English rider Nick Skelton victorious on rising Big Star


(By Alina Trabattoni)Rome, May 27 - The 81st edition of the iconic Piazza di Siena show-jumping competition that showcases yearly in Rome's elegant Villa Borghese park wrapped up on Sunday to much applause and excitement, as attendees walked away with their fill of high-quality sport mingled culture and glamour. Piazza di Siena is one of the highlights of the Italian sports calendar and attracts both top-level competitors and audiences from near and far. The prestigious event is part of the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) Nations Cup. It is considered to be one of the handful of top international show-jumping competitions across the globe, including La Baule in France, Rotterdam in the Netherlands, San Gallo in Switzerland, Aquisgrana in Germany, and Falsterbo in Sweden amongst others. The four-day event captivated audiences enamored the tradition, along with its unique and glorious history. In 2012, FEI agreed on a four-year, 16 million euro sponsorship package with the Saudi Equestrian Fund, and what was previously called "the Nations Cup" has now been renamed as the Furisiyya Nations Cup. Another highlight of the event, which showcases 11 top-end appointments is the Rome Grand Prix that took place May 26. Each day, as the Roman evenings wound up and twilight descended upon Villa Borghese, an evening show was held. In addition, a much-applauded event was the mounted military police Carabinieri display, which has closed Piazza di Siena for the past 60 years. This year Nick Skelton, London 2012 Olympic team gold medallist made history winning the Grand Prix victory for the second time - the sixth time it has occurred 81-year history of Piazza di Siena. Skelton drew the audience through a thrilling 16-horse jump-off riding one of the most talked about jumpers of the moment, Big Star. The 55-year-old international sportsman had topped the line up at the Piazza di Siena competition in 2006 as well, riding Arko lll. "It's been many years that I come to Rome. This second victory for me is even better than the first", Skelton said, according to a statement released by the Piazza di Siena organizers. "Big Star jumped in an extraordinary fashion," he said. "He's only 10 years old and has all his career in front of him, so I draw up for him a very carefully selected competition programs". Italy's Emanuele Gaudiano drew a close second with Cocoshynsky, while Robert Smith of the United Kingdom, son of 1953 champion Harvey Smith, came in third position with Voila. Main sponsors of Piazza di Siena include Italo high-speed trains, Longines, the luxury watchmaker based in Saint-Imier, Switzerland, Italian designer Loro Piana, Land Rover, and Horseriding Fixdesign. The four-day event was rich in excellence, show jumping, international glitterati and above all passionate enthusiasts for what is considered to be one of the most noble sports of the world. In short, as always Piazza di Siena marked yet again the ultimate expressions of sport, culture, glamour and tradition.

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