Tag Archives: FEI

Madden Clinches Her Second Title in a Cliffhanger

Photo: FEI/Jim Hollander.

Fellow-American Ryan finishes a close second, Sweden’s von Eckermann takes third

America’s Beezie Madden (54) held on to win the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2018 title in Paris (FRA), but she didn’t do it the easy way. In a cliffhanger of a second round she faulted for the first time over three tough days of jumping when last to go with the brilliant Breitling LS. And the crowd had to hold their breath until she crossed the line to a roar of approval, separated by just two penalty points from compatriot Devin Ryan (36) in second place.

The biggest surprise package of the week, the relatively unknown Ryan was relentlessly cool yet again as his apparently bomb-proof grey gelding son of the great stallion Zirocco Blue continued to make the super-tough courses designed by Spain’s Santiago Varela look fairly elementary.

The hard-luck story of the final afternoon was that of Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann (37) who had to settle for third place for the second year in a row. In runner-up spot and carrying four faults as the afternoon began, he might have forced Madden into a jump-off but for a mistake with Tovek’s Mary Lou in the closing moments. He wasn’t forgiving himself for that. Madden knew she’d been in a fight.

“When I had that rail down, I was a little nervous, but I still felt my horse was jumping well and I knew I had to pull it together to finish on four (faults) and try to get it done!” — Beezie Madden (USA)

The rider who previously claimed the title in 2013 said it was “double-exciting” to post her second win, and particularly with this 12-year-old stallion. “We’ve really believed in him but he’s taken time to mature, so for him to come through today is fantastic! It’s taken a little while to replace Simon (her 2013 World Cup winning ride) and Cortes (team silver 2016 Olympic Games) but it’s happening!” she added.

Her two nearest rivals kept all the pressure in place when making no mistake in the first round, von Eckermann carrying his four points forward and Ryan still sitting on a total of six.  A little rattle at the oxer at fence three on the 13-obstacle course, and another at vertical no. 7 set American hearts beating a little faster, but Madden cleared the line with nothing to add, so the top end of the standings looked the same when the top 20 returned for round two over a new track.

And Ryan, who hails from Long Valley in New Jersey, did it again, steering Eddie Blue home with apparent ease once more. At just nine years old the horse was the youngest in the Final but you’d never have guessed. “His brain is unbelievable; he never knocked a pole as a five or six-year-old; he won the American Gold Cup as an eight-year-old and was second at Devon, one of our biggest shows in the US – he’s just a fantastic horse!” said the man who qualified from the US East Coast series.

Second-last into the ring von Eckermann knew he would pressure Madden with a clear, and he was beating himself up about having the second fence down this time out. “It was my mistake; my horse jumped fantastic as always, but we got too close and I interfered – I should have trusted her quality and it wouldn’t have happened,” said the clearly disappointed Swede.

You could hear a pin drop after Madden’s stallion hit the middle element of the triple combination at fence six. One more error would hand the title to fellow-American Ryan, but the lady who has two Olympic gold medals in her trophy cabinet along with a whole lot more valuable hardware didn’t crumble, bringing Breitling home with nothing further to add for a very popular victory.

Only five female athletes have taken the title in the 40-year history of the series that every rider wants to win, and they all have one thing in common. Like Madden, Melanie Smith (1983), Leslie Burr Lenehan (1986), and Katharine Burdsall (1987) all flew the American flag, while three-time winner Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum from Germany (2005, 2008, 2009) was born in Los Angeles, California. It seemed history was repeating itself, as Burdsall’s victory was also posted at exactly the same Paris venue when the Jumping Final was last staged in France 31 years ago.

The final standings showed three US riders in the top four places as 2017 winner, McLain Ward, slotted into fourth spot. The happiest of all was new double-champion Madden. “I love the World Cup Final – each year I make it a goal to get there, and to win, and I did it again!” said the lady who will be aiming join the elite club of three-time champions when the Final returns to Gothenburg in Sweden for the 23rd time next April.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Werth Reigns Supreme to Become a Four-Time Champion

Photo: Isabell Werth with Weihegold. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

America’s Laura Graves chases her right to the line

In a dramatic conclusion to an extraordinary battle between two mighty forces, Germany’s Isabell Werth (48) posted a back-to-back victory at the FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final 2018 in Paris, France.

America’s Laura Graves (30) and Verdades put all the pressure on the defending champion when pinning her into runner-up spot in the Grand Prix, so in this deciding Freestyle Werth had it all to do to put that behind her and come back out fighting. But with her trademark steely determination, the phenomenal athlete produced a pristine performance to see off the challenge and lift the coveted trophy for the fourth time in her incredible career.

It was right down to the wire, however, and she knew that the slightest error was out of the question when second-last to go. Graves had already posted a massive score of 89.082 which, the US rider admitted, surprised even her. “I knew anything was possible. I knew it would take a score like that to possibly get a win and it was a huge personal best for me!” Graves said.

However, Werth mustered all the skill and experience of a lifetime to squeeze her rival out of pole position with the winning mark of 90.657. She described the Grand Prix defeat as “motivating“, and simply used it to spur herself on to better things with the help of team coach and manager, Monica Theodorescu. “Like I said yesterday, I was not really disappointed or sad; I was just thinking about how I had to prepare for today and how I had to make it better and analyse what went wrong. So Monica and I, we decided to go in the big warm-up arena today, to bring her (Weihegold) forward and to make her free again, and that worked, and today she was the horse I wanted to show yesterday.”

“This is life; a lot of people think it’s easy; you win and you win again, but it’s not like that. You have to think about it all the time and keep listening to your horse. Yesterday was not our day, but today we could solve it. And this is what I really like to do, and that’s the reason why I love to compete!” — Isabell Werth (GER)

The result was another reminder of the continuing resurgence of the German Dressage powerhouse, with Werth’s compatriots Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (Unee BB) and Dorothee Schneider (Sammy Davis Jr) slotting into third and fifth places. Von Bredow-Werndl’s success was at the expense of Sweden’s Patrik Kittel who, as always, had the crowd right behind him when producing another one of his toe-tapping performances with Deja but who just missed a place on the podium when having to settle for fourth.

Graves threw down something of a challenge at the press conference. “I never practice my Freestyle as much as my other tests, so I think now I have a bit of homework to do and I think there are many more points to be earned in the future,” she said, so she is clearly marking Werth’s card for the next time they meet.

However, the lady taking centre stage was one of the great role models in the sport whose accomplishments are so many they may never be matched. Werth is taking great satisfaction from her fourth FEI World Cup™ Dressage title, not just because it’s another success but because of the way she achieved it.

“To have experience is an advantage if you use it in the right way, and I think we did that from yesterday to today,” she said. “After a lot of years in the sport you know how many things can happen, how things can change very quickly. It gives you the confidence to go in the ring and to try your best – you know what your horse can do and you know what you can do. This was just a great day today!” said the happy German star.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Beezie and Breitling Are Unbeatable Again in Paris

Photo: Beezie Madden and Breitling LS. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

America’s Beezie Madden (54) almost made it look easy as she moved one step closer to clinching the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2018 title in Paris (FRA) with her second victory of the week with Breitling LS.

Last to go in a thrilling nine-horse jump-off, she cruised home to overtake The Netherlands’ Harrie Smolders (37) and his lovely stallion Emerald, while Henrik von Eckermann (37) clinched third with the mare Toveks Mary Lou. And that result has promoted the Swede to second in the overall rankings ahead of Sunday’s two-round finale in which Madden will kick off with a one-fence advantage. The American star, and series champion in 2013, was thrilled with Breitling.

“He has a super temperament – actually he’s so nice that a lot of people don’t seem to realise he’s a stallion! He’s careful and clever, and every time I call on him he does everything I want – I couldn’t ask for any more!” — Beezie Madden (USA)

Her compatriot, Devin Ryan, held onto the third spot he established with Eddie Blue in the speed competition despite being one of six to collect a single time penalty over the 14-fence first-round track. Course designer, Spain’s Santiago Varela, set a fast enough time limit of 75 seconds, but it was the first two elements of the triple combination at fence nine that put paid to Marcus Ehning’s chances of becoming the first-ever four-time FEI World Cup™ champion. And it wasn’t Germany’s day as his compatriot Daniel Deusser, lying second overnight, saw his hopes of a second title crushed when his 2014 winning ride, Cornet d’Amour, appeared to mis-read the first element of the double at fence five.

Frenchman, Kevin Staut, led the way against the clock with Silver Deux de Virton HDC, and his clear set the early target at 36.87 seconds. He stayed out in front when America’s Jamie Barge and Luebbo were also foot-perfect but fractionally slower, but Smolders reset the parameters with a blistering round from the feisty stallion Emerald who broke the beam in 33.44 seconds. Belgium’s Olivier Philippaerts didn’t threaten that with Legend of Love who crossed the line clear in 35.19, but von Eckermann came close when stopping the clock on 33.92 and then only Madden was left to challenge Smolders for the win.

A tight turn to the fourth fence on the jump-off track, a double of verticals, was essential, and although defending champions, America’s McLain Ward and HH Azur, posted the quickest time of 32.74 seconds, they hit the first element here. Madden’s Breitling, however, was flawless once again, putting on another jumping exhibition to clinch pole position as they breezed through the timers in 33.22. “Left turns to a vertical used to be our nemesis, but he’s figured out his front end now,” the double Olympic gold medallist pointed out.

When asked if she was feeling confident with a one-fence lead going into Sunday’s title-decider, she said, “It’s nice to have a rail in hand, but we are really only halfway through the competition. We have two more rounds and maybe a jump-off on Sunday… it can all change a lot yet.”

Smolders admitted he might have made an error of judgement in competing his other ride, Zinius, in the opening speed leg. “It’s always easy to say that afterwards, but Zinius had a very good indoor season and he’s naturally fast in speed classes so I made that decision, but it didn’t work out. I don’t like to lose, but I don’t mind being beaten by Beezie who won in style – and this was a great class tonight,” he said.

Madden’s closest rival on Sunday, however, will be von Eckermann. “I didn’t ride so great to the double of verticals (in the jump-off), I was a bit over-careful but my horse jumped both rounds fantastic,” he said, and you can tell he’s pretty confident that there’s plenty more left in Mary Lou’s tank for Sunday’s challenge.

But mistakes will be very costly indeed on the final afternoon, as Philippaerts, Ward, and Sweden’s Douglas Lindelow are in joint-fourth place carrying just six faults apiece, and Smolders and Colombia’s Carlos Lopez are only a single fault further behind.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

A Magical Round with Breitling Gives America’s Madden Early Lead

Photo: Beezie Madden and Breitling LS. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

She’s done it before, coming out on top five years ago, and America’s Beezie Madden, one of just four lady riders in the field of 37 starters, threw down the gauntlet to all the rest when galloping to victory in the opening speed competition at the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final 2018 in Paris (FRA).

The double Olympic gold medallist gave her 12-year-old stallion, Breitling LS, a spectacular ride, full of confidence, precision and determination to finish almost a second clear of runner-up Daniel Deusser (36) from Germany who also knows what it’s like to hold this coveted World Cup trophy in his hands. The big surprise of the evening was the third-place finish for Madden’s compatriot, the relatively unknown Devin Ryan (36) who goes into the second test just three points off the lead after results were calculated into points.

But none of those at the head of the leaderboard have any room for complacency, because stalking them is three-time title-holder Marcus Ehning from Germany who finished fourth with Cornado NRW, while one of the most talked-about partnerships ahead of these Finals, Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann and Toveks Mary Lou, are close behind in fifth. It’s going to be a sizzler all the way to the finale when the new champion will be crowned.

Madden was happy with her result having mastered the balance between speed and risk over the clever 13-fence course set by Spain’s Santiago Varela better than all the rest.

“It’s quite tense on the first day… it’s a little bit of a juggling act, so when it all works out well it’s a big relief!” — Beezie Madden (USA)

Fellow-American and defending champion McLain Ward fell victim to a tight turn to the penultimate double where HH Azur hit the first element, which added four seconds to their time and has left them in tenth place overall. That’s a long way behind, but as Madden pointed out, “At these Finals it’s just one day at a time!”

The omens are looking good for her, however. She recalled that when she steered Simon to victory, in a thrilling showdown against Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat in Gothenburg in 2013, she also won on the first day. And Breitling is really on top of his game right now.  “He’s only competed three weeks this year. He won the World Cup qualifier at Thermal, we did a 4-Star Grand Prix and Nations Cup (in Wellington) and he was clear in the Nations Cup and won the Grand Prix and then did another 4-Star Grand Prix (in Wellington) and won that as well,” she pointed out. She’s delighted with this horse which, like her previous winner Simon, she got from Dutch Olympic champion Jeroen Dubbeldam and which she has now been riding for five years.

Deusser has every reason to be pleased too, because it is the horse that carried him to glory in Lyon (FRA) in 2014 that has put him right in the frame. The 15-year-old Cornet d’Amour has had a long injury-break but was clearly back in the zone, and although Deusser has the possibility of an alternative ride for the next two competitions, he said that he will probably bring the grey back out over the next two days because he’s feeling really great.

At just nine years of age, Devin Ryan’s Eddie Blue is the youngest horse at this Final. “It’s been a dream of mine to represent the States at some level and so here we are and it’s great that there are two of us up here tonight!” he said when joining the considerably more experienced Madden on the press conference platform.

The second test may bring some significant changes, however, and with Belgium’s Pieter Devos (Espoir), Spain’s Eduardo Alvarez Aznar (Rokfeller de Pleville Bois Mar), Colombia’s Carlos Lopez (Admara) and Sweden’s Douglas Lindelow (Zacramento) also squeezed inside that top 10, and double-champion Steve Guerdat just a single point behind Ward in eleventh place, then the leaders have very little breathing room. And as Deusser said, “We had a very very good course because nobody went really really fast – I think all the horses are jumping good still and have enough power for tomorrow.” Power is what the second competition will be all about.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Is Anyone Betting on the Boys This Time Around?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Clean Sweep for Germany

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pas-de-Deux

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Hannah Eccles

FEI Media contact:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

FEI Sports Forum 2018 Live and On-Demand

The seventh edition of the FEI Sports Forum 2018, which will be held at the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) in Lausanne (SUI) on 26 and 27 March, will be live-streamed on fei.org.

The FEI Sports Forum 2018 will have a prominent focus on Youth.

Day 1 will host a panel of eight young and talented athletes from around the world, representing FEI disciplines. Discussions will centre around their experiences, how they see the future, the challenges they face, and the impact on their careers. In addition, we will hear from experienced professionals and experts on discussion topics of athlete welfare as well as the IOC’s toolkit regarding harassment & abuse.

Day 2 will continue the discussions on athlete welfare, focusing on concussion, medication & recreational drugs and Eventing risk management, all of which have a substantial significance and impact on present day sport and competition. Further discussion topics include optimising performance in a challenging climate, in view of the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon and Tokyo 2020, FEI Officials, as well as an update from the FEI Dressage Judging Working Group.

Timetable of sessions:

26 March
Morning session 09.00-13.00 CET
Afternoon session 14.00-18.00 CET

27 March
Morning session 09.00-13.00 CET
Afternoon session 14.00-17.30 CET

FEI Media Contacts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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