Rome, Italy – May 28, 2021 – An exciting edition of the €200,000 Intesa Sanpaolo Nations Cup for the 88th CSIO of Rome at Piazza di Siena. For only the second time in the long and distinguished history of Nations Cup Jumping at CSIO Rome, Team Belgium won through ahead of Germany today at Piazza di Siena. You couldn’t have asked for a more exciting finish to the first 5* Nations Cup to be staged in a very long time when it came down to a third-round jump-off against the clock between new German super-talent, Kendra Brinkop, and veteran Belgian team member Gregory Wathelet.
Although there were no close spectators due to pandemic protocols, the public could watch all the action from a distance in the famous Piazza di Siena oval amphitheatre at the Villa Borghese public park, and they were treated to a thrilling competition.
A total of 12 nations lined out, and Brazil and France shared third place on a final score of eight faults, Team USA finished fifth on nine faults while Sweden slotted into sixth with 12. Only the top eight teams went through to the second round and it was the Czech Republic that came in seventh ahead of Mexico in eighth place at the end of the day. Ireland, Japan, Italy and Egypt lined up behind them in that order having failed to make the cut into round two.
Belgium claimed the podium after a jump-off against Germany: once again a clear run, the third during the competition, for the German equestrian Kendra Claricia Brinkop (GER) on Kastelle Memo, going up against the Belgian rider Gregory Wathelet (BEL) on Nevados S.
And there was a bit of family history being made today when Olivier Philippaerts lined up beside his team-mates in the prizegiving ceremony. Because his father, Ludo Philippaerts, and his twin brother, Nicola, were on that first-ever winning team for Belgium back in 2014 along with Niels Bruynseels and Constant van Paesschen. So now the whole family have their names engraved into the prestigious CSIO Rome Nations Cup Roll of Honour, something of a dream for every showjumping rider down many years.
It was already a tussle between the Belgians and Germans when they were the only teams to complete the first round on a zero score. Brazil, France, USA, Sweden, Czech Republic and Mexico all shared an eight-fault tally going into the second round and when Brazil and France added nothing more to their scorelines, and in each case without having to call on their fourth rider, then combined times gave the Brazilians the edge over their French counterparts. The Americans added just a single time fault to slot into fifth place.
The two leading countries each picked up four faults second time out. German pathfinders Marcus Ehning and Calanda, who posted a surprising eight faults in round one, reduced that to just four on their second tour of the track. But when Brinkop and Patrick Stuhlmeyer with Varihoka du Temple produced their second clears of the day then it looked like Germany might maintain a zero-penalty status. So there was a gasp of disbelief when last-line rider, David Will with C Vier 2, made it all the way to the final vertical of red planks only to fault there. Meanwhile the Belgians would suffer a similar fate.
There was a nervous moment when Olivier Philippaerts followed his first-round clear with three down with H&M Extra. But when Yves Vanderhasselt and Jeunesse, who produced their country’s only error in round one, got it all right this time and then Jerome Guery and Quel Homme de Hus produced a second clear it was left to Wathelet to clinch the result with a clear. And he looked all set to do just that until exactly the same fence, the final planks, came tumbling down.
Now it would go to a two-way decider against the clock, and the tension was intense.
In the end experience won the day when 40-year-old Wathelet steered the 13-year-old grey stallion Nevados S through the timers in 36.01 seconds to seal it when last into the ring. But 26-year-old Brinkop has placed herself firmly centre-stage having piled all the pressure on him when leading the way in the final face-off with a brilliantly executed run from the 11-year-old mare Kastelle Memo that stopped the clock in 36.63 seconds.
But Wathelet and Nevados S were on the Belgian team that won the FEI European Championship title in Rotterdam, The Netherlands in 2019 and also in the Belgian side that finished second at the FEI Nations Cup Final in Barcelona, Spain that year. The experienced pair simply carved a tighter course to settle the result beyond doubt when safely negotiating the track.
The other members of the winning teams were Olivier Philippaerts (BEL) on H&M Extra, Yves Vanderhasselt (BEL) on Jeunesse and Jerome Guery (BEL) on Quel Homme des Hus. This was Belgium’s second triumph in the Rome Nations Cup: the first was in 2014 with the other two Philippaerts’ in the team: Ludo and Nicola, Oliver’s father and twin brother respectively.
This is the fifth time in the last 40 years that the team competition was decided with a jump-off: the last time in 2013, with three teams and the Ukraine defeating Germany and France and previously in 2008, 1995 and 1994.
Instead, it was a very bitter Roman Nations Cup for Italy: the Italians finished second-last in the first heat with a total of 20 penalties, 4 for Riccardo Pisani (ITA) on Chaclot, 8 for Luca Marziani (ITA) on Lightning and Emanuele Gaudiano (ITA) on Chalou and 12 for Giulia Martinengo Marquet (ITA) on Elzas), and so they were excluded from the second heat.
Brinkop admitted this evening that she was really surprised to be chosen for the jump-off, “but Marcus (Ehning) told me that today was my day, and that after my first two rounds I was the natural choice!”, she said. And of course the man who is one of the most respected riders in the sport was absolutely right. Brinkop trained with Ehning for some time before taking up her current job at Stephex Stables in March 2019, and she demonstrated her blossoming talent with a brilliant third clear that set the target for her Belgian rival.
The revelation of today’s Nations Cup was Germany’s Kendra Claricia Brinkop (GER) who fought it out in the jump-off against Gregory Wathelet: “It was fantastic to be part of this team. I would like to thank the Young Riders Academy, sponsored by Rolex, for all the support I am given in my riding practice, it has allowed me to grow a lot, helping me to mature. Rome is a wonderful show, and it was thrilling to ride in the jump-off in the place of a great rider like Marcus Ehning, my horse jumped so well in the two heats that my team leader Otto Becker said “It’s your turn…”, I’m happy to have repaid his trust”.
Final Results – €200,000 Nations Cup Intesa Sanpaolo CSIO 5*
Rider / Horse / R1 Score / R2 Score / Jump-off Score / Jump-off Time
- Olivier Philippaerts & H&M Extra – 0 / (12)
- Yves Vanderhasselt & Jeunesse – (4) / 0
- Jérôme Guery & Quel Homme De Hus – 0 / 0
- Gregory Wathelet & Nevados S – 0 / 4 / 0 – 36.01
- Marcus Ehning & Calanda 42 – (8) / (4)
- Kendra Claricia Brinkop & Kastelle Memo – 0 / 0
- Patrick Stuhlmeyer & Varihoka Du Temple – 0 / 0 / 0 – 36.63
- David Will & C Vier 2 – 0 / 4
- Luiz Francisco de Azevedo & Comic – (4) / 0
- Yuri Mansur & QH Alfons Santo Antonio – 0 / 0
- Luiz Felipe de Azevedo & Hermes Van de Vrombautshoeve – 4 / 0
- Rodrigo Pessoa & Carlito’s Way 6 – 4 / (NS)
- Penelope Leprevost & GFE Excalibur De La Tour Vidal – 0 / 0
- Marc Dilasser & Arioto Du Gevres – (8) / 0
- Mathieu Billot & Quel Filou 13 – 4 / 0
- Kevin Staut & Viking D’La Rousserie – 4 / (NS)
Source: Compilation of Press Releases from Piazza di Siena
Photos: © Piazza di Siena / CONI / Simone Ferrraro