FEI Eventing Nations Cup: History repeats itself for the Swiss team
Written by Eleanore Kelly
Team Switzerland are proving to be ‘the ones to watch’, in this year’s FEI Eventing Nations Cup, after winning both their appearances in the Series. On both occasions, the Swiss riders have won both team and individual prizes in the CCIO4*-NC-S. After winning the opening leg in Pratoni (ITA) back in May, this time they delighted their home crowd in Avenches. This promising quartet – three of whom competed in Pratoni, all showed strong two-phase jumping performances, to finish on a score of 127.7.
Just as they had in Pratoni, France had to settle for second spot in Avenches – this time scoring 134.9. There were just four teams competing in this fourth leg of the Nations Cup, and after a disappointing team performance on the cross-country, Germany lagged behind on 216.1 and Italy on 256.4.
A superb double clear in the cross-country and Jumping phases was achieved by Robin Godel, who rode the fastest cross-country clear of the day, adding just 0.4 of a time penalty to his good dressage score. This meant the 23-year-old rider, was also a deserving individual winner of the CCIO4*-NC-S. He was also crowned the winner of the Swiss National Championships. Fittingly, he was riding the Swiss-bred horse, Grandeur de Lully CH. The ever-consistent pair climbed from fourth place after the dressage to first after the cross-country. Speaking after the prize-giving he said:
I can’t be happier right now. I am happy we have another win for the team. Grandeur was great from start to finish. We managed to handle the pressure here at home. In the individual category, I had no choice- I had to make a clean sweep.”
Robin Godel (Team Switzerland)
Also contributing significantly to the team victory and proving that age is irrelevant to eventing success, were 20 year old Nadja Minder and 52 year old Patrik Rüegg, who said “the atmosphere is very special. There were a lot of people on the cross-country. I am proud of our performance today”.
Making up the quartet was 38 year old Mélody Johner who rode her Tokyo Olympic team horse Toubleu de Rueire, to finish fourth individually. She has been riding ‘Toubleu’ since 2020 and describes the 15 year old Selle-Francais gelding as “a very generous and experienced horse”. Johner hopes good results here will put the pair in contention for the FEI Eventing World Championships which will be held in Pratoni from 15-18 September.
I am moved and happy. The cross-country was quite technical. The requirements we have set ourselves up to have now been met. Now we have to continue working”,
The French team led after the dressage phase but lost their edge over the Swiss in the cross-country phase on the basis of time faults. World-renowned course designer, Mike Etherington-Smith built a strong cross-country test that made the most of the natural features and topography, with no riders making the time and only 19 riders out of a total of 36 jumping clear.
Six-time Olympian Andrew Nicholson has been coaching the Swiss team for several years and summed up the competition.
I am very pleased with my team’s performance. The course was a proper four star and used a lot of the same track at the Europeans last year. We are now focusing on the World Championships.”
Andrew Nicholson (Team Switzerland)
The event took place at the Institut Equestre National d’Avenches (IENA) – also the site for last year’s FEI Eventing European Championships as well as the FEI European Pony Championships for Dressage, Eventing and Jumping in 2008. It is on the outskirts of Avenches, the former capital of Roman Helvetia, and is considered one of the most beautiful villages in Switzerland.
The overall result means that Italy, who has attended all four legs of the Series are now leading on 245 points, whilst Sweden are in second on 220. Switzerland who have now won both of their appearances are on 200 points which puts them in third place at this early stage of the Nations Cup Series. Le Pin au Haras (FRA) will host the fifth leg which runs from 11-14 August.