CCIO4*-S FEI Nations Cup - Normandy Region - Departemental Council of Orne: close finish between Italy and France...but France won at the end
Since the first edition of the FEI Nations Cup at Le Grand Complet in 2017, the French squad has won...3 times. At the end of the suspense, the French, deprived of one of their best pairs (Qamilha, the mare of Thaïs Meheust, having been refused at the inspection on Sunday morning), had to stick together to succeed in winning against a highly motivated Italian team. At the top of the ooverall ranking of the circuit, Italy was keen to strengthen their leadership by winning in the Norman fields.
They met a strong and particularly united French team. Because when Jean Teulère, the first member of the team to start in this last test, went off the course with three poles on the ground, they were really down...and feeling the pressure growing! Because the Italians lined up the good performances, especially Ariana Schivo. "We first wanted to keep our second place and we hoped to go back to the first. It was doable, but very tight. Out team worked quite well, even if some of my team mates had some penalties, it was good" Ariana explained. She finished on a clear round and a 5th place.
When Clara Loiseau, as the second member of the French team to tackle the SJ course, had a pole down, things tightened. There was no other option than a clear round for the last rider to go for the French squad. Being in the lead so far added to suspense.
"When I compete with Punch, I obviously dream of winning but I know that my place is rather 3rd or 3rd. His record speaks for it." Karim Laghouag says. "It’s a great surprise, especially as the team relies on me for the victory. A team medal is really something special to me. To feel that extra pressure helped me. I ‘ve had a few 4 point show jumping results this year with him which is really rare. I’ve been riding him since he’s 4yo, he’s 16 now. I probably needed a bit of pressure to believe in it and do all I could to get that clear round. My wife would say : 'you should ride more the Laghouag way and less as an American. (laughters). I’ve realised that I could ride him with more pressure and get a better result.'"
On top of pocketing the team prize – the third in a row for France in the FEI Nations Cup, Karim Laghouag also won the series in front of two Brits David Doel and Kirsty Johnson, as Thomas Carlile (again!!) finished 4th. He could have won if Atos hadn’t added disappointing 4 penalty points to his score on the first fence of the course.