spot on eight faults, to the delight of chef d’equipe Andy Kistler.
At the press conference afterwards, Kistler said: “We have done a great season this year, with the bronze medal at the Europeans in particular, but this victory is important as it’s the first one in this season’s Nations Cup circuit.”
France finished second on 12 faults, ahead of Italy with 24 faults.
More accustomed to being in the ring for Nations Cup competitions, Jérôme Guery took on the role of chef d’equipe on this occasion with an inexperienced Belgian team.
One Irish Sport Horse horse took part in the competition – the Miguel Bravo and Marion Hughes-bred HHS Dublin. The Ard VDL Douglas-sired gelding competed under Saudi Arabia’s Saad Alajmi.