Category Archives: FEI

Team Belgium Reigns Supreme in Hard-Fought Battle at Sopot

Photo: Niels Bruynseels and Cas de Liberte. (FEI/Lukasz Kowalski)

Frenchman Robert produces the only double-clear; Belgians now just 10 points behind Swiss at top of league table

Team Belgium won the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Poland, but it was no walk in the park. This fourth leg of the Western European League attracted teams from eight countries to the Hippodrome Arena in the popular seaside town of Sopot, and with six of those chasing down qualifying points for the Longines Final in Barcelona (ESP) in October it was always going to be a right royal battle.

Taking the early lead, Peter Weinberg’s side held on to reign supreme ahead of France in runner-up spot and the USA in third. Belgian anchorman, Niels Bruynseels (34), didn’t have to bring out his brilliant mare, Cas de Liberte, a second time but as he pointed out that wasn’t because it was an easy afternoon’s work.

“The course was tough – big and technical – and the time was quite tight, but we came here well prepared, with a strong team, strong riders and a good tactic, and everyone did a super job!” — Niels Bruynseels (Team Belgium)

Olaf Petersen Jr’s 12-fence course was certainly challenging. “The water (fence 5) was wide, there was a huge triple bar to a vertical (fences 9 and 10) and the last double (11) was very difficult,” Bruynseels pointed out. The distance to the big final water-tray oxer also caught out several of the big names in the first round, including French stalwart Kevin Staut (For Joy van’t Zorgvliet HDC) and American legend Margie Goldstein-Engle (Royce).

But it was Staut’s second-round clear that pulled his side back into the frame on a day when Mathieu Billot and Shiva d’Amaury, heroes of the French victory in St Gallen (SUI) two weeks ago, will want to forget. Olivier Robert didn’t have to jump in either round at the Swiss fixture because his team-mates were so impressive. But he helped France secure second spot with the only double-clear of the entire competition from his 14-year-old gelding Eros.

Foot-perfect runs from Olivier Philippaerts (24) and H&M Ikker and Jerome Guery (37) with Garfield de Tijl des Templiers meant that the four faults collected by Pieter Devos and Claire Z was the Belgian drop-score first time out and Bruynseels single time penalty was all they would carry into round two. Philippaerts double-faulted second time out, but Devos was clear and by the time Guery came home with just four on the board it was all over. Their 13-fault total could not be bettered.

Lying second on four faults at the halfway stage the Swedes disappeared from the reckoning, and a final tally of 16 moved the French into runner-up position while 21 faults secured third place for Team USA on a high-scoring afternoon.

The Belgians now head to Rotterdam in The Netherlands next Sunday (24 June) for the fifth round of the eight-leg Western European series lying just 10 points behind the league leaders from Switzerland and 20 points ahead of France, and with the tension increasing with every outing.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Irish on Song at Langley

Photo: Richie Moloney with Carrabis Z. (FEI/Cara Grimshaw)

Canada and USA clinch qualifying spots for Longines 2018 Final in Barcelona

Team Ireland posted a convincing victory in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Canada at Langley (CAN). In a five-country challenge they established their authority when holding the lead with just two faults on the scoreboard at the halfway stage, and then they wrapped it up in round two without having to call on anchorman Conor Swail for a second time.

Their final total of 12 faults didn’t truly reflect their supremacy which could have been even greater if Swail had returned to the ring. But they still finished six faults ahead of their Canadian hosts in runner-up spot while Team Mexico rallied brilliantly to line up third on 25 faults. USA had to settle for fourth when racking up a 34-fault total but that was still good enough to see them qualify, along with Canada, for the series Final in Barcelona (ESP) as the top two finishers in the North/Central America and Caribbean League qualifying series.

Brazil filled fifth and last place, but started with only a three-man side so had no drop-score, yet in keeping with the pattern of this fascinating competition the team showed a dramatic improvement second time out to finish on a total of 40.

When asked about the recipe for the Irish team’s recent successes, Chef d’Equipe Michael Blake said it is about putting a new strategy in place in order to expand the pool of horses and riders.

“Like a lot of countries, we had started to rely on the old guard too much. When I got the job, I decided the best thing we could do was develop as many riders as we could and give them Nations Cup experience. So last year 29 riders jumped on 20 different teams and we had 17 podium finishes out of 20. Obviously winning the European Championship was a big thing for us. This year, as of today, 25 riders have jumped on a Nations Cup team – we also had a win in Lisbon this weekend and for us to have two winning teams in the same weekend, that showed some depth!” — Michael Blake (Team Ireland Chef d’Equipe)

The Canadians always looked Barcelona-bound after winning the first two league qualifiers in Ocala (USA) and Coapexpan (MEX), but they couldn’t make it a hat-trick today when, despite a brilliant double-clear from pathfinders Tiffany Foster and Victor, they lost their second-line partnership. Keean White’s 13-year-old For Freedom Z took a severe dislike to the water-tray under the oxer at fence six and was eliminated. And water was a recurring theme all afternoon as the rain poured down on the Thunderbird show arena while American anchorman, Richard Spooner, gave a master-class in horsemanship at the open water obstacle. His 11-year-old Chatinus needed some serious encouragement just to splash through it first time out, but actually managed to clear it at his second attempt much to the delight of the crowd.

Daniel Coyle’s (23) uncharacteristic 13-fault result with Cita was Ireland’s only weak point in the first round. Richie Moloney (36) opened the competition with a foot-perfect run from the 15-year-old Carrabis Z, so when both former Irish armyman Brian Cournane with Dino and Swail with Rubens LS la Silla collected just a single time fault each then the team was well out in front going into round two. A second clear from Moloney meant that even adding the nine collected by Cournane and a single time fault from Coyle at his second attempt, the win was in the bag without Swail’s assistance.

Chef d’Equipe Blake said he was particularly pleased with today’s victory. “We targeted this event a year ago and put the team together early. All four riders managed to go one-time clear and Richie was brilliant – I’m so proud of him; he rode out of his skin. Daniel’s first round didn’t go to plan but he came back and did a great job, making a success out of potential disaster. That’s what Nations Cups are all about!” he said.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Foot-perfect French on Fire at St Gallen

Photo: Nicolas Delmotte and Ilex VP. (FEI/Gustavo Lorenzo)

Second-placed Swiss move further ahead on leaderboard; Belgium takes third

There were great big smiles on French faces when Philippe Guerdat’s side won the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Switzerland at St Gallen (SUI). The French may be Olympic champions, but what made their victory all the sweeter is that there were no riders from Rio 2016 in the team that simply swamped the opposition when never putting a foot wrong all day in this third leg of the Europe Division 1 series.

And to make it all the more impressive, it took only three of their team-members to do it, fourth-line rider Olivier Robert (42) languishing on the sidelines as his compatriots ensured his services were not required in either round.

This was the 15th French win at the Swiss fixture since 1987, and the first time in 20 years for any country to win the Swiss Nations Cup with a zero score. The hosts lined up second with eight faults while Belgium finished third with 13. There were seven teams in contention and it was Germany who slotted into fourth (16 faults) ahead of Great Britain in fifth (17 faults), Spain in sixth (20 faults) and Brazil, winners at the previous leg in La Baule (FRA) two weeks ago, in seventh spot (21 faults).

Mathieu Billot (32) and the 12-year-old stallion Shiva D’Amaury led the French offensive while Nicolas Delmotte (39) and the 10-year-old gelding Ilex VP were third to go for the winning nation. But the biggest surprise of the day was the superb performance of Alexandra Francart (38) who was on a mission with her lovely nine-year-old stallion Volnay du Boisdeville. The lady who runs a relatively small 12-horse competition yard near the Belgian border, not far from Reims, was competing in her very first 5-Star Nations Cup and only her second 5-Star show. And she admitted that she got her chance only by pestering Chef d’Equipe Guerdat over the last few months.

“My horse is very talented and the first time we placed in a 3-Star Grand Prix I told Philippe – okay, we are ready; it’s time to give us a chance! Then I told him again a second time, and when I called him a third time he agreed!” — Alexandra Francart (Team France)

She took that chance in both hands when bringing her horse home twice without a hiccup to prove her point. The French were already in the lead after the first round followed by the Swiss carrying just four faults and the Belgians carrying nine. Riding the brilliant mare Bianca, Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat was also double-clear, while the British were unlucky.

Their pathfinder, William Whitaker, produced two spectacular clears from Utamaro d’Ecaussines and Holly Smith followed suit with Hearts Destiny. But Samuel Hutton and Happydam racked up 17 first-round faults and these had to be counted when Louise Saywell’s Golden Wave was eliminated at the open water. Hutton was fault-free second time out and while it was too late to rescue them from a minor placing, the British effort suggests Di Lampard’s pool of team contenders is steadily growing.

The winners from France will next line out in round four of the eight-leg Europe Division 1 series in Sopot, Poland in two weeks’ time, where they will be hoping to add to their points tally on the league table which continues to be dominated by the Swiss.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Brazilians Triumph over Europe’s Elite in Hard-Fought Battle at La Baule

Photo: Yuri Mansur and Vitiki. (FEI/Thomas Reiner)

It took nerves of steel for anchorman Pedro Veniss (35) to clinch the honours for Brazil at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of France in La Baule (FRA). In a contest that came right down to the very last ride of the afternoon he had absolutely no room for error if he was to give his country an historic first-ever win at the Francois Andre Stadium in the beautiful French seaside town, and pin Europe’s elite into the minor placings. But partnering the fabulous 14-year-old stallion, Quabri de l’Isle, he produced a super-cool clear that left the 2017 series champions from The Netherlands in runner-up spot and Switzerland into third.

Veniss admitted he was feeling the pressure when last into the arena, but he knew he could rely on his horse.

“Quabri is my very best friend; he has so much scope and always tries his best for me – that’s the greatest feeling in the world!” — Pedro Veniss (Team Brazil)

The pair has a spectacular track record, having been on the Brazilian sides that finished fifth at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Normandy, fourth at the Pan-American Games in Toronto (CAN) in 2015 and fifth at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Team spirit played a big part in Brazil’s success story, but, just like the Swiss who won the first Europe Division 1 leg in Slovakia three weeks ago, things weren’t looking altogether optimistic for them earlier in the week. Veniss’ first choice horse was unable to compete and then Felipe Amaral’s (27) ride came down with an allergy so he also had to change mounts.

But there’s a sense of rising momentum in the Brazilian camp, and Yuri Mansur’s (38) exciting 10-year-old, Vitiki, provided a major boost when clear in the first round in which both Veniss and Luiz Felipe de Azevedo Filho (43) riding Chaccomo collected just a single time fault to leave their country out in front at the halfway stage carrying just two faults. Amaral’s replacement ride, the inexperienced Germanico T, provided the drop score in both rounds.

Mansur’s Vitiki has literally come along in leaps and bounds over the last few months. “I bought him in October and he only jumped his first 1.30m track in November and now he has won the Nations Cup at La Baule – he’s developing so quickly!” said his delighted rider.

It was a super-close finish, Brazil posting a final tally of seven faults with the Dutch on eight and the Swiss on nine. The Netherlands had the satisfaction of collecting the maximum points of the six Europe Division 1 nations chasing points towards the 2018 Final. And their anchorman and new World No. 1, Harrie Smolders (Don VHP Z), took a one-third share of the €50,000 bonus on offer for double-clear rounds along with Spain’s Manuel Fernandez Saro (Cannavaro 9) and Germany’s Maurice Tebbel (Chaccos S).

Spain chased the leading pack all the way to finish fourth on 12 faults, Germany lined up fifth with 14, and Ireland slotted into sixth with 17 faults. It was a disappointing day for the French hosts who had to settle for seventh with 20 faults on the board, while Team Canada lined up eighth and last on a 35-fault total.

The result bodes well for the Brazilians who also finished an impressive second at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of the United States of America at Ocala (USA) in February and who now have the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 in Tryon (USA) clearly in their sights.

For the Europe Division 1 teams, however, their next port of call is St Gallen on Sunday 3 June, where the host nation of Switzerland will be hoping to further boost their lead on the league table with another good result. That’s going to be a busy day of top sport as the third and final qualifier of the North/Central America & Caribbean League also takes place in Langley (CAN).

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Swiss Sweep to Victory at Opening Leg of Europe Division 1 Series in Šamorín

Photo: Martin Fuchs and Chaplin (FEI/Łukasz Kowalski)

Irish finish second ahead of Belgians in third

Switzerland secured a definitive victory in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Slovakia in Šamorín. With seven nations chasing points at this first leg of the 2018 Europe Division 1 qualifying series, it was a hotly-contested affair, and the eventual winners already looked well poised for success when leading at the end of the first round on a zero scoreline.

However, the second tour of the track designed by Uliano Vezzani saw a big shake-up, with Italy dropping from runner-up spot to joint-fifth and replaced by the Irish, while Belgium finished third ahead of Brazil in fourth place. Sweden lined up joint-fifth while the German team collected a total of 24 faults for seventh place and Spain accumulated 38 faults to finish last of the eight competing countries.

The Swiss picked up nine faults in round two, but that was without the services of anchorman Steve Guerdat (35) who didn’t have to return to the arena with his mare, Hannah, because the result was already decided, the Irish finishing on 13, Belgium on 16 and Brazil on 18 faults apiece.

“I managed her really well in the first round, and then the team did so good they made it a nice Sunday afternoon for me!” — Steve Guerdat (Team Switzerland)

It wasn’t all plain sailing for Swiss Chef d’Equipe Anky Kistler, however, because he had to give Paul Estermann (54) a late call-up after selected team-member, Jannike Sprunger, had taken a fall. And Estermann’s 10-year-old stallion, Curtis Sitte, was competing in his very first Nations Cup. The pair collected the discard score of eight faults in round one and put five more on the board in round two, but when youngest team member Martin Fuchs (25) produced one of four double-clears on the day then just the single mistake by pathfinders Werner Muff (44) and Daimler at the influential vertical one fence from home had to be added for the final winning scoreline.

“We brought a really good team here and we were aiming for the win – we knew we could do it!” said Fuchs, whose 11-year-old stallion, Chaplin, was sensational. He was particularly delighted because the horse is just returning to top level after injury.

“He won the Grand Prix in Mexico and in Zurich and Doha but after the GCT in Miami he got hurt and this was his first big show back,” Fuchs explained. About the course, he said, “The back bars on the oxers were wide and square so there were quite a few faults, but for me it felt quite easy because Chaplin was jumping so well. He was fresh all the way to the last fence in the second round and this makes me very happy because I knew my planning was right – I gave him more time instead of going to some more indoor shows and today he was fit and just perfect!”

The Swiss now head into the second round of the eight-leg Europe Division 1 series in La Baule (FRA) in three weeks’ time at the top of the league table but only 10 points ahead of the Irish whose runner-up finish was bolstered by a brilliant double-clear from US-based Paul O’Shea riding Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu. The other double-clears came from Belgium’s Nicola Philippaerts (Chilli Willi) and Brazil’s Luiz Francisco de Azevedo (Comic).

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

More Millar Magic Helps Clinch Second Canadian Success

Photo: Jonathon Millar with Daveau. (FEI/Anwar Esquivel)

Team Mexico rallies brilliantly, but Team USA takes runner-up spot

In a case of “like father, like son,” Jonathon Millar (43) helped seal victory for Team Canada with a foot-perfect performance at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Mexico in Coapexpan. His legendary father, Ian (71), produced a pivotal double-clear to put their country at the top of the leaderboard at the opening leg of the 2018 North/Central America and Caribbean League qualifying series two months ago, so Jonathon was following suit. And adding even more of a family flavour to the excitement, Jonathon’s wife, Kelly Soleau-Millar, made her Nations Cup debut on the American side that lined up second ahead of Mexico in third.

It seems Millar has team spirit coursing through his veins due to the influence of his dad.

“I was brought up on Nations Cups and Championships being such a big part of his success, and it has rubbed off on me, knowing that being there for the team is more important than winning the Grand Prix – so when it all comes together like it did today then it’s a really great thing!” — Jonathon Millar (Team Canada)

The Canadian foursome that also included Laura Jane Tidball (40), Jenn Serek (35) and Keean White (35) already led the way after the first round of the three-nation contest, but their eight-fault total only gave them a single-fault advantage over the USA carrying nine, while Mexico’s 21-fault first-round effort put paid to their chances. However, in a brilliant second-round rally, Patricio Pasquel (Babel), Luis Alejandro Plascencia (Davinci) and Jose Antonio Chedraui Eguia (Ninloubet) did themselves proud with faultless runs to ensure they added nothing more to the host nation tally.

When impressive American pathfinder Alex Granato produced his second clear of the competition with the bouncy bay gelding Carlchen W, that kept the pressure on the Canadian leaders. But single errors from both Soleau-Millar (Cacharel) and Ali Wolff (Casall), and two mistakes from Jennifer Gates (Pumped Up Kicks), moved the US on to a final total of 17 faults. And this meant that although Tidball (Concetto Son) and Serek (Wicked) each left a single fence on the floor second time out, anchorman White (For Freedom Z) could stay in the clubhouse because even without his help Team Canada would finish with just 16 on the final scoreboard.

Millar was delighted with his 10-year-old gelding Daveau. “He didn’t do the Nations Cup in Ocala because it came too early in the season, but it’s been a really fun process working with him so far and now he’s coming into his own. He gives a thousand percent in the ring, he’s a real fighter and a dream to ride – I couldn’t be more proud of him!” he said. And he was proud and happy for his American wife too. “This was her first Nations Cup, and it was exciting and rewarding that we could do this together today, even on two different teams!”

His Chef d’Equipe, Mark Laskin, is already looking forward to the third and final leg of the North/Central America and Caribbean League, which will take place on home turf in Langley next month, and he was very pleased with the team effort. “We had a great group; they all contributed to our score and to our victory,” he said.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Madden Clinches Her Second Title in a Cliffhanger

Photo: FEI/Jim Hollander.

Fellow-American Ryan finishes a close second, Sweden’s von Eckermann takes third

America’s Beezie Madden (54) held on to win the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2018 title in Paris (FRA), but she didn’t do it the easy way. In a cliffhanger of a second round she faulted for the first time over three tough days of jumping when last to go with the brilliant Breitling LS. And the crowd had to hold their breath until she crossed the line to a roar of approval, separated by just two penalty points from compatriot Devin Ryan (36) in second place.

The biggest surprise package of the week, the relatively unknown Ryan was relentlessly cool yet again as his apparently bomb-proof grey gelding son of the great stallion Zirocco Blue continued to make the super-tough courses designed by Spain’s Santiago Varela look fairly elementary.

The hard-luck story of the final afternoon was that of Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann (37) who had to settle for third place for the second year in a row. In runner-up spot and carrying four faults as the afternoon began, he might have forced Madden into a jump-off but for a mistake with Tovek’s Mary Lou in the closing moments. He wasn’t forgiving himself for that. Madden knew she’d been in a fight.

“When I had that rail down, I was a little nervous, but I still felt my horse was jumping well and I knew I had to pull it together to finish on four (faults) and try to get it done!” — Beezie Madden (USA)

The rider who previously claimed the title in 2013 said it was “double-exciting” to post her second win, and particularly with this 12-year-old stallion. “We’ve really believed in him but he’s taken time to mature, so for him to come through today is fantastic! It’s taken a little while to replace Simon (her 2013 World Cup winning ride) and Cortes (team silver 2016 Olympic Games) but it’s happening!” she added.

Her two nearest rivals kept all the pressure in place when making no mistake in the first round, von Eckermann carrying his four points forward and Ryan still sitting on a total of six.  A little rattle at the oxer at fence three on the 13-obstacle course, and another at vertical no. 7 set American hearts beating a little faster, but Madden cleared the line with nothing to add, so the top end of the standings looked the same when the top 20 returned for round two over a new track.

And Ryan, who hails from Long Valley in New Jersey, did it again, steering Eddie Blue home with apparent ease once more. At just nine years old the horse was the youngest in the Final but you’d never have guessed. “His brain is unbelievable; he never knocked a pole as a five or six-year-old; he won the American Gold Cup as an eight-year-old and was second at Devon, one of our biggest shows in the US – he’s just a fantastic horse!” said the man who qualified from the US East Coast series.

Second-last into the ring von Eckermann knew he would pressure Madden with a clear, and he was beating himself up about having the second fence down this time out. “It was my mistake; my horse jumped fantastic as always, but we got too close and I interfered – I should have trusted her quality and it wouldn’t have happened,” said the clearly disappointed Swede.

You could hear a pin drop after Madden’s stallion hit the middle element of the triple combination at fence six. One more error would hand the title to fellow-American Ryan, but the lady who has two Olympic gold medals in her trophy cabinet along with a whole lot more valuable hardware didn’t crumble, bringing Breitling home with nothing further to add for a very popular victory.

Only five female athletes have taken the title in the 40-year history of the series that every rider wants to win, and they all have one thing in common. Like Madden, Melanie Smith (1983), Leslie Burr Lenehan (1986), and Katharine Burdsall (1987) all flew the American flag, while three-time winner Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum from Germany (2005, 2008, 2009) was born in Los Angeles, California. It seemed history was repeating itself, as Burdsall’s victory was also posted at exactly the same Paris venue when the Jumping Final was last staged in France 31 years ago.

The final standings showed three US riders in the top four places as 2017 winner, McLain Ward, slotted into fourth spot. The happiest of all was new double-champion Madden. “I love the World Cup Final – each year I make it a goal to get there, and to win, and I did it again!” said the lady who will be aiming join the elite club of three-time champions when the Final returns to Gothenburg in Sweden for the 23rd time next April.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Laura Graves and Verdades Second Place at FEI World Cup Dressage Final

Laura Graves and Verdades. Shannon Brinkman Photo.

Paris, France – With the FEI World Cup Dressage Final title on the line, Laura Graves and Verdades defended their 2017 second-place finish with a personal record score Saturday evening in the Freestyle to Music in Paris. Graves (Geneva, Fla.) and the 16-year-old KWPN gelding she owns with Curt Maes finished on a score of 89.082 percent, just behind the reigning World Cup Final champion Isabell Werth (GER). Werth and Weihegold OLD scored a 90.657 percent, while Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and Unee BB finished third on a score of 83.725 percent.

“I am very proud,” said Graves. “It feels like first place, and the horse won’t know the difference, that’s for sure. Now I have a little homework in my book bag and we will take that back and be prepared for the next time… I have to pay respect to my horse because without these top horses who want to do the job for us, who want to learn, who allow us to learn with them, none of this would be possible.”

The atmosphere was electric as first Graves, and then Werth, put on a show for the ecstatic French crowd. Chasing the title, both of these powerful, yet poised athletes, gave it their best and turned out performances aimed at contesting the FEI World Cup record of 94.300 percent set by Charlotte Dujardin (GBR) and Valegro in 2014. In the end, it was Werth who came out on top, but Graves had much to be proud of. “Today, we are second,” she said. “But still a big personal best for us.”

The Olympic bronze medalist began developing this particular freestyle test back in December 2017 to her previous music. The program was designed to be very competitive, difficult, and technical. The test included four pirouettes – two full double pirouettes and two that were a pirouette and a half. The combination performed its first full left piaffe pirouette into the full right piaffe pirouette in Saturday’s Freestyle.

“He was super today,” continued Graves. “I was really pleased with the half-passes and keeping clean in all the changes. He really felt super rideable through the whole thing. We changed the music and I haven’t ridden to it since. We have added a second piaffe pirouette down the centerline. I was really proud of him doing the pirouette both ways and directly into the right pirouette. For me, that was really a highlight.”

Fellow American Shelly Francis (Loxahatchee, Fla.) and Danilo, Patricia Stempel’s 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding, performed a freestyle to an acapella accompaniment, finishing 12th on a score of 74.189 percent. When asked about her first FEI World Cup Dressage experience, Francis replied, “It feels good. I feel like we redeemed ourselves a little bit from yesterday, so that is good. He really felt very good. He is really trying and likes his music, so it’s awesome.”

Complete Results

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

Werth Reigns Supreme to Become a Four-Time Champion

Photo: Isabell Werth with Weihegold. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

America’s Laura Graves chases her right to the line

In a dramatic conclusion to an extraordinary battle between two mighty forces, Germany’s Isabell Werth (48) posted a back-to-back victory at the FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final 2018 in Paris, France.

America’s Laura Graves (30) and Verdades put all the pressure on the defending champion when pinning her into runner-up spot in the Grand Prix, so in this deciding Freestyle Werth had it all to do to put that behind her and come back out fighting. But with her trademark steely determination, the phenomenal athlete produced a pristine performance to see off the challenge and lift the coveted trophy for the fourth time in her incredible career.

It was right down to the wire, however, and she knew that the slightest error was out of the question when second-last to go. Graves had already posted a massive score of 89.082 which, the US rider admitted, surprised even her. “I knew anything was possible. I knew it would take a score like that to possibly get a win and it was a huge personal best for me!” Graves said.

However, Werth mustered all the skill and experience of a lifetime to squeeze her rival out of pole position with the winning mark of 90.657. She described the Grand Prix defeat as “motivating“, and simply used it to spur herself on to better things with the help of team coach and manager, Monica Theodorescu. “Like I said yesterday, I was not really disappointed or sad; I was just thinking about how I had to prepare for today and how I had to make it better and analyse what went wrong. So Monica and I, we decided to go in the big warm-up arena today, to bring her (Weihegold) forward and to make her free again, and that worked, and today she was the horse I wanted to show yesterday.”

“This is life; a lot of people think it’s easy; you win and you win again, but it’s not like that. You have to think about it all the time and keep listening to your horse. Yesterday was not our day, but today we could solve it. And this is what I really like to do, and that’s the reason why I love to compete!” — Isabell Werth (GER)

The result was another reminder of the continuing resurgence of the German Dressage powerhouse, with Werth’s compatriots Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (Unee BB) and Dorothee Schneider (Sammy Davis Jr) slotting into third and fifth places. Von Bredow-Werndl’s success was at the expense of Sweden’s Patrik Kittel who, as always, had the crowd right behind him when producing another one of his toe-tapping performances with Deja but who just missed a place on the podium when having to settle for fourth.

Graves threw down something of a challenge at the press conference. “I never practice my Freestyle as much as my other tests, so I think now I have a bit of homework to do and I think there are many more points to be earned in the future,” she said, so she is clearly marking Werth’s card for the next time they meet.

However, the lady taking centre stage was one of the great role models in the sport whose accomplishments are so many they may never be matched. Werth is taking great satisfaction from her fourth FEI World Cup™ Dressage title, not just because it’s another success but because of the way she achieved it.

“To have experience is an advantage if you use it in the right way, and I think we did that from yesterday to today,” she said. “After a lot of years in the sport you know how many things can happen, how things can change very quickly. It gives you the confidence to go in the ring and to try your best – you know what your horse can do and you know what you can do. This was just a great day today!” said the happy German star.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Beezie and Breitling Are Unbeatable Again in Paris

Photo: Beezie Madden and Breitling LS. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

America’s Beezie Madden (54) almost made it look easy as she moved one step closer to clinching the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2018 title in Paris (FRA) with her second victory of the week with Breitling LS.

Last to go in a thrilling nine-horse jump-off, she cruised home to overtake The Netherlands’ Harrie Smolders (37) and his lovely stallion Emerald, while Henrik von Eckermann (37) clinched third with the mare Toveks Mary Lou. And that result has promoted the Swede to second in the overall rankings ahead of Sunday’s two-round finale in which Madden will kick off with a one-fence advantage. The American star, and series champion in 2013, was thrilled with Breitling.

“He has a super temperament – actually he’s so nice that a lot of people don’t seem to realise he’s a stallion! He’s careful and clever, and every time I call on him he does everything I want – I couldn’t ask for any more!” — Beezie Madden (USA)

Her compatriot, Devin Ryan, held onto the third spot he established with Eddie Blue in the speed competition despite being one of six to collect a single time penalty over the 14-fence first-round track. Course designer, Spain’s Santiago Varela, set a fast enough time limit of 75 seconds, but it was the first two elements of the triple combination at fence nine that put paid to Marcus Ehning’s chances of becoming the first-ever four-time FEI World Cup™ champion. And it wasn’t Germany’s day as his compatriot Daniel Deusser, lying second overnight, saw his hopes of a second title crushed when his 2014 winning ride, Cornet d’Amour, appeared to mis-read the first element of the double at fence five.

Frenchman, Kevin Staut, led the way against the clock with Silver Deux de Virton HDC, and his clear set the early target at 36.87 seconds. He stayed out in front when America’s Jamie Barge and Luebbo were also foot-perfect but fractionally slower, but Smolders reset the parameters with a blistering round from the feisty stallion Emerald who broke the beam in 33.44 seconds. Belgium’s Olivier Philippaerts didn’t threaten that with Legend of Love who crossed the line clear in 35.19, but von Eckermann came close when stopping the clock on 33.92 and then only Madden was left to challenge Smolders for the win.

A tight turn to the fourth fence on the jump-off track, a double of verticals, was essential, and although defending champions, America’s McLain Ward and HH Azur, posted the quickest time of 32.74 seconds, they hit the first element here. Madden’s Breitling, however, was flawless once again, putting on another jumping exhibition to clinch pole position as they breezed through the timers in 33.22. “Left turns to a vertical used to be our nemesis, but he’s figured out his front end now,” the double Olympic gold medallist pointed out.

When asked if she was feeling confident with a one-fence lead going into Sunday’s title-decider, she said, “It’s nice to have a rail in hand, but we are really only halfway through the competition. We have two more rounds and maybe a jump-off on Sunday… it can all change a lot yet.”

Smolders admitted he might have made an error of judgement in competing his other ride, Zinius, in the opening speed leg. “It’s always easy to say that afterwards, but Zinius had a very good indoor season and he’s naturally fast in speed classes so I made that decision, but it didn’t work out. I don’t like to lose, but I don’t mind being beaten by Beezie who won in style – and this was a great class tonight,” he said.

Madden’s closest rival on Sunday, however, will be von Eckermann. “I didn’t ride so great to the double of verticals (in the jump-off), I was a bit over-careful but my horse jumped both rounds fantastic,” he said, and you can tell he’s pretty confident that there’s plenty more left in Mary Lou’s tank for Sunday’s challenge.

But mistakes will be very costly indeed on the final afternoon, as Philippaerts, Ward, and Sweden’s Douglas Lindelow are in joint-fourth place carrying just six faults apiece, and Smolders and Colombia’s Carlos Lopez are only a single fault further behind.

By Louise Parkes

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