Category Archives: FEI

Awesome Ahlmann Scores Again at Longines Leg in Leipzig

Christian Ahlmann with Caribis Z. (FEI/Leanjo de Koster)

It’s long been one of his favourite venues, and Germany’s Christian Ahlmann had his home crowd in the palm of his hand once again when scorching to victory in the eleventh leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2018/2019 Western European League at Leipzig.

Just three weeks ago, the man who currently holds 17th spot in the world rankings clinched a thrilling last-to-go victory in Mechelen (BEL) with the spectacular nine-year-old Clintrexo to shoot up the series leaderboard. Here it was another grey stallion, the 12-year-old Caribis Z, that carried him into pole position when last into the seven-horse jump-off, and he now stands top of the Western European League table with just two qualifying legs left to run.

Belgium’s Francois Mathy Jr (Uno de la Roque) and Italy’s Lorenzo de Luca (Armitages Boy) produced the only other double-clears to finish second and third, while Ahlmann’s compatriot, Daniel Deusser, posted the quickest round against the clock with Tobago, but had to settle for fourth with an unlucky fence down.

Ahlmann’s record at Leipzig is quite something. This was his seventh win at the fixture which celebrates its 22nd anniversary this year, and it was here that he steered Taloubet Z to claim the FEI World Cup™ Jumping title back in 2011. It was also here that he retired that great stallion after their final and emotional winning performance 12 months ago. It holds a very special place in his heart.

“This has always been an amazing show for me, and for my horses!” Ahlmann said as the fixture celebrated a record attendance of 74,700 spectators throughout the weekend.

German course designer, Frank Rothenberger, was determined he wouldn’t have a repeat of what happened in the last two Longines qualifiers at Leipzig Exhibition Centre. In 2018 a total of 15 went into the jump-off, and in 2017 there were 16 horse-and-rider combinations racing against the clock. However, a relentlessly testing first-round track, and a tidy time-allowed of 72 seconds, ensured there were just seven battling it out in the closing stages.

The Netherlands’ Leopold van Asten and VDL Groep Beauty led the way with a fence down in 40.83 seconds, and when Germany’s Tobias Meyer tried a very tight inside turn to the third, he paid the price when Queentina slammed on the brakes. Third to go, Mathy Jr, set a strong target when breaking the beam with a clean round in 41.49 seconds.

Deusser crossed the line in 39.53 seconds but left the same fence as van Asten, the planks at fence five, on the floor and although de Luca was foot-perfect, his time of 42.19 left Mathy still out in front with just two left to go. The crowd gasped when home hero and three-time Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ champion Marcus Ehning kicked out the first before steaming around the rest of the track with the fearless Comme Il Faut, so Ahlmann knew exactly what he had to do, and Caribis Z made it look very easy when cruising through the finish in the winning time of 40.70 seconds to a massive roar of approval from the packed stadium.

“Caribis jumped very, very well – the course really suited him; the short distances were good for me so that was our luck today!” Ahlmann said.

“He’s always been a bit in the shadow of Taloubet and Codex, but he’s taken a huge step forward over the last season and he’s ready for big things now. He jumps really light and he’s very quick in a jump-off; he’s a very sporty horse!” he said of the stallion he knows well, because they’ve been a partnership for the last five years.

Ahlmann said he is unlikely compete at the last two Western European League qualifiers which will take place in Amsterdam (NED) next weekend and Bordeaux (FRA) two weeks later. But with a massive 72 qualifying points Christian Ahlmann can happily relax ahead of the Longines 2019 Final in Gothenburg, Sweden in April. “I have two horses in great shape at the moment, so I’m really looking forward to the Final now!” he added.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Swiss Bliss as Brilliant Fuchs and Clooney Win at Basel

Martin Fuchs and Clooney. (FEI/Katja Stuppia)

Swiss spectators were treated to a superb moment of top sport when homegrown hero, Martin Fuchs (26), stormed to victory at the tenth leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2018/2019 Western European League at Basel (SUI).

This was the tenth anniversary of the fixture staged in the medieval Swiss town, but the first time for the venue at St Jakobshalle to host a leg of the Jumping World Cup series. The young man who scooped individual silver at last year’s FEI World Equestrian Games™ made it all the more memorable when steering his faithful grey gelding Clooney to a last-to-go win in a nail-biting three-horse jump-off against the clock.

“It’s amazing! So many people came here today, lots of my friends and my family, so to win at home in front of them is always so special – this was a great day for me and my amazing horse Clooney!” — Martin Fuchs (SUI)

The Netherlands’ Marc Houtzager (48) had to settle for runner-up spot with Sterrehof’s Calimero while Belgium’s Pieter Devos (32) and Apart slotted into third on a day when a first-round clear proved very difficult to achieve.

The opening course designed by Germany’s Frank Rothenberger was no walk-in-the-park, with testing turns, difficult stride distances, and a tight time-allowed of 68 seconds ensuring that only those horse-and-rider partnerships that were completely in sync would leave all the timber intact. A total of 21 had given it their best before Houtzager put the first clear on the board and, as so often happens, that was followed by another from Devos who was next to go. Two horses later Fuchs would add his name to the very short list of successful contenders to make the cut into the second-round race against the clock.

Houtzager was first to take on the jump-off track and set the target with a great clear in 38.84 seconds, but Devos upped the pace considerably when next to go with his Stuttgart winner, Apart. However, the influential double at fence 11 was still in place and when the pair lost impulsion after a tight turn on the approach the first element fell for four faults in the very quick time of 36.98 seconds.

So as Fuchs entered the arena the result was still wide open and the crowd was buzzing in anticipation. Clooney was crowned Swiss Horse of the Year this week and hopes were high that the dynamic duo whose stellar career already includes ninth place individually at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, a fourth-place finish at the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final in Omaha (USA) in 2017 and that individual silver at last year’s World Championships would steal the last-minute limelight.

It was some pressure, but they didn’t disappoint, the gallant 13-year-old grey responding with all the willingness in the world as his rider asked him to lengthen his stride between the two oxers at the midway stage, putting in a supreme effort to clear the tricky double three from home and then turning super-tight to the penultimate red vertical. Fuchs kept his eye on the finishing line as they cleared the final fence, and when he turned to check the time, he threw his hat in the air in celebration as 37.61 seconds left him the clear winner. The crowd went wild.

“He was a bit fresh and spooky in the first round and the short time-allowed didn’t make it any easier – I was just inside time which was a bit lucky!” he said afterwards. But he did have a plan. “I saw the riders going before me and I discussed what to do with Steve (Guerdat) and my dad (Thomas Fuchs),” said the man who also topped the fourth leg of the Western European series in Lyon (FRA) in November.

He has now moved back up to third on the Western European League which continues to be led by his fellow-countryman and World No. 1 rider Steve Guerdat, while Devos is in second place. With 55 points on the board Fuchs is well qualified for the Longines 2019 Final in Gothenburg, Sweden in April and is now heading off to compete in Florida, USA for the next few weeks and is taking Clooney with him.

Basel’s entry to the Western European League circuit got the thumbs up from FEI Jumping Director John Roche. “The event has been organised to the highest standard; there was a completely full house today and the atmosphere was electric. A home win went to the last man into the arena, so you couldn’t have written a better script for a fantastic day of sport!” he said.

The League now moves on to Leipzig, Germany next weekend.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

AGDF Wraps Up Week 1 with a Win for Michael Klimke and Harmony’s Diabolo

Klimke riding his Freestyle with Harmony’s Diabolo. Photo © SusanStickle.com.

Wellington, FL – January 12, 2019 – The Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) finished its first week of competition at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL with a win for Michael Klimke (GER) and Harmony’s Diabolo in the FEI Intermediate I Freestyle CDI3*, presented by Triple Crown Nutrition.

Klimke and Harmony’s Diabolo, a nine-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Desparadis owned by Harmony Sporthorses, won with a score of 73.425%.

Klimke said, “I was very happy today, actually all three days, with Harmony’s Diabolo. I’ve had him since he was six, and I really think his highlight is [strength mentally, with] the nerves; he’s totally rideable. The gaits are good, and the highlight at the end is his availability for piaffe and pirouettes. He can really sit.”

Looking forward, Klimke said that “[his] plan with Harmony’s Diabolo is he goes another small tour in two weeks, then I take a break, and then I will ride him in Intermediate II.”

After AGDF, Klimke returns to his hometown of Münster, Germany, “the capital of the Westphalian Horses.” “My aim is when I come back to Germany to see that he goes in the Young Developing Grand Prix. He’s ready for it,” he said.

Klimke commented, “[Diabolo] is really one of the few horses I’ve had in my life that is in the ring exactly the same ride outside. When you make no mistakes, he makes no mistakes.”

Earlier in the day Ashley Holzer (USA) and Valentine, a nine-year-old Oldenburg mare (by Sir Donnerhall) owned by Holzer, won the FEI Intermediate I CDI1* with a score of 70.588%.

For more information and a full list of results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.

Counting Down to the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup 2019 Series

Nicola Philippaerts of the winning Belgian team at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Barcelona 2018 Final (FEI/Lukasz Kowalski)

Celebrating the 110th season of team sport at its very best

The excitement is already building ahead of the opening round of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ 2019 series which will kick off at Deeridge Farm in Wellington, Florida (USA) next month. This top-class team sport, which combines national pride and passion with super-sharp competition, is as fresh as ever as it celebrates its 110th season.

Trust and understanding between horses and their riders, solidarity amongst the team members and their support crews, and the unique camaraderie between athletes from a wide range of countries as they challenge for the title they all want to win sets this series apart from the rest. It’s the battlefield of the greats, and each and every horseman and horsewoman want to place their names amongst those who have gone before them in pursuit of Nations Cup glory.

The Wellington fixture is part of the three-leg North America, Central America & Caribbean league that also includes a visit to Coapexpan (MEX) in May and to Langley (CAN) in June. There will be a single qualifier for the Middle East region at Abu Dhabi (UAE) in February, while the sole Europe Division 2 qualifier looks set to take place in Athens (GRE), with full details yet to be confirmed.

For the 10 Europe Division 1 teams the edge-of-the-seat action gets underway at La Baule (FRA) in May, and from there it moves on to St Gallen (SUI), Sopot (POL) and Geesteren (NED) in June, and then to Falsterbo (SWE) and Hickstead (GBR) in July. This league is always hotly contested, with emotions running particularly high when riders are flying their country’s flag in front of their home crowd. The last of the seven legs in this division will take place in Dublin (IRL) in August, and each team has been allocated four specific qualifying opportunities, with all four results counting in the battle for a qualifying spot at the 2019 Final.

The reigning champions from Belgium have been allocated points-gaining opportunities at La Baule, Sopot, Geesteren, and Hickstead, and after their heady win in 2018 they will be hoping to do it all over again.

Peter Weinberg’s “Never Give Up Team” demonstrated the very essence of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ concept when producing a gutsy, determined performance to clinch victory in the super-tough finale at the Real Club de Polo in Barcelona (ESP) last October. They had only just climbed back into Europe Division 1 after relegation, so their victory was all the sweeter.

“We call ourselves the “Never Give Up Team” because we were fighting to the very last rider!” said the Belgian Chef d’Equipe that day.

For the seventh successive season the Final will return to the Spanish venue from 3 to 10 October this year, and there will be an extra-special edge to it. Because along with the hugely prestigious Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ 2019 trophy, the last remaining qualifying spot for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will also be up for grabs. This will go to the highest-placed team not already qualified, so as the race to earn a starting spot at the 2019 Final begins there is a whole lot hanging in the balance, and fantastic days of superb sport ahead.

Don’t miss a hoofbeat….

Calendar details here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Vanessa Martin Randin
Senior Manager, Media Relations & Communications
Communications Department
Vanessa.Randin@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 73

Power Brings the Honours Back to Ireland Once Again

Katie Power (centre), Red Morgan (left), and Nicole Lockhead Anderson (right). (FEI/Dirk Caremans)

Britain’s Morgan and Lockhead Anderson finished second and third

For the second year running, Ireland stood top of the podium when Katie Power stormed to victory with Ghost Rider in the FEI Ponies’ Jumping Trophy Final at Mechelen, Belgium. In a thrilling deciding class that went right down to the wire, the 15-year-old from Dungarvan in County Waterford produced the only double-clear performance to leave the result beyond doubt.

Britain’s Red Morgan (14) with Bodyssee des Avelines and Nicole Lockhead Anderson (16) riding Gangnam Style ll finished second and third, while Sweden’s Ebba Danielsson, who is only 12 years old, lined up in fourth place with Dynamite Spartacus.

“In the last round I was lying second and I knew I had to go clear. Red was in the lead but he made a mistake and I won – I can hardly believe it!” — Katie Power (IRL)

Power finished tenth individually and was a member of the Irish team that just missed out on bronze at the FEI European Pony Championships at Bishops Burton (GBR) this summer.

At the inaugural FEI Ponies’ Jumping Trophy Final 12 months ago, Ireland’s Seamus Hughes-Kennedy reigned supreme, and the Irish came out in big numbers again this year with Power lying third after the three qualifying legs staged in Herning (DEN) and Lyon (FRA) in October and at Stuttgart (GER) in November. It was Portugal’s Molly Hughes Bravo who topped the leaderboard going into the Final, with Ireland’s Max Wachman, Power, Charlotte Houston, and Aisling McGuinness filling the next four places, and Britain’s Shaunie Greig in sixth ahead of compatriot Lockhead Anderson in seventh place. But there was a big shake-up of the standings during the week.

There was plenty of pressure in the preliminary classes, and it was Lockhead Anderson, a member of the European gold medal winning British side at Bishops Burton, who came out on top in Thursday’s first speed competition in which Power finished eighth. In Friday’s second qualifier it was Morgan who headed the line-up, with Power again down the line in seventh spot.

But her pony, the 16-year-old Irish-bred grey gelding Ghost Rider, is a veteran at this level of competition and just kept improving. He seemed to know that this was the day, and never touched a pole to clinch it. “Day one was not very good because my helmet slipped and I had two fences down. Day two was better with only one down, and today my pony jumped amazing!” Power explained.

Mechelen Sport Director, Peter Bollen, explained the concept of the FEI Jumping Ponies’ Trophy.

“This series was created to help pony riders and young riders to get to a better level. The first year was not easy, but now we have a lot of riders willing to compete and they learn a lot by going to shows alongside the 5-Star riders.” — Peter Bollen (Sport Director, Mechelen)

He had some exciting news about the future of the series which will, once again, conclude at the Belgian venue next December. “In 2019 there will be four qualifiers, because the December show in Paris will join the series,” he confirmed.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Ahlmann Is the Master at Mechelen

Christian Ahlmann and Clintrexo Z. (FEI/Dirk Caremans)

Kevin Staut is runner-up in four-way battle of legends

Germany’s Christian Ahlmann (44) clinched a thrilling last-to-go victory at the ninth leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2018/2019 Western European League at the Nekkerhal Stadium in Mechelen, Belgium. In a tense competition from which only four of the 39 starters emerged to battle it out against the clock, the crowd was treated to a feast of legendary proportions, because these were four of the greatest masters of their craft, and they put on an exhibition of showjumping at its very best.

Ahlmann is a four-time Olympian and former FEI World Cup™ champion, and it was Rio 2016 Olympic team gold medallist Kevin Staut (38) from France whom he pinned into runner-up spot, while World No. 1, The Netherlands’ Harrie Smolders (38), lined up in third. Ahlmann’s compatriot, Ludger Beerbaum (55) has long been one of the biggest names in the sport, but this time around he had to settle for fourth when things didn’t quite go his way in the jump-off.

The first-round course set by Belgium’s Eddy Geysemans tested horses every inch of the way, with the first fence, the double at eight, and the triple combination at 10 all taking a steady toll. But only a single time fault kept Ireland’s Denis Lynch (The Sinner), Italy’s Lorenzo de Luca (Armitages Boy), and Celine Schoonbroodt-de Azevedo (Chepetta), one of 13 Belgian contenders, from making the cut into the second round. The 71 seconds time-allowed was tight, but as Geysemans said, “the best riders were able to make it – if we had changed the time after the first three riders, we would have had more clears, but the jump-off was great as it was!”

Staut led the way with a stunning run from his new ride, the 10-year-old Edesa’s Cannary, which he has only been competing since October and which raced through the timers in 40.98 seconds to set the pace. Smolders took time to check his route carefully before setting off with the 14-year-old stallion Don VHP Z, the horse that helped him claim individual silver at the 2017 FEI European Championships in Gothenburg (SWE). But they weren’t quite fast enough when galloping home in 41.42 seconds.

Beerbaum was well in touch when turning to the first of the two remaining elements of the triple combination two fences from home, but he lost his line and the 15-year-old gelding Casello ran past the fence, racking up 14 faults and leaving it wide open for Ahlmann as he set off, last to go. And Ahlmann had his game-face on from the start, weaving his way around the twisting track with the fabulous grey stallion Clintrexo Z who stopped the clock on 39.87 without hardly turning a hair. It was an amazing performance for a horse of just nine years of age.

“We built him up in the stallion approvals and later in young-horse classes, and Judy (his wife Judy-Ann Melchior) did some 3 and 4-Star Grands Prix and then allowed me to take him over and move him up another step. He won in Wiesbaden in May and Münster in August and he’s quickly growing into the big sport now. He really loves it, and he gets better and better week after week.” — Christian Ahlmann (GER)

And he was extra-happy that he did well because his family, including his young son Leon, were watching from the sidelines. He says Clintrexo Z is made of the right stuff for the top end of the sport.

“In the ring he knows exactly what to do and he is afraid of nothing. Whether he’s competing in Aachen or here it wouldn’t make any difference to him; he’s always really positive and tries his best – he’s everything you could wish for!”– Christian Ahlmann (GER)

Now the man who has competed at seven FEI Jumping World Cup™ Finals, including Leipzig in 2011 where he came out on top with the great Taloubet Z, has the 2019 Longines Final in Gothenburg, Sweden next April in his sights. In sixth place with 46 points on the leaderboard he is easily qualified, and he’s spoiled for choice about which of his horses to take there.

Runner-up Staut was also very happy. “This was my goal coming here – not to be second but to gain more points to get to the Final!” he said, having moved into third with 51 points to his credit.

Basel in Switzerland will stage the next leg of the Western European League series in two weeks’ time.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Dream Win for Minderhoud in Mechelen

Peter Minderhoud and Glock’s Dream Boy NOP. (FEI/Dirk Caremans)

Glock’s Dream Boy NOP lived up to his name when carrying 2016 champion Hans Peter Minderhoud (45) from The Netherlands to victory at the seventh leg of the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2018/2019 Western European League in Mechelen, Belgium.

At just 10 years of age, this young stallion is demonstrating colossal potential, and his score of 83.665 pinned 2013 series winner Helen Langehanenberg (36) from Germany and Damsey FRH into second, while the super-exciting Portuguese partnership of Maria Caetano (32) and Coroado strutted their way into third.

The final five all produced stunning performances, with Sweden’s Therese Nilshagen (35) finishing fourth with Dante Weltino OLD despite some miscommunications early in their test, and Ireland’s Judy Reynolds (37) making a great comeback with Vancouver K to line up in fifth place.

Mechelen was also making a welcome come-back this week after a few years’ absence from the FEI Dressage World Cup™ circuit. So just before the prizegiving ceremony was perfect timing for an emotional farewell tribute to Tiamo, the 18-year-old gelding that carried Belgium’s Jorinde Verwimp to many great moments and who finished eighth on their very last outing together.

Minderhoud’s win is another milestone in the rapid progression being made by his still quite inexperienced young horse, who won the Grand Prix and finished third in the Freestyle at Olympia, London (GBR) just before Christmas. “He only did a few Grand Prix competitions before qualifying for Tryon (FEI World Equestrian Games) this year – it was a bit early for him in his career, so after that I gave him a long rest and then restarted at Olympia. That wasn’t the most easy show for him to come back to, and I was not so happy with how he felt… he had been going so well at home. But then I bring him to another show here in Mechelen ten days later and he is super – I mean super!” said the delighted Dutchman.

“Here he was much more focused, not like at Olympia where I had to survive it a little! Today I could ride to the point, and he was really trying for me!” — Hans Peter Minderhoud (NED)

Caetano and her adorable grey Lusitano, Coroado, set a whole new standard when posting 80.160 when fifth last to go of the 15 starters. At the fourth leg of the Western European League in Madrid (ESP) last month they scored 77.655 for third place, but things didn’t go to plan at Olympia where their mark of 73.900 left them well down the line. There’s something really special about this pair who have sprung to prominence recently, however, and they both looked radiant after showing the most fabulous passage and piaffe, and a great sense of harmony, during their wonderful performance.

Langehanenberg bettered that when scoring 82.880 despite testing the nerve of Judge at C, Belgium’s Jacques van Daele, as she powered to a very late halt. And although Reynolds and her 16-year-old gelding didn’t challenge for the top spot, their new routine to a wonderful compilation of traditional Irish music had the spectators’ toes tapping and put 78.570 on the board.

Nilshagen’s chances were hampered when her horse dropped the contact early in their test, but with a degree of difficulty of 10 and the stallion’s breathtaking extended canter, they clawed it back to put 80.090 on the board. So Minderhoud was chasing Langehanenberg’s leading score as he set off, last to go, and Dream Boy didn’t let him down. He’s a horse that’s growing in confidence all the time, and after winning the Grand Prix he was always the one to beat.

“He’s a very sweet horse, and because he’s seen all the things that approved stallions see at a young age, he’s not really spooky or anything. In the beginning I felt he went into himself a bit in big arenas, but yesterday and today he was much happier.” — Hans Peter Minderhoud (NED)

With just three more qualifiers to go in the Western European League, the next port of call is on Minderhoud’s home turf in the Dutch capital city of Amsterdam at the end of January. Having moved up to joint-third on the leaderboard, he’s looking forward to getting to the 2019 Final next April in Gothenburg, Sweden, which is where he won the coveted FEI Dressage World Cup™ title two years ago.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

An Exell-ent Day for the FEI Driving World Cup

FEI Driving World Cup™ Presented by Dodson & Horrell was won by Australia’s Boyd Exell in a gripping two round competition.

The Martin Collins Enterprises Christmas Tree Stakes was won by Daniel Deusser (GER) riding Cornet.

The afternoon performance of the Osborne Refrigerators Shetland Pony Grand National was won by Archie Gubb riding Gruntness Inogee and the evening performance by Poppy Dadson riding Merkisayre Sea Duble.

The Kennel Club Large Senior Dog Agility Finals was won by multiple Olympia champion Natasha Wise and Pebbles.

Exell Sets the Standard Again

The world’s most outstanding four-in-hand driver, Boyd Exell, crowned an exemplary week of Extreme and FEI World Cup™ driving competition with a win in the final round of the FEI Driving World Cup™ presented by Dodson & Horrell.

“I’m so pleased with my horses,” the Australian driver and trainer said. “Five years ago I had a superb team and I’ve spent the intervening years trying to replicate it. With the two new horses I’ve recently put in to the mix, I feel I’m really getting close. They just get faster and faster.”

Experienced Dutch driver Koos de Ronde, who has competed every year since driving became part of the Olympia programme, was Exell’s closest challenger after the first round, with Belgian Glenn Geerts in third place.

These three returned for a drive-off, which got off to a dramatic start when one of Geerts’ horses slipped turning to come off the bridge. Driving is a close-knit community and fellow competitors flew to help; happily, all four horses were up in moments and the Olympia crowd showed their appreciation by giving Geerts a standing ovation.

Quickly regaining his focus, de Ronde drove a proficient round, bettering his time but picking up a 4-second penalty. Exell again put his foot to the floor to drive his fourth clear round, knocking three seconds off his first-round time to take the victory and extend his lead in the rankings.

“Olympia was very brave to agree to stage this competition eight years ago, but it has been so well supported by Dodson & Horrell and Hugh and Karen Scott-Barrett. The drivers love it; it’s a highlight of the World Cup calendar and it’s an honour to be here.”

British competitor Daniel Naprous, whose stunt work can be seen in Wonder Woman, The Crown, and Peaky Blinders, has steadily improved his times during the week and finished fifth overall.

Cornet Hits a High Note

Germany’s Daniel Deusser, the world number seven, set a fast pace in the jump-off of The Martin Collins Enterprises Christmas Tree Stakes to take the class on the 14-year-old grey Cornet, by the leading jumping sire Cornet Obolensky.

This class bucked the trend, with only four through to the jump-off. First to go, Deusser, who rides for Stephex Stables in Belgium, set a fast pace with a clear in 31.25 seconds. Simon Delestre for France on Conbelleza also left all the fences up but was fractionally slower in 32.07 seconds.

Maikel van der Vleuten was third for the Netherlands on Idi Utopia and William Funnell, who has now moved up to second place behind Geir Gulliksen in the Leading Rider of the Show rankings, was fourth on Billy Diamo.

“I expected there to be more clear rounds, but the track had lots of bends off corners and that seemed to be causing trouble,” explained Deusser, who will ride Cornet d’Amour in the Turkish Airlines Olympia Grand Prix. “Cornet is one of my top horses, but sometimes it’s nice to drop him into a smaller height competition so that it’s easy for him.”

The Voltaire Design Mince Pie Stakes

Earlier in the day, Shaunie Greig travelled all the way from Fife to add a win in The Voltaire Design Mince Pie Stakes to her list of prestigious 148cm victories. Riding Casino Royale VIII, she produced the sole double clear of the class.

Shaunie, 15, was the fifth of the six riders to go in the jump-off and, with no faultless performers before her, there was everything to play for.

“I was aiming for the win, so I needed to go clear, but not too crazy,” she said. “I had watched Purdi Digby [who was first to go] so I knew where to go on the course.”

Nicole Lockhead Anderson riding Gangnam Style ll finished second with a fence down.

Tribute to the Late Tim Stockdale

Saturday came to a moving close with the Whitaker family’s annual presentation of the Ryan’s Son Trophy for services to the sport. This year, with many of his colleagues looking on, it was presented posthumously to Tim Stockdale whose wife Laura and sons Joe and Mark were there to collect it.

Tickets can be purchased at www.olympiahorseshow.com or by telephone on 0844 995 0995.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com / +44 (0)203 176 0355

William Whitaker Wows the Crowd with Emotional Win at Olympia

William Whitaker with Utamaro d’Ecaussines. (FEI/Jon Stroud)

There’s nothing quite like a big win in front of the home crowd to trigger the emotions, but Great Britain’s William Whitaker (29) wasn’t the only one with a tear in his eye after he reigned supreme in the eighth leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2018/2019 Western European League at Olympia in London (GBR). The packed stadium of spectators went wild with delight when their own man soared to victory over a world-class field in an 18-horse jump-off that was a nail-biter to the final footfall.

“It’s surreal! Since I’ve been coming here as a kid this has been a dream, and I can’t believe it’s actually happened!” — William Whitaker (GBR)

This was the biggest result of Whitaker’s career to date, as he pinned Belgium’s Karel Cox (36) into runner-up spot while American star, Laura Kraut (53), lined up in third.

With so many jumping clear over the first track presented by Portuguese course designer Bernardo Costa Cabral, it was never going to be easy to come out on top, but Whitaker had no doubt about his plan. “The World Cup at Olympia is like a Championship: you get one shot at it every year and it’s all got to come together on the day. I told myself, if you’re clear in the first round then don’t hold back!” – and he certainly didn’t when seventh to go with Utamaro d’Ecaussines.

He’s long had a superb relationship with the courageous 14-year-old stallion, and when the pair set the target at 37.02 seconds with the smoothest of fast rounds in which every fence seemed to come up in exactly the right spot, and every turn was pure perfection, then that really put it up to the rest of them.

However, two horses later it seemed Karel Cox and the nine-year-old Evert might just catch them when galloping down to the last. But the clock showed 37.21 to leave the Belgian contenders trailing by two-tenths of a second. Whitaker could hardly bear the tension.

“It was torture! Especially the last few – every one that goes by you get closer to the win, and it’s not just anyone; it’s the best riders in the world!” — William Whitaker (GBR)

Third-last to go was the magical German and world no. 4, Marcus Ehning, with his Geneva winner Pret a Tout. But when they turned too tight to the penultimate vertical, they paid the price with a pole down in the quickest time of 36.03 seconds.

Australia’s Edwina Tops-Alexander and Vinchester, winners of the previous leg at La Coruña in Spain two weeks ago, made a wider turn there to come home clear in 38.17, but Laura Kraut and Zeremonie looked a real threat when last into the ring. The pair who helped clinched team gold for the USA at the FEI World Equestrian Games in September stormed home with a determined run, but their time of 37.70 seconds would only prove good enough for third. It was destined to be William Whitaker’s day, and he could hardly believe it.

He was of course following in a proud family tradition. His uncles, John and Michael Whitaker, have enjoyed many major successes in the world-famous Grand Hall at Olympia during their spectacular careers. Following in their legendary footsteps means a great deal to their nephew.

“I have memories of watching John and Michael winning the World Cup here – one of the things that got me out of bed in the morning was thinking that someday I could do it too!” — William Whitaker (GBR)

And he was full of praise for Utamaro. “It helps when you’re on a horse like him; he has such a good brain and mentality. In the collecting ring I was struggling to get him into canter, but he just lights up when he goes in the ring; he grows a foot! I’m delighted for the horse and the owners, Jasmin and Ludwig Criel – he’s had fantastic results over the years, but we never won a Grand Prix and I can’t believe it’s this one!” Whitaker said.

He’s got some changes coming up in the new year when he will be relocating to Germany, so he’s not quite clear if he will be in a position to line out in further World Cup qualifiers. “We’ll sit together after Christmas and make a plan,” he said.

For many others chasing down those precious points towards the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final in Gothenburg, Sweden next April, however, the next port of call is Mechelen in Belgium next weekend.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Frederic Wandres Victorious after Nail-Biting Finish

Day two of Olympia, The London International Horse Show promised to be a spectacle and it certainly lived up to expectations. The FEI Dressage World Cup™ Grand Prix Freestyle supported by Horse & Hound was won by Germany’s Frederic Wandres on his chestnut gelding, Duke of Britain, in a nail-biting finish.

Ahead of the start of the Show’s evening performance, the top eight Service Show Jumpers competed in the Services Jumping Championship. After a closely fought two rounds it was LCpl Laura Charley from 16 Signals Regiment and Vice Versa who took the spoils, with the Royal Navy’s Petty Officer Sophie Fuller and Infinaty and LCpl Holly Hall of 254 Medical Regiment, The Royal Logistics Corps and WKD San Remo slotting into second and third places, respectively.

After the presentation of the awards for the Services Jumping Championship, the crowd was treated to a mesmerising display of natural horsemanship by Spaniard, Santì Serra, who is widely regarded as one of the most accomplished equestrian artists in Europe. Through an astonishing level of trust and confidence, the 30-year-old “Horse Whisperer” from Barcelona demonstrated his extraordinary talent of controlling three of his horses with his mind and body. The Osborne Refrigerators Shetland Pony Grand National was won by Alfie Diaper and Damerham Briar Lilly.

Duke Demonstrates His Class

The result could not have been closer with two riders finishing on an equal score in the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Grand Prix Freestyle supported by Horse & Hound. The win, however, was awarded to Frederic Wandres and Duke of Britain (80.030%), the first German combination to win the World Cup leg in London. The pair headed the class by virtue of higher artistic marks, meaning British favourite Charlotte Dujardin and Hawtins Delicato had to settle for second place.

Dujardin and ‘Del’ were the first to set the competition alight with their expressive kur set to the familiar compilation from ‘How to Train Your Dragon,’ a freestyle which was first performed by Dujardin on Valegro in 2011. Frederic and Duke, third in last night’s Grand Prix, were, however, always going to be a threat and the pair did not disappoint, performing a fluent and mistake free test with a high degree of difficulty. The attractive chestnut, like Delicato, is also British bred and did not miss a beat, willingly performing canter pirouettes to tempi changes and passage to extended trot and back.

“For me to reach the magical 80% is a dream come true, especially in the company of these riders,” said Wandres, who attributes much of his success to the solid temperament of Duke, who is by the well-known stallion Dimaggio and was bred near Windsor by Tony and Sarah Pidgley .

“I trust Duke totally – I could ride him in any arena anywhere and as long as I don’t make a mistake; he won’t make a mistake,” said Wandres, who is now fourth in the FEI World Cup™ ranking.

Dujardin was equally delighted with her ride on ‘Del’.

“Yesterday he was a bit sticky in the arena so today I was better prepared,” said Dujardin, who was taking Del though only his second ever freestyle.

“He is still relatively inexperienced, and nothing can prepare you or your horse for the atmosphere of this arena – which is just the best and there is no show like it,” said Dujardin. “All I really wanted to do was come away with a positive experience, so I couldn’t be any more pleased.”

Dutch Olympian Hans Peter Minderhoud was not quite as happy, having to settle for third place with the young breeding stallion Glocks Dream Boy (77.990%) who sadly, like many others, made some technical mistakes, which ultimately proved too expensive in the loss of marks.

British rider Hayley Watson-Greaves and her longstanding partner Rubins Nite delighted the home crowd with a fluent and assured freestyle that put them in fourth place.

The FEI Dressage World Cup™ series of qualifiers continues through to next April when the final takes place in Gothenburg, Sweden (3-7 April).

Tickets can be purchased at www.olympiahorseshow.com or by telephone on 0844 995 0995.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com / +44 (0)203 176 0355