Kronenberg, 19 May 2023 – A show-stopping victory for Team France in the Longines EEF Nations Cup Peelbergen turned the sky over Peelbergen an extra shade of blue this afternoon!
Safe to say, it was teamwork at its very finest: Juliette Faligot (Arqana de Riverland), Aurélien Leroy (Croqsel de Blaignac), Maëlle Martin (Bise des Bardellieres), and François Xavier Boudant (Brazyl du Mezel) put on quite the spectacle with flawless performances across three rounds, culminating in a jaw-dropping jump-off to seal their victory. “We had to choose one rider for the jump-off, and Maelle did the same jump-off one year ago in Aalborg (DK), and we won the Nations Cup there again, that’s why we chose her,” says Chef d’Equipe Edouard Coupérie.
Next up in second place came the dark horse of this Nations Cup: Argentina. Raúl Ferreyra Bochatey’s team was not competing for points, but nevertheless, they gave France a run for their money in the jump-off, with Matías Albarracín delivering a clear round that earned them a well-deserved second place.
The Spanish team came incredibly close to victory, being the only team to finish the first round with four clears. Unfortunately, an unlucky rail from Teresa Blázquez-Abascal proved fatal for her team, who stepped on the third step of the podium and took home the bronze.
But let’s delve into the numbers: this Region West Qualifier saw France claim a resounding victory, earning them the maximum 100 points. Spain got 90 points for their third-place finish, while Belgium’s Gregory Wathelet and Portugal’s Adir Dias De Abreu delivered valuable double clears, ensuring their countries bagged 80 and 70 points, respectively. Ireland followed with 60 points, and Great Britain with 50 points.
Course designer Bart Vonck presented the team with a formidable challenge, with riders already discussing the last line of the first round during the course walk. “I think we need to have a difficult line to finish because you can only put 12 jumps, they have to be careful at the entrance of the Longines triple combination, and then four strides to a very delicate last plank where they have to be both really careful and keep the horse in rhythm to get the four strides.” Challenge was indeed the right word, as more riders paid a heavy price on that line.
This has not been an issue for France’s Maelle Martin and her 12-year-old mare, Bise des Bardellieres: “I’m very happy with the last round; my mare jumped amazingly. She’s jumping better and better. She was already jumping well in the first round, but then she got even more relaxed. After I saw the first rider being clear in the jump-off, I said, ‘Okay, now I have to give everything,’ and it was our day, so it was all good!”.
No doubt here, we agree with Maelle on this one: it definitely was France’s day.