There been little doubt for some time about France’s ability to take the top spot of the Samsung Super League Series. They had headed the table since an impressive win in Rotterdam in June, and never looked as if they would concede their lead.

The competition in Barcelona crowned their season of success, but Saturday’s final was nevertheless a battle to the wire.

The French were lying eighth out of nine teams after the first round, making their position at the head of the league look tenuous. But they fought back daringly, with three clear rounds from Laurent Goffinet with Flipper d’Elle, Patrice Deleveau with Envoye Special and Jean-Marc Nicolas with JPC Modesto Equifoam in the second round moving into equal second just behind Germany.

The French Chef d’Equipe, Jean-Maurice Bonneau, admitted that victory had not been a one-way trip: “This result has proven that this series is difficult to win – we had to put up a real fight and the best three teams finished on the podium. I want to pay tribute to my riders, owners and the equestrian industry in France that supports us so well.”

By winning the Barcelona competition, Germany secured second place in the league, while Britain had to settle for a disappointing third place. Their performance in the first round was exemplary, with clear rounds from Robert Smith (Marius Claudius) and Scott Smith (Cabri D’Elle) and just one mistake from both Robert Whitaker and Nick Skelton.

But their challenge fell apart in the second round, and although the young Whitaker pulled a clear round out of the hat on Nicolette, both Nick Skelton and Robert Smith were uncharacteristically inaccurate, and Scott Smith had a disastrous round, with seven poles down.

Italy’s worst fears were realised when they failed to avoid relegation in Spain. They have had a very disappointing series since finishing third on their home territory in Rome. And although the double points system in Barcelona could have provided them with a reprieve, an uninspired performance means they drop out of the Samsung Super League.

Samsung Super League series, final standings:

1. France 56.3
2. Germany 52.3
3. Great Britain 44.5
4. USA 33
5. Belgium 32.3
6. The Netherlands 30.5
7. Ireland 29.5
8. Italy 14