Belgium clinched the 2015 Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Jumping title at the Real Club de Polo de Barcelona ©FEI

Belgium clinched the 2015 Furusiyya International Equestrian Federation (FEI) Nations Cup Jumping title in the finest of style tonight with a superb final round performance at the Real Club de Polo de Barcelona.

The Belgians threw down the gauntlet when topping Thursday’s (September 24) opener in which they pinned Germany and Sweden into joint-second place.

But it was the British who emerged to fill runner-up spot this evening, condemning the rampant Dutch back to third when the clock decided the final placings.

The United States, Ireland and Germany were next in line, also separated only by time when they also finished on an equal scoreline, while Sweden lined up seventh ahead of Switzerland in eighth.

The winners always looked competitive when Olivier Philippaerts’ opening four-fault effort with H&M Armstrong van de Kapel was followed by a fabulous clear from Judy Ann Melchior and 13-year-old mare As Cold as Ice Z.

Melchior and team-mate Gregory Wathelet, riding Conrad de Hus, produced two of just six clear rounds on the night to seal Belgium’s success.

"The horses jumped really good and the riders weren’t so bad – there was such an atmosphere here tonight," said Belgian Chef d’Equipe Dirk Demeersman.

"My riders rode very precisely and they did a great job – I’m really happy with them."

The course proved quite a conundrum for many of the others however, as course designer Santiago Varela made sure the trophy wouldn’t be easily won.

"Tonight’s course was difficult and technical," said Varela.

"I left the riders with many options and after the water jump they had a lot of choices right up until the very end.

"They had to ride really well to make a clear round but we came up with a very nice result and you can’t ask for more than that."

Olivier Philippaerts‘ opening four-fault effort set Belgium on their way to victory
Olivier Philippaerts‘ opening four-fault effort set Belgium on their way to victory ©Getty Images

Belgium’s Jos Lansink, whose eight faults with For Cento was the discard today, added: "The course builder should get a good big bonus.

"I’ve competed at a lot of events this year but there has never been sport like this.

"It was just fantastic."

The Dutch were well-fancied to add a second Furusiyya title to the world and European gold medals they’ve scooped up over the last 12 months, but it wasn’t to be.

Their superstar combination of Jeroen Dubbeldam and SFN Zenith led the way with a 12-fault result, hitting the second element of the triple combination at fence seven and the following vertical before losing rhythm when the horse broke into a trot in front of the first part of the double, three fences from home, which added another four to their tally.

By the time Gerco Schroder reined it back with a clear when last in for the Dutch side however, it had come down to a game of cat-and-mouse between the Germans and Belgians, each with the possibility of finishing on a four-fault final result.

Germany’s Christian Ahlmann, one of the four riders in contention for a cut of the €200,000 (£147,000/$224,000) bonus on offer to riders jumping clear on Thursday (September 24) and again today, saw that slip from his grasp when clipping the first of the vertical of planks at fence 11.

The crowd was mesmerised though by the performance of his team-mate Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum whose grey gelding, Fibonacci soared around the course, clearing the fences so impressively that the spectators burst into applause before they had even crossed the finish line to post their clear round.

Daniel Deusser’s double error with Cornet D’Amour, at the water and the first element of the double, could still be discounted if German anchor, Ludger Beerbaum, could leave all the poles in place with Chiara.

But the first part of the troublesome double at the end of the track, and the penultimate oxer, both fell, meaning the outcome was in Wathelet's hands as he entered the ring, 

Just like he did on Thursday (September 24), he kept a cool head and steered the 10-year-old stallion, Conrad de Hus, home safely to cement his side’s four-fault result and the bonus prize fund.

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