Category Archives: FEI

Great Britain Reigns Supreme on Day Four of London International Horse Show

The penultimate day of The London International Horse Show showcased the next generation of Show Jumping talent. An incredible ride in the afternoon performance saw British young rider, Harry Charles, win The Longines FEI Jumping World Cup exactly 20 years after his father won the same class, with a spectacular display of horsemanship aboard the relatively inexperienced mare Stardust.

The country’s best ponies were in action in The Equine Rescue Services Mini Stakes (128cm) and The Voltaire Design Mini Stakes (148cm), with the evening performance brought to a close with The Martin Collins Enterprises Christmas Tree Stakes, won by Scott Brash.

Elsewhere, The Kennel Club Intermediate Agility Stakes Finals was won by Leslie Olden with Nedlo’s Girl in a Whirl. Freddie Keighley rode Brewards Kerwen to victory in the evening edition of The Shetland Pony Grand National and received his award from Rory Bremner, while performances by Santi Serra and The Musical Ride of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment added to the day’s action from ExCeL London.

BRILLIANT BRASH BRINGS IT HOME

The Martin Collins Enterprises Christmas Tree Stakes was run under a unique format whereby the 25 competitors were drawn into six groups. The winner of each group, based on faults and time, went through to a final jump-off, accompanied by the two fastest losers across all groups.

As the only clears in Group 1 and 2, Ireland’s Denis Lynch and in-form Harry Charles won the first automatic qualification places to the jump-off. The Irishman Shane Breen was the next to join them, winning Group 3 outright, again as the only clear. Group 4 was a close affair, with Angelie von Essen, Gregory Wathelet, and Kevin Staut all jumping clear within 0.4 seconds of each other. However, Sweden’s von Essen won the battle for automatic qualification, with Wathelet going through as one of the fastest losers.

Group 5 saw compatriots Scott Brash and Guy Williams pitted together, both pulling out excellent performances to jump fast clear rounds; however, it was Brash who came out on top to go straight through to the jump-off. Williams’ time was quick enough to secure a place as a fastest loser. Great Britain’s Matthew Sampson took the final automatic place, winning Group 6.

As first to go in the jump-off, Breen set the standard with a clear in an impressive time of 40.13 seconds. Wathelet and von Essen followed, both incurring faults trying to catch Breen’s target Sampson came out meaning business, absolutely flying round the course to take over pole position.

Sampson’s lead did not last long, as Harry Charles, fresh from victory in The Longines FEI Jumping World Cup, followed him into the arena and put on a foot perfect performance to go into first place. The lead changed once again as last to go, Scott Brash, pulled off an exceptionally tight turn to the vertical at number four and a frantic charge to the last, and shaved 0.14 seconds of Charles’ time to take his inaugural victory at this year’s London International Horse Show.

Speaking of his victory aboard Lady Harris & Lady Kirkham’s Hello Mr President, Brash said: “Hello Mr President is a very fast horse, which makes my life a bit easier. Harry has won enough today; he needs to give the old ones a chance again! The crowd is what makes this show, and they were absolutely fantastic again tonight. The organisers have done a brilliant job; we jump all around the world, all year round, so to finish off in London with your home crowd, to get a win, is extra special.”

The 128cm ponies had the crowd behind them in The Equine Rescue Services Mini Stakes, as one after the other they put their foot to the boards in a scintillating display of speed and agility. Five combinations went through to the jump-off, but it was Cate Kerr riding Dunbarover who came out on top, 0.33 faster than Hollie Gerken with Black Jack III in second.

The ecstatic 12-year-old exclaimed: “It’s amazing; to win here is like a dream. I knew that everyone wanted to win, but I just wanted to win a bit more! My pony is just amazing; the jump-off course suited him quite well, so I just went for it. This is the best Christmas present I could ever have.”

Later in the day, their 148cm counterparts took centre stage in The Voltaire Design Mini Stakes. Nine of the 13 starters made it through to the jump-off, setting up for an entertaining show down. Of the three double clears, Noora von Bulow riding Elando van de Roshoeve came out on top with an exceptional round in the time of 24.89 seconds, ahead of Phoebe Farman in second and Lauren Caroline back in third. The win capped off an exceptional year for 13-year-old von Bulow, who also won the Children’s Grand Prix at the FEI Jumping Nations Cup Youth Finals show in Kronenberg, The Netherlands earlier this year.

More information about The London International Horse Show can be found here.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / rEvolution / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com

Harry Charles Brings a Sprinkling of Stardust to London International Horse Show

The Longines FEI Jumping World Cup brought top-class sport to ExCeL London as the world’s best equestrian athletes battled it out for the prestigious title. The testing 1.60m course set by Brazilian course designer Guilherme Gorge saw 11 combinations master the first round without fault. The first to achieve this feat, Ireland’s Anthony Condon riding SFS Vincomte, got the jump-off underway, incurring four faults coming out of the double at fence eight. Great Britain’s Jack Whitaker followed Condon into the arena, suffering the same fate.

Ireland’s Michael Duffy was the first to produce a clear over the shortened course, which featured nine jumping efforts, setting a time to beat of 39.38 seconds. Norway’s Geir Gulliksen put in a brilliant effort to take the lead; however, it was short lived, as he was followed into the arena by the legendary John Whitaker, who went into pole position at the halfway point.

Former World No. 1, Harrie Smolders, survived a tricky moment at the first, before upping the ante to provide a new target to beat of 36.77. Great Britain’s Olympic champion, Ben Maher, put in a valiant effort but could not match the pace of Smolders, finishing in eventual fifth.

With three to go, Great Britain’s Harry Charles, full of confidence following a win earlier in the week, took over the lead to the delight of the sell-out crowd, shaving 0.86 seconds off Smolders’ time. The 22-year-old had a nail-biting wait for the final two, which included the in-form Martin Fuchs, but his round aboard the 11-year-old mare, Stardust, proved unbeatable, giving Charles the victory exactly 20 years after his father won the same competition.

An emotional Charles said: “It’s the best feeling. I’ve been coming here for years; this is one that I, and everyone, wants to win. I can’t really tell you how it feels. It’s my career highlight. We are thrilled with the horse; the whole team has made an incredible effect to get us to this point; it is the best feeling ever. The atmosphere was incredible; to have all the people here behind me was incredible. I don’t normally throw my hand up like that but it all just got to me, the crowd and everything. It’s mad – the new place, the big crowd. I think the world of my horse; she’s amazing and I think she could be everything. She is so inexperienced at this level, but she has such a quick turn of foot – she has everything I want from in a horse. Where she came from at the start of the year to now is a dream come true!”

Runner-up, Harrie Smolders, added: “It’s always a pleasure to come back to London; it’s an amazing atmosphere here. We saw spectacular sport today and having such a brilliant audience makes our achievements greater. I don’t know what happened at the first. I think I had the right distance, but the fence was in the wrong place! I didn’t have the smoothest start, but I am still very pleased and I can’t complain about the outcome. Congratulations to Harry – I think it’s just the start of Harry Charles with the World Cup here; we are going to see a lot more of him in the future. Well done to John too; there’s a little bit of difference in age, but he’s still at the top level and at the top of his game.”

Third-placed Whitaker, who first competed at The London International Horse Show in 1972, said: “Unick du Francport jumped great; the course went to plan, how I decided to ride it. I was a little bit careful at the green double which caused a few problems, but I think I just need more experience to beat these guys! This show is a level above all others; this is the class to win, especially for us British riders, and for one tiny second, I thought I might do it! The new facilities here are very, very good: impossible to fault.”

More information about The London International Horse Show can be found here.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / rEvolution / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com

Schulze Topphoff Takes La Coruña by Storm

Philipp Schulze Topphoff and Concordess NRW. (FEI/Manuel Queimadelos)

On his World Cup debut, 23-year-old German Philipp Schulze Topphoff breezed to victory with a stunning performance from his 11-year-old mare Concordess NRW in La Coruña, Spain. This fifth leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2021/2022 Western European League was no walk in the park, and only seven of the 39 horse-and-rider combinations found the key to the first-round track set by Tokyo 2020 Olympic course designer, Spain’s Santiago Varela.

But with all the confidence that goes with youth, and supported by his brilliant grey mare who was clearly unfazed by the task set for her, Schulze Topphoff produced a foot-perfect run when first to go in the opening round and didn’t flinch when pathfinder against the clock to set a target that couldn’t be bettered.

“This is definitely the biggest win I’ve ever had, and I don’t know what to say except I’m really, really happy!” said the young man who has now firmly put himself on the map.

Runner-up spot went to the French partnership of Gregory Cottard and Bibici, while Sweden’s Angelica Augustsson-Zanotelli lined up in third ahead of the Ireland’s Mikey Pender and HHS Calais in fourth place.

Curiosity

When the first horse goes clear in any competition, there is always a curiosity about whether the track will jump easily, but this was a perfect example of the opposite. Varela’s test demanded a lot of stride adjustments, and the last three fences on the 13-obstacle first-round course were the undoing of many.

There was little room for error of line on the tight left-hand turn off the side of the arena to the oxer at fence eleven, and many riders had to increase acceleration on the approach to make it work. Subsequently, the following vertical with a delicate white plank on top, jumped off a curving right-hand bend, often came up awkwardly, and if balance wasn’t quickly re-established then the final oxer was the heart-breaker as it hit the floor.

That plank proved the undoing of Schulze Topphoff’s compatriot and three-time Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ champion Marcus Ehning, whose lovely stallion, Stargold, clipped it in an otherwise perfect round. The Dutch partnership who came out on top at the last fixture at the Casas Novas Equestrian Centre in La Coruña two years ago, Maikel van der Vleuten and Beauville Z, who together clinched individual bronze in Tokyo this summer, looked well on the way to a place in the jump-off until coming adrift over those final two fences.

Just two riders picked up a single time fault in an otherwise faultless round, and the first of these was Belgium’s Ludo Philippaerts who retired back in 2014 but, now back at the top end of the sport, looked set to make a dramatic statement of intent with his 10-year-old grey, Laurier, until over-running the 74 seconds time-allowed. His twin sons, Olivier and Nicola, and his nephew Pieter Clemens were also in action, but the only Belgian contender to make the cut into the second-round decider was Jos Verlooy who eventually finished fifth.

Threw it down

First against the clock, Schulze Topphoff really threw it down to the rest of them when turning tight inside the final fence on the new course en route to the second fence. He said afterwards that he “lost a bit of time” after the following double, but when he scorched through the finish in 37.69 seconds, it certainly looked a tough time to beat.

The Netherlands’ Marc Houtzager and Sterrehof’s Dante NOP lowered the second element of the double when next to go, but Augustsson-Zanotelli and the 11-year-old mare Kalinka van de Nachtegaele left all the poles in place to slot temporarily into second spot in 38.39 seconds.

Cottard then set sail, and despite taking the longer route to the second fence by going around the final oxer, came close to taking over the lead when breaking the beam in 37.78 seconds and moved into runner-up position.

Ireland’s Mikey Pender is always fast, and even though the 10-year-old HHS Calais is a tall, leggy horse, he still managed to produce the quickest time, galloping through the timers in 36.08 seconds, but carrying four faults when hitting the third-last. With just two left to go, Brazil’s Eduardo Pereira de Menezes was also quick, stopping the clock on 36.92 seconds but dislodging a pole at the second fence along the way.

However, for last man in, Jos Verlooy, it was even more frustrating when, well up on the clock coming to the last, that fell for four faults which saw him having to settle for that fifth place.

Nervous

Winner, Schulze Topphoff, said that he was more nervous watching the rest trying to beat him than riding his own jump-off round. Talking about Concordess NRW who carried him to individual gold and team bronze at the 2019 FEI European Young Riders Championship, he described her as “a bit of a diva!

“She always has her own ideas – sometimes she works with me but sometimes I have to go her way, but she’s always really fighting for me; she has a really powerful character!” said the rider who is based on his family’s small farm near Münster in Germany. The pair has been together a long time. “She is owned by my mother, and we have her since she was four years old and she went to her first shows with us. We trust each other. I choose a way to go and she knows I won’t ever ask her to do the impossible. We’ve had a lot of offers to buy her, but we are quite happy to keep her for ourselves; she is just great!” he added.

After a very successful week with a lot of top placings with his talented string of horses at La Coruña, the winner is now hoping to get the chance to collect some more points towards qualification for the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2022 Final next April. For now, however, he and his horses are taking a Christmas break. “We won’t be in London (GBR) but I’m hoping to get the chance to go to Basel (SUI) and Amsterdam (NED) in January – we will see,” he said.

Result here

by Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Helen and Annabelle Turn On the Magic in Madrid

Helen Langehanenberg and Annabelle. (FEI/Stefano Grasso)

It was a very particular triumph for German star Helen Langehanenberg when topping the third leg of the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2021/2022 Western European League in Madrid, Spain. The 39-year-old athlete is a former winner of the prestigious series, an Olympian and this summer became a European team gold medallist. But her success was all the sweeter because her brilliant but sensitive mare Annabelle really showed what she can do when she settles to her job.

“She is such a very special horse, full of talent but with so much temperament that she is not always easy, but I’m very happy today. I was last to go and there was plenty of pressure but that’s good for me; it means I just have to go for it! And today she allowed me to support her and it felt really good,” Langehanenberg said.

Chasing

She was chasing the score of the very first of the 12 athletes into the ring, Spanish superstar Beatriz Ferrer-Salat who set a really tough target for the rest when posting 79.220 with the 12-year-old mare Elegance, and who stayed out in front until the very last pair overtook her. On an afternoon of great sport, the home crowd had plenty to cheer about with five Spanish starters and two of them finishing in the top three when Juan Matute Guimon steered the 15-year-old gelding, Quantico, into third place.

Ferrer-Salat is a five-time Olympian and six-time national champion, and with the 12-year-old Elegance was a member of the Spanish team at this summer’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Putting her strong score on the board as the action got underway, she could then sit back and let the rest try to better it.

Compatriot Juan Matute Guimon was the first to come really close when scoring 78.160 with his 15-year-old gelding who put on a lovely show without ever looking under any pressure when third-last to go. The quality of the horse’s one-tempi changes down the centreline were a joy to watch, as was the athlete’s smile as he cruised to a great finish in piaffe/passage. At just 24 years old, the highly popular and super-talented Matute Guimon is already a legend, making a remarkable recovery from a brain bleed in May 2020 to bounce back to the very top of the game.

Grand Prix

Second-last into the ring was Germany’s Frederic Wandres who won the Short Grand Prix with Bluetooth OLD, but their mark of 77.230 would only be good enough for fourth spot when Langehanenberg and the extravagant mover Annabelle soared out in front with a score of 80.500.

Annabelle’s reach in the lateral movements is extraordinary, and she showed moments of real flamboyance. But for her rider it is always a case of getting the balance right in order to maintain control and to keep her confidence.

“When she was young, she was a real mare – when you touched her there wasn’t a centimetre between too much and not enough; it was so difficult to find the perfect aids for her, but I’m so happy with what we have reached now,” Langehanenberg said.

“It’s still only the beginning. I feel there is so much more we can do if she allows me to support her.  The more she does the more relaxed she becomes. She always has enough expression, but she doesn’t always have enough relaxation but routine will bring relaxation so I’m working on that. She’s easy to train, but she almost tries to be too perfect,” she explained.

Retirement

Runner-up, Ferrer-Salat, couldn’t attend the post-competition press conference because she was busy with a retirement ceremony for her great old campaigner, the 20-year-old Delgado. Third-placed Matute Guimon, meanwhile, was proud and honoured to be in the prizegiving ceremony with his compatriot, and with winner Langehanenberg.

“It’s such a cool feeling after my comeback in Lyon,” he said, referring to his eighth-place finish at the French fixture that hosted the second leg of the 2021/2022 Western European League four weeks ago. Until making such a successful return to the series, he had been intending to head for the Winter Equestrian Festival circuit in Wellington, USA in January, but now he may change his plans. “I might join Helen in Amsterdam (NED) or Den Bosch (NED) instead,” he said.

He’s delighted to be back in partnership with Quantico. “When I got back to the barn the first time after my accident, he looked at me as if to say, ‘Is that really you?’ He is such a special horse, not the easiest but such a nice horse and we have a unique bond – we are two hearts together,” the young Spanish star said.

Final

This result leaves him lying tenth on the Western European League leaderboard from which the top nine will make the cut to the series Final in Leipzig, Germany next April. Langehanenberg’s win moves her into the fifth spot when adding the maximum 20 points to the 13 she collected for fourth place at the opening round in Herning, Denmark last month. However, it is Wandres who continues to head the standings going into the next round in London (GBR) in three weeks’ time.

For German athletes getting to the Final is a really tough task, because so many of them are vying for places and only three per country are permitted to compete. As Langehanenberg explained, “Isabel (Werth, defending champion) is going anyway and Jessica (von Bredow-Werndl) will try as well – and if she goes with Dalera, then nobody can beat her! Frederic (Wandres) has good points already and he will try to qualify too, but we will for sure try out best and we will see if we can make it.”

The Western European League action will resume at the London International Horse Show, with the Short Grand Prix taking place on Thursday 16 December followed by the points-deciding Freestyle on Friday 17 December.

Result here

by Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Holloway Unveils a Star in Vegas

Hunter Holloway (USA) riding Pepita Con Spita (FEI/Andrew Ryback Photography)

Hunter Holloway (USA) knew she had a talented mount in the 10-year-old Westphalian mare Pepita Con Spita well before stepping her up to the World Cup level last month in October. But the 23-year-old professional was insistent upon waiting before she allowed her mare to make the next step in her career. In fact, it took six international grand prix victories in 2021 to convince her. The patience paid off, as it took just three World Cup starts for the pair to top the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Las Vegas (USA) at the South Point Arena, just minutes from the iconic Las Vegas Strip.

Holloway led an all-American, all-female podium in Vegas, finishing ahead of 21-year-old Natalie Dean (USA), who earned a third World Cup placing in as many starts aboard her own Chance Ste Hermelle. Laura Hite (USA) finished third after jumping the first clear round of her World Cup career aboard her longtime partner, Calypso van de Zuuthoeve.

“She’s been a fantastic horse to bring along,” Holloway said. “Hopefully she’ll be a team horse for the future, so that’s something we’ll look forward toward.

“Building a relationship with her has been awesome. She’s a sensitive type of mare that gets better and better with each class in each year.”

Guilherme Jorge (BRA) designed the course for Saturday night’s feature event in the South Point Arena, a most unique venue on the North American League in that the competition arena is located within the South Point Hotel. Rails fell throughout his winding track, which featured technical tests at every turn, particularly through the final line. The final 1.60m vertical fell for Conor Swail (IRL) and Vital Chance de la Roque, who kicked off the 2021/2022 NAL season with wins at Vancouver (CAN) and Sacramento (USA).

Six other combinations advanced to the shortened track, but clear rounds were still hard to come by. Holloway was the first to produce a double-clear effort, and she set a stiff standard at 37.77 seconds. Only Natalie Dean could replicate a second clear round, but she settled for second, more than three seconds (40.83 seconds) behind the winner.

“That mare is super consistent going quick, and the faster she goes, the better she is,” Holloway said. “So, I was always going to go for it. That was my plan from the start with her, to give it my best go.”

From here, Holloway’s focus is forward, and she continues on with the NAL with the confidence that her mare is fully prepared for bigger tests ahead.

“[The Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final] is something that we’re aiming for with that horse. She’s a perfect age for it, and she’s going to be really ready for it by then,” Holloway said. “We’re excited to keep going with her and see how things shake out.”

While Swail did not make the jump-off, his 11th place finish helped him regain his lead in the NAL standings with 43 points. Tiffany Foster (CAN) sits second with 42 points, while Dean moved into third with 41 points. The North American League continues in Fort Worth (USA) on 18 December 2021.

FULL RESULTS

By Catie Staszak

FEI Media Contact:

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

Hermes Ryan, the Little French Lion, Wins Verona Qualifier for Delestre

Simon Delestre and Hermes Ryan. (FEI/Massimo Argenziano)

The brilliant little Hermes Ryan showed horses half his age how it should be done when galloping to victory for Simon Delestre in the third leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2021/2022 Western European League series at Verona in Italy. The 16-year-old gelding has provided the 40-year-old Frenchman with some of the greatest moments in his career. His success ranks up there with the best of them.

“It is amazing that he can win again here at his age! I have been so lucky to have him with me for all these years, and I will not have another horse like him again,” said an emotional Delestre.

From a starting field of 39 there were 13 qualified for the second-round jump-off, and when The Netherlands’ Willem Greve withdrew Grandorado TN, then twelve battled it out against the clock in the race for those precious points towards qualification for the series Final in Leipzig, Germany next April. Few could have expected the drama that would ensue, however.

Target

British veteran, John Whitaker, was first out in the second round with Unick du Francport who clipped the vertical second fence in an otherwise foot-perfect run to set the target at four faults in 40.47 seconds. But Germany’s Kendra Claricia Brinkop and her 11-year-old mare Kastelle Memo shaved almost three seconds off that with a fearless clear run that stopped the clock in 37.80. That would prove tough to beat.

Sweden’s Jens Fredricson and Markan Cosmopolit then cruised home in 40.73 but, fourth into the ring, Britain’s Emily Moffitt was eliminated when an awkward approach to the second fence saw her 12-year-old gelding, Winning Good, grind to a halt and unseat his rider. Then Finland’s Noora Forsten set off with Con Cava who ducked out at a fence later on the track, and they came home with six faults on the board before Carlos Lopez and Admara took their turn.

The 56-year-old Colombian and the ultra-experienced 16-year-old gelding, who carried him to individual fifth place at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ in 2018, looked set to take a stride out to that vertical second fence but, missing their distance, they came tumbling down on the landing side. While Admara quickly picked himself up and cantered away, Lopez received medical attention before being taken to Verona’s Borgo Trento Hospital with a suspected shoulder injury.

Temporarily

When the action resumed, Germany’s Christian Kukuk brought his grey gelding, Checker, through the finish with a clear round in 39.08 to slot temporarily into runner-up spot behind Brinkop. That didn’t change when America’s Jessica Springsteen and the horse that carried her to Olympic team silver in Tokyo this summer. the fabulous Don Juan van de Donkhoeve, put in what would be the quickest time when racing through the finish in 36.83 seconds, only to leave the very last fence on the floor.

Then both Italy’s Lorenzo de Luca with F One USA and Belgium’s Niels Brynseels and the fiery mare Frenchy VDS left one on the ground before Delestre set off with his little flying machine.

Hermes Ryan doesn’t know he’s a lot smaller than the rest, and as Delestre said, “He’s such a fighter!” Setting off with his characteristic determination and enthusiasm, the little French-bred dynamo just flew around the nine-fence track and raced through the finish in 37.32 seconds to go way out in front. Ireland’s Denis Lynch and GC Chopin’s Bushi followed with a solid last-to-go round in 38.62, good enough for third place behind Brinkop in second and Delestre at the top of the order. The Frenchman was very happy with his great result.

On the podium

“Ryan has won or was on the podium of most of the big Grand Prix competitions around the world, and it feels so good to win here again six years after the last time, and to have him in such good shape!” said the rider who also won the Italian leg of the series with Ryan back in 2015. Uliano Vezzani’s course suited a shorter-striding horse. “The jump-off was good for him; all the distances were perfect – where all the other horses had to slow down, I could just go, and this was a big advantage today,” he explained.

The talented and ambitious Brinkop had mixed feelings about finishing second. “This is my first time in Verona and also my first year doing the World Cup shows, and I am very happy today, but also a little disappointed that I didn’t win,” said the 26-year-old who looks to have a spectacular career ahead of her.

She will have plenty more opportunities to show how good she can be during the remainder of the 11-leg Western European League, which continues with round four in Madrid, Spain in three weeks’ time.

Result here

by Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Strategy Brings Farrington to the Top in Lexington

Kent Farrington riding Gazelle. (FEI/Andrea Evans)

As a thrilling nine-horse jump-off unfolded in the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Lexington (USA), Kent Farrington (USA) changed his plan.

The World No. 7 had put the pressure on his competitors before he had even entered the arena. Knowing he, along with championship athletes Daniel Bluman (ISR), McLain Ward (USA), Tiffany Foster (CAN), and Margie Engle (USA), made up the final half of the lineup for Bernardo Costa Cabral’s (POR) shortened course, athletes early in the start order repeatedly took risks, hoping to gain a winning edge. Instead, they were met with rails.

The penultimate rider to compete, Farrington adjusted his strategy and instead sought a clear round that was efficient without quite laying everything on the line. The move paid off, and he and his longtime partner Gazelle swept to the top of the leaderboard and remained there. The only double-clear performers of the evening, their winning time was 35.96 seconds. Ward and Contagious finished second (4/32.60), with Bluman and Ladriano Z third (4/32.62).

“It changed my strategy a lot. I only had one rider after me, so I thought a neat clear was a smarter play,” said Farrington.

The pair’s first clear effort was more eventful. Gazelle, the 2020 United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) International Horse of the Year, was ready for the occasion and jumped the first round enthusiastically — so much so, Farrington lost his right stirrup with three jumping efforts remaining on course. He rode the final fences without that stirrup, his position remaining effortlessly unchanged.

“In the first round, she was hyper careful, so it took a bit of jockeying around,” Farrington said. “I thought the jump-off was a good opportunity to let her settle down and go for a cruise. Luckily, that paid off for me with the win.”

Farrington and Gazelle have been partnered for eight years, and their list of accolades is lengthy, including an Olympic appearance this summer in Tokyo. But at 15, the mare still has more to give.

“This is an experienced horse. She’s been an amazing horse for me and my career,” Farrington said. “[Her co-owner] Robin Parsky has been supportive of my management of this horse, and that’s part of what has made her last so long.”

Just off the podium in fourth was Tiffany Foster (CAN) and Figor, who just a week ago took the win at Washington (USA). The finish — Foster’s third top five finish of the NAL season — propelled her to the top of the North American League standings with 42 points. Conor Swail (IRL) sits second after winning the first two legs of the season at Vancouver (CAN) and Sacramento (USA) with 37 points, while Farrington moved into third with 32 points.

FULL RESULTS

By Catie Staszak

FEI Media Contact:

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

Fuchs Seals Second-Leg Win with Cracking Performance from Chaplin

Martin Fuchs and Chaplin. (FEI/Christophe Taniére)

“My horse gave me his all today – he has such a big heart,” said Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs after winning the second leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2021/2022 Western European League in Lyon, France partnering the 14-year-old stallion Chaplin. Spectators were treated to a real edge-of-the-seat thriller, with an 11-horse jump-off that saw Brazil’s Eduardo De Menezes finish second with H5 Chaganus, while Austria’s Max Kühner and Elektric Blue P pipped Britain’s Holly Smith and Denver for third place.

With seven of the top ten athletes in the world bidding for precious qualifying points for the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2021/2022 Final in Leipzig, Germany next April, this leg of the series was never going to be easily won. Out of ten French contenders, only Edward Levy made the cut into the jump-off in which Argentina’s Jose Maria Larocca and Finn Lente, who could have lulled everyone into a false sense of security with their effortless pathfinding run first time out, led the way once again.

Clever track

French course designer, Grégory Bodo, set them another clever track and when the Argentinian duo left two the on floor, Britain’s Smith and Denver lowered the final vertical and Switzerland’s Bryan Balsiger and AK’s Courage had three fences down, then the door was still wide open. So when De Menezes stepped in with a brilliant clear with his 13-year-old stallion, he shot right out in front.

The Brazilian had produced the smoothest of smooth first rounds and again cruised home to set the target in the fast time of 35.14 seconds. When last weekend’s winners, young Dutchman Kevin Jochems and Turbo Z, hit the very first fence, Ireland’s Denis Lynch and Cristello collected eight faults and world number two, Germany’s Daniel Deusser riding the brilliant mare Killer Queen VDM, hit the first element of the double at the halfway stage on the course, then De Menezes was still in the lead.

Max Kühner and his 11-year-old gelding Elektric Blue P made no mistake when fourth-last to go, slotting temporarily into runner-up spot when breaking the beam in 35.87 seconds. Then Fuchs and Chaplin set off like a whirlwind, and even though several of the fences didn’t come up as the pair would have liked, they stormed through the finish in 34.50 seconds to take over at the top of the order.

He couldn’t be sure he had it in the bag, because compatriot and defending Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ champion, Steve Guerdat, was following him into the ring with Victorio des Frotards. But when this pair lowered both the first element of the double and the final fence and Frenchman Levy’s mare, Rebeca LS, had one down, then the story was all about the formidable Fuchs who was celebrating his third consecutive Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ victory in Lyon.

Over-motivated

He gave all the credit to the big-striding Chaplin who, as Fuchs explained, is so keen to do his job well that he can sometimes get a little “over-motivated.” Organising their ride down the line from the penultimate vertical to the final oxer was a case in point, but Fuchs said, “He’s such a fast and careful horse, that in a jump-off I know I can beat anyone – and the best in the world were in that jump-off!

“I didn’t get a great shot to fence two and I felt I had to take all the risks over the rest of course. He’s a real fighter so it’s not always easy to have the smoothest round with him, because he gets so aggressive and excited and wants to do well, so I try to stay quiet on top. With him it’s a thin line between too much excitement and being too careful,” he explained.

Eduardo Pereira De Menezes was delighted with his second-place result with H5 Chaganus, the horse that carried him to team gold at the Pan-American Games in 2019. It seems the 41-year-old rider keeps a cool head under pressure.

“In a jump-off like this you have to concentrate on yourself, and not on the rest of the riders, when you have such great riders against you. I also had an extra stride (to the second fence). I saw the previous one but didn’t risk it. My horse has a big stride and two lines on the course came up too easy, so I knew I was a little too slow,” he said.

Third-placed Kühner said, “The course was demanding but good, and great to ride. The course designer did a good job.” He felt in retrospect he might have taken out a few strides in the jump-off and been better placed, but that “qualifying for the Final is definitely an aim and I will not put all the pressure on my top horses. I want to bring new horses to the top of the sport.”

The host nation’s Edward Levy slotted into sixth with his single second-round error, and that leaves him lying eleventh on the league table going into the next round in Verona, Italy next weekend. So he was well pleased with his result too.

“The crowd gave me wings today!” he said. “It was amazing and the sport was great. This show has brought us back to normal life and it is great to be back in the ring with the grandstands full again,” he added.

Celebrated

Meanwhile, winning rider Fuchs was feeling on top of the world as he celebrated his third consecutive win at the French fixture, and a big moment on the home front. “It is really amazing to win a Grand Prix three times in a row, and to do it here in Lyon is even better! All the riders want to come here and bring their best horses. I’m so happy tonight! With Clooney coming back home last week and Chaplin, his stable-mate, winning today, it’s just amazing,” he said.

It was the great grey Clooney who carried him to victory on both previous occasions in Lyon in 2018 and 2019. Clooney also carried him to individual silver at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ in 2018, to the individual European title in 2019, to European team bronze in 2015 and 2017, and to runner-up spot behind compatriot Guerdat at the last Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final in Gothenburg in 2019. The pair was an extraordinary partnership, but the horse was injured in a freak fall in his paddock in August. However, he has made an amazing recovery and after a period of rehabilitation at a clinic in Zurich is settling into happy retirement after some worrying months for Fuchs and his tight-knit team.

“He’s going out to grass and behaving well; he’s very happy to be back in his old stable surrounded by his friends and we are all so happy to have him home. He’s had such a great reaction from people all around the world who love him, and that has helped us all get through this,” Fuchs said.

So no wonder he’s feeling good, and after this success, he’s looking forward to the rest of the Western European League season – and very proud of Chaplin who is also owned by Clooney’s owner, Luigi Baleri. “I’m going to Verona next week and then Madrid,” the Swiss star said.

FULL RESULTS

by Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Foster Brings Figor Back to Form at Washington

Tiffany Foster (CAN) riding Figor (FEI/Andrea Evans)

When Tiffany Foster (CAN) and Figor topped the CSI4*-W Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Washington (USA) Saturday night at the Tryon International Equestrian Center, it marked the successful execution of a long-term plan.

Foster wanted the competition to be her horse’s first big test following his recovery from an injury sustained at the end of the winter season. The 11-year-old gelding exceeded expectations, topping a four-horse jump-off that was not lacking surprises. Foster’s winning time was 35.73 seconds. The youngest rider in the field, Alessandra Volpi (USA), finished second with Berlinda (36.52 seconds), with Alex Granato (USA) and Carlchen W coming third (4/35.01).

“I was really aiming for this horse show and next week [in Lexington] as his first time back out at the 1.60m level,” Foster said. “We took our time, and I have to say a huge thank you his veterinarian Eduardo Felix and his groom Caroline Holmberg. They did a great job getting him back. He’s in awesome form.”

Bernardo Costa Cabral (POR) set a stiff first round test for the 33-strong field that asked questions of both scope and stamina, with 14 numbered obstacles that wove around the Tryon Stadium. An adjusted time allowed from 82 to 84 seconds allowed Granato and Carlchen W to punch the first ticket to the shortened course. In the jump-off, the veteran pair turned up the heat with a swift round, but a rail at the final fence left them on four faults.

“The [jump-off] field was small, but it was mighty tonight. There were three riders on very, very fast horses. Alex’s horse is super, super fast and very competitive, so I had a bit of a sigh of relief when that last jump knocked down!” said Foster.

Next in the ring, Cook and Caillou were not in sync heading to the first fence, and some miscommunication between horse and rider resulted in a refusal. Volpi then recorded the first double-clear performance of the evening, but the young rider left the door open for her more experienced opponent. Foster and Figor jumped pulled away on their way to the last fence.

“It would probably be a risk for most horses to do nine strides to that last jump, if you walk the distance between those two jumps, but I knew my horse would just eat that up, and that would really suit him. That was really my favorite part [of my round] tonight.”

Foster’s result catapulted her up the NAL standings, and she now sits second with 29 points, behind only Conor Swail’s (IRL) 37 points; Rowan Willis (AUS) sits third with 20 points. Foster plans to continue on with Figor to the NAL’s next leg in Lexington (USA) on 6 November 2021.

“I’m thrilled to have him back,” Foster said. “I’m really excited about the next few years with him.”

FULL RESULTS

By Catie Staszak

FEI Media Contact:

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

Werth Steps Back into the Lyon Limelight

Isabell Werth and Weihegold OLD. (FEI/Christophe Taniere)

For the fifth time in a row, German supremo Isabell Werth won the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2021/2022 Western European League qualifier in Lyon, France. She did it with the 16-year-old mare Weihegold OLD with whom she claimed the last three series titles.

Twelfth to go in an exciting 15-strong field filled with many rising stars, the pair earned a score of 84.910 and that couldn’t be beaten. But Denmark’s Nanna Skodborg Merrald and Atterupgaards Orthilia came close when putting a personal best 83.695 on the board for a test that oozed consistency and class.

This 16-year-old mare, formerly competed by Danish compatriot Agnete Kirk Thinggaard, and before that by Great Britain’s Fiona Bigwood, and before that again by Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour at Young Rider level, just keeps on giving and, in the hands of this talented 28-year-old Dane, continues to thrive in the ring.

New series

Dufour, who has risen to the very top of the game and who won the first leg of the new series last weekend with her 18-year-old super-hero Atterupgaards Cassidy, competed the nine-year-old gelding Vamos Amigos this time around. The young horse showed remarkable maturity in a test that included lovely passage/piaffe work to take the lead with 81.135 when the action resumed after the halfway break.

That proved good enough for fourth place at the end of the day, behind Werth at the head of affairs, Nanna Skodborg Merrald in second, and Germany’s Frederic Wandres who slotted into third when last to go with Duke of Britain FRH.

Wandres has been enjoying a good year, collecting the maximum 20 points for a win at the Central European League leg in Samorin (SVK) in August which, when added to those collected at the first two legs on the Western European circuit, leaves him heading the league table going into the next qualifier in Madrid, Spain in a month’s time.

Currently, Dufour lies second on the leaderboard ahead of The Netherlands’ Thamar Zweistra in third and Nanna Skodborg Merrald in fourth place. But there’s a long and winding road leading to the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final in Leipzig, Germany next April to which the top nine finishers on the Western European leaderboard will be invited.

Defending

Werth earned no points for her win, as defending champion she is automatically qualified for the Final with a horse of her choice which must have competed in the Freestyle to Music in at least two qualifiers. But it looks like Weihegold won’t be the one fighting that fight in 2022.

The athlete who has collected a mountain of medals during her spectacular career said that she was “super happy” with her horse but “not super happy with my own management! I made a mistake and she was then not as good as she can be!” Her self-criticism is one of the characteristics that has kept her at the very top of the game for so many years, always wanting to do better.

Outlining her plans for the coming months, she said she would take Weihegold to the Top Ten dressage final in Stockholm, Sweden in November, and then to Frankfurt in December “for what will be her last show, because that’s where it all started!”

It was with Weihegold that her back-to-back run of victories at the Lyon qualifier began in 2016. Riding Emilio, she won again in 2017, 2018, and 2019, and Weihegold showed she can still do all the fancy footwork. The mare’s staggering record includes the FEI Dressage World Cup™ titles in 2017, 2018, and 2019 along with team gold and individual silver at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and five European gold medals.

Delighted

Meanwhile, Nanna Skodborg Merrald was delighted to find herself in runner-up spot. “I really like the pressure and it’s great to ride in front of an audience again after nearly two years without shows and the public,” said the 28-year-old who, partnering Blue Hors Zack, was a member of the fourth-placed Danish team at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games this summer.

Winner Werth agreed with that. “The atmosphere here was great; it felt like we are nearly getting back to normal life, so well done to the Organising Committee for what they have done!” she said.

Show Director Sylvie Robert was very happy. “We really suffered with no event for nearly two years, so it is a great achievement to be back and to have the crowd with us again this year!” she said.

Result here

by Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46