The Netherlands’ put in a storming performance in this afternoon’s Meydan FEI Nations Cup in Dublin to win the Aga Khan Trophy by 16 penalties.

Having stood in seventh place in the league — and in danger of relegation — after last weekend’s competition at Hickstead, the Dutch fought back strongly in this final contest of the series to secure their place in the top league for 2011.

After the first round, they were tied with Sweden on four faults apiece, but while the Swedes couldn’t match their earlier performances and dropped back to finish sixth equal, the Netherlands produced three second round clears.

Eric Van Der Vleuten (VDL Groep Utascha Sfn) and Marc Houtzager (Tamino) were the mainstays of the Netherlands’ team, producing the only two double clears of the contest.

“It’s been a difficult situation for us during the whole season, but it’s slowly, slowly, slowly got better and I really admire these four riders for ending as well as we did at this show,” said chef d’equipe Rob Ehrens of the Dutch performance. “If you miss being in the top league you miss the most important classes and the best shows of the season, and you lose your grip on the other countries.”

Britain couldn’t repeat last week’s winning result at Hickstead, which secured their place in the league for 2011, and finished midway in fifth in Dublin today.

Tina Fletcher (Hello Sailor) and Nick Skelton (Carlo) both went well, with a fence down in the first round and clears in the second, but Peter Charles (Murka’s Pom D’Ami) and William Funnell (Billy Congo) were not on top form and had a total of 20 and 24 faults respectively.

Ireland delighted the home crowd by finishing second equal with the USA, both on 20 faults.

This result means Britain finishes third in the Meydan FEI Nations Cup league, with France first and the USA second. Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Poland were the bottom four teams of the 10 in the league this year and will be relegated into the promotional league for 2011.

Full report from Dublin in next week’s Horse & Hound.

The winning Dutch team are pictured above, with the French, winners of the league, behind them.

Dublin Meydan FEI Nations Cup results

1.Netherlands
2eq. Ireland
2eq. USA
4.France
5.Great Britain
6eq. Spain
6eq. Sweden
8.Switzerland
9.Germany

Meydan FEI Nations Cup overall league results 2011

1.France
2.USA
3.Great Britain
4.Ireland
5.Germany
6.Netherlands
7.Spain
8.Sweden
9.Switzerland
10.Poland