Category Archives: FEI

Werth and Weihegold Are Awesome in Amsterdam

Photo: Isabell Werth and Weihegold. (FEI/Digishots)

Defending series champions, Germany’s Isabell Werth (48) and her magical mare Weihegold OLD, cruised to victory at the sixth leg of the FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2017/2018 Western European League in Amsterdam (NED). The dynamic duo floated through their Freestyle test to post 88.540, almost a full percentage point more than their winning score at the third leg of the series on home ground in Stuttgart in November.

The capacity crowd packed into the RAI Arena included stars of many other sports along with Dutch royal family member Princess Margarita, Countess of Colorno, who is a Board Member of the show organisation, Jumping Amsterdam. But it was the German Dressage queen who claimed centre stage when pinning the home side’s Edward Gal (47) with Glock’s Zonik into second, and her compatriot, Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (31), into third with Unee BB.

“Weihe was really fantastic today. I can’t describe the feeling of this power and collection; she’s like a metronome – we can do whatever we want! The atmosphere in the arena was electric so I had to be careful because she was very hot. She produced really magnificent piaffe/passage, but I stopped breathing in the collected walk because she was SO ready for the canter!” — Isabell Werth GER (1st)

Last to go, she was chasing the super leading mark of 81.860 produced by Gal and his exciting young stallion who really settled to his job. “It’s five weeks since we finished third at Olympia (London) and there is a visible improvement,” said the man who claimed the FEI World Cup™ Dressage title in 2010 with the great Totilas. This was just the third Freestyle test for the 10-year-old Zonik. “He’s getting stronger and stronger and more motivated; suddenly we are making big steps forward and I have high hopes for him for the future!” he added.

As Werth rode into the arena, her compatriot Jessica von Bredow-Werndl was just leaving after posting an impressive 81.195 with Unee BB who couldn’t take his eyes off Weihegold. “The older he gets the more powerful he gets – I think he’s going through a second youth; he certainly had plenty of extra energy today!” said von Bredow-Werndl of her 17-year-old stallion. And her result has moved her up to second place on the Western European League leaderboard behind Sweden’s Patrik Kittel who once again wowed the crowds with a great performance from Deja to finish fourth.

As title defender Werth doesn’t earn points at the qualifiers but must compete in at least two legs of the Western European League with the horse she intends to take to the Final in Paris in April and with two in the bag, and both winning ones, with Weihegold she is now turning her attention to her back-up ride, Emilio, who topped the line-up in Lyon in November. “Obviously Weihe is my first choice, but Emilio will go to the last two qualifiers in Gothenburg (SWE) and ’s-Hertogenbosch (NED),” she explained. She’s missing the next leg on home ground in Neumunster in three weeks’ time due to another commitment, but she has her fourth FEI World Cup™ Dressage title clearly in her sights.

When asked how she is feeling ahead of the 2018 Final which will take place in the French capital from 10 to 15 April, she replied, “I’m happy but I never say I’m confident; that’s not my way. This is sport – you never know what’s going to happen so you always have to stay awake!”

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Leanne Williams
Media Relations and Communications Manager
leanne.williams@fei.org
+41 79 314 24 38

Taloubet Triumphs One Last Time for Germany’s Christian Ahlmann at Leipzig

Photo: Christian Ahlmann and Taloubet Z. (FEI/Daniel Kaiser)

In a fairytale finish to his fabulous career, the 18-year-old super-stallion Taloubet Z carried Christian Ahlmann to victory in front of their home crowd at the tenth leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2017/2018 Western European League in Leipzig, Germany. Last to go in an edge-of-the-seat 15-horse jump-off it seemed it would be almost too good to be true if they could beat the rest of the world-class field at a show where they enjoyed so many successes over the years. But they did it and, in his usual style, the extraordinary Taloubet made it look like a walk in the park one last time. There was hardly a dry eye in the house during the prize-giving ceremony in which the German duo took centre stage ahead of runners-up Carlos Lopez and Admara from Colombia and Dutchman Harrie Smolders with Zinius.

Ahlmann isn’t normally one for big emotion, but the 43-year-old rider’s voice kept breaking when he tried to talk about the horse that was such a prolific winner, and that carried him to four World Cup Finals, who claimed the FEI World Cup™ Jumping title at this very same venue in 2011 and who was so tough that he was still capable of claiming team bronze and individual ninth place at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The German star admitted that he felt under incredible pressure.

“I really didn’t want to mess it up for him! This was just a normal World Cup, like we have every week. But it was very special because it was the last class for Taloubet, and we took the risk to jump him so he could say goodbye, here where everyone knows him, and leave the sport in great shape. So to have a good result and to finish with a proper round like that under pressure, it makes me so happy! It’s the greatest day of my life for sure, not for the points or for the money; it’s much more than that. It’s because this great horse who still has all this power even at this age is ending his career in a great way, with a great win!” — Christian Ahlmann GER (1st)

“Yes, for everyone else today was a dream, but for me it was a nightmare!” said course designer Frank Rothenberger after 15 horse-and-rider combinations made it into the jump-off. It was a cracker, however, and Lopez appeared to have it in the bag when scorching through the finish in 43.39 seconds with the gelding Admara who seems to have found his perfect “other half” since partnering up with the Colombian rider two years ago. Smolders and Zinius, winners at the previous leg in Mechelen (BEL) last month, gave it their best shot but fell short by two-tenths of a second when second-last to go.

The arena fell silent as Ahlmann and Taloubet set off on their final adventure together, but it exploded with sound when, turning to the last full of running and at a flat gallop, the German duo broke the beam two-tenths of a second quicker than Lopez for the win. Even the Colombian runner-up wasn’t disappointed: “Today is all about Taloubet anyway,” Lopez said.

And with just three qualifiers still left to go, the next in Zurich (SUI), Ahlmann has now qualified for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2018 Final in Paris (FRA) in April. Like Smolders, who has also made the cut, that wasn’t on the German rider’s radar until now. “I’ll have to have a re-think about that now,” he said.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Smolders Is the Master at Mechelen

Harrie Smolders and Zinius pictured with FEI President Ingmar de Vos.

Dutchman Harrie Smolders (37) out-paced all comers to win the ninth leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2017/2018 Western European League at Mechelen in Belgium. Riding the 13-year-old gelding Zinius, he set an unbeatable target with a fearless run when fourth to go in a seven-horse jump-off. Runner-up spot went to Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann (36) who has now soared to the top of the league table while Italy’s Luca de Lorenzo (30) lined up third. Smolders was a man with a plan.

“I never won before at Mechelen and I really wanted to do it, so I was totally focused. When I got into the jump-off I just wanted to win. I was never riding for second place so I took the risk by taking a stride out to the last. And this is very special because I came here with all my family – my kids, my wife and my parents – it was an unforgettable moment and I’m very thankful to the crowd. The atmosphere here is always really intense and it gives us even more of a push to show what we can do!” — Harrie Smolders (NED)

This result with Zinius was particularly rewarding because this is a horse that is stepping up to the plate.

“He is still developing, but now that Emerald and Don (his other two top horses) are having a break he gets a chance to show in the biggest classes and he has picked it up very quickly. I’m a bit surprised that he makes it look so easy!” Smolders added.

It was no walk in the park either, with Eddy Geysemans’ tough first-round track getting the better of many of the best in the sport. The time-allowed of 67 seconds saw three miss the cut into the jump-off when picking up just one annoying time penalty, but German ace, Ludger Beerbaum, already had four on the board with Chacon before getting four more for an awkward jump at the last and then hitting the deck when Chacon mistakenly took on part of the double at fence five in the wrong direction. The man who claimed Germany’s first-ever FEI World Cup™ title back in 1993 is under medical care with an open shoulder fracture, and the horse world is wishing him a very swift recovery.

Two more former World Cup champions, Beerbaum’s fellow-countrymen Christian Ahlmann with Taloubet Z and Daniel Deusser with Cornet d’Amour, led the way against the clock with Deusser setting the standard when clear in 40.51 seconds. But Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann and Mary Lou were almost two seconds quicker when breaking the beam in 38.74 to put it up to the rest of them. Smolders wasn’t intimidated, however, stopping the clock on 38.19, so when de Luca and Halifax van het Kluizebos were clear in 39.97 seconds and Frenchman Roger Yves Bost posed no challenge in 42.17 seconds it was game over.

As 2018 begins and with just four of the 13 Western European league qualifiers remaining, the next taking place in Leipzig (GER) on 21 January, Smolders has 25 points on the board and may re-think his new year agenda.

“I wasn’t planning to go to the Final in Paris but now we might have a meeting and set some new goals,” he said. “I will do a few qualifiers anyway and I want to get Emerald out to a few shows, maybe get him ready by Gothenburg (in February) if I can. We will see, but this win is the perfect end to a great year for me!” said the delighted winner.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Seamus Hughes-Kennedy Is First-Ever Winner of FEI Pony Jumping Trophy Final in Mechelen

Seamus Hughes-Kennedy pictured with FEI President Ingmar de Vos. (FEI/Dirk Caremans)

Ireland’s Seamus Hughes-Kennedy wrote his name into the history-books of equestrian sport when winning the inaugural FEI Pony Jumping Trophy™ Final at Mechelen in Belgium.

Riding the 12-year-old mare, Cuffesgrange Cavalidam, the 15-year-old schoolboy had to hold his nerve when in the lead and last to go of the top 10 who qualified for the deciding round.

“I tried to think of it as just another day in the ring but I couldn’t help but be nervous – this is unbelievable!” — Seamus Hughes-Kennedy IRL (winner)

His partnership with his pony, however, has already been marked by his seventh-place finish individually at this summer’s FEI European Pony Championships in Hungary. Runner-up was another of the strong Irish contingent, Abbie Sweetnam with Dynamite Spartacus, while Belgium’s Aaron Tijskens steered Superbre de Laloena into third.

The series is devised along the same lines as the FEI World Cup™ and this first Final more than lived up to expectations. The Irish took early command when team gold and European individual silver medallist, Kate Derwin (Cul Ban Mistress), topped Wednesday’s opener ahead of Hughes-Kennedy in second and Sweetnam in third. A win for Thibeau Spits and Cleostrade on Thursday, however, put this young Belgian on level pegging with Derwin, both going into the finale on a zero scoreline after results were converted into points.

From a start-list of 15, a tough and technical first-round track brought the cream to the very top and with the only clear of the course it was Hughes-Kennedy who went out in front carrying just the four points he collected over the first two competitions. And when Spits disappeared from the reckoning with three fences on the floor and Derwin lost her grip with two mistakes, then it was Sweetnam who was stalking her compatriot, just one point in arrears, while Tijskens was only another two points further adrift going into the second round.

It was gripping, and with no room for error after a clear from fourth-placed Derwin, the three ahead of her all coped with the incredible pressure to hold their places. You could hear a pin drop as, last to go, Hughes-Kennedy set off with his mare who is something of a phenomenon. Cuffesgrange Cavalidam, whose sire Luidam was competed by Irish international rider Billy Twomey, was found by Seamus’ mother Clare running around field as an unbroken 10-year-old.

“She was still green enough this time last year when we did our first 1.30m competition in Millstreet and we haven’t really done a lot, the Spring Tour at home, the European Championships trials and then the Championships – she’s wonderful, she’s always trying to help me, she’s the pony of a lifetime!” — Seamus Hughes-Kennedy IRL (winner)

Talking about the concept of the FEI Pony Jumping Trophy series which has been staged alongside Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping qualifiers in Oslo (NOR), Herning (DEN), Verona (ITA), Lyon (FRA) and Stuttgart (GER) this season, the new champion said, “It’s been brilliant. We learn so much from being around top riders and watching what they do. They talk to us and help us – it’s a great experience!”

FEI Jumping Director, John Roche, said, “The FEI is happy and proud to give these young athletes a platform to show their talent and riding skills, especially with the Olympic Movement’s focus on the development of youth sport right now.” The FEI Pony Jumping Trophy™ Final will return to Mechelen again in 2018.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Super Sunday at Olympia

Photo: Julien Epaillard aboard Toupie de la Roque.

The Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Leg provided an afternoon of exhilarating sport in the Olympia Grand Hall, with only four of the 36 starters jumping a clear in the first round. As the penultimate to go in the jump-off, Britain’s Scott Brash set the packed crowd alight, jumping clear in a time which looked like it could be the winning round. However, the notoriously speedy Julien Epaillard, riding Toupie de la Roque, knocked Scott off the pole position to take the victory by 0.43 seconds.

The day kicked off with The Pony Club Mini-Major, which went to 11-year-old Poppy Deakin and the in-form Laura Renwick, with ponies also taking to the fore in the opening class of the evening session, The Mistletoe Mini Stakes, which was won by Rachel Proudley.

The evening CSI5* class, The Ivy Stakes, proved to be another challenging content, with just six clears through to the jump-off; however, a speed masterclass from John Whitaker secured the victory, ahead of Ben Maher and Laura Renwick, to make a British one-two-three.

Away from the world class sporting action, The Kennel Club Large Novice Dog Agility Final was won by Sara Bacon with Tynevermoor Torque, and the two Osborne Refrigerators Shetland Pony Grand Nationals of the day went to Madeline Reeder Smith and Zak Kent.

John Whitaker’s assiduous scrutinising of the jump-off course for The Ivy Stakes paid off in spades as he found the most audacious turn which had the crowd roaring their appreciation.

The cheers became deafening as his winning time of 33.17 seconds flashed up, signalling the 62-year-old’s second victory of the week on his own and wife Clare’s 15-year-old stallion Argento.

It was a thrilling end to a great day’s sport with a British one-two-three, Ben Maher second on Madame X and Laura Renwick third on MHS Washington, with the younger riders all quick to acknowledge a genius ride.

“I studied the course carefully because I knew Kevin [Staut, eventual fourth on S&L Through the Looking Glas] was last to go and I had to do something,” explained John, who has been competing here for four decades.

“It shows what a good horse he is because when we did the sharp turn the crowd gave a big cheer and that could have put him off. This show is special, with the crowds and Christmas and everything. It’s a great feeling and I feel lucky to still be in the sport.”

Poppy Deakin, 11, secured the win in The Pony Club Mini-Major relay that had previous escaped both of her sisters, Daisy and Kirsten.

“I wanted to come here and do better than them,” said Olympia first-timer Poppy with a cheeky smirk.

Riding 16-year-old Munsboro Plunkett, and partnering Britain’s leading lady rider Laura Renwick (Shiraz II), the Tynedale Pony Club branch member perfectly executed a tight turn back to the penultimate fence to take the class by more than one second.

“Poppy knew what she was doing,” said Laura. “I gave her hardly any advice. She was telling me how she was going to ride the course and she did what she said she would.”

Later on, North Yorkshire’s Rachel Proudley finally claimed her dream of winning The Mistletoe Mini Stakes with Painted Lady IV at the fourth attempt. “It’s my favourite show and it’s my last year riding her,” said Rachel, 12. “She’ll be staying in the family though, as she’ll now be ridden by my sister, Sarah.”

To find out more about Olympia, the London International Horse Show, visit www.olympiahorseshow.com.

For more information, please contact:
Olympia, The London International Horse Show:
Gayle Telford gayle@revolutionsports.co.uk 0203 176 0355

Julien Epaillard Is Roque Solid in Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Leg

Julien Epaillard, riding Toupie de la Roque, became only the second Frenchman in history to win the Olympia leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping, thanks to a spectacular burst of speed in the jump-off which relegated last year’s winner, Scott Brash, to second place.

“It is a great honour for me to win at Olympia,” said the 40-year-old, who was 0.43 seconds faster than Scott. “It was a very difficult course, very technical – you needed scope but also great control.”

Course-designer Guillaume Jorge, who officiated at the Rio Olympics last year, set the high-quality field, which included six of the world’s top 10 riders, quite a challenge, and it wasn’t until the 21st to go, European Champion Peder Fredricson on H&M Christian K, that there was a clear round.

Australia’s Edwina Tops-Alexander, a wild card entry, followed with another clear on Inca Boy van T Vianahof, a nine-year-old produced in Britain by Tim Wilkes, in only her sixth competition on the horse. The winner here in 2008, she now heads the Longines FEI World Cup™ rankings joint with France’s Kevin Staut, who finished fifth today with just four faults.

Scott, who pronounced the course “challenging, but well thought out and jumpable”, raised the roof with his clear round on the 16-year-old Ursula Xll and hopes were high that he might score the first back-to-back win since Nick Skelton in 1984. However, despite the fantastic jump-off speed of 37.34 seconds, it wasn’t to be.

“I know Julien well and I knew how fast he would go, so fair play to him,” said Scott sportingly afterwards. “Ursula was fantastic and, although I would love to breed a foal from her, while she’s jumping like this, she certainly isn’t ready to retire.”

Scott is now 28th on the Longines FEI World Cup™ Rankings with five legs to go before the final in Paris in April.

To find out more about Olympia, the London International Horse Show, visit www.olympiahorseshow.com.

For more information, please contact:
Olympia, The London International Horse Show:
Gayle Telford gayle@revolutionsports.co.uk 0203 176 0355

Patrik Kittel Wins FEI World Cup Dressage Freestyle to Music

The world’s greatest dressage riders took to the arena for another night of thrilling competition which saw Sweden’s Patrik Kittel and Delaunay OLD clinch the FEI World Cup™ Dressage Freestyle to Music supported by Horse & Hound title with the smallest of margins ahead of Great Britain’s Emile Faurie.

Alongside the world-class dressage, spectators were treated to a jam-packed programme including performances from the Chilean Huasos and the Mounted Branch of the Metropolitan Police, a breath-taking dressage masterclass with Olympic stars Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin and speedy Osborne Refrigerators Shetland Pony Grand National, which saw Beth Casasola riding Clothie Night Idiot finish in first place. The first show jumping class of the week took to the arena, with Staff Sgt Moore of the Defence Animal Training Regiment and his partner, Lucas, riding to victory in the Services Jumping Championship as the only horse and rider combination to finish clear in the time of 53.95 seconds.

A close competition was promised and the riders did not disappoint but it was Patrik Kittel and Delaunay OLD (Dude) (80.560%) that rocked the auditorium with a strong, rhythmic and faultless routine to win the FEI World Cup™ Freestyle to Music, supported by Horse & Hound, at Olympia, The London International Horse Show.

The Swedish combination displayed a high degree of difficulty in the programme set to a medley by the rock group Guns and Roses that opened with a zig-zag of passage and piaffe, showed controlled double pirouettes to tempi changes and was on the beat throughout.

“The sport was really good and the standard was amazing tonight so I am just really happy to secure this win,” said Kittel, whose previous visit to Olympia was 13 years ago – when he then came last.

“I just loved how easy Dude found this test which has a high degree of difficulty – he just felt like he was cruising.”

The win takes Kittel to the top of the Western European World Cup™ League and he now looks certain for a place in the FEI World Cup™ final in Paris in April.

“I really love Paris and Dude is now qualified for the final so I hope nothing stops me going,” said Kittel.

It might have seemed a hard act to follow for British rider Emile Faurie and his new ride Delatio (80.405%) but the final combination of the night put in an impressive performance in their first competitive freestyle that made the most of the 13-year-old’s expressive paces, to come within a whisker – 0.155% – of the winner’s score. He is now just the fourth British rider to score over 80% at this venue.

“I just feel so lucky that after so many years without a really top horse, I now have a whole string,” said Emile who is now based part-time in Germany.

“Delatio does not have a lot of competitive experience but he is an awesome horse, such a trier and his ability to concentrate incredible.”

Grand Prix winners Edward Gal and Glock’s Zonik (79.340%) were close behind in third place. The Dutch Olympian was third last year and has been in the top three here on no less than four occasions since his last win at Olympia in 2009.

“We made a few mistakes tonight and Zonik was a little tense as he is not used to such a crowd, and you don’t get this atmosphere anywhere else but the crowd really appreciates the riders and it was good experience for Zonik,” said Gal.

British riders Lara Butler (Rubin Al Asad), Hayley Watson-Greaves (Rubins Nite) and Richard Davison (Bubblingh) all put in strong performances to finish in 5th, 6th and 7th place respectively and within 1.33% of each other.

Carl Hester once again took to the Olympia Grand Hall to put Charlotte Dujardin through her paces as part of his ‘the making of a Grand Prix horse’ masterclass. Charlotte was riding Carl’s Hawtins Delicato, a nine-year-old future prospect for which Carl has high hopes.

The session provided an exclusive insight into the transition required for a horse to step up to Grand Prix level, from perfecting the piaffe to mastering the mentality. Making his debut at Olympia, Hawtins Delicato took the ambiance in his stride, demonstrating the huge potential he has to be a star of the future.

To find out more about Olympia, the London International Horse Show, visit www.olympiahorseshow.com.

For more information, please contact:
Olympia, The London International Horse Show:
Gayle Telford gayle@revolutionsports.co.uk 0203 176 0355

Edward Gal Dominates on Opening Night of Olympia

The World’s best Dressage riders were out in force on the opening night of Olympia, The London International Horse Show, where Edward Gal (NED) was crowned winner of the FEI World Cup™ Dressage Grand Prix supported by Horse & Hound.

In addition to the top-class competition, Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester took centre stage to give a dressage masterclass showcasing the training routine of a champion and performances from The Chilean Huasos and the Metropolitan Police Mounted Branch gave the crowd a night to remember. The Osborne Refrigerators Shetland Pony Grand National got off to a flying start with Ollie Proctor and Holydell Sensation passing the post in front to take the first victory of the week.

Popular Dutch dressage rider Edward Gal and the young stallion Glock’s Zonik (76.68%) claimed the FEI World Cup Dressage Grand Prix supported by Horse & Hound at Olympia, The London International Horse Show.

The win made a cold, slow journey from The Netherlands, that was beset by delays caused by the wintery weather, worthwhile. It was also an impressive display of horsemanship from Gal and talent from the expressive and elegant nine-year-old Glock’s Zonik, who was competing in just his third ever Grand Prix, and now has two wins and a second place on his CV. Highlights of the test include ground covering half-passes and particularly impressive elastic piaffe and passage.

“The journey here was really no fun at all,” said Gal, a winner of the FEI World Cup qualifier at Olympia in 2009 with the record breaking Totilas, before going on to win the FEI World Cup Final later that season. “We left home at 6am on Sunday and finally arrived in London at 6pm on Monday evening, but this win makes up for all that. I was really happy with Zonik especially as it was his first time in such a big atmospheric arena – this is really promising for the future.”

Swedish Olympian Patrik Kittel, who also endured a marathon journey to London, came a close second with the Oldenburg gelding Delaunay (75.10%). The pair performed a well presented and confident error free test. “I am very happy to be here for the second time,” said Kittel. “London is such a great show.”

Olympia debutant Madeleine Witte-Vrees from The Netherlands was third with the bright chestnut Cennin (73.72%), with whom she made her senior championship team debut in this year’s Europeans, while Emile Faurie and Delatio (72.86%) were the highest placed British combination. It was an impressive competitive Grand Prix debut for the pair, who has only been together for two months.

“Tonight’s Grand Prix was quite a challenge for the judges,” said Stephen Clarke, President of the Ground Jury. “They were many good combinations, some exciting expressive horses and scores that were close together.”

Charlotte Dujardin took to the Olympia Grand Hall for the first time since the retirement of her triple Olympic gold medal winning partner, Valegro, this time last year. Riding Mount St John Freestyle, Charlotte was put through her paces by mentor and Olympic team mate, Carl Hester, to display the key attributes and training methods for producing a champion.

Mount St John Freestyle, an eight-year-old Hanoverian mare, nick-named “Mrs Valegro” by Carl during the demonstration, is looking to step up to Grand Prix level next year, with the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games as the target. The composed performance showcased the exceptional talents of both horse and rider, who have already attained several titles together, including the recent Future Elite Championship and the Summer British Dressage National Championship.

To find out more about Olympia, the London International Horse Show, visit www.olympiahorseshow.com.

For more information, please contact:
Olympia, The London International Horse Show:
Gayle Telford gayle@revolutionsports.co.uk 0203 176 0355

Edwina Tops-Alexander Is the Queen of La Coruna

Photo: Edwina Tops-Alexander celebrating victory with her lovely mare, California. (FEI/Manuel Queimadelos)

Australian wonderwoman, Edwina Tops-Alexander (43), scorched to victory with the lovely mare California in the seventh leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2017/2018 Western European League at La Coruna, Spain. In an eight-rider, eight-nation jump-off against the clock the three-time Olympian simply out-raced all the others who managed to leave Santiago Varela’s track intact, and the result leaves her within a few points of qualification for the Longines Final in Paris, France next April.

Austria’s Max Kuhner lined up second with Chardonnay while the home crowd-pleaser was third-placed Manuel Fernandez Saro with Cuidam. Tops-Alexander was filled with her trademark determination.

“California has been jumping great, but here and there we kept having stupid faults and I was getting a bit mad! I was determined to have a good class here yesterday, but it didn’t work. Today I did my best and it DID work, so now I’m really happy!” — Edwina Tops-Alexander (Australia)

Fernandez Saro produced the first clear of the jump-off when third to go, but his time of 43.89 seconds always looked beatable. Two horses later, Ireland’s Denis Lynch was also fault-free, but he didn’t pressure All Star who broke the beam in 45.77 seconds so eventually slotted into fourth place.

Tops-Alexander was taking no prisoners, however, galloping from the start and resetting the target at 40.08 seconds as she flew through the finish. She wasn’t entirely satisfied with her own performance: “I did one too many strides from (fence) 1 to (fence) 2, but that just made me go faster the rest of the way! I wasn’t convinced I was quick enough to win, I thought maybe I’d be second if I was lucky!” she pointed out afterwards. But Austria’s Max Kuhner trailed her by more than two seconds when second-last to go with his fabulous grey stallion who clinched runner-up spot.

Tops-Alexander said her 10-year-old mare had “a nice break” while the Australian star, who only stopped competing in March, waited for daughter Chloe to be born at the end of July. The horse-and-rider partnership returned to the ring in early September. “She’s an amazing horse, and when we both went back to work I came strong and she did too!” said the amazing athlete.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Schneider and Sammy Scoop the Honours in Salzburg

Dorothee Schneider and Sammy Davis Jr. (FEI/Daniel Kaiser)

It takes two to tango as every top-class Dressage rider knows, and Dorothee Schneider (48) and her lovely 11-year-old gelding Sammy Davis Jr. nailed it with the harmony they showed in their tango-themed test that won the fourth leg of the FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2017/2018 Western European League at Salzburg in Austria.

“Sammy wants to present himself and he loves to dance, so he’s the perfect Freestyle horse! He’s good-looking with a character to match, and today was our best score so far – it’s exciting because we are coming together as a pair more and more!” — Dorothee Schneider (GER)

In a start-list of 12 combinations from seven countries, Frenchman Ludovic Henry took the lead when posting 75.673 percent with After You when seventh to go, but Schneider and Sammy blew the class wide open when next in, putting 83.415 on the board. “I could feel in the warm-up that he was in really good shape – he’s been doing an amazing job over the last month!” Schneider said of the horse who helped her claim individual 11th spot at this summer’s Longines FEI European Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden.

It was never going to be easy to better that, and although the popular duo of Agnete Kirk Thinggaard and Jojo Az were in sparkling form they didn’t threaten when following with a score of 76.405. Their Danish counterparts, Daniel Bachmann-Andersen and Blue Hors Zack, came a lot closer, however, the talented 27-year-old rider and the 13-year-old KWPN stallion oozing promise of even better to come as they strutted their way to a mark of 80.375.

That moved them into runner-up spot, but they would have to settle for third when the penultimate partnership of Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (31) and Unee BB stormed in to post 81.565. This pair has a wonderful record in the FEI World Cup™ Dressage series, and has twice finished third at the Finals, in Lyon (FRA) in 2014 and Las Vegas (USA) in 2015. At 16 years of age, Unee is still flying, and von Bredow-Werndl is very much hoping to make the cut with him to the 2018 Final in Paris, France next April. Each national federation can only send a maximum of three riders, however, and with defending champion, Germany’s Isabell Werth, guaranteed a place once she completes the qualification criteria of two qualifying scores with her chosen horse, the competition between the Germans themselves is intense.

“I’m really fighting for our place at the Final. Even though Unee turns 17 next year, he’s still in top form, so I want us to be there!” von Bredow-Werndl said.

Schneider also has Paris in her sights with Sammy Davis Jr. who only stepped up to Grand Prix level in March of this year and who is clearly coming along in leaps and bounds. However, although she has moved to the top of the leaderboard after the win, she’s not taking qualification for granted. She knows von Bredow-Werndl and Fabienne Lutkemeier are snapping at her heels and that it’s far from done and dusted yet. “Sammy is going to have a rest over Christmas and then maybe we will go to Neumunster (GER) because I want to get Paris too, but it’s not going to be easy!” she said.

By Louise Parkes

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Leanne Williams
Media Relations and Communications Manager
leanne.williams@fei.org
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