Category Archives: Competitions

Fuchs and Clooney Take Lyon by Storm Again

Martin Fuchs with Clooney. (FEI/Eric Knoll)

Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs and his brilliant gelding Clooney showed exactly why they are the superstars of the sport right now when scorching to victory in the third leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2019/2020 Western European League at Lyon in France.

The 27-year-old rider, who is reigning European champion and No. 2 on the current Longines world rankings, was back on familiar territory, having also won this leg 12 months ago with his same grey wonder-horse. And it was just another magic Sunday for the Swiss star and his equine flying machine when they romped to success once more in the 13-horse jump-off, rocketing to the top of the WEL League leaderboard.

They were chasing the target-time set by America’s Jessica Springsteen and RMF Zecilie who zoomed around the jump-off track in 41.85 seconds, the lovely 12-year-old mare almost clearing the wings of the oxer three from home as she put on an exhibition of enthusiastic athleticism. But, fifth-last to go, somehow Fuchs and Clooney put the result almost beyond doubt when stopping the timers just over half a second sooner.

“I was lucky to start at the end of the jump-off because I could watch Jessica as I know her horse has about the same stride as Clooney. So I planned to do like her, except I made one less stride to the last fence which made me win today!” — Martin Fuchs (SUI)

French course designer, Gregory Bodo, described the 14-fence first-round course as “quite long but horse-friendly,” and it was the triple combination at seven and the double at fence nine that claimed most victims along with the time-allowed of 84 seconds. However, 13 found the key, and 27-year-old Springsteen really put it up to the rest of them with her breathtaking ride when third to go against the clock.

No-one had really challenged her until Fuchs set off with all guns blazing, but once the Swiss rider put 41.27 seconds on the board there were still four more to follow, and none of them were shrinking violets. However, his compatriot and World No. 1 Steve Guerdat (Venard de Cerisy) clipped the penultimate vertical, and despite being double-clear the final three – Italy’s Emanuele Gaudiano (Chalou), Belgium’s Pieter Devos (Claire Z), and Frenchman Julien Epaillard (Queeletta) – didn’t jostle the leading pair out of place, Devos taking third when breaking the beam in 41.95.

Talking about her mare RMF Zecilie, runner-up Springsteen described her as “an amazing horse – it took me about six months to get to know her but now we are all set up and she is great!”

Fuchs meanwhile has the world at his feet, and is already looking forward to next year and what it will bring. “It’s a big victory today. Clooney was in great shape and he jumped wonderfully,” he said, adding that he’s not specifically targeting any more Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ qualifiers with his super-champ.

“I just wanted to do one (qualifier) with him so I can take him to the Final if I need to, but because of the Olympic Games next year the plan is not to take him to Las Vegas. I will go to Verona, Stuttgart, and London with other horses to try to qualify, and if I do then I will decide which horse I will bring,” the Swiss rider explained.

With or without Clooney, he looks a very good bet to make the cut to the Longines 2020 Final which will take place in Las Vegas, USA from 15 to 19 April, especially since he already has more than half the points required at this early stage of the 14-leg Western European League which moves on to Verona, Italy next weekend.

FULL RESULTS

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Scott Brash Makes It Two in a Row

Image copyright PSV.

A full house for the Equita Masters presented by Hermès Sellier in Lyon. Twenty of the world’s top riders competed in this 1.60m class. You needed to ride fast and true to be among the ten qualifiers for the second round. Two riders conceded a penalty point, Christian Ahlmann on Ailina, and the world number two, Martin Fuchs on Silver Shine, who finished sixth and fifth, respectively. Mark McAuley and Miebello were the first to complete a second clear round and set the benchmark time of 43”00, but the following riders notched up faster and faster rounds to try and win the class in front of a vociferous crowd. Finally, the British rider Scott Brash came out on top, for the second year in a row. He rode an extremely fast jump-off on Hello Shelby, full of poise and fluidity. “There was a great atmosphere. It was a very exciting class that I am proud to have won again. Shelby jumped incredibly well, and even better in the jump-off. I am delighted to see how he is improving day after day. He seems to be enjoying it more and more. He’s a real class act. It makes my life easier,” said Brash after his win.

JULIETTE FEYTOUT PEREZ
juliette@blizko-communication.com

Moggre Is Magnificent in Lexington

Brian Moggre and MTM Vivre le Reve. (FEI/Ashley Neuhof)

At just 18 years old, Brian Moggre (USA) recorded his second career World Cup victory in the $225,000 CSI4*-W Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Lexington (USA).

Riding MTM Vivre le Reve, Moggre became the youngest rider to win the class in the event’s history. The duo topped an eight-horse jump-off that included the likes of Olympic gold medalist Rodrigo Pessoa (BRA), Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final Champion Beat Mändli (SUI) and others among the star-studded cast of competitors.

Opening up the stride to a full gallop, Moggre and his mount positively soared over the final fence, crossing the timers of Ken Krome’s (USA) shortened course in 34.22 seconds. Karen Polle (JPN) and Kino finished second, just two-tenths of a second behind them on a time of 34.44 seconds, while David Blake (IRL) and Keoki finished third. Their time was 36.87 seconds.

“That moment, for me, was something I never expected to feel, especially this year and where I am in my career. That horse is really special to me. He’s really taken me through the ranks. He was really on his game today, and luckily I was on mine!” — Brian Moggre (USA)

While Moggre only began competing at the World Cup level this year, his partnership with his mount extends back nearly four years.

“We were both young when I got him,” he explained. “I was 14, and he was seven, so we’ve grown a lot together. I jumped my first five star this year, and it was also his first five star. I really think this horse is a product of having a good relationship with your horse and excellent training. To grow with him is something that is very special to me. These major first victories — I wouldn’t want to do it with any other horse.”

After recording his first World Cup victory at the end of last season in Ocala, Moggre is out to earn his first trip to the Finals, set for April in Las Vegas (USA). His victory in Lexington moved him into second in the east coast sub league standings of the North American League, behind only two-time World Cup Final Champion Beezie Madden (USA). Madden boasts 48 points, while Moggre now has 41. Andrew Welles (USA) sits third in the standings with 26 points.

The North American League continues with a double-header of World Cup action in Thermal (USA) and Toronto (CAN) on 9 November 2019.

FULL RESULTS

By Catie Staszak

FEI Media Contact:

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

Kevin Staut Gets Off to a Flying Start in Lyon

Image copyright PSV.

Kevin Staut is clearly one of the fans’ favourite riders in Lyon. So, when he completed his second clear round in a record time of 36”15 with Urhelia Lutterbach, during a spectacular jump-off with 16 of the best riders in the world, all the spectators in the grandstands around the main arena stood to applaud him. Riding at the end of the class, neither the current world number one Steve Guerdat nor the German champion Marcus Ehning managed to dislodge the Frenchman from the top step of the podium for this Longines Grand Prix at 1.60m.

This was Kevin Staut’s first win in a 5* Grand Prix with Urhelia Lutterbach, the former horse of Grégory Cottard. “It’s a wonderful story. Gregory used to ride the horse and had achieved some great things with her. I started riding her back in June. I felt comfortable riding her right from the beginning. She jumped a lot of clear rounds. Gregory always told me that she jumped well indoors, that she was more focused. She certainly proved it tonight,” said the Frenchman, clearly moved and delighted with the win.

France even managed a one-two in this class. Alexis Deroubaix and Timon d’Aure – regulars in the French team – managed to complete a double clear round in a time of 36”85 and took a fine second place. The Swiss European champion Martin Fuchs took third place on the podium with Silver Shine (37”42). In total, only 5 of the 16 riders in the jump-off managed to complete their second round without incurring a penalty in this Longines Grand Prix.

JULIETTE FEYTOUT PEREZ
juliette@blizko-communication.com

Charlotte Is Back

Image copyright PSV.

British rider Charlotte Dujardin was the fourth rider to enter the dressage arena for the FEI Dressage World Cup Grand Prix presented by CREARA, and she managed to put in a great performance to hold off the competition. Taking first place in the provisional ranking with 79.978%, she held on to her lead throughout the class, even finishing ahead of Isabell Werth, who scored 77.826%.

This result in Lyon represented a major comeback for the English star. Indeed, she had not competed in Lyon since 2014, riding her famous Valegro. Charlotte Dujardin introduced the ten-year-old Mount St John Freestyle to the judges. It was a first for her horse, which was participating in its first FEI World Cup class. “I’m so happy. This was Mount’s first indoor World Cup class. She is really courageous and has worked a lot for this event. I felt great and I think it was one of the best dressage tests we have done together. Looking forward to tomorrow, I adore Freestyle and I love my music – The Snow Queen! – and my horse loves it too! This is the second time that I’ll be presenting this routine. It’s great music for horseback riding.”

The event was also a first for Anne-Sophie Serre and her very young mare Actuelle de Massa. Tenth in the final ranking with a score of 70.565%, the French rider can be extremely proud of her performance. The couple performed a very pretty, fluid routine, under the watchful eye of the French coaches. When she left the arena, Anne-Sophie could not hide her joy: “This is a first for me and my horse in a World Cup! I am really happy about the way I felt in the arena and with how Actuelle behaved. She was really concentrated despite her young age and the little experience she has at this level. This is just our fifth Grand Prix together, so she is newcomer at this elite level. So, I am really pleased to be part of the event and with my horse’s performance. Tomorrow I’ll be doing my third Freestyle to music test, but I was particularly under pressure today, because the first class is often decisive for the rest of the competition. So, I have done what I set out to do, so far. I did a little over 70% by doing a routine without pushing things too much, so now it’s just about having fun!”

The top French rider in the ranking was Morgan Barbaçon-Mestre on her faithful Sir Donnerhall II Old, with 72.109%. The couple finished eighth in the class. Finally, a quick word about the third French couple involved. Despite their 13th place with a score below 70 (69.739%), Amorak and Stéphanie Brieussel completed a nice, smooth dressage test. “I am very happy with the performances of all three of them, since they managed to complete the tests without making any faults, as they say,” said Emmanuelle Schramm, Deputy Technical Director in charge of dressage for the French Equestrian Federation.

JULIETTE FEYTOUT PEREZ
juliette@blizko-communication.com

Darragh Kenny Wins $36k Free x Rein Int’l Jumper Welcome Speed CSI4* Costume Class at NHS

Darragh Kenny on Billy Dorito.

Lexington, Ky. – Oct. 30, 2019 – Donning festive costumes to celebrate the Halloween season, 57 horse-and-rider partnerships representing 10 nations tested their footspeed Wednesday evening in the $36,000 Free x Rein International Jumper Welcome Speed CSI4*, the first show jumping class of the 2019 National Horse Show. Ranked No. 9 in the world based on the Longines FEI standings, Darragh Kenny (IRL) proved why he deserves that distinction with a rapid navigation of the course with the reins on Vlock Show Stables LLC’s Billy Dorito, besting a field comprised of riders in guises such as the Flintstones, Toy Story characters and the Joker, among many other inventive outfits.

Operating under a one-round speed format, the class challenged exhibitors to be quick and careful over designer Ken Krome’s (USA) 13-effort track, which ultimately only saw a total of 26 clear rounds from the initial start list. Riding first in the order, Katie Dinan (USA) and Brego R’N B wasted no time as the first pair to successfully tackle the course without incurring any faults, serving as the trailblazers and setting the standard at 72.46 seconds. Just a few trips later still early in the order of go, Shane Sweetnam (IRL) substantially improved upon his peer’s time, slicing across the course and tripping the timers in 64.11 seconds aboard Karlin Van’t Vennehof to propel themselves to the early lead.

Amazingly trimming even more time off the clock, Daniel Coyle (IRL) and CHS Krooze maneuvered the pattern at a breakneck pace, galloping across the finish line almost ten full seconds faster in 53.80 seconds. Their time would not hold for long though, as fellow Irishman Kenny jockeyed Billy Dorito to the slightly faster time of 53.74 seconds, capturing the lead by mere milliseconds as the 16th duo in the order. More than 40 subsequent contenders, which featured costumes such as jockeys, a judge, Mario and Luigi, multiple generations of Madonna and more, chased down the frontrunners over the remainder of the class, but the swift speed put forth by Kenny and Billy Dorito proved uncatchable, solidifying the Irish partnership as the 2019 winners of the $36,000 Free x Rein International Jumper Welcome Speed CSI4*. Dressed as a skeleton, Coyle retained second position with his own CHS Krooze, and Andy Kocher (USA) jumped to the final podium spot aboard Eye Candy Jumpers’ Fashion V, breaking the beam in 54.070 seconds as Freddie Mercury and his golden steed.

Appropriately outfitted for the Kentucky crowd, Sloane Coles (USA) dressed as a bottle of bourbon for her ride aboard Calisto 26. Going all out with a body suit and cut-out photos of the famous Kentucky liquor, she was awarded the Best Costume Award for her creative efforts.

Scott Stewart and Becky Gochman Reign Supreme

Wednesday morning at the 136th annual National Horse Show brought top hunter horse-and-rider combinations to the Alltech Arena of the Kentucky Horse Park. As the oldest indoor horse show in the United States, the National Horse Show has earned a permanent spot on the calendars of many elite professionals and amateurs who make the trip from far and wide to vie for the titles and perpetual trophies up for grabs each year. Following Tuesday’s start to the hunter divisions, the first round of championship honors was awarded for the 2019 National Horse Show on Wednesday. Of the contenders, it was Dr. Betsee Parker’s Lucador, piloted by Scott Stewart, who received the Grand Champion Professional Hunter title. Stewart also went on to claim the Leading Hunter Rider trophy for his 13th time, while Becky Gochman and Catch Me earned the Grand Champion Amateur-Owner Hunter trophy, walking away with the iconic black cooler embroidered with the National Horse Show historic emblem.

Stewart and Lucador have a long-standing history of excellence together. After years of accumulating tricolor ribbons across the nation, the pair earned their final Grand Champion Professional Hunter title in their last show together. Stewart and the 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding earned their points in the High Performance Hunter division, taking top three placings in all of the over fences classes and first in the under saddle class over the course of the two days, resulting in their championship honors in the division. Lucador’s name is already etched on the Grand Champion Hunter Trophy four times, adding his name once again to the coveted centerpiece in 2019 for the fifth time. The talented horse will go on to compete in the Junior 3’3” Hunters 15 and Under with Maddie Tosh, a transition that is bittersweet for Stewart as their successful partnership comes to a close.

During the awards ceremony, Stewart was once again invited back to the arena for the Meralex Farm Leading Hunter Rider Award for the Leading Hunter Rider Challenge Trophy. Phenomenally, this was Stewart’s thirteenth time placing his name on the Leading Hunter Rider Challenge Trophy, which was originally donated by Mr. and the late Mrs. Kenneth Wheeler. The well-known hunter rider accumulated his points towards the trophy with a whopping seven horses, including Everwonder, Cabrio, Critics’ Choice, Lucador, Private Life, Catch Me, and Cameo.

Also returning competitors to the National Horse Show, Gochman and Catch Me, owned by Gochman Sport Horse LLC, clinched the Grand Champion Amateur-Owner Hunter title for the “Ruxton & Scot To Do” Challenge Trophy. The pair made a clean sweep in the Amateur Owner 3’6” Hunter 36+ division, winning every single class for a perfect 40 points. This is Gochman and the 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding’s second year in a row securing the Ellen Van Dyke-donated trophy. With “Snoopy,” Gochman has found much success in the Amateur divisions across the country, most recently taking Grand Amateur-Owner 3’6” Hunter Champion at the Washington International Horse show.

To learn more about the National Horse Show, click here.

Eleanor Rudnicki Victorious in Hamel Foundation National Horse Show 3’3″ Equitation Championship

Eleanor Rudnicki on Quinten F.

Lexington, Ky. – Oct. 27, 2019 – The final day of the 2019 National Horse Show’s Opening Weekend, which showcased equitation classes for all ages, offered two final championship opportunities for exhibitors. Up against a lofty field of 161 athletes in the start list, Eleanor Rudnicki proved her prowess in the equitation ring riding Quinten F throughout multiple rounds of competition to emerge victorious as the 2019 winner of the Hamel Foundation National Horse Show 3’3″ Equitation Championship, the class which featured the most entries all weekend. In the Boggs Hill National Horse Show KHJA Equitation Championship, Emily White topped the scorecard aboard Scandeek thanks to two strong showings over fences and on the flat.

Designed by Bobby Murphy, the 12-effort track presented exhibitors with a number of opportunities to highlight their abilities in front of the judges’ panel, which was comprised of Emil Spadone and Mary Lisa Leffler. Following the first round of riding, 161 hopeful entries were whittled down to only 24 of the top performers, each of whom were invited back to the Alltech Arena to battle it out with their peers at least twice more, once under saddle and another time over fences, plus additional testing if required. Turning in the strongest showings during the first two rounds, Rudnicki, Ainsley Wade, Lilly Goldstein, Jordan Gibbs, and Vanessa McCaughley led the standings headed into the final jumping phase.

Once again, Murphy’s track provided a handful of route options in order for exhibitors to distinguish themselves from their peers, and many competitors took advantage of the opportunities with a series of inside turns. Sitting as the frontrunner after the first over fences and under saddle portions of the contest, Rudnicki had the advantage of jumping Murphy’s second pattern last since the qualified individuals returned in reverse order of the standings.

At the conclusion of the second jumping portion, only two riders, 14-year-old Rudnicki and 16-year-old Wade, were asked back for a final work-off in order for the judges to determine who would receive the 2019 class honors. Coincidentally, Rudnicki and Wade rode back-to-back in the initial order of go, with Rudnicki riding 45th in the start list aboard Jessie Rechs’ Quinten F and Wade as the 46th of the day with the reins on her own Cumano Boy Z. Returning for one final test, the two ladies switched horses for a competitive flat work-off. After a nail-biting ride-off, the results were in: Rudnicki had captured the championship after leading from start to finish in the 2019 Hamel Foundation National Horse Show 3’3″ Equitation Championship. Wade was awarded the reserve honors, and Lola Head moved up from eighth place to capture the final podium spot.

Impressively, Sunday’s victory came during Rudnicki’s first year competing in the equitation ranks as well as her first indoors season. Adding another level of prestige to her win is the fact that she only rode Quinten F for the first time one week ago, but the young rider quickly learned to adapt to the horse and rode as if on a familiar mount. Rudnicki is coming off an already successful week at the National Horse Show, having earned the championship tricolor in the Cindi Perez and Anne Bennett Under 14 Equitation, presented by Palm Beach International Academy, on Saturday. Moving forward, Rudnicki will continue to ride in the junior hunters and equitation, with her sights set on the major medal classes next year.

Commencing the day’s activities earlier in the morning, the Boggs Hill National Horse Show KHJA Equitation Championship brought a contingent of talented horses and riders to the forefront to compete for the tricolors over two rounds of riding. Athletes had the opportunity to jump at either the 2’6” height or the 3’ height, with the pack splitting in half to tackle their preferred fences. Up first, the 2’6” exhibitors took their turns around the Bobby Murphy-designed track, followed by the 3’ challengers, who ultimately proved to shine the brightest as the top three finishers each opted for the higher obstacles.

Headed into the flat phase, White, Melodie Robitaille, and Lilli Power each had garnered top scores to keep them in contention for the title with their respective mounts, but White’s faultless performance under saddle pushed her to the top of the scorecard, clinching the top spot on the podium as the 2019 Boggs Hill National Horse Show KHJA Equitation champion. Power and her own Wingman ultimately earned second position overall, followed by Robitaille and Coveted, owned by S&R Investment Group LLC.

A veteran equitation competitor and previously a coach, White took advantage of the opportunity provided by the National Horse Show to continue competing as an adult, which helped to allow her to remain partners with her own Scandeek, who she began riding in the equitation as a junior. Thanks to their longtime relationship, White and Scandeek have continued to accrue accolades in the adult classes, and earlier this year won the Ariat National Adult Medal during the Kentucky Spring Horse Show.

To learn more about the National Horse Show, click here.

Richie Moloney and Merqusio Master the $25,000 American Standard Grand Prix at TIEC

Richie Moloney and Merqusio ©Sportfot.

Mill Spring, NC — October 27, 2019 — It was Richie Moloney (IRL) aboard Merqusio to win Sunday’s $25,000 American Standard Grand Prix to conclude Tryon Fall 6 competition at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC), with a fault-free effort in a time of 43.623 seconds. Tracy Fenney (USA) and MTM Apple, a 2011 Danish Warmblood mare (Favorit Ask x Willemoes) owned by MTM Farm, retired in the jump-off to finish second, while fastest four-faulter Roberto Teran Tafur (COL) and Dena Sienne, a 2008 Dutch Warmblood mare (Van Gogh x Animo) owned by Waldman Horses BV, claimed third-place honors after completing the first round in 75.697 seconds.

Anthony D’Ambrosio’s (USA) course saw 22 entries test the first round, with only two returning for the jump-off. Moloney explained that he thought it was the triple combination in the first round that seemed to cause the most trouble, but “apart from that it was a really fair course.

“I went first in the jump-off, so I just wanted to be quick and put some pressure on her [Tracy Fenney]. I knew her horse is really fast, so it was important for me to leave all the jumps up,” detailed Moloney of his second-round strategy.

Moloney and the Equinimity LLC-owned 2007 Belgian Warmblood gelding (Cicero Z x Flamenco De Semilly) have been a team for a couple years, shared Moloney. “He’s been competing at the 1.45m and 1.50m level and he has done some FEI Grand Prix as well. He’s a good horse and is very careful.

“Last Sunday I had really good results and then yesterday I was second in the Grand Prix and today I had a win, so it’s a nice way to finish up,” Moloney said. “We’re going to Wellington on Tuesday but Equinimity, whom I work for, has a farm ten minutes away so I’ll be back in April.”

Hunter Kay and Alright Rise to the Top in the $20,000 Open Hunter Classic 3’-4’ 

Friday’s $20,000 Open Hunter Classic 3’-4’ at TIEC saw Hunter Kay (Columbia, SC) and Alright score a two-round total of 176.25 to win the blue rosette. Dorothy Douglas and Abigail Davenport’s MTM Exceptional, the 2009 Holsteiner gelding (Casall Ask x Unknown), earned second after receiving a two-round score of 173, while Jacqueline McQueen piloted Quadrolino, the 2011 Bradenberg gelding (Quadroneur x Unknown) owned by Holly Calantoni Houser, to a third-place finish after receiving scores of 172.5.

Twenty-six horse-and-rider pairs tested the Archer “Skip” Bailey course in the first round, with Kay qualifying for the handy on three different mounts. “I liked the course. There were a lot of broken lines, a couple of combinations, and not a lot of direct distances or numbers so you could just do what you wanted and show off with different things.

“He felt really good in this class,” Kay said of Ann Rice Ervin’s 2011 Warmblood gelding with unknown breeding. “I think the big ring got his attention and he was able to gallop. I thought he might be a little tired since he also competed in the 3’9” division this week, but he jumped great. We love the big ring!

“I had just a little bit of a bobble in the first round, so I wanted to correct that. We picked up a good canter from the start and just tried to maintain the same pace and have a nice gallop at the last one,” shared Kay of his handy-round strategy.

To learn more, visit www.Tryon.com.

French Team Wins CAIO 4*-H1 Trials during 5* Eventing in Pau

Image copyright Nicolas Hodys.

The brilliant performances of France’s three carriage drivers drove France to the top of the CAIO 4*-H1 podium at the Pau 5* horse trials. Jean-Michel Olive, leading Sinnamari, won the marathon. France pipped Germany and Netherlands to the post. The victory is a good omen for next year’s World Championship, which will also take place here in Pau, France at the Domaine de Sers.

In the individual ranking, Belgian champion Laure Philippot is first, in front of Dutch carriage driver Rudolf Pestman and French driver Fabrice Martin.

Fabrice Martin (FRA):

“This win is a wonderful team victory! Everyone contributed to France coming out on top in this competition even though the scores were very close throughout the competition! We gave everything we had in the marathon and that’s what made the difference in the end. I came third in the individual tests and the marathon meant that I lost one place, but I’m sort of discovering this discipline as I don’t have much experience in carriage driving. I’ve only been driving my horse for three months so I can’t complain and I’m really happy with my third place.”

Anika Geiger (GER):

“It was a long way to travel from Germany to Pau, but it was well worth the effort: the competition was amazing. The team comprised three young female drivers, so our second place here is entirely thanks to ‘young girl power’! In the marathon, there was a real challenge to negotiate in the two long water obstacles and that really put the horses to the test.”

Rudolf Pestman (NED):

“I was already here last year for the Pau 5* eventing competition, and I came back this year. I wanted to end the season better than it had started with my horse’s injury. I love the Pau competition, even if we have to drive 1500 kilometres to get here from home…”

Laure Philippot (BEL):

“I was first in the dressage test and managed to hold my lead with two clean sweeps in the cones competition. In the marathon, which isn’t really my strong point, I did my utmost to keep my first place, and I made it! We’ve had a great season this year and we’re going to work hard this winter to prepare for the next one. There weren’t any specific difficulties in the marathon; it was a pretty fast course apart from a mound which caused a few problems. ”

Pascal Sayous, organiser of the Pau 5-Star event:

“I’m delighted with this dress rehearsal for the carriage-driving world championships which is to take place here at the Domaine de Sers next year. I’d like to express my heartfelt thanks to French driver Marion Vignaud, who won here last year and has been an amazing ambassador for Pau throughout the entire year.”

JULIETTE FEYTOUT PEREZ
juliette@blizko-communication.com

Whitaker Clinches First-Ever World Cup Win in Nail-Biter at Helsinki

Robert Whitaker with Catwalk IV. (FEI/Satu Pirinen)

Britain’s Robert Whitaker posted a sensational victory in the second leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2019/2020 Western European League at Helsinki in Finland with his long-time ride, Catwalk IV.

In a competition that had spectators on the edges of their seats from start to finish, the pair pinned Spain’s Sergio Alvarez Moya and his super-talented young horse Jet Run into second place while Belgium’s Celine Schoonbroodt de Azevedo (Cheppetta) and Germany’s Christian Kukuk (Quintino) lined up in third and fourth.

It’s not often that a single fence plays such a major role in the outcome of any competition, but the big blue wall presented by Brazilian course designer, Guilherme Jorge, proved pivotal. The tenth obstacle on the 13-fence track, it was built on a curving line and approached off a tight left-hand turn, and in both rounds it put paid to the chances of some of the best horse-and-rider combinations in the business. Not the 36-year-old Briton and his feisty 16-year-old gelding, however. They took it on with gusto both times out to give Whitaker a career-defining first-ever World Cup win.

The close confines of the Ice Hall in Helsinki wouldn’t be to every horse’s liking, but Catwalk, it seems, is in his element there.

“He just likes arenas like this – he has a lot of power and he can easily jump big fences off a turn, although today to be honest he was unbelievable!” said the son of the legendary John Whitaker who was a back-to-back winner of the coveted FEI World Cup™ trophy with the great Milton back in 1990 and 1991.

One of the most surprising victims of the wall in the first round was World No. 1, Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat partnering Alamo, the horse with which he claimed his third Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ title last April. The 11-year-old gelding seemed totally taken aback when seeing the big blue edifice as he swung around to it, and he ducked out to the left, jumping it at the second time of asking but collecting five faults which left this duo out of contention. And another rock-solid citizen, Francois Mathy Jr’s Uno de le Roque, also made a big mistake here and then stopped at the next for elimination.

However, a total of nine made it through to the jump-off in which Irishman Eoin McMahon was pathfinder, clipping the top of the wall which was now three from home to set the target at four faults in 40.97 seconds. Next in, Spain’s Moya and his fabulous nine-year-old Jet Run, heroes of the host nation’s victory in the Challenge Cup at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final in Barcelona (ESP) earlier this month, really put it up to the rest of them with a blistering run that saw them through the timers to take the lead in 39.81 seconds.

Schoonbroodt de Azevedo wasn’t intimidated, throwing down a great run in 40.09, and although the phenomenal Swede, Peder Fredricson, broke the beam in 37.96 there were eight faults on the board when he galloped through the finish with H&M Christian K who was brave to continue after a big mistake at the wall. Whitaker and Catwalk were foot-perfect, looking full of confidence as they galloped home in 38.13 seconds to reset the target and really pile on the pressure. But they weren’t quite home and dried yet because Frenchman Kevin Staut was yet to go and he’s always to be feared against the clock.

But once again it all went wrong at the wall, Staut parting company with For Joy van’t Zorgvliet HDC when they got into a scramble to gasps of disbelief of the crowd. So when Kukuk opted for a safe clear then he was guaranteed fourth place and it was Whitaker’s moment to shine.

Whitaker and Catwalk finished 19th at the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final in Paris in 2018 and the pair was in flying form in Helsinki, winning the Grand Prix before coming out to steal all the glory once again.

“He hasn’t been over-jumped recently so he was fit enough to go well in both classes here – I just think when he jumps good he’s as good as any!” said the rider who now has his sights set on the 2020 Longines Final in Las Vegas (USA) next April.

So does Alvarez Moya who was delighted with his second-place finish with the nine-year-old Jet Run, a horse he has only had for four months and which he has only competed at 10 shows so far. “I didn’t expect him to be as good and as quick today!” he said. “The more he jumps the better he gets – I would like to go to Stuttgart and try to qualify for the Final before Christmas,” he pointed out.

By Louise Parkes

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