Tag Archives: FEI

Sanchez-Cozar and Azcárraga Share the Sash in Guadalajara

Gonzalo Azcárraga (MEX) (left) and Alberto Sanchez-Cozar (MEX). (FEI/Christian Lopez Redetzki)

When Gonzalo Azcárraga (MEX) crossed the finish of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Guadalajara, he didn’t know whether he had won or lost. To his surprise, he had done neither. He tied.

In a history-making result, Azcárraga, riding Fabio, and Alberto Sanchez-Cozar (MEX) aboard Union de la Nutria completed Guilherme Jorge’s (BRA) jump-off in identical times of 48.95 seconds. Lorenza O’Farrill (MEX) and Queens Darling finished third with 4 faults in 48.95 seconds.

“I actually didn’t know what time Alberto had done. I was just waiting for the result, and I couldn’t see the [scoreboard] whether I was first or second. I just heard a scream from the audience, ‘You’re tied! You’re tied!'” — Gonzalo Azcárraga (MEX)

The top three were the only combinations to advance to the jump-off after a challenging first round course saw rails fall throughout. In the jump-off, O’Farrill had the disadvantage of going first. While putting the pressure on with a quick time, she and her longtime mount pulled a rail toward the end of the shortened course.

After Sanchez-Cozar laid down a clear round, Azcárraga had to equal the feat. Not only did he replicate the clear, but he also finished on an identical time, down to the hundredth of a second. The tie for victory marks the first in the history of the North American League.

“I liked everything about what my horse [did today],” Sanchez-Cozar said. “He was clean and covered the obstacles like I wanted. I didn’t ride that fast because Lorenza had a rail. I was just waiting to see the outcome from Gonzalo. I am very happy. It was a good competition, and it’s a good position [to be in].”

The top two Mexican riders from the North American League advance to the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final in Las Vegas (USA) in April. Azcárraga and Sanchez-Cozar, tied on 19 points, are also tied as the second-best among Mexican riders.

“I’m absolutely blown away by [Fabio],” Azcárraga said. “This week has probably been the best week of my life. I’ve had a rough couple of years with Grand Prix horses. To come at this level now is just a dream come true.”

Karl Cook (USA) maintains his lead in the west coast sub league standings of the North American League with 49 points, followed by Ashlee Bond (ISR) with 39 points and Will Simpson (USA) with 34 points.

On the east coast, Brian Moggre (USA) is the leader with 56 points, ahead of Elizabeth “Beezie” Madden (USA) with 49 points and Adrienne Sternlicht (USA), who has 46 points.

FULL RESULTS

By Catie Staszak

FEI Media Contact:

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

Invincible Isabell Makes It Five-in-a-Row at Amsterdam

Isabell Werth and Weihegold OLD. (FEI/DigiShots)

The partnership that has claimed the FEI Dressage World Cup™ title for the last three years, Germany’s Isabell Werth and Weihegold OLD, proved unbeatable at the eighth leg of the Western European League 2019/2020 qualifying series in Amsterdam (NED).

In an awe-inspiring line-up, it was Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin, series champion in 2014 and 2015, who finished second with Mount St John Freestyle while 2010 title-holder, The Netherlands’ Edward Gal, slotted into third with a stunning ride on the stallion Glock’s Zonik NOP.

This was Werth’s fifth consecutive victory at the Dutch venue, and making it all the more significant for the German superstar was the fact that every one of those wins has been recorded with the brilliant mare who also carried her to team gold at the Rio Olympic Games.

“It all started for Weihe and me when we won the World Cup here in 2016, so Amsterdam has always been a special show for us. From here we went up and up in the sport, and it’s amazing to still have her feeling so good and motivated and engaged with me when she is 15 years old. It was a super atmosphere again today; the crowd was so emotional and they were on their feet when we finished so we really enjoyed that!” — Isabell Werth (GER)

The sparkling start-list included many of the sport’s rising stars along with six previous champions. And it was Werth’s compatriot and 2013 series winner Helen Langehanenberg who held the lead at the halfway stage following a super test from her 18-year-old campaigner Damsey FRH, who effortlessly executed a long series of perfect pirouettes on his way to putting 84.380 on the board.

Third in after the break, however, Gal and Zonik wowed the home crowd with a dramatic test that went into the lead with 85.385. But, fourth-last to go, Werth and Weihegold changed everything when scoring over 90 percent. “It was my first time over 90 in Amsterdam but I had Charlotte coming in behind me, so I had to be as good as possible, because I knew she was going for it!” said the rider who had posted a massive 90.280.

And indeed, Dujardin didn’t hold back, opening her floorplan with jaw-dropping extended trot and never looking back.

“I knew I had quite a score to beat, but my horse felt good and I tried my best to give her the most confidence possible. This is only her third onsite show. Coming in today I knew I had to go for it and try my best and I was really pleased – this is the best she’s ever been!” said Dujardin, who posted a superb 89.505 which couldn’t be beaten for runner-up spot.

The clash between Dujardin and Werth has now become the most mesmerising in the sport. Can the undisputed Queen from Germany hold onto her crown, or will Dujardin, who was all but untouchable during her reign with the great Valegro when she set and re-set multiple world records, eventually push her off her throne?

It is all set to play itself out as this year progresses, with Dujardin now well-qualified for the Final in Las Vegas (USA) in April that looks set to be a cracker. Werth plans to take Weihegold once again, and should they succeed in making it four titles in a row then they will be the very first partnership to do so in the 35-year history of the prestigious FEI Dressage World Cup™ series.

Before all that there are three more Western European League qualifiers left to run, at Neumunster (GER) in three weeks’ time where Werth again plans to compete, at Gothenburg (SWE) at the end of February, and in ’s-Hertogenbosch (NED) in March.

Result here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Lynch Books Las Vegas Ticket with Brilliant Win in Leipzig

Denis Lynch with GC Chopin’s Bushi. (FEI/Thomas Reiner)

Ireland’s Denis Lynch firmly secured his spot at the 2020 Longines Final when storming to victory with GC Chopin’s Bushi in the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2019/2020 Western European League qualifier in Leipzig, Germany where home-side superstars Christian Ahlmann and Marcus Ehning finished second and third.

Already lying tenth after solid recent results, his win lifts the Irishman to fourth on the League table from which the top 18 will earn a spot at the Final in Las Vegas, USA next April.

There were 17 German contenders in the starting field of 40, and seven of them made the cut into the 16-horse jump-off against the clock including 2011 series champion, Christian Ahlmann. For the last two years Ahlmann was unbeatable at the Leipzig leg, and when he took the lead with a superb run from his sensational young stallion Dominator 2000 Z in 33.77 seconds it seemed he was about to make it three in a row.

But course designer, Frank Rothenberger, had given them a tempting but testing short-cut option on his jump-off track and Ahlmann didn’t take it. Second to go, Sweden’s Douglas Lindelow and Casquo Blue did when turning inside the Longines oxer to get to the double, now the third fence on the course, only to hit the bogey penultimate oxer for four faults. Just three more would try the shorter route and Lynch was next, making it look very smooth and easy as he cruised into the lead in 33.16 seconds when ninth to go.

Switzerland’s Bryan Balsiger, winner of the opening WEL leg in Oslo (NOR) in October, also took his chance when third-last into the ring, but his mare, Twenty-two Des Biches, stopped at the first element of the double. And it was tough luck for Britain’s Robert Whitaker and Catwalk, winners at the second leg in Helsinki (FIN), when they took all the risks in the quickest time of 32.01 seconds only to leave the second-last on the floor to finish ninth.

Lynch was really pleased with his win, and with GC Chopin’s Bushi which he has been competing since last summer.

“I bought him untried, on the recommendation of Bertram Allen, and we’ve had our ups and downs. He’s thrown the toys out of the pram a few times on me, but we changed a few things and he was very good at La Coruna last month and in Basel last weekend. It’s incredible to bring him here and win. We needed to improve our relationship and to learn to trust each other more, and we did that today so I’m delighted!” — Denis Lynch (IRL)

Runner-up Ahlmann was also very happy with the eye-catching 10-year-old Dominator whose raw power drew gasps from the crowd in both rounds. “He was amazing! I didn’t take the inside turn to the double because he isn’t experienced enough yet and you had to do it today to win, but he is really developing and will be one to watch in the future. He was breeding a lot when he was young and that’s why he didn’t jump so much as a young horse. It’s too early to talk about the Olympics but we will see,” he said.

Lynch is thinking ahead to the Longines 2020 Final. “It’s always been on my agenda, I’ve been campaigning for a place at the Final since last year so I’m really looking forward to it now,” he said. And he believes the Thomas & Mack arena in Las Vegas will suit GC Chopin’s Bushi, so the gelding may well be his chosen ride.

“He likes to go like a big pony. I realise now that if I leave him in his rhythm he can jump anything. Today when I was walking the course for the first round, I walked that jump-off turn-back and I thought it was definitely on. And he did it easily.” — Denis Lynch (IRL)

There are now just three Western European League legs remaining, at Amsterdam (NED) next weekend where the Irishman also plans to compete, at Bordeaux (FRA) the following weekend and in Gothenburg (SWE) at the end of February following which the top-18 qualifying spot will be decided.

Watch highlights here.

FULL RESULTS

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Super Steve Guerdat Posts Swiss Victory at Basel

Steve Guerdat with Victorio des Frotards. (FEI/Richard Juillart)

In the 90th World Cup competition of his spectacular career, three-time series champion Steve Guerdat galloped to victory with Victorio des Frotards in the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2019/2020 Western European League qualifier on home ground at Basel in Switzerland.

Despite a tough first-round test from ace German course designer Frank Rothenberger, this tenth leg of the league saw 15 of the 40 starters make the cut into the jump-off so it was never going to be an easy one to win. But the man who claimed individual Olympic gold in 2012 and his third World Cup title in Gothenburg (SWE) last season left the rest in his wake, with Frenchman Julien Epaillard coming closest for runner-up spot with Queeletta ahead of Belgium’s Pieter Devos and Apart in third.

This success meant a lot to Guerdat who, as 2020 began, slipped just one place from the No 1 spot he held in the world rankings throughout 2019. He was clearly delighted as he kissed his French fiancée Fanny Skalli and their French bulldog, Crapule, with equal enthusiasm when he saw the result go up on the scoreboard.

“It’s special for a whole combination of reasons – a win close to home at a show that has never been good for me before. I never won or placed in the main classes here, so I wasn’t expecting much, but on Friday we had an amazing win in the Grand Prix. I wasn’t sure about running Victorio again today, but he was really fresh, so to end up winning makes it super and he was brilliant in the jump-off!” — Steve Guerdat (SUI)

The St. Jakobshalle Stadium was packed to capacity as the action got underway with nine flying the home flag. Just three of them qualified for the second-round decider including Jane Richard-Philips who led the way against the clock with just a single mistake when taking a brick out of the wall, now first on the track, with her game 12-year-old Clipper du Haut du Roy.

Third to go, Ireland’s Mark McAuley and Vivaldi du Theil posted the first clear in 33.52 seconds only to be overtaken by Germany’s Hans-Dieter Dreher and Prinz who stopped the clock on 33.30. Kevin Staut, one of four French contenders in the closing stages, was hampered by a jink from Viking d’La Rousserie coming down to the opening wall but matched McAuley’s time. However, Guerdat, eighth to go, blew the whole class wide open when going into the lead in 31.44 seconds despite tapping a few poles along the way.

Ireland’s Denis Lynch, who officially retired the great All Star V on Thursday, produced a lovely smooth round from GC Chopin’s Bushi with which he had claimed runner-up spot in Friday’s Longines Grand Prix. But their time of 33.27 seconds was immediately bettered by Germany’s Marcus Ehning who slotted into second place with Cornado NRW when crossing the line in 32.90.

It was still far from over as French rider Julien Epaillard ousted Ehning when breaking the beam with Queeletta in 31.94 with three really strong partnerships still left to go. Great Britain’s Scott Brash, winner of the Verona (ITA) leg in November, set off with his trademark determination but his angled turn to the vertical that was third on the track this time out came up all wrong, and Hello Senator put down in front of the fence for an uncharacteristic refusal. Second-last was Pieter Devos with the super-fast Apart, but their time of 32.41 would only prove good enough for third while, last in, Belgian compatriot Niels Bruynseels and Delux van T & L left one on the floor. Guerdat had it in the bag and was really pleased with his winning ride.

“I bought Victorio with two friends last year in May/June and we took a while to get to know each other but I always believed he had something more to give. He won a lot at 2 and 3-Star level but we’ve had our ups and downs and at one stage I wondered if he would go all the way. However, he was good in Stuttgart (in November) and he really started to give me a super feeling after that over the winter, so when my best horses went for a break I asked him to step up and we got more confidence together.”

The feisty Victorio doesn’t look like the easiest ride but, being a true horseman, Guerdat is allowing the gelding the freedom to be what he is, rather than what he might like him to be.

“He used to be like this when winning in France. I thought I could make him smoother but it didn’t work out, so I realised I needed to trust him more and let him do it his way, then he’s happy!” pointed out the Swiss star who now has another string to his bow when deciding which of his top rides he will take as he chases down his fourth title at the Longines 2020 Final in a few months’ time.

“Venard (de Cerisy) would normally be my first choice but now this horse is another option,” he said.

Just four Western European League qualifiers are left to go, the next taking place in Leipzig (GER) next Sunday, 19 January.

Watch highlights here: https://youtu.be/jF85cTFjp7s.

FULL RESULTS

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Williams Leads an Irish Whitewash in Thrilling Finale

Rhys Williams (centre) in first, Alex Finney (left) in second, and John McEntee (right) in third. (FEI/Dirk Caremans)

Ireland claimed the FEI Jumping Ponies’ Trophy for the third consecutive year and completely dominated the podium when Rhys Williams romped to victory ahead of compatriots Alex Finney and John McEntee at the 2019 Final at Mechelen in Belgium.

At Senior level there is often amazement at how this small island on the edge of Europe can so consistently produce so many athletes of the highest calibre. And the FEI Jumping Ponies’ Trophy Final result suggests that trend will continue well into the future, as the next generation already look equally impressive.

Williams easily made the cut into the Final when finishing fifth at both the first leg of the qualifying series in Herning (DEN) in October and the third leg in Stuttgart (GER) in November.

There were three days of action at Mechelen to decide the eventual champion, and the 15-year-old schoolboy from Ennis in County Clare finished fourth in Friday’s opener which was won by brilliant 12-year-old Anna Szarzewski from France, and was third in Saturday’s class in which 16-year-old Amber Frederick came out on top for Belgium.

A total of 14 pony-and-rider combinations went into the first round of the deciding competition, and with previous results calculated into points Szarzewski and Williams were on level pegging as the action began, each on a zero score. And when they both left all the poles in place first time out then the pressure was even more intense as the top-ten second round got underway.

Fifth to go, Denmark’s Josefine Sandgaard Morup and her 13-year-old mare Rainbows Mocha added nothing to their six-point scoreline when posting a double-clear, and when John McEntee followed suit with Little Smithe then this Irish pair stayed just ahead of the Danish duo with five on the board.

Ireland’s Alex Finney came into the ring carrying just three points, and when she crossed the line clear with the eight-year-old Still Got Me that really put the squeeze on the last three. Emma Meric, a member of the French bronze-medal-winning team at the 2019 FEI European Pony Championships in Strzegom (POL), was also carrying just three as she set off, but when she lowered four fences this time out with her little grey, Venise des Islots, then Finney was already assured of a podium placing as compatriot Williams entered the ring, second-last to go.

Giving the nine-year-old K-Little Hero d’18 a brilliant ride, the Irish contender really put it up to co-leader Szarzewski with a foot-perfect run. And when the diminutive little French girl and her lovely 10-year-old grey pony Vaughann de Vuzit – one of two carrying the supremely successful and very beautiful French-bred Connemara stallion Dexter Leam Pondi bloodline to make it to the closing stages – hit the vertical on the tricky turn to fence five and then also lowered the penultimate fence, they dropped to fifth place just behind Sandgaard Morup in fourth while McEntee moved up to third.

“I’m delighted with the outcome today – Hero was jumping his heart out!” said newly-crowned champion Williams who, riding CES Cruson, took individual gold and team silver in Children on Horses at the 2018 Youth Championships in Fontaintainebleau (FRA). Talking about the Belgian-bred pony that carried him to victory, he explained, “Hero has a horse pedigree but he never grew and he’s all power!”

His father, Adrian Williams, is a specialist pony-producer at Parc Stables in Ennis and along with Ian Fearon and Marie Burke, both former Irish internationals, trains Rhys who has already enjoyed a lot of success in the sport. He coped admirably with the pressure.

“Going into the final round I just tried my best to keep my cool. I knew that was all I had to do and it’s a dream come true! To come to Mechelen this year and to be at the same show as the 5-Star riders and share the same arenas – it’s such a great experience and I’ll be back again, hopefully!” — Rhys Williams (IRL)

Mechelen Show Director, Peter Bollen, was more than pleased with the development of the series which is going from strength to strength and highlighting talent. Ireland’s Seamus Hughes-Kennedy won the inaugural Final in 2017, and in 2019 scooped European Junior team gold and the Seven-Year-Old Final title at the FEI WBFSH Championships in Lanaken (BEL).

The 2018 champion, Katie Power, has enjoyed a hugely successful 2019 season and the title returns to the Emerald Isle for the third time.

“I wanted to create a World Cup for pony riders and I’m very happy to see the concept is established now and getting more and more support. We have the contract signed for next year again and we will try to get one or two more qualifiers for the new season to make the series even stronger,” Mr Bollen said.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Killer Queen Reigns Supreme for Deusser in Mechelen

Daniel Deusser with Killer Queen VDM. (FEI/Dirk Caremans)

Belgian-based German star, Daniel Deusser, stormed to victory with Killer Queen VDM at the ninth leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ 2019/2020 Western European League at Mechelen in Belgium.

In a fascinating 12-horse second round, the 38-year-old rider who is currently third in the world rankings had to wait until the very end to take his chance. Switzerland’s Pius Schwizer was holding the lead with a run that had clearly not pushed his gelding, Cortney Cox, to the limit of speed when breaking the beam without lowering a pole in 44.02 seconds.

“It was a bit of a strange jump-off; there were plenty of good combinations that got through but then not so many clears, and to be honest I knew I had a chance of beating Pius’ time. In the end I had nothing to lose, so I didn’t think about the poles; my horse was feeling really good and I thought if I don’t fight today, then when should I try? – and it worked out great because she played along with me and she was brilliant!” Deusser said after pinning Schwizer into second and Belgium’s Wilm Vermeir into third.

Belgian course designer, Eddy Geysemans, set a first-round track that demanded cautious negotiation in the small Nekerhal arena. And when it came to the second-round race against the clock it was all about tight, balanced turns and the ride down to the final vertical.

Vermeir’s elegant IQ van het Steentje put on a jumping exhibition first time out and took the early lead with the first clear of the jump-off, but in the slow time of 45.16 seconds which left the door wide open. And when Germany’s Christian Kukuk also decided to go for safety rather than speed, stopping the clock in 48.45 with the 10-year-old Quintino, it was still all to play for.

Switzerland’s Schwizer set the new target at 44.02 seconds when fifth-last to go, but with three speed merchants following him it still looked like a wide-open race.

Italy’s Emanuele Gaudiano is always fast with the extraordinary Chalou, but their time of 41.05 wouldn’t be a winning one when they hit the vertical third fence. And when young Belgian hero, 24-year-old Jos Verlooy, who claimed team gold and individual bronze at this summer’s FEI European Championships in Rotterdam (NED), had two fences down, then only Deusser was left to challenge.

Setting off with determination from the start, he was confident that he could do it with his ever-improving mare. And Killer Queen lived up to her promise when cruising home clear in 41.37 seconds for a clear victory.

“She has done a few amazing things already and she’s still only nine years old! I have her for two years now; she won quite a few youngster classes including the best Young Horse in Aachen when she was eight. From year to year she steps up and gets better and better; I just need to improve her dressage some more because she has huge potential for the future – she’s a very exciting horse!” Deusser said.

He won the Mechelen leg of the Western European League qualifying series before, back in 2013 with his former great horse Cornet d’Amour who went on to win the 2014 series title. Deusser, a member of the silver-medal-winning German team in Rotterdam, is now going to try to qualify for the 2020 Longines Final in Las Vegas, USA next April.

He’s planning to take in the next three legs of the Western European League at Basel (SUI), Leipzig (GER), and Amsterdam (NED) which all take place in rapid succession in January. “Tobago is out with a little injury for a few weeks so maybe Killer Queen will go to Basel” he said.

This result was a special one for the man whose career highlights also include team bronze and individual ninth place at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and who finished just off the podium, in fourth place, at the 2019 Longines Final in Gothenburg (SWE).

His wife, Caroline, and the family are all involved in running the Mechelen event, which is staged in memory of her late father, Eric Wauters.

“And we live very close to the showgrounds, so a lot of our friends also come to the show expecting to see me win – in one way it’s a lot of pressure but in another way it’s also support from all my friends and the organisation as well. I’m really happy I could win here because I do it for them. I know how hard they work for this show, so the win is not just for myself, but for everyone!” — Daniel Deusser (GER)

The next leg of the Western European League will take place in Basel (SUI) on Sunday 12 January 2020.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Scholtens and Desperado Steal the Show at Mechelen

Emmelie Scholtens and Desperado NOP. (FEI/Dirk Caremans)

The Netherlands’ Emmelie Scholtens and Desperado NOP took another step towards stardom with a superb victory in the seventh leg of the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2019/2020 Western European League at Mechelen in Belgium, while Portugal’s Maria Caetano (Coroado) finished second ahead of Spain’s Juan Matute Guimon (Quantico) in third.

The Dutch horse-and-rider partnership who competed at this summer’s FEI European Championships in Rotterdam (NED) has been showing rapid progress over the last few months, posting 76.283 for fourth place at round 2 of the 11-leg series in Lyon (FRA) at the beginning of November before rocketing up to 83.045 for sixth place in the Freestyle at the CDI5* in Stockholm (SWE) four weeks ago.

They took it to a whole new level, scoring a personal-best 85.075 to put the result beyond doubt and raising expectations of what might be to come for the talented pair. They also topped the Grand Prix, but the 34-year-old Dutch rider felt this performance was considerably improved. “Yesterday he was a bit tense in canter but today it was so much better – he was much more confident and relaxed,” Scholtens pointed out.

Spain’s Juan Matute Guimon set the bar high when putting 80.150 on the board just before the halfway break with the 13-year-old gelding Quantico. And the exciting 22-year-old rider was still out in front until Portugal’s Caetano overtook him with a great performance from her 12-year-old Lusitano stallion Coroado who scored 80.940 when fifth-last to go.

But, two horses later, Scholtens and her 11-year-old Dutch stallion threw down a spectacular performance with big marks, including a 10 for extended walk, bringing their tally beyond 85 percent which would be unbeatable on the day.

The power Desperado showed was immense, and Scholtens admitted it can sometimes prove challenging.

“I’m happy he is such a big mover; he’s always been like that and it’s a good thing it hasn’t changed with training, but when you are doing 15 one-tempi changes in a row there’s a lot of horse under you! But he’s the sweetest boy ever – he’s a stallion but he doesn’t know it and he really is the perfect horse; he’s so kind and so workable.” — Emmelie Scholtens (NED)

Caetano also achieved a personal-best and was more than pleased. “I got my previous PB here last year!” she said. And she was very proud of Coroado who flew the flag for his breed with distinction. “It is a pleasure to present a horse bred in my country; this is special for me and I am happy to show it to the public. Now we are getting nice results with Lusitanos!” she added.

This result gave third-placed Juan Matute Guimon a real boost. “To get 80 percent at the last show of the year is great! This makes me close to my big dream which is Tokyo!” said the young man who has big Olympic ambitions.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are not far from the minds of any of the riders as 2019 draws to a close.

“I’m still thinking about the best way to go for 2020,” said Scholtens who has the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2020 Final in Las Vegas, USA next April in her sights. “I’d like to go to the Final, but Tokyo is also really important, and I have only one Grand Prix horse so I’m not sure it’s possible to do both. However, we are in a good rhythm now so we will compete in Amsterdam (NED) and ’s-Hertogenbosch (NED) to see if we qualify for Las Vegas, and then we’ll take it from there,” she said.

Scholtens now lies 13th on the Western European League from which the top nine will qualify for the Final. Fourth place with Sir Donnerhall has moved French rider Morgan Barbancon Mestre into fifth on the leaderboard behind Scholtens’ compatriot Hans Peter Minderhoud in fourth and three Germans – Helen Langehanenberg, Frederic Wandres, and Benjamin Werndl – at the head of affairs.

With four legs left to go, the WEL action will resume in Amsterdam (NED) on 25 January.

Result here.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Fuchs on Fire as The Sinner Shines at Olympia

Martin Fuchs with The Sinner. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs scooped his second win of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2019/2020 Western European League at the London International Horse Show at Olympia, London (GBR), while Austria’s Max Kuhner lined up second ahead of Belgium’s Niels Bruynseels in third.

Partnering his top ride, the lightning-fast grey Clooney, Fuchs took the third leg in Lyon (FRA) by storm last month, and in today’s eighth round of the 14-leg series he galloped to victory with a stunning performance from The Sinner. He’s the reigning European champion, and looks set to take over the No. 1 spot on the Longines World Rankings as 2020 gets underway after an incredible run of recent form.

He also became the first Swiss winner of the Olympia leg of the FEI World Cup™ series in 29 years. The 27-year-old rider wasn’t even born when his uncle, Markus Fuchs, stood top of the podium at the London fixture back in 1990.

Just six horse-and-rider combinations made it through to the jump-off, and Fuchs was fulsome in his praise of Irish course designer, Alan Wade.

“The first round wasn’t crazy big, but Alan set a great course as he always does – it was another of his masterpieces!” — Martin Fuchs (SUI)

It was definitely no walk in the park, with the relatively small Olympia arena jam-packed with fences and an intense atmosphere in the packed Grand Hall adding to the pressure. Only six of the 37 starters qualified for the deciding round but it was a classic, Fuchs, who was second to go, putting it up to the rest with a great ride that saw him take a brave turn to the wall, now the fourth fence on the track, and a super-tight line to the penultimate oxer followed by a great gallop to the last. Throwing down a time of 31.99 seconds he then sat back and watched the remaining four give it their best.

Austria’s Max Kuhner followed with an extraordinary second clear from the hugely promising eight-year-old gelding Elektric Blue P, but their time of 33.83 seconds was no threat. However, as German ace, and three-time FEI World Cup™ champion, Marcus Ehning set off with Cornado NRW, he clearly meant business only to get too close to the penultimate oxer for four faults in 32.17 seconds.

Great Britain’s Scott Brash decided this was the day to put some jump-off pressure on his latest shining star, the 10-year-old Hello Jefferson, but when the second fence fell then there was only Niels Bruynseels and his 10-year-old Delux van T & L standing between Fuchs and victory. And for once things just didn’t go his way, none of the distances coming up nicely for the brilliant Belgian and his big horse with a long stride, so they stayed clear but had to settle for third place behind Kuhner in second and Fuchs at the head of affairs.

“I was early to go so I had to take all the risks to put the pressure on the others and everything worked perfectly today!” Fuchs said. He was of course delighted with The Sinner who belied his name. “It was Denis Lynch (IRL) who gave him his name and he was already a good horse for Denis,” he explained. He’s had the 11-year-old gelding since the beginning of the year, and they made their first major appearance together at CSIO Rome in May.

“At first I found him difficult to ride, but now we definitely have a better partnership; he has better rideabililty and we know each other a lot better now,” he pointed out. And The Sinner can look forward to some nice sunshine as he heads to Wellington, USA for the Winter Equestrian Festival with his rider in the new year.

Having moved into fourth place on the Western European League table after this brilliant result, Fuchs is now well qualified for the Longines 2020 Final in Las Vegas, USA next April and his biggest headache will be to decide which horse to take – his wonder-horse Clooney or his latest star, The Sinner. His uncle, Markus Fuchs, was runner-up at the series Final in Las Vegas in 2000 and was crowned champion with the great Tinka’s Boy the following year in Gothenburg, Sweden. Martin was runner-up to compatriot Steve Guerdat at the 2019 Final which was also staged in Gothenburg, so could history be about to repeat itself over the coming months?

There are 18 qualifying spots on offer to riders in the Western European series and normally 40 points is enough to make the cut. As it stands, and with six more qualifiers yet to go, the top five riders on the League table have more than enough points: defending champion Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat has 55 but anyway gains automatic qualification, Belgium’s Pieter Devos also has 55, fifth placing for Great Britain’s Scott Brash leaves him with 47, Fuchs has 44, and Italy’s Emanuele Gaudiano is in fifth in the current standings with 43.

For the rest, the next opportunity to collect those precious points will be at the ninth leg of the series in Mechelen, Belgium on Monday 30 December.

Watch highlights here.

FULL RESULTS

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Dujardin Delights with Freestyle Win as British Dominate at Olympia

Charlotte Dujardin with Mount St John Freestyle. (FEI/Jon Stroud)

Charlotte Dujardin produced a superb victory with Mount St John Freestyle before an ecstatic home crowd at the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2019/2020 Western European League qualifier in the Grand Hall at Olympia, London (GBR). And to put the icing on the British Christmas cake, her compatriots Carl Hester and Charlotte Fry lined up in second and third.

It was an evening of great theatre, with Dujardin’s charming 10-year-old mare producing a stunning test for a mark of 87.520 to take the lead when fourth-last to go, only for a technical hitch to delay the scores of the three who followed. Still waiting for the final result, the riders were all sent back to the stables while Santa took over the arena for his Christmas Finale. But finally, the red carpet was rolled back out again, and it was Dujardin who led the British victory gallop.

She was delighted with the performance of her mare who has clearly matured a great deal since showing her massive potential at last year’s FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon, USA where she claimed two bronze medals. Freestyle’s freshness and freedom of movement, the elegance and height of her passage, and the expressiveness of her extended canter were just some of the highlights. And the horse really seemed to be enjoying herself, her big ears pricked as she gave her rider her full attention.

“It’s only her third time doing that test; she’s very inexperienced at Freestyle and I’m so pleased with her. The atmosphere was buzzing, it was a full house, and I could really feel it when I rode in. But she’s coping better and I couldn’t have asked any more from her!” said the winning rider who, though still only 34 years old, is a legend of the sport following her world-beating career with the now-retired Valegro.

Her friend and mentor, Hester, followed her into the ring and put a score of 84.470 on the board with a lovely performance with Hawtins Delicato. “A personal best – I can’t believe that at my age!” laughed the 52-year-old who has long been a huge influence in this sport. He was sitting back in the stable area when he learned his result – “One of my girls texted me and said you got an amazing score – it was a bit of a weird way to hear about it!” he added.

Fry was second-last to go, and the 23-year-old, who alongside Dujardin and Hester was a member of the British side that finished fourth at this summer’s FEI European Championships, produced a score of 82.620 with the 10-year-old stallion Everdale. This was good enough to pip the final partnership, and last year’s Olympia winners, Germany’s Frederic Wandres and Duke of Britain who finished a close fourth with 82.550 this time around.

Hester said that although he was happy with the way things turned out, he realises he needs to put more pressure on himself, because he continues to have big ambitions. “It was clear after the Grand Prix test yesterday that this horse needs to get out more. I know I need to get myself committed – this happens before every Olympics!” said the man who has competed at five of them, taking team gold with Uthopia at the London 2012 Games, and team silver with Nip Tuck at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Dujardin confirmed that she has both the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final 2020 in Las Vegas, USA in her sights now. So her plan? “Just to carry on doing what I’m doing and see how we go as we prepare for Tokyo. I’m hoping to get to Vegas in April, so I’ll go to the qualifier in Amsterdam in January and maybe another after that,” she explained.

She was twice winner of the FEI Dressage World Cup™ title with Valegro, taking her second title in Las Vegas in 2015. This result sees her move up to eighth on the Western European League table from which the top nine will qualify for the 2020 Final, so she may need another good result to ensure she makes the cut.

There are still five legs of the Western European series left to go, the next taking place at Mechelen, Belgium on 29 December.

Result here.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Van der Vleuten Wins Dramatic La Coruña Leg with Bright Young Star Beauville Z

Maikel van der Vleuten and Beauville Z. (FEI/Manuel Queimadelos)

The Netherlands’ Maikel van der Vleuten showed the rest a clean pair of heels in a thrill-a-minute 13-horse jump-off to win the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2019/2020 Western European League qualifier in La Coruña, Spain.

There were 40 riders from 16 different countries chasing down points in the race for a place at the Longines 2020 Final in Las Vegas, USA next April. And this seventh round of the 14-leg qualifying series was a sizzler, with anything possible right to the very end.

Van der Vleuten clinched it with an exhibition of pure partnership with the lovely Beauville Z, a gelding he has been riding since the middle of last year. Ace Spanish course designer, Santiago Varela, set them a jump-off track with multiple twists and turns and a long gallop to the last that tested trust and understanding between horse and rider every step of the way. And it was the double-Olympian who showed them all how it should be done.

Typically modest, the 31-year-old Dutchman said afterwards, “Sometimes a jump-off doesn’t go as planned and you have to put in a waiting distance, but today it was all very smooth and we had a great rhythm all the way. My horse was very good; he stayed with me, and out of all the turns we got a nice forward distance.”

First against the clock, Ireland’s Michael G Duffy set the target when clear with Lapuccino Z in 39.95 seconds, but the lead kept changing until, seventh to go, van der Vleuten came into the ring and clearly left them with very little to play with. The Dutch horse-and-rider partnership were in complete harmony as they found the tightest lines everywhere on the course and galloped through the timers to set a whole new standard in 36.94 seconds.

However, there were still six to go, and plenty more excitement ahead. Pieter Clemens, one of three Belgians into the second-round decider, was ousted from runner-up spot by Italy’s Emanuele Gaudiano and the extraordinary Chalou who stopped the clock on 37.66 seconds. And as they set off it seemed more than possible that, third-last to go, America’s Jessica Springsteen and the super-fast RMF Zecilie could alter the standings until they clipped the very first fence.

Then the Spanish crowd gasped in disbelief when their own star, Eduardo Alvarez Aznar, was jumped out of the saddle when his long-time faithful steed, Rokfeller de Pleville Bois Margot, went into orbit over the vertical third fence off a tight turn. And when Frenchman Olivier Robert (Vivaldi es Meneaux) left one on the floor it was a done deal, and a Dutch one at that.

Talking about Beauville Z which is owned by Spain’s Marta Ortega, van der Vleuten said, “He’s still only nine and not at this level for long – I think he’ll grow into a great horse; he’s the kind of horse you need to be competitive at this level.”

The Dutch rider is now going to take a short break from the World Cup circuit until early in the new year. “I’m hoping I’ll get a few more chances to get my points for the Final – after today I think about 10 more should be enough,” he pointed out, having moved his points tally up to 32 which leaves him lying fifth on the Western European League table ahead of the next leg at Olympia, London (GBR) next Saturday (21 December).

Watch highlights here.

FULL RESULTS

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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