Category Archives: FEI

Graves and Francis Primed to Compete for US in 2018 FEI World Cup Dressage Final

Laura Graves and Verdades. Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Paris, France – Two strong dressage combinations will represent the U.S. in the 2018 FEI World Cup Dressage Final at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris, France, April 13 and 14. Coming off high scores at the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF), both Laura Graves and Shelly Francis, and their horses, are prepared and ready to compete.

Meet the Athletes

Olympic bronze medalist Laura Graves (Geneva, Fla.) will look to defend her FEI World Cup Dressage Final second-place finish in 2017. She and Verdades, a 16-year-old KWPN gelding she owns with Curt Maes, were undefeated in their showing at the 2018 AGDF. The combination topped the leaderboard in the Grand Prix CDI-W and Grand Prix Freestyle CDI-W during week three, the Grand Prix CDI5* and Grand Prix Freestyle CDI5* during week five, and the Grand Prix CDI-W and Grand Prix Freestyle CDI-W during week eight. Earning one of their highest scores ever, an 84.975 percent in the CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle, Graves and Verdades are hoping to squeeze every point they can out of their tests in Paris.

“Omaha was an especially important event for us,” said Graves. “It is always terrific to ride in your home country, but this is my third World Cup [Final], and we’re here in Paris and honestly, just as excited. Hopefully, we are better than last year; hopefully we are better than we were yesterday. That is always our goal. It is also the first time [Isabell Werth] and I will be head-to-head since Aachen last year, where we were able to come out on top in the grand prix special. A lot of top competitors are here from other countries. We are certainly going to give it our best shot.”

Graves and Verdades were a valuable combination in The Dutta Corp. U.S. Dressage Team’s silver-medal finish and gold-medal finish in the FEI Dressage Nations Cup™ Germany, at CHIO Aachen, and the FEI Dressage Nations Cup The Netherlands, respectively, in 2017.

Shelly Francis (Loxahatchee, Fla.) will show at her first FEI World Cup Dressage Final with Danilo, Patricia Stempel’s 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding. The combination placed second in the Grand Prix CDI-W and Grand Prix Freestyle CDI-W during week one of the 2018 AGDF. Francis and Danilo placed second in the CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle during week three of the 2018 AGDF with a 77.72 percent, earning Danilo’s highest freestyle score ever. The combination then posted a personal best score for their grand prix special test of 73.979 percent when they won the Grand Prix Special CDI4* during week 10 of the 2018 AGDF, then placed second in the Grand Prix CDI4*.

Although a new face to the Final, Francis is a veteran and skilled competitor, selected as the traveling reserve with Doktor for the U.S. Olympic Dressage Team for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, as well as with Pikant in 1996 for the Atlanta Olympic Games and in 1998 for the WEG in Rome.

Competition Information

Competition for the Final begins Friday with the FEI Grand Prix at 9:30 a.m. EST. Saturday’s FEI Grand Prix Freestyle begins at 8:00 a.m. EST, with its results determining the FEI World Cup Dressage Champion. Watch the live stream on FEI TV.

View more information about the 2018 FEI World Cup Dressage Final.

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

Veteran and New Faces Comprise US Show Jumping Contingent at FEI World Cup Jumping Final

McLain Ward and HH Azur. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

McLain Ward looking to complete back-to-back wins

Paris, France – Ten of the nation’s top U.S. show jumpers will compete for the 2018 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final in Paris, France, April 11-15, at the AccorHotels Arena. The U.S. contingent will face stiff competition from the likes of Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann, Frenchman Kevin Staut, and other top Europeans coming off an indoor season. Thirty-eight athletes will seek the illustrious title, as a string of veterans and newcomers compete for the United States.

Meet the Athletes

Longines FEI World Cup, North American East Coast Sub-League

Among the veterans, McLain Ward (Brewster, N.Y.), the reigning Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final champion, will ride HH Azur, Double H Farm and François Mathy’s 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare. The four-time Olympian and three-time FEI World Equestrian Games™ competitor will look to defend his title on the bold, bay mare that carried him in 2017.

“Any of the 37 best riders in this final are able to win the title. The bottom line for me will be focusing on my job and our performance,” said Ward. “But with HH Azur, my main concern will be to ride her as best as possible and if I succeed, I will have a good chance of winning.”

The combination most recently placed third in the $384,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI5* and won the $132,000 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) Challenge Cup Round V CSI5* during week five of WEF. Ward and HH Azur anchored the U.S. Show Jumping Team to a silver-medal finish at the 2017 Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final in Barcelona, Spain, last September.

Alison Robitaille (Upperville, Va.) will ride Ace, a 13-year-old KWPN gelding owned by Bertram and Diana Firestone, in her fifth FEI World Cup Jumping Final appearance. Most recently, the duo were top-five in the $265,000 Longines Grand Prix CSI5* during week five of the 2018 HITS Ocala Winter Festival. They also were top-five in the $130,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Washington CSI4*-W for the President’s Cup at the 2017 Washington International Horse Show, and were members of the 2017 silver-medal winning U.S. Show Jumping Team at FEI Jumping Nations Cup Mexico. Robitaille served as part of the U.S. team at the 1998 FEI World Equestrian Games Rome.

Devin Ryan (Long Valley, N.J.) and Eddie Blue will make their Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final debut. Ryan and the nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by LL Show Jumpers, LLC, recently placed second in the $35,000 Longines FEI World Ranking Class CSI3*-W at the 2018 Live Oak International. They also served as the reserve combination for the NetJets® U.S. Show Jumping Team at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup USA in February. They placed second in the $265,000 Longines Grand Prix CSI5* during week five of the 2018 HITS Ocala Winter Festival.

Elizabeth “Beezie” Madden (Cazenovia, N.Y.), a two-time Olympic gold medalist and three-time FEI World Equestrian Games competitor, won the FEI World Cup Jumping Final in 2013 in Göteborg, Sweden, with Simon. For the 2018 final, Madden will ride Abigail Wexner’s 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion Breitling LS. They arrive at the Final with wins at the $205,000 CaptiveOne Advisors Grand Prix CSI4* and the $205,000 CSIO4* Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix during week 11 and week eight of WEF, respectively. Madden and Breitling LS placed second in the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Thermal CSI3*-W at the 2018 HITS Coachella Desert Circuit. Madden contributed to the silver-medal finish of the U.S. Show Jumping Team at the Longines FEI Nations Cup Final in Barcelona, Spain last September, with Darry Lou.

Kristen Vanderveen (Wellington, Fla.) appears in her first Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final aboard Bull Run’s Faustino de Tili, a 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood stallion owned by Bull Run Jumpers Five LLC. The North American Junior and Young Rider Championship alum earned her spot in the Final after winning the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Ocala Grand Prix at the 2018 Live Oak International. She and Bull Run’s Faustino de Tili also placed in the top 10 in the $216,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping New York CSI4*-W at the 2017 American Gold Cup.

Sarah Scheiring (Chester, N.J.) will ride Cheval Equestrian LLC and Molly Ben-Menachem’s 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Dontez. The pair comes off of an impressive season with several strong finishes. Those include top-five finishes in the Longines FEI World Cup Qualifier and the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Guadalajara at the 2018 Triple Copa Scappino CSI4*-W presented by Audi, as well as a third-place finish in the $130,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Calgary presented by Pure North at 2017 Royal West CSI3*-W. This will be the combination’s first Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final.

Andrew “Andy” Kocher (Howell, N.J.) will make his Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final debut with Navalo de Poheton. Kocher and the 17-year-old Selle Français gelding owned by MKO Equestrian LLC won the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Del Mar at the 2017 Del Mar International World Cup Week.

Charlie Jacobs (Boston, Mass.) returns for his fourth Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final. He and Cassinja S, the 12-year-old Zweibrücker mare owned by CMJ Sporthorse LLC placed in the top 10 in the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Ocala CSI3*-W at the 2018 Live Oak International, as well as in the $130,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Washington CSI4*-W for the President’s Cup at the 2017 Washington International Horse Show. The combination also contributed to the gold-medal win of the U.S. Show Jumping Team in the 2017 BMO Nations’ Cup at Spruce Meadows.

Longines FEI World Cup, North American West Coast Sub-League

Richard Spooner (Agua Dulce, Calif.) will ride in his 15th  FEI World Cup Jumping Final on either Chatinus, a 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding that he owns with Tracy Katayama, or Arthos R, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion owned by CNS Logistics, Inc. Spooner and Arthos R most recently won the $40,200 Desert Classic CSI3*-W during week four of the 2018 HITS Coachella Desert Circuit, as well as the $50,000 Las Vegas National Winning Round Jumper Classic at the 2017 Las Vegas National Horse Show. On Chatinus, Spooner claimed the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Las Vegas CSI4*-W presented by Interactive Mortgage at the 2017 Las Vegas National Horse Show to qualify for the Final.

Jamie Barge (Malibu, Calif.) and Luebbo return to the Final for their second consecutive year. She and the 13-year-old Oldenburg Springpferd gelding owned by Kylie Co. placed in the top 10 in the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Ocala Grand Prix CSI3*-W at the 2018 Live Oak International and the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Thermal CSI3*-W at the 2018 HITS Desert Circuit, respectively.

Competition Information

The Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final gets underway Thursday evening with the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final I (Jumping Speed Class).

Watch it live on FEI TV beginning at 2:30 p.m. EST.

View more information about the 2018 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final.

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

History on the Horizon as 40th Champion Will Be Crowned Next Week in Paris

Photo: It was an American victory, for Katharine Burdsall and The Natural, when the FEI World Cup™ Final was last staged in Paris (FRA) in 1987 where then FEI President, the Princess Royal, presented the trophy. (©Hippophot)

Every sport has its majors, and for the Olympic discipline of Jumping there is nothing to compare with the tension, excitement and prestige of battling for the ultimate prize of the indoor season – the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping trophy. The destination of this most coveted prize will be decided at the 2018 Final next week at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris (FRA) where 39 horse-and-rider combinations from all around the globe will gather in the quest for honour and glory.

The title is a seal of success and a measure of achievement, and winning it is one of the proudest moments in the career of any athlete who gets to place his or her name amongst the greats who have gone before them. You don’t come out on top by chance. The Final is a test of all that’s best about the horses and riders who have qualified from hard-fought leagues staged all around the globe — their partnership and mutual understanding, their power and speed, their courage, and their tenacity to give their best over three tough days of competition.

As America’s McLain Ward returns to defend the title he won so convincingly on home ground in Omaha (USA) last year, he knows that he and his brilliant mare HH Azur have it all to do once again. Becoming a back-to-back champion is no easy feat, but it has been done before – most notably by legendary combinations like the iconic Canadian duo of Ian Millar and Big Ben who reigned supreme in 1988 and 1989, and Great Britain’s John Whitaker who steered the magical grey, Milton, to victory in 1990 and again in 1991.

Those who have posted three wins are exceptional and, again, some of the biggest names in the sport. Austria’s Hugo Simon put himself into the record books as the very first champion riding Gladstone in 1979, and then returned to do it twice more with ET FRH in 1996 and 1997. Germany’s Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum partnered the great Shutterfly to success in 2005 and again in 2008 and 2009, and compatriot Marcus Ehning claimed three titles with three different horses between 2003 and 2010. Perhaps the most remarkable three-time champion of all is Brazil’s Rodrigo Pessoa, because he succeeded in consecutive seasons between 1998 and 2000 and each time with the same super-stallion, the “King of the Ring” himself, Baloubet du Rouet.

Ehning is on the edge of history, as he goes into next week’s Final as the only rider with the chance of becoming the first four-time champion.

He is one of five former title-holders competing this time around, and each of them arrive in Paris on cracking current form. America’s Beezie Madden brings Breitling LS, Germany’s Daniel Deusser has two qualified horses, the strangely-coloured Cornet 39 and his 2014 winning ride Cornet d’Amour, and Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat, winner in both 2015 and 2016, is also double-handed, with Alamo and the super-speedy Bianca. Ward’s work will be cut out for him to keep these superstars in check, but sometimes surprises are sprung as the story of the closing stages of this fantastic series confirms.

Few expected Bruno Broucqsault and Dileme de Cephe to become the first French partnership to take the title in Milan (ITA) 14 years ago, and a second French victory is long overdue. If there is one man who deserves his date with destiny it is Kevin Staut who has campaigned tirelessly throughout the qualifying series over many long seasons and who brings two great horses, Reveur de Hurtebise HDC and Silver Deux de Virton HDC with him to this year’s finale on his home turf. Could his moment have arrived at last?

To make it happen he will have to see off tremendous challenges from riders like Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann who finished third last year and who brings the brilliant mare Toveks Mary Lou, and of course Britain’s Michael Whitaker whose hunger for this title is second-to-none after 24 previous attempts and many podium placings.

The statistics show that riders from just nine nations – Austria, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Netherlands, Switzerland and USA – have claimed the trophy down the years and that Germany and the USA have each won it on 10 occasions. The youngest rider ever to reign supreme was 1984 champion Mario Deslauriers from Canada who was just 19 years old at the time, and he partnered the youngest horse ever to come out on top, the 7-year-old Aramis.

A total of 28 different riders have held this unique trophy in their hands, and the one and only time the Final previously took place in Paris, 31 years ago back in 1987, a 28-year-old American called Katharine Burdsall pinned 24-year-old Frenchman, Philippe Rozier, into runner-up spot.

A total of 43 riders from 11 nations lined out that year, this time around it is 39 riders from 19 countries as the sport continues to spread its appeal around the world, and the battle for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping trophy will be hotter than ever. It’s the one they all want, and the action gets underway on 11 April.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Is Anyone Betting on the Boys This Time Around?

Photo: Isabell Werth and Weihegold OLD. (FEI/Jim Hollander)

Defending champion, Germany’s Isabell Werth, may be clear favourite to reclaim the title with her fabulous mare Weihegold, but as the lady herself so often says, “with horses you just never know what’s going to happen!” and there isn’t an equine expert in the world who will argue with that.

A total of 18 combinations from 12 nations will be strutting their stuff at the AccorHotels Arena when the FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2018 Final kicks off in the heart of the City of Lights on 11 April. The final start-list shows a single change, as Australia’s Mary Hanna has withdrawn with Calanta and is replaced by Great Britain’s Hayley Watson-Greaves and Rubins Nite. This means that four countries, Great Britain, Netherlands, Sweden and USA, will field two riders each, but Germany continues to have the largest representation as Werth is joined by Dorothee Schneider riding Sammy Davis Jr., and Jessica von Bredow-Werndl with Unee BB, giving their country a very strong hand. Making waves as the very first rider from the Philippines to qualify for the Final will be 26-year-old former model, Ellesse Jordan Tzinberg, whose captivating back-story includes a determined recovery from a life-threatening accident, and who is likely to attract plenty of attention throughout the week.

In the history of the FEI World Cup™ Dressage series, which is celebrating its 33rd Final, only four men have ever claimed the coveted title.

First was Germany’s Sven Rothenberger with Andiamo in 1990, and it would be another 19 years before America’s Steffen Peters followed suit with Ravel in 2009. Edward Gal and the amazing stallion, Totilas, were champions in 2010 and then his Dutch counterpart, Hans Peter Minderhoud, came out on top with Glock’s Flirt in 2016.

Otherwise, the ladies have been the dominant force, and the most dominant of all was the incredible Anky van Grunsven who posted nine victories over an extraordinary 13-year period between 1995 and 2008, a record unlikely ever to be challenged. To a large extent she is responsible for bringing the sport to the level of popularity it enjoys today, as she championed the early development of Dressage Freestyle to Music which has become so popular with audiences all around the world over the intervening years.

Watching horses “dance” to the rhythm of their Freestyle musical score is quite an experience, the sense of symmetry and the depth of understanding between man and horse is spine-tingling stuff. Edward Gal and Totilas were one of those mesmerising partnerships that left audiences with goose-bumps during their relatively short, but hugely successful, career together, and the Dutchman, the only previous male FEI World Cup™ Dressage champion in contention this time around, brings another really exciting horse to Paris next week, Glock’s Zonik whose extravagant movement has been delighting spectators throughout the winter season.

At 27 years of age Denmark’s Daniel Bachmann Andersen will be one of the youngest competitors at the Final, earning his place with three great performances from the stallion, Blue Hors Zack. And although Britain’s Emile Faurie just squeezed into a qualifying spot after having to withdraw at the last leg in ’s-Hertogenbosch (NED), he has been showing tremendous form with Delatio who shot to centre-stage when runner-up behind Sweden’s Patrik Kittel at Olympia in London (GBR) in December.

Kittel of course is a master show-stealer. If you want to easily understand the appeal of Freestyle Dressage then he’s your “go to” rider right now, as his gift for combining crisp, quality choreography with the most toe-tapping music is second to none. And his unbounded enthusiasm is, quite simply, infectious. It was no surprise when he galloped to the top of the Western European League table this season, and he brings the brilliant Deja to Paris in a few days’ time where the host nation will be represented by Rio Olympians Ludovic Henry and After You.

Girl-power will be out in force, but while the boys will be fewer in number they won’t be overwhelmed.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

All-Female American Team Seals Victory in Historic Nations Cup Contest at AGDF

Adrienne Lyle and Salvino. Photo © SusanJStickle.com.

Wellington, FL — March 29, 2018 — The all-female American team dominated the Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center FEI Nations Cup™ CDIO3* team competition in the 12th and final week of the 2018 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, Florida.

In the first leg of the 2018 FEI Nations Cup series, the USA romped home with gold, while last year’s winners, Canada, clinched silver and Australia took a historic bronze — the first time the nation has ever won a dressage Nations Cup medal of any color. Spain finished fourth.

Unlike some other stages of this worldwide seven-leg Nations Cup series, teams at AGDF can be made up of big tour, small tour, or a mixture of big and small tour combinations. In order to level the playing field, 1.5% is added to each grand prix score, with the small tour results remaining unaltered. Teams consist of three or four riders, with the best three scores from day one and the best three from day two determining the final results.

Adrienne Lyle and Salvino posted personal best scores in both the grand prix and the special tests, culminating in 76.894% (78.394% after adjustment) in the special, a huge new best for the pair. A team from the USA has won six of the seven Nations Cup contests held at AGDF.

“This is an incredible event to be part of,” said Lyle, who was riding Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Juliano’s superb 11-year-old Sandro Hit stallion, Salvino. “I’m so proud of my boy, putting two really solid, clean, powerful tests in for our team. He was a little tired today, but came out fighting — and that’s what you want.”

Her performances were supported by Olivia LaGoy-Weltz (Lonoir), impressive newcomer Sabine Schut-Kery (Sanceo), and Ashley Holzer (Havanna 145).

Schut-Kery logged two plus-72% performances on Alice Womble’s 12-year-old San Remo stallion Sanceo, despite only performing their first CDI grand prix test in January of this year.

“I could not be happier with my horse in our first season of grand prix,” said the German-born rider who is now based in California. “It was really good practice to ride in another climate and see what your horse gives you. I’m super happy and look forward to the future.”

LaGoy-Weltz added more power to both her performances with Lonoir, and as a result ended up with a couple of small mistakes.

“Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” she said. “There were still some bobbles, but when you go for more powerful, it can cause other things to happen. Then again, taking risks is how you make progress.”

Despite two solid performances on Diane Fellows’ inexperienced mare Havanna 145, Ashley Holzer was the drop score. An error of course meant a costly 2% deducted from her grand prix special score, and prompted a teasing text from Fellows to Holzer that read: “Which test did you prefer — yours of the FEI’s? Don’t worry; it’s about the big picture.”

Holzer added: “Nobody will beat me up about that mistake more than myself. My mare was a little green this week, but luckily my team-mates said, ‘Don’t worry, we’re all human’. They’re amazing girls and I’m very honored that everyone in the States has been so welcoming [since switching nationalities from Canadian].”

American Nations Cup team chef d’equipe, Robert Dover, added: “Since the inception of the AGDF, this show has been a dream come true. I’ve watched the state of both American dressage — and all the countries that are here — rise up because of this amazing venue and the shows put on here. It’s fantastic what it’s done for the sport.”

Of his team, he added: “I’m so proud of these amazing women who are not only rising to the occasion, but they are changing the game for American dressage as we go towards the [World Equestrian] Games. Of course, that wouldn’t be happening if it weren’t for incredible people like [trainer] Debbie McDonald and [owner] Betsy Juliano, to whom we owe so much — and so many more people.”

Spearheading the Canadian charge with a new best in the grand prix special test of 71.304% (72.649% after adjustment) was Brittany Fraser and her 13-year-old powerhouse by Tango, All In, who has blossomed during AGDF 2018.

“I had a personal best today,” she said. “We still had a mistake in the ones — but I’ll fix that tomorrow in the freestyle! I was proud of All In today; he was tired, but he tried.”

Fraser’s team-mate Megan Lane had double cause for celebration. Not only did she help Canada to team silver riding Caravella, but she also won the Grand Prix CDI3*, presented by Grand Prix Services (for special) on Zodiac MW. The Canadian team was rounded out by Jill Irving (Degas 12) and Diane Creech (Chrevis Christo).

The bronze-medal winners, Australia, were delighted with their historic result. Small tour rider Kelly Layne (Furst Amante) said: “Australia is a very, very long way from here and to put a team together is not so easy. This AGDF competition series is something we could never even imagine; it’s brought us here and, over the years, helped improve our performances. I’m so happy we could do it this year — and put ourselves in a bronze medal position. My horse is really green, but really fancy. He was with me the whole ride and the little mistakes were completely mine.”

Individual medals were awarded in the under-25 Grand Prix CDIO, presented by Diamante Farms, with Spain’s prodigious talent, Juan Manuel Guimon, taking the gold. He rode his father Juan F Matute’s 15-year-old Don Diego Ymas to 71.669%.

“His performance today was quite good, apart from a mistake in the twos,” said the self-confessed perfectionist. “Once again, his overall attitude was quite competitive and fresh. We were indoors today, which I think helped. He’s a dark horse so he doesn’t have so much stamina; I think being indoors really benefited him.”

The 20-year-old flies to Europe at the end of April for the Segovia CDI before heading to the Spanish national championships in a bid for a place on his nation’s team for the FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina, in September. Failing that, his goal will be the under-25 FEI European Championships.

Molly Paris improved on her score from the inter II to scoop silver for the USA. She rode her own 16-year-old mare Countess to 68.508%, edging out Spain’s Rodrigo Encinas Fuentes on Van The Man (67.778%).

“I enjoyed that test more than in I-2,” said Paris. “Countess has strong passage and piaffe and I really like to showcase it. She’s not the easiest, but once you get her going, she’s brilliant.”

Encinas Fuentes said: “Van The Man has been the horse that’s taught me how to ride a grand prix and compete at a high level. He’s a very competitive horse; every time he goes in the ring he proves it and wants to give everything.”

The USA’s Sarah Daehnert rode just one CDI test this week, but she capitalized on it, winning the Prix St Georges CDI1* on her own and Robert Price’s nine-year-old Vivaldi x Jazz gelding, Evander 3. Their 70.784% marked a giant improvement from their one and only other showing, a month ago, where they scored 65.8%.

For more information and results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.

Clean Sweep for Germany

Photo: Kristina Boe as Rey from Star Wars on Don de la Mar with lunger Winnie Schlüter (FEI/Daniel Kaiser)

The home crowd at the Signal Iduna Cup in Dortmund (GER) was delighted as the national anthem rang out three times at the FEI World Cup™ Vaulting Final as the German contingent produced a clean sweep of victories.

Kristina Boe secured her first FEI World Cup™ Vaulting title with Theresa-Sophie Bresch & Torben Jacobs dominating the Pas-de-Deux event.

The series then came to an electrifying conclusion as Jannis Drewell fought off tough competition to be crowned FEI World Cup™ Vaulting male champion for a second year in a row.

Drawing on her wealth of competition experience and her amazing ability to rise to the occasion under extreme pressure, Kristina Boe performed two outstanding rounds of her Rey from Star Wars freestyle to take the title (8.791 points). Teaming up with her long time team of Don de la Mar and Winnie Schlüter on the lunge, Kristina punched the air as she realised she had done enough to become FEI World Cup™ Vaulting champion.

Kristina had to come from behind after the first round, sitting overnight on 8.745 points to Switzerland’s Nadja Büttiker’s 8.821. The Büttiker v Boe rivalry, which has seen the two athletes go back and forth at the top of the leaderboard, has captivated fans of this year’s FEI World Cup™ Vaulting.

Büttiker’s first round freestyle was a masterclass in perfection.  However, in an otherwise foot perfect second round, during a difficult sideways stand on the croup of the horse Nadja lost balance and fell from Keep Cool III. Whilst the fall took her out of title contention, her otherwise flawless execution secured her second place (8.558).

Third place went to Germany’s Corinna Knauf.  After an impressive qualifying season, which saw her win in Mechelen, Corinna underwent knee surgery, making her third place finish remarkable (8.333). France’s Manon Noel finished 4th (7.942) with Carola Sneekes (NED) 5th on 7.729.  Unfortunately, Switzerland’s Ilona Hannich suffered a similar fate to her compatriot, after an outstanding first round (8.084), she slipped off Latino v. Forst finishing on 7.663 in 6th.

Pas-de-Deux

The German flag was raised for a second time as Theresa-Sophie Bresch and Torben Jacobs secured their first Pas-de-Deux title together in a display of sheer domination. They wowed with their emotive Bonnie and Clyde routine, which saw them accomplish daring lifts linked together with intricate transitions and unparalleled choreography. Together with Holiday on Ice and lunger Alexandra Knauf their title hopes never seemed in doubt – they led the competition from beginning to end (8.337).

The young Swiss pairing of Syra Schmid & Zoe Maruccio secured second, once again highlighting their vast improvement this season (7.820), whilst Marina Mohar and Celine Hoffstetter (SUI) rounded off the podium in 3rd with an assured, creative performance (7.327).

After suffering a tough first round freestyle, Jolina Ossenberg-Engels and Timo Gerdes (GER) bounced back to finish 4th with a second round score of 8.035, finishing on a total of 6.884.

Going in to the final day, could Germany make it three for three?

The FEI World Cup™ Vaulting Final concluded with the male competition. Last year’s champion Jannis Drewell returned to defend his title. On arrival his hopes were put in jeopardy as long term partner Diabolus was not fit to compete. Luckily Viktor Brüsewitz and lunger Gesa Bührig offered up Claus 51 to keep the World Cup dream alive.

France versus Germany, the competition came down to a head to head between Clement Taillez (FRA) and Jannis Drewell (GER). With both competitors sitting on an 8.7 after the first round freestyle, and Drewell in the overnight lead, the competition was on!

Clement performed a brilliant rendition of his ‘Dance’ freestyle to end on a combined total of 8.723. The pressure was well and truly on for last to go Drewell. After only going on Claus 51 for the first time two days ago, and having to adapt with the wrong surcingle, he rose to the occasion. Drewell performed his Pirates of the Caribbean routine with confidence and attacked to score 8.797 – thus retaining his FEI World Cup™ Vaulting title. His achievement was aided by the excellent last minute partnership with lunger Gesa Bührig and Claus, who achieved a brilliant horse score.

Jannik Heiland (GER) occupied third place, matching his 2017 result with a harmonious, elegant freestyle (8.570) with Viktor Brusweitz in 4th by a whisker on 8.561. Testament to the exceptional standard, 5th place Lukas Heppler (SUI) finished on an 8.517, which at any other competition could have been enough to win the event, whilst Hungary’s Balazs Bence overcame some first day horse difficulties to finish 6th (6.237).

By Hannah Eccles

FEI Media contact:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
ruth.grundy@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 45

Ward and His “Independent Woman” Lead Large American Posse to Paris

Photo: McLain Ward and HH Azur. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

The speed with which the last remaining riders have signed up for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final 2018, which kicks off in Paris (FRA) on 11 April, tells you everything you need to know. This is a trophy that every rider wants to win, and the prospect of placing your name on the Roll of Honour that includes so many of the legends of this sport is tantalising. When it happened at last for America’s double Olympic gold medallist McLain Ward (42) at the 2017 Final in Omaha (USA) 12 months ago, he couldn’t hold back his emotions. It had been such a long time coming, and the victory was very, very sweet.

“I’ve been doing this for 25 years or more, and I’ve come so close so many times and one way or another I’ve messed it up!” he said. He made no mistake this time around, however, flawless throughout the entire week with his brilliant mare who he described as “an independent woman”. They’ll be the ones to beat when the action gets underway at the AccorHotels Arena, but they’ll have to be at their very best once again to hold back the top-class opposition.

A total of 10 other US riders have also made the cut from the North American Eastern and Western Sub-Leagues including 2013 champion Beezie Madden (54), and Richard Spooner (47) who won the qualifier in Las Vegas in November, finishing the West Coast series at the top of the leaderboard. Kristen Vanderveen (28) described it as “surreal” when she booked her ticket to Paris with a win at the last leg of the season in Ocala (USA) last weekend.

It will all get very real when the opening speed class begins to throw some light on the destiny of the 2018 trophy in three weeks’ time.

Mexico’s Gustavo Ramos also qualified through the North America series while the countries of South America will be represented by Brazil’s Felipe Amaral who won the South America South series, and Colombia’s Carlos Lopez who qualified through the Western European League. Across the globe, it was local legend Lisa Williams (51) who topped the five-leg South Africa qualifying series. She won’t be bringing a horse to Paris, but she intends to be a spectator and tourist in the City of Lights.

Meanwhile, the Central European League came to a climax with the Final in Warsaw (POL) earlier this month where Estonia’s Urmas Raag (52) reigned supreme and fellow-countryman Rein Pill (57) also qualified for the Longines Final along with Latvia’s Kristaps Neretnieks (28).

The spread of countries at this year’s finale is particularly impressive, embracing all corners of the globe and offering a mouth-watering menu of possibilities. The flags of Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Estonia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Latvia, Mexico, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and USA will all by flying high, and as always, we can expect new faces, a few surprises and the most amazing sport.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Paris Is the Field of Dreams for Aussie Duo as Longines Final Beckons

Photo: Jamie Kermond and Yandoo Oaks Constellation (FEI/Equestrian Australia/Thomas Reiner)

For Australia’s Billy Raymont and Jamie Kermond, these are very exciting times. The pair claimed the top two places in the FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2017/2018 Australian League and are on their way to the Longines 2018 Final in Paris (FRA) which kicks off on 11 April. Raymont (38) cemented his place at the top of the League table with four wins and a host of strong placings that left him 12 points clear of Kermond (32), whose victory in Melbourne was boosted by another good result in Sydney last December. These are two seasoned veterans with a world of experience behind them and good horses underneath them.

Kermond has spent plenty of time honing his skills on the European circuit in recent years. He was crowned Australian Jumping Champion for the third time last season and began introducing his massive 12-year-old gelding Yandoo Oaks Constellation to the delights of the French capital city when lining out at the CSI5* Saut Hermes in the Grand Palais in Paris last weekend.

Raymont, also a multiple national champion, was there too with his 13-year-old gelding Oaks Redwood who had just a single fence down in the first round of last Sunday’s super-tough Grand Prix. These two athletes, and their horses, epitomise the essence of the FEI World Cup™ Jumping series as they complete their preparations for the Final of the series that every rider wants to win.

Kermond has been there before, competing at the 2014 Final in Lyon (FRA), but despite his extensive experience this will be a first for Raymont. “Seems crazy to be honest… I probably felt this kind of thing was out of reach these days, but I’m very lucky with the owners. They’re very excited about the horse… and they’re really keen to keep going and seeing what we can do, and for sure I’m the same!”

“I’m really excited to finally get this opportunity. My whole career has been about doing something like this one day!” — Billy Raymont (Australia)

Joining the Australians at the Final will be the top three finishers in the 13-leg Arab League, Jordan’s Ibrahim Hani Bisharat, Egypt’s Mohammed Osama El Borai and Saudi Arabia’s Abdulrahman Alrajhi. However New Zealand’s Rose Alfeld and Samantha Morrison won’t be travelling. Alfeld had a great run in the seven-round series that began at Hawkes Bay last October but feels she doesn’t have sufficient experience to tackle the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final. “I’m not sure it’s my time yet!” said the 22-year-old rider after bagging the title with her home-bred horse, My Super Nova. Keisuke Koike claimed the single qualifying spots in the Japan League but won’t be making the trip to Europe either.

Thailand’s Jaruporn Limpichati won the South East Asia series at the end of a fantastic run with Irregular Choice. The pair posted three wins on the way to their regional Final where they again reigned supreme to earn the coveted qualifying spot. The Central Asian League champion was Uzbekistan’s Nurjon Tuyakbaev, and winner of the Caucasus/Caspian League was Shalva Gacheciladze from Georgia.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Vanderveen Punches Ticket to Paris with First Longines Victory in Ocala

Photo: Kristen Vanderveen aboard Bull Run’s Faustino de Tili. (FEI/Erin Gilmore)

Kristen Vanderveen (USA) was a winner on all fronts at the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Ocala (USA). Not only did she claim her first Longines victory with an uncatchable jump-off aboard Bull Run’s Faustino de Tili, but she also gained the points necessary to qualify for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final in Paris (FRA) in three weeks’ time.

“It’s really very surreal for me right now,” said Vanderveen, 28. “I’ve always wanted to go to World Cup Finals, and this was a little bit of a last minute decision to come here and see if I could do something special today and get in.”

“It’s really very surreal for me right now. I’ve always wanted to go to the World Cup Finals!” — Kristen Vanderveen (USA)

The stage was set at the beautiful Live Oak Plantation after just three riders managed to produce a clear first round over the course set by Kelvin Bywater (GBR). Vanderveen was dealt the disadvantageous position of having to go first in the jump-off, but she blazed an unbeatable time of 45.93 seconds, galloping full out to the final Longines oxer and getting across the ground swiftly with her horse’s large stride. Last to go, Beat Mändli (SUI) and Galan S made a valiant run at the winner but brought down two rails in the process. Brianne Goutal (USA) and Viva Colombia produced the only other double-clear performance to finish as runners-up with a time of 52.99 seconds.

“There were only 3 of us, so I figured I’d play it out fast as we could and see what happened,” Vanderveen explained. “He fired for me, and he shined for me in the jump-off. He’s a super fast horse.”

America’s Paris Lineup Takes Shape

As the final event of the North American League, Live Oak’s results solidified the American qualifiers for Paris. Vanderveen, with 41 total points for the season, sits sixth in the east coast sub league standings of the North American League and is the fifth-ranked U.S. rider. Eight U.S. riders, including defending World Cup Jumping Final Champion McLain Ward, qualify from this sub league. Devin Ryan finished 11th in Ocala with Eddie Blue, causing him to conclude the season as the third-ranked U.S. rider; he also plans to compete in Paris. West coast rider Jamie Barge (USA) and Luebbo journeyed east to assure themselves a Paris qualification. They are the third-ranked U.S. rider from the west coast sub league; three qualify for Paris.

Beat Mändli, winner of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Washington (USA), finished the season atop the east coast sub league standings with 53 points. Richard Spooner (USA), who won in Las Vegas (USA), was the best in the west, finishing with 60 points.

The Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final takes place in Paris from 10-15 April 2018.

By Catie Staszak

FEI Media Contact:

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

Werth Wins and Gal Glitters as Final Line-Up Is Decided in Den Bosch

Photo: Edward Gal with Glock’s Zonic.  (FEI/Leanjo de Koster Digishots)

With the biggest smile on her face that said it all as she strutted down the centreline for the final time, defending series champion, Germany’s Isabell Werth (48), nailed her fourth win of the season at the last qualifier of the FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2017/2018 Western European League in ’s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands. On an afternoon when many of the early starters were hampered by spooky moments in the ring, the second-half contestants really raised the bar, and once Werth and Emilio took their turn when fifth-last to go, her score of 87.405 would be the winning one.

They weren’t the only partnerships to bring the crowd in the Brabanthalle to their feet, however, as home runners Edward Gal (48) and Glock’s Zonik got the same treatment when slotting into second on 83.900 following a great test. And, last in, compatriot Madeleine Witte-Vrees (45) and Cennin posted 82.555 to demote Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (32) and Zaire-E to fourth place. The packed stadium of spectators enjoyed a real treat in the closing stages, but it was all about Isabell once again as she marches towards the 2018 FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final in Paris, France next month to chase down her second successive title and her fourth overall.

She has rarely looked more happy and confident throughout the extraordinary career during which she has become the most medalled athlete in equestrian sport. And with two wins from her superstar Olympic ride Weihegold and another two from Emilio who was at his very best, her horses are also in the form of their lives this winter. Weihegold the wonder-mare is of course her first choice for the Final, but Werth was thrilled with her 12-year-old gelding whose presence in the ring seems to grow with every outing. Pinned back to second place in Gothenburg, Sweden two weeks ago, he stepped it up even more.

“Emilio certainly showed an improvement today; he was amazing; he felt like 90%!” — Isabell Werth GER (1st)

Another with a big smile at the end of his ride was 2010 champion Gal who can’t help but be excited by the rapid development of his fabulous 10-year-old stallion, Zonic, whose trot extensions drew gasps of delight from the crowd.

““He’s improving so fast; this was only his third World Cup! There are a few little things that need improving, but he keeps surprising me!” — Edward Gal NED (2nd)

The 2018 Final will be another big test for this lovely young horse, and the Dutch are looking stronger by the day, with Witte-Vrees’ stallion Cennin still only 11 and also looking mature beyond his years.

This result has decided the Western European League qualifying spots for the Final which takes place from 11 to 15 April at which nine riders from six nations – Austria, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, Netherlands and Sweden – will do battle with the rest of the best in the world. Britain’s Emile Faurie just squeezed into equal-eighth place despite having to withdraw from this competition with his gelding, Lollipop.

Media contact:

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