Category Archives: *Featured/Spotlights

Special features, spotlights, headlines

Steve Guerdat and Venard de Cerisy Win the CP ‘International’

(Photo: Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof)

2021’s edition of the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ culminated with the week’s pinnacle class, the CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex. The second Major of the year, as part of the revered Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, welcomed 28 horse and rider combinations, who would go head-to-head in their individual quests to become the Rolex Grand Slam Live Contender. Austrian Max Kühner had his sights set on retaining his Live Contender status after winning the Rolex Grand Prix at The Dutch Masters in April.

The ultimate show jumping test for horse and rider, the Leopoldo Palacios-designed course would be contested over 14 demanding obstacles within the confines of Spruce Meadows’ imposing International Ring. With the competition watched on by 2,000 excited and knowledgeable spectators – the maximum allowed under COVID-19 restrictions – and with just 12 pairings progressing to Round 2, the stakes were high, with the riders all too aware that there was very little margin for error.

Australian Rowan Willis, a familiar face at Spruce Meadows, set the early Round 1 pace with his 15-year-old mare, Blue Movie, jumping fault-free in 80.99s. Home favourite Mario Deslauriers confidently progressed to Round 2 with his 12-year-old mare, Bardolina 2, crossing the line in 83.00s without a penalty. Swiss Steve Guerdat and Australian Hilary Scott were the only other riders to navigate the Round 1 course without picking up any penalties. The eight riders also advancing to Round 2 included Egypt’s Nayel Nassar, Canadian Erynn Ballard, Kent Farrington, McLain Ward, Will Simpson, and Natalie Dean from America, Mexico’s Carlos Hank Guerreiro, and Briton Scott Brash.

In a change of fortunes, American duo, Kent Farrington and McLain Ward, faultlessly steered their equestrian partners around the second round course, after each put a fence down in the first. Hot on the American pair’s heels was reigning Rolex Grand Slam champion, Scott Brash, who added just four penalty points to his first round score. However, it was former world number one Steve Guerdat who was to assume top spot after he effortlessly guided his prodigious 12-year-old gelding, Venard de Cerisy, around the 14-fence course. Following Guerdat’s performance, the final two riders to go were Deslauriers and Willis; however, neither were able to match their first round scores, meaning the three-time World Cup winner (2015, 2016, 2019) and 2012 Olympic Individual jumping champion won the CP ‘International’, and in doing so was crowned the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Live Contender.

The only rider to compete at each of the Majors since the inception of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, Guerdat commented: “I’ve been dreaming of winning these classes since I’ve been a little kid. Since I can remember, Calgary and Aachen have always been the shows that I want to win. I’ve been lucky enough to win Geneva a couple of times, but Aachen and Calgary have been missing. I’m not going to quit until I win them – I have one of them now, and I’m going to aim for the other one very soon. This is what drives us riders, I guess.

“Venard is a very strong, brave, and powerful horse. He has a lot of blood and energy in his jump. He doesn’t have the best of techniques, but because of his power and will to do good all the time, we’ve had the chance to understand each other over the years. He’s a very sensitive horse – he’s very difficult to get on and off, you can’t move him, and he’s a little bit shy with everything. But once he sees a jump, he just wants to jump it.”

Read more here.

© 2021 Rolex – Rolex Grand Slam

Tiffany Foster and Brighton Win the Suncor Winning Round

(Photo: Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof)

Twenty-five combinations contested Saturday’s 1m50 Suncor Winning Round in a wet International Ring following overnight and early morning rain. However, spectators’ spirits were not in the slightest bit dampened, as they were treated to some world-class performances from not only Canada’s finest equestrian athletes, but also a number of leading riders from eight other nations, who descended on Calgary for the 2021 edition of the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’.

Round 1’s proceedings were dominated by the home nation, with four Canadian riders amongst the 10 who eventually progressed to Round 2, including Tiffany Foster and her 15-year-old gelding, Brighton, Amy Millar and her 11-year-old gelding, Christiano, and the experienced duo of Eric Lamaze and Jim Ifko, who were partnered by 11-year-old gelding, Kino, and the 12-year-old La Silla-bred mare, Celine Ls La Silla, respectively. The Irish trio of Jordan Coyle (Centriko Volo), Daniel Coyle (Ivory TCS), and Conor Swail also made the top-10 cut, and were joined in the Winning Round by the talented 23-year-old Belgian, Zoe Conter (Dawa De Greenbay Z), the in-form Egyptian, Nayel Nassar (Igor Van De Wittemoere), and British rider, Matthew Sampson (Geneve R).

But in the end, it was Tiffany Foster’s day to shine in front of an enthralled crowd, after she and the brilliant Brighton did enough to see off a late challenge from Conor Swail, beating him to top spot by three tenths of a second, with the current world number 59-ranked rider, Nayel Nassar, slotting into third place.

Delighted with her long-time partner, Brighton, Foster commented: “The Suncor Winning Round here at Spruce Meadows is a kind of unique event, as you know you don’t carry your faults, which means you’ve got to get into that top 10, so it’s always better to carry a little bit of rhythm. Brighton seems to love this class, so I just ride my round. The good thing about him is he’s super-fast, so even if I happen to have one down, I’m usually in with a shout, but he’s clear more than not!”

Read more here.

© 2021 Rolex – Rolex Grand Slam

McLain Ward Wins the Tourmaline Oil Cup

(Photo: Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof)

On a breezy and autumnal Calgarian afternoon, 28 horse and rider combinations representing 12 nations contested Friday’s feature class at the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’, the 1.55m Tourmaline Oil Cup. Legendary course designer Leopoldo Palacios set the pairings – which included three out of the world’s current top 10-ranked riders – 12 testing obstacles, with the Venezuelan and his team of assistants making full use of the vast and iconic International Ring.

American McLain Ward set the early pace with his 15-year-old bay mare, HH Azur, going clear in a time of 72.51s, within the 75-second time limit. Compatriot Kent Farrington and his 14-year-old gelding, Creedance, looked to be on imperious form, breezing around the course fault-free. In a show of American domination, winner of 2019’s CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex, Beezie Madden and her 15-year-old La Silla-bred Stallion, Breitling LS, also made light work of the 15-fence course. Much to the delight of the crowd, home favourites Tiffany Foster and Erynn Ballard progressed to the shoot-out, both aboard their talented 10-year-olds, Hamilton and Gakhir, respectively. In-form Nayel Nassar from Egypt and his veteran 19-year-old gelding, Coronado, was joined in the jump-off by Brazil’s Eduardo Menezes and his stallion H5 Chagauns and Australia’s Rowan Willis partnered by his grey stallion Ashton Dakota.

First to go in the jump-off was recent Olympic Team silver medallist, McLain Ward, who set a blistering time of 37.38s, which looked hard to beat, after the next seven riders – Rowan Willis, Kent Farrington, Eduardo Menezes, Erynn Ballard, Beezie Madden, and Tiffany Foster – all failed to navigate the eight-fence jump-off without penalties. Last to go, it was apparent that Nayel Nassar was playing it safe, with his sights set on second spot, eventually crossing the line without a fault and finishing runner-up behind deserved winner, Ward.

On his victory and his mare HH Azur’s stunning performance, the two-time Olympic Team gold medallist commented: “I don’t know if I particularly did it better than any of the other riders; she just jumped it better! I actually wasn’t upset by my position in the jump-off. I was just going to ride my plan. I know what her strengths and weaknesses are at this point, and I thought if I put a little bit of pressure on, there might be some mistakes and that played out.

“HH Azur is going to jump the Nations Cup tomorrow for our team, and then Casper, a stallion I’ve been kind of bringing along, who’s a phenomenal jumper and has had a strong summer in Europe, is the horse I’m aiming towards the big Grand Prix on Sunday.”

Read more here.

© 2021 Rolex – Rolex Grand Slam

Six Bars: Lily Attwood, Her Head in the Stars

Thirteen couples had an appointment to touch the stars in the impressive “6 bars” event, which ended in style on Saturday at the HUBSIDE JUMPING in VALENCIA.

After a first passage at 1.55m where twelve competitors passed without a hitch, four jump-offs were necessary to decide between the best. A first jump-off at 1.70m eliminated three couples. For his part, the German Marco Kutscher and Zypern 4, victorious at this height, preferred to stop there. At 1.80m, two other couples bowed, and the Portuguese Rodrigo Giesteira Almeida, in the saddle on Icloud, decided to stop despite a passage without a hitch. Climbed to 1.92m, the penultimate jump-off will have eliminated three. For the final passage, at the prodigious height of 2.02m, there were only two left: the Frenchman Thomas Leveque and the Briton Lily Attwood, respectively associated with Casting de Rueire and I’M Emerone. First to start, the Habs suffered a refusal from his mount on the last obstacle of the line, but did not want to try again. By overthrowing the final bar, the young rider then imposed herself.

Full results here.

Daniel Koroloff – E-mail: daniel@blizko-communication.com

For His First Victory in a 5* Grand Prix, Olivier Perreau Shakes Up Hubside Jumping de Valence

France’s Olivier Perreau and GL Events’ Venizia d’Aiguilly ensured that suspense was at its height until the very end of the class, winning the CSI 5* Hubside Store Grand Prix this Sunday at the HUBSIDE JUMPING de VALENCE (Drôme).  A great sporting occasion for the best riders and horses, cheered on by a very enthusiastic audience.

The experts of world show jumping took part in the CSI 5* 1.60m Grand Prix at the HUBSIDE JUMPING de VALENCE on Sunday afternoon, in front of grandstands which were full and an enthusiastic crowd.  The course designed by France’s Cedric Longis promised some great sport.  Thirty-five combinations were competing in the class: thirty-five possibilities, but just one outcome. Number 10, which was a vertical, the first element of the double, number 12, and above all number 11, which was a plank, cost the riders dearly and were undoubtedly decisive in the class. There wasn’t a clear round until the significant, eleventh combination came into the ring, and after that a string of clears followed. Grégory Cottard and his great mare Bibici, a combination which will be representing France et the next European Championships, proved that it was possible. In their wake, Morgan Bordat and Uma also jumped clear and went through to the jump-off. In total, eleven combinations managed to obtain their ticket for the second part of the class. Five nations were in the running: France, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, and Belgium. The jump-off was impressive and really exciting!

Grégory Cottard on his prestigious grey mare had the difficult task of going first in the jump-off. Well done! The opening combination was not faint-hearted, took a lot of risks and finished clear, in a time of 37:25. So the following riders had to go very, very fast.  It seemed impossible to improve on the time to beat, but that was without counting on Rhône Alpes’ Olivier Perreau and GL events Venezia d’Aiguilly did just that, finishing in 36:92! Incredible!

Full results here.

Daniel Koroloff – E-mail: daniel@blizko-communication.com

Hubside Jumping in Valencia: Carlos Lopez at Home

They were twenty-nine to take the start of Thursday’s major CSI 5 * event, rated at 1.50m. On a tour signed Cédric Longis, eleven riders managed the perfect course. However, it was necessary to act quickly and well to win. Successful bet for Haras des Grillons rider Carlos Enrique Lopez Lizarazo.

Jazzy music in the speakers, setting sun, and pink clouds relayed by diffused light all around the track, summer sweetness… the atmosphere was more than warm at the HUBSIDE JUMPING IN VALENCIA. However, in the arena, the riders were busy trying to overcome the difficulties proposed by the course manager, Cédric Longis. Combination number 9 will also have caused a hard time for many top players on the circuit, like the Frenchman Simon Delestre on Chesall Zimequest or the Italian Lorenzo de Luca and Amarit d’Amour.

It was the Brazilian Eduardo Pereira de Menezes, saddled on Calypso des Matis, who started the clear round and set the tone with a quick stopwatch of 63’36. Determined to do battle, the Amazons were not left out in this event, showing all their know-how. Sweden’s Angelica Augustsson Zanotelli on Ninterder Star (8th), the French Mégane Moissonnier with Aramusse (7th), Marie Pellegrin Boreal Rivendell (6th), or Mary Demonte Manchester (5th) attempted the catch, without success. It was not until the Briton Guy Williams, in the very last part of the race, to finally succeed in lowering the clock to 62’58 with Rouge de Ravel. This was what further motivated Haras des Grillons rider Carlos Enrique Lopez Lizarazo, who won at home in 60’45 on his superb Evita Sg Z.

Marc Dilasser Rocks the Hubside Jumping in Valence

There was great sport Friday on the track of the HUBSIDE JUMPING in VALENCE. Eighteen couples had won their entry ticket for the jump-off of the 155 cm CSI 5 * event, determined to win. Discreet but oh so effective, the Normand Marc Dilasser got everyone to agree.

The first competitor set off for the major event of the day, where the leaders of the discipline had met. First on the track, the Irishman Daniel Coyle gave the public a perfect first lap, opening up the possibilities with Legacy. In the process or almost, his compatriot Mark Mcauley followed suit on Cap West, confirming the holding of a dam, almost immediately imitated by Bertram Allen, in the saddle on Harley Vd Bisschop. But Ireland was not the only nation in great shape last night since in the end, eighteen couples from seven countries managed to thwart the pitfalls of the course designed by Cédric Longis. Who from Ireland, France, Great Britain, Colombia, Italy, Mexico, or Belgium would win? The battle promised to be raised.

Riders and riders therefore rolled up their sleeves to do it quickly and well, taking all the risks to try to lower the stopwatch of Mark Mcauley, the first rider to present a double clear round. Time to beat: 43’52. The French Olivier Perreau (5th) and Alexa Ferrer (4th), the Briton John Whitaker (3rd), the Colombian Carlos Lopez (2nd), and the Belgian Pieter Clemens (6th) succeeded, pushing each other’s elbows. But that was without counting on the ardor of Marc Dilasser and his fabulous Arioto du Gevres, who snatched the victory at the end of an intense test with a stopwatch of 39’10. Prodigious.

Full results here.

Daniel Koroloff – E-mail: daniel@blizko-communication.com

A Golden Moment for Swedish Showjumping

(L to R) Henrik von Eckermann, Malin Baryard-Johnsson, and Peder Fredricson. (FEI/Arnd Bronkhorst)

It’s almost a century since Sweden last won Olympic Jumping Team gold, and they did it with both style and grace.

A magnificent performance all week from Henrik von Eckermann with King Edward, Malin Baryard-Johnsson with Indiana, and Peder Fredricson with All In led to high expectations that this could be the night they would bring the ultimate honour back to their country for the first time in 97 years. But it wouldn’t be easy.

As the final competition played itself out it came down to a head-to-head with the feisty American threesome of Laura Kraut with Baloutinue, Jessica Springsteen with Don Juan van de Donhoeve, and McLain Ward with Contagious, and they wouldn’t be handing anything over without a fight. The two sides completed the first round with eight faults apiece, and the battle lines were drawn.

Belgium was already assured of bronze when collecting 12 faults in the opening round. Team France looked set to be the biggest threat to all others when single time faults from both Simon Delestre and Berlux Z and Mathieu Billot with Quel Filou in the opening round left them sitting pretty before Penelope Leprevost set off. But elimination at the third fence for Vancouver de Lanlore shattered the French dream of repeating the glory they enjoyed five years ago in Rio de Janeiro.

So Pieter Devos (Claire Z), Jerome Guery (Quel Homme de Hus), and Gregory Wathelet (Nevados S) could sit back in the knowledge that the third step of the podium would belong to Belgium, and the stage was set for one last roll of the dice for the Americans and Swedes.

Final showdown

With all three team members returning to the ring for the final showdown, it was Kraut who led the way for the USA with her 11-year-old gelding, scorching through the finish in 41.33 seconds to set the pace. And although Sweden’s von Eckermann took a new route, he was a little slower when breaking the beam in 42.00 seconds with King Edward who, sensationally, never lowered a single pole in five rounds of tough jumping this week.

Springsteen returned clear for USA in 42.95 seconds, so when Baryard-Johnsson was quicker, crossing the line in 41.89, the Swedes already had a small advantage. But Ward was next to go, and shaving seconds off all those ahead of him, he raced through the finish in 39.92 to really put it up to Swedish anchorman Fredricson.

But how cool is the man who took his second successive Individual silver medal, and with the same horse, just three days ago?

As he set off you could read the complete determination on Fredricson’s face. Did he feel the tension as he galloped down to the last fence, knowing what was hanging in the balance?

“Oh, the pressure was on!” he admitted. “My god, in these situations when you have two teams like this you really want to win. McLain was fast; I saw his round and I knew what I had to do, and today the poles stayed up and the time was on my side!

“I had the speed and I gave him (All In) a lot of room. He’s in super shape, but I was really worried he would take the front pole with his hindlegs, but he came up!” he said after breaking the beam in an amazing 39.01 seconds to seal the victory.

In the end, just 1.3 penalty points separated the two sides, but the joy in the aftermath for both teams was palpable. They’d been in a fair fight and the best side had won. No hard feelings, just delight in great sport played out between great opponents.

Enjoyed

Ward enjoyed every moment of it. “It was great to be in the battle!” he said with a big smile. “Sweden’s win wasn’t unexpected here, but they took it to another level; we would have had to have an incredible day to beat them. I think we pushed them right to the limit, and in competition when you push them to that limit and they still win you’ve got to be proud of the fight!”

“We just didn’t give up!” agreed his team-mate Kraut. “It was hard-fought and Sweden were incredible all week, so if you’re going to lose you’re going to lose to them, and we can live with that!”

Springsteen said, “It was wild, watching the last couple go, wondering if we would have to jump-off or not; you really got the jitters, but it was very exciting!”

But it was even more exciting for the new Olympic champions. There was no-one begrudging their success. They won fair and square and they were immensely proud of their achievement.

“Yes, it’s a dream come true – to win an Olympic gold medal. I think that’s every athlete’s dream for sure!” said Baryard-Johnsson. “We’ve been so well prepared for everything at this championship; we’ve not missed out on anything; we have a team behind us that’s incredible. All of us, the way we’ve ridden shows how confident we’ve been and how they’ve all made it possible for us to totally focus on what to do in there. We knew it was very possible for a jump-off because it was only one round, and we knew we didn’t want the silver medal this time!” said the rider who was a member of the Swedish side that took Olympic team silver in Athens (GRE) 17 years ago.

More special

Von Eckermann just missed out in the Individual Final on Wednesday night when finishing fourth, “so that’s why it’s even more special tonight!” he said. “It was a frustrating fourth place but I’m so happy that I pulled myself together and told myself to leave what I can’t change behind me and focus on this. No one can say we didn’t deserve it!”

He added that there should be medals awarded to the horses as well as the riders. King Edward certainly deserved a medal having jumped through the entire week without ever dropping a pole.

Fredricson’s last round was the stuff of champions, and Ward, who has won plenty of accolades himself, acknowledged that. “He’s one of the best, and his record with that horse is spectacular. What horsemanship and what planning, and all the people around him. But he’s also been at the top of the sport with other mounts too which is testament to his riding; it’s not just one horse,” he said.

Typically modest, Fredricson was thoughtful when asked what this glorious victory meant to him.

“It’s unbelievably satisfying to get this gold. And my horse deserves it also for the way he jumped. I’m so happy for him and his owner and groom and the whole team and my team-mates. This is a great feeling!” he said.

Facts and Figures:

Sweden last won Team gold at the Olympic Games in Paris in 1924 when the three-rider side consisted of Ake Thelning (Loke), Axel Stahle (Cecil), and Age Lundstrom (Anvers).

Sweden also won Olympic Team gold on home ground in Stockholm in 1912 and in Antwerp in 1920.

For the Final competition, two changes were made to the teams that competed in Friday’s Jumping Team Qualifier – Willem Greve and Zypria S stepped out of the Dutch team and Harrie Smolders stepped in with Bingo de Parc, while Rodrigo Pessoa and Carlito’s Way stepped out of the Brazilian team so Yuri Mansur and Alfons stepped in.

Final medal standings in Jumping:

  • Jumping Team: Gold – Sweden; Silver – USA; Bronze – Belgium.
  • Jumping Individual: Gold – Ben Maher (GBR), Explosion W; Silver – Peder Fredricson (SWE), All In; Bronze – Maikel van der Vleuten (NED), Beauville Z.

Quotes:

Ben Maher, Individual gold medallist, talking about Great Britain’s decision to withdraw after Holly Smith and Harry Charles collected 24 faults between them: “Holly and Harry are young riders; they’ve ridden incredibly tonight but unfortunately it hasn’t gone our way as a team. And Explosion’s welfare is paramount for me. I’m not a quitter on the team. I always push to the end but we’re an extremely long way off any medal contention, and he’s done everything for Team GB and me as a rider this week and his welfare is a priority.”

Malin Baryard-Johnsson SWE, talking about her mare Indiana: “When she goes in a second time, she’s always jumping better so I totally trust her; she made a tiny mistake in the first round and I was quite sure she wasn’t going to make another one the way she was jumping and the way she’s trying. She’s just incredible. It was up to me to make sure she was fast enough.”

Henrik von Eckermann SWE: “Somehow once we went to the jump-off, we felt so prepared. We’d gone through every detail before, and when Peder had the last fence down, we said OK, we have to see what happens then and everyone was very clear about what to do. Get on with it and don’t be second, whatever happens!”

Results here.

by Louise Parkes

Media contacts:

Grania Willis
Executive Advisor
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 42

Olivia Robinson
Director, Communications
olivia.robinson@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 35

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

Spectacular Swedes Sweep Through to Team Jumping Final

Malin Baryard-Johnsson and Indiana. (FEI/Arnd Bronkhorst)

It was a tough day at the office for many of the nations competing in the Team Jumping Qualifier at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Baji Koen Equestrian Park. But for Team Sweden it was just another walk in the park.

Since the action began on the first day of the Individual competition last Tuesday, Henrik von Eckermann’s King Edward, Malin Baryard-Johnsson’s Indiana, and Peder Fredricson’s All In have not lowered a single pole.

Fredricson and the 15-year-old All In have an incredible record. They were faultless on their way to Individual silver at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and once again on their way to Individual silver here in Tokyo on Wednesday night.

It will be a whole new competition when the action resumes in the Team Final where the top 10 teams will battle it out once again, all starting on a zero score. But the Swedes look super-confident ahead of that showdown in which they will be challenged by Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, USA, France, Great Britain, Brazil, and The Netherlands.

Dramatic exit

A number of countries made a dramatic exit, including Japan. Daisuke Fukushima and Chanyon, who finished Individually sixth, picked up eight faults when first to go for the host nation, but when Koki Saito and Chilensky were withdrawn that dashed their chances.

Then Irish pathfinder Shane Sweetnam and Alejandro fell at the water-tray vertical at fence 10. The grey gelding had been jumping erratically after paddling the first element of the triple combination at fence five. They left the arena unscathed, but Sweetnam was devastated for his team and for the horse who is normally so reliable.

“He’s an experienced horse; normally he’s very good, but he pulled his shoe off going into the triple combination. I don’t know whether that hurt him but it definitely rattled him, and then after that you could see he was very unsettled and wasn’t like himself at all,” said the man who has long been a rock for the Irish side. But his team’s chances of a place in the Final were gone.

When the second rotation of riders got underway, Israel’s Teddy Vlock took a fall at the previous liverpool oxer. His 11-year-old mare had already refused at the second fence and had two fences down along the way. Vlock was examined by medics after walking out of the arena and was cleared to go back to his hotel, but knowing that his country was now also out of the medal race.

Effortless ease

At the other end of the spectrum, the Swedes were just waltzing home with effortless ease. “Our horses have been unbelievable!” said Baryard-Johnsson. “I think we all have the same feeling that it felt quite easy every round in there – they are all jumping so well, every round!”

The Belgians and Germans also looked very comfortable, both completing with just four faults on the board all made up of time penalties. Gregory Wathelet was last to go for Belgium with Nevados S and felt he was in a comfort zone, because his compatriots Pieter Devos with Claire Z and Jerome Guery with Quel Homme de Hus had only collected a single time penalty each. He added two more but didn’t feel under any pressure.

“I just had to go and see how my horse was feeling after the Individual Final, because we all know tomorrow will be bigger like the (Individual) Final. It feels like he is fresh so I’m happy about that,” said the rider who finished ninth on Wednesday night.

Germany’s Maurice Tebbel and Don Diarado also picked up two time faults to add to the single faults collected by team-mates Andre Thieme with DSP Chakaria and Daniel Deusser with Killer Queen. Thieme had an interesting time in the arena and said afterwards, “I won’t win the prize for the most stylish round!” but he was really proud of his 11-year-old mare.

Superstar

“She is a superstar and I’m not the only one thinking that. She is complete!” he said. But that venue, those lights, and jumps – it’s maybe a bit early and too impressive for her because she’s young and green. But on the other hand, if she goes through this, she will learn something and everywhere else in the world it will be easy for her. I’m totally in love with this horse! She belongs to the family and she’s so special!” he added.

Switzerland finished with 10 on the board, the USA with 13, the defending champions from France with 15, and Great Britain racked up 17. The final three teams to make the cut were Brazil, who collected 25 faults, The Netherlands, who picked up 26, and Argentina, who finished with 27 and squeezed Egypt out of the top 10.

Also on the sidelines as the Final plays itself out will be the teams from China, Morocco, New Zealand, Czech Republic, and Mexico.

It won’t be long before the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Team Jumping champions are crowned.

Facts and Figures:

Great Britain was heading the medal table with a total of 5 going into the Team Jumping Qualifier – so far, they have won 2 in Eventing, 2 in Dressage, and 1 in Jumping.

Germany has won four sets of medals to date: 1 in Eventing and 3 in Dressage.

19 teams of three riders started in this Olympic Jumping Team Qualifier.

France is defending Olympic team champions.

Quotes:

Shane Sweetnam IRL, talking about his round with Alejandro: “He’s jumped a lot of night classes, a lot under lights, and he started off settled tonight. I really think when he pulled the shoe, he got rattled. After that he was just really, really nervous. It’s gutting. It’s my first time in the ring this week and it’s a hard one to swallow, but this is the sport we’re in, and there are days that you are on top of the world and days you hit the bottom of the bucket.”

Ben Maher GBR, who won Individual gold on Wednesday night and who had just four faults with Explosion W: “I was happy; it was tough after the very fast round of jumping the other day and he gets more careful the faster he goes. It’s about giving him the confidence; maybe just there on the fault, I left him a little bit on his own and I could have helped him a bit more, but I was told by Scott Brash before I went in that we had a bit of a margin to make the team Final tomorrow, and I could take it a little bit easier on Explosion and try to – sounds crazy at this level of competition – give him a bit of an easier round, and if we make a mistake, we still make the Final. It was enough, and tomorrow is a new day.”

McLain Ward USA, who posted five faults with Contagious; it was his first time in the arena at Baji Koen: “We’ve been on ice for the better part of four weeks now; his last show was Rotterdam over a month ago; over the last 10 days I jumped eight or nine jumps, so to come in and jump at this level is a real challenge. I had a lot of anxiety about it to be frank. But he was right there for me. I turned for home and maybe wanted to bring that nice score home and I didn’t fight as hard as I need to for that oxer (fence 12), but I knew what the situation was, and I wanted to make sure there wasn’t going to be a major blunder.

“When I originally got Contagious I didn’t think he was an Olympic horse, but he’s proved us wrong in that today and he’s capable at this level. He always believed he could jump the big fences, and he’s developed and he’s a trier and a fighter, and I’m a trier and a fighter, and I’m really proud of the horse and I feel we belong here.”

Malin Baryard-Johnsson SWE, talking about her feisty mare Indiana: “I know her now many years and I’ve been through rounds better and worse riding wise; it took me a couple of years before I even felt safe on her; she was so difficult from the beginning. But we know each other so well and even when she’s at her worst to ride, she always goes in and tries her hardest to jump the jumps. I can trust her and she really trusts me. So it’s more when she’s in her difficult way that it’s up to me to handle it. I just have to focus even more. I’ve said many times it’s good for my old brain because I really have to be sharp; anything can happen. It keeps me on my toes.”

Results here.

by Louise Parkes

Media contacts:

Grania Willis
Executive Advisor
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 42

Olivia Robinson
Director, Communications
olivia.robinson@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 35

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

Wide Open Field Awaits Para Equestrian at Paralympic Games in Tokyo

Photo: FEI/Liz Gregg.

With a mix of debutant and experienced athletes set to take centre stage at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, the Para Equestrian field is wide open.

In all, there are 78 Para Equestrian athletes from 27 nations confirmed in the list of definite entries published by the FEI. Among them, one of the sport’s most enduring athletes, a strong contender for a ‘triple-triple’, and a Para Equestrian legend going for a record number of medals.

Tokyo will be the seventh appearance at a Paralympic Games for 60-year-old Jens Lasse Dokkan (NOR), who is the only athlete to have competed at every Paralympics edition since Atlanta 1996, when Para Dressage was introduced. Currently ranked World No. 5 in the FEI Para Dressage World Individual Ranking for Grade I, Dokkan goes into Tokyo with his mount Aladdin, following top three finishes in all his competition participations from 2019 to 2021.

As the current reigning World and European champion, Sanne Voets (NED) has her sights set high for Tokyo. The 34-year-old is looking to win the team, individual, and freestyle competitions in Tokyo to give her the elusive triple-triple of golds at European, World, and Paralympic level, a feat last achieved by Great Britain’s Sir Lee Pearson. Voets will be going for gold alongside her horse Demantur “Demmi” with a freestyle routine, developed in collaboration with top Dutch freestyle producer Joost Peters, and one of her country’s most popular bands, HAEVN.

Known as the Godfather of Para Dressage, Lee Pearson is himself looking to add to his medal tally of 14 Paralympic medals – which includes 11 golds – the highest of any Paralympic Equestrian. One of the most recognisable faces in Para Equestrian, Pearson made his debut at the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney, where he won gold medals in the individual, freestyle, and team. He won another three golds in Athens 2004 and then Beijing 2008, before a team gold, individual silver, and freestyle bronze in London 2012. At the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Pearson brought home a freestyle gold medal and an individual silver.

While Great Britain’s Para Dressage team has enjoyed unrivalled success at every Paralympics since Atlanta, this year in Tokyo, the USA are the hot favourites for team gold.

Lee Pearson will be reunited with his Rio 2016 teammates Sophie Christiansen, Natasha Baker, and Sophie Wells in Tokyo to defend Great Britain’s team title.

The US charge is led by Roxanne Trunnell, who is currently the highest ranked Para Dressage athlete in Grade I and in the FEI Para Dressage World Individual Ranking. Trunnell has won at every outing in the first half of 2021 and together with her horse Dolton, they have swept the Grade I classes at key 3* international events in the USA. Trunnell also served up a world record score of 89.522% for an FEI Para Dressage Freestyle Test. Trunnell will be joined by three-time Paralympian Rebecca Hart, as well as Beatrice De Lavalette and Kate Shoemaker, who will be making their Paralympic debut in Tokyo.

Current World and European champions the Netherlands are also desperate to make it a hat trick at the Paralympics. The team includes the hugely experienced European champion Frank Hosmar, back-to-back World champion Rixt van der Horst, and Sanne Voets.

“This year marks the 25th anniversary of Para Dressage’s debut at the Paralympic Games in Atlanta,” FEI Para Equestrian Committee Chair Amanda Bond said.

“And while they will be a very different Paralympics to what we’ve been used to, these Games are an opportunity to bring Para Equestrian to the forefront. Equestrian sport is unique, with its hallmark being the close connection between athlete and horse. This relationship is all the more special in Para Dressage as the two athletes really become one.

“I know I speak on behalf of the whole community when I say how thrilled we are to have this opportunity following some challenging times. The Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games are a triumph over adversity. I send my deepest and most heartfelt gratitude to all those who have contributed to making the Olympic and Paralympic Games happen, and to the people of Japan for welcoming the international sporting community to what has been billed the Games of Hope.”

Although equestrian fans will see some old sporting rivalries play out, there are a number of athletes who will be making their debut appearance in Tokyo.

One of these athletes is 26-year-old Sho Inaba, an emerging talent on the Japanese Para Equestrian scene, who will be competing with his horse Exclusive. Inaba competed at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Tryon (USA) where he finished 14th in the individual test for his Grade. He has shown that he has what it takes to reach the podium, winning individual and freestyle medals at international competitions held in Gotemba (JPN) in 2019.

Currently ranked World No.1 in Grade III, Tobias Thorning Joergensen (DEN) was the breakthrough star of the 2019 FEI Para Dressage European Championship in Rotterdam (NED), winning gold medals in the individual and freestyle tests with his horse Joelene Hill, as well as team bronze. Joergensen is following in the footsteps of his mother Line Thorning Jorgensen, who represented Denmark in Para Dressage at the 2004, 2008, and 2012 Paralympic Games.

Belgium’s Kevin Van Ham will make his debut following his impressive first major appearance at the 2019 FEI Para Dressage European Championship, where he placed fifth in the individual and freestyle competitions. Ranked World No. 7 in Grade V, Van Ham will be confident going into the Paralympics having topped the podium at the 3* international event in Grote-Brogel (BEL) in the individual and freestyle tests in June 2021.

Following the final selection, athletes will soon be making their way to Aachen (GER) for final training sessions and quarantine before continuing to Tokyo.

Quick link: Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games

Media contacts:

Vanessa Martin Randin
Senior Manager, Media Relations & Communications
vanessa.randin@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 73

Stage Set for Olympic Team Jumping Battle

Jessica Springsteen and Don Juan van de Donkhoeve (FEI/Christophe Taniere)

Following the thrilling Individual Jumping Final in which Great Britain’s Ben Maher and Explosion W claimed gold, all of the horses presented at the second Jumping Horse Inspection were accepted, and the stage is now set for the Team competition to begin.

Further changes may be made before the competition begins, but to date the confirmed pre-competition changes are as follows:

  • For Argentina, Fabian Sejanes is out and Matias Albarracin comes in
  • For Belgium, Niels Bruynseels is out and Pieter Devos comes in
  • For Brazil, Yuri Mansur is out and Pedro Veniss comes in
  • For China, You Zhang is out and Yaofeng Li comes in
  • For Czech Republic, Kamil Papousek is out and Ondrej Zvara comes in
  • For Egypt, Abdel Said is out and Mohamed Talaat comes in
  • For France, Mathieu Billot is out and Simon Delestre comes in
  • For Great Britain, Scott Brash is out, his horse was withdrawn and therefore not presented, and Holly Smith comes in
  • For Germany, Christian Kukuk is out and Maurice Tebbel comes in
  • For Ireland, Cian O’Connor is out, his horse was withdrawn and therefore not presented, and Shane Sweetnam comes in
  • For Morocco, Ali Ahrach’s horse USA de Riverland is out and will be replaced by Golden Lady
  • For Mexico, Manuel Gonzalez Dufrane is out and Patricia Pasquel comes in
  • For New Zealand, Uma O’Neill is out and Tom Tarver-Priebe comes in
  • For Switzerland, Beat Mandli is out and Bryan Balsiger comes in
  • For USA, Kent Farrington is out and McLain Ward comes in

A total of 19 teams will compete in the first Team competition and the order of go is as follows:

1, Czech Republic; 2, China; 3, Japan; 4, Israel; 5, Mexico; 6, Argentina; 7, Morocco; 8, New Zealand; 9, Ireland; 10, Egypt; 11, France; 12, Sweden; 13, USA; 14, Great Britain; 15, Brazil; 16, Switzerland; 17, Belgium; 18, Germany; 19, Netherlands.

by Louise Parkes

Media contacts:

Grania Willis
Executive Advisor
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 42

Olivia Robinson
Director, Communications
olivia.robinson@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 35

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