Super Schwizer Seizes Third Round Victory for Switzerland

Pius Schwizer and Verdi III on their way to victory in the third leg of the Rolex FEI World Cup Jumping. Photo: FEI/Kit Houghton.

Lyon (FRA), 4 November 2012 – Switzerland’s Pius Schwizer swept to victory with Verdi in the thrilling third leg of the Rolex FEI World Cup Jumping 2012/2013 Western European League series at Lyon, France this afternoon.  The big guns were out in force today including a heavyweight line-up of home runners, but Frank Rothenberger’s course saw just seven of the 40 starters go through to the second-round jump-off.

France and Switzerland were each represented by two riders in the race against the clock, but it was the Swiss who came off best when the ever-more-impressive partnership of Paul Estermann and Castlefield Eclipse slotted into third behind Belgium’s Ludo Philippaerts and Challenge vd Begijnakker.

“I’m very happy”, said Schwizer who has had to ask the 10 year old gelding Verdi to step up to the plate since his top ride, the mare Carlina, was sold earlier this year.  “This was a tough class; Frank (Rothenberger) didn’t make it easy for us and the competition was top level so I’m very pleased about my win today,” he pointed out.

A Little Lenient

It seemed the German course designer might have been a little lenient when two of the first three to enter the ring – Philippaerts and legendary Frenchman Michel Robert – returned with a clean sheet, but it was simply a case of the cream coming to the top at this early stage of the competition.

The course demanded control of pace and accurate steering as well as a keen eye on the clock.  Three riders missed out on the jump-off when picking up just a single time penalty, including three-time Rolex FEI World Cup Jumping champion Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum from Germany riding Bella Donna.

Rothenberger started them out over a vertical and then stretched them down a long five strides between the second, a triple bar, and the third, an oxer, before testing their control with a right-hand turn to the vertical at fence four. The vertical at six fell on numerous occasions as riders fell afoul of the short three-stride distance from the previous oxer, but it was the triple combination at fence eight that proved most influential, with 11 horse-and-rider partnerships penalised there.

However, as the class unfolded, riders seemed to become fixated on the need to make a careful approach to the tight final double at fence 13.  And Germany’s Ludger Beerbaum and Chaman were surprise victims here, the horse ducking out at the first element, having produced an otherwise copybook round.  Sweden’s Malin Baryard-Johnsson got into a muddle earlier on the track with H&M Tornesch who had already left two fences on the floor before finding the snaking line from the vertical at nine to the white oxer at fence ten a bit too confusing.  They pulled right-handed here before continuing on to complete with 16 faults.  And Frenchman Roger-Yves Bost and Castle Forbes Myrtille Paulois, winners of the previous leg of the Rolex FEI World Cup Jumping series in Helsinki two weeks ago, retired at this same spot when finding themselves completely offline on the ride down to fence 10.

Against the Clock

Philippaerts led the way against the clock and really put it up to them with a confident, cruising round that saw his 10 year old Zangersheide gelding break the timers in 40.53 seconds.  The French crowd got behind their hero, 63 year old Michel Robert, as he set off next with his charming 10 year old Kannan mare, Oh d’Eole, whose enthusiasm for her job is undeniable.  With two down however, it was left to the remaining five to challenge the Belgian, and Estermann gave it his best shot with the mare Castlefield Eclipse who has brought the 49 year old rider right to the top of the game.

Their clear in 41.58 seconds was always going to keep them competitive, but when Spain’s Manuel Anon and Rackel Chavannaise produced a lovely clear but were more than two seconds off Philippaert’s target time the result seemed to be wide open.

And that it was, as Frenchman Kevin Staut showed when next into the ring.  He had spotted a shortcut which would bring him inside the first fence so that he could make a much tighter line from fence five to fence seven at the halfway stage of the jump-off track.  But he got it a little wrong.  “At the first turn in the jump-off I lost a lot of time so I decided to take this option – Michel (Robert) told me it was possible – but I found a bad distance to the oxer at seven,” he explained, after his game mare, Silvana, chested the fence before continuing on to finish with just those four faults in what would turn out to be the fastest time of the day, 39.14 seconds.

Lost Their Chance

Germany’s Christian Ahlmann and Codex One were second-last to go, but they lost their chance when hitting the vertical third fence despite successfully making the inside turn that had defeated Staut, and that left it all up to last-man-in Schwizer.  “At this level of the sport you always make your plan for the jump-off and I already decided I would take the same route as Kevin,” he said afterwards.  And it came up like a dream, helping him find his way home in 39.99 seconds to clinch the win.

The sale of his top horse, Carlina, was a blow to the Swiss rider, but Verdi has stepped up to the challenge with a heart and a half, and Schwizer is more than pleased about that.  “In this sport, horses are always coming and going; that’s just the way it is,” he said this evening.  “I’m happy tonight,” he added.

Philippaerts was very pleased with his second placing, but Estermann was even more delighted with his mare.  “I’ve had her for two years now but only competed her in smaller classes until this year.  In May we were selected for the Nations Cup in Rome and she jumped double-clear there, and from then she has just gotten better and better.  She is very brave, sometimes too brave, and very, very careful, so I am delighted with her.  And this was a different job for her today. She doesn’t have any experience at this level of World Cup jumping, and she was great!” he pointed out.

His third-place finish today leaves him lying in eleventh place on the Rolex FEI World Cup Jumping leaderboard which is headed by Spain’s Sergio Alvarez Moya, followed by The Netherlands‘ Jeroen Dubbeldam in second and Schwizer in third going to the next leg of the series in Verona, Italy next weekend.

For further information on the third leg of the Rolex FEI World Cup Jumping Western European League 2012/2013 at Lyon visit website or contact Press Officer Pascal Renauldon, Email or Tel +33 (0) 608 759407. The next leg takes place in Verona, Italy on Sunday 11 November.  For details of the Italian fixture go to website or contact Press Officer Caterina Vagnozzi, Email Tel +39 335 6107070.

Result:  1, Verdi (Pius Schwizer) SUI 0/0 39.99; 2, Challenge vd Begijnakker (Ludo Philipaerts) BEL 0/0 40.83; 3, Castlefield Eclipse (Paul Estermann) SUI 0/0 41.58; 4, Rackel Chavannaise (Manuel Anon) ESP 0/0 42.80; 5, Codex One (Christian Ahlmann) GER 0/4 38.4; 6, Silvana HDC (Kevin Staut) FRA 0/4 39.14; 7, Oh d’Eole (Michel Robert) FRA 0/8 43.91; 8, CC Top (Ole Kristoffer Meland) NOR 1/69.12; 9, Bella Donna (Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum) GER 1/ 69.50; 10, Old Chap Tame (Eugenie Angot) FRA 1/71.38; 11, Action-Breaker (Sergio Alvarez Moya) ESP 4/64.68; 12, Sterrehof’s Tamino (Marc Houtzager) NED 4/ 65.91; 13, Cevo Itot du Chateau (Edwina Tops-Alexander) AUS 4/66.15; 14, All Star (Denis Lynch) IRL 4/66.74; 15, HH Rebozo (Rodrigo Pessoa) BRA 4/67.35; 16, Cash (Marco Kutscher) GER 4/67.43; 17, GIG Amai (Michael Whitaker) GBR 4/67.61; 18, Urleven van de Helle (Maiju Mallat) FIN 4/68.17; 19, Casall La Silla (Rolf-Goran Bengtsson) SWE 68.60; 20, Dakak C (Philippe Rozier) FRA 5/69.86.

Full result here.

Facts and Figures:

Lyon, France presented the third leg of the Rolex FEI World Cup Jumping 2012/2013 series.

France looks forward to a very important year in equestrian sport in 2014 when three major fixtures take place.  The Finals of both the Rolex FEI World Cup Jumping and Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage will be held in Lyon, the FEI World Cup Finals for both Vaulting and Driving will be hosted in Bordeaux, and the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games will be held in Normandy.

40 horse-and-rider combinations started in today’s competition.

Course designer was Germany’s Frank Rothenberger.

Riders from 16 nations took part.

The youngest horse in the competition was the 8 year-old Belgian-bred mare Evita van de Veidbalie, ridden by Japan’s Eiken Sato.

The oldest horse was the 16 year old gelding Itot du Chateau, competed by Australia’s Edwina Tops-Alexander.

7 horse-and-rider combinations qualified for the second-round jump-off against the clock

4 double-clear rounds

3 riders picked up just a single time penalty in the first round.

9 collected just four faults in the first round.


Kevin Staut, talking about his jump-off round – “I jumped the first two fences but when I went to make the turn to fence four she spotted the FEI vertical (fence 9) and she thought she had to jump that!”

Pius Schwizer, when asked what is happening now with Carlina – “She is at Trevor Coyle’s yard but she doesn’t seem to be competing.”

Lyon Show Director, Sylvie Robert – “We had 6,000 spectators here today.  When we prepare for the Finals in 2014 we will have more space for spectators because today some of them had to stand outside!”

To view the complete FEI World Cup Jumping Calendar, please click here.

To view the Rolex Rankings:

FEI TV: Review all the action at

FEI YouTube Channel

By Louise Parkes

Media Contacts:
At Lyon
Press Officer: Pascal Renauldon
Tel: +33 (0) 608 759407

Grania Willis
Director Press Relations
Tel: +41 787 506 142

Malina Gueorguiev
Manager Media Relations
+41 78 750 61 33

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