Tag Archives: FEI

Swiss Bliss as Brilliant Fuchs and Clooney Win at Basel

Martin Fuchs and Clooney. (FEI/Katja Stuppia)

Swiss spectators were treated to a superb moment of top sport when homegrown hero, Martin Fuchs (26), stormed to victory at the tenth leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2018/2019 Western European League at Basel (SUI).

This was the tenth anniversary of the fixture staged in the medieval Swiss town, but the first time for the venue at St Jakobshalle to host a leg of the Jumping World Cup series. The young man who scooped individual silver at last year’s FEI World Equestrian Games™ made it all the more memorable when steering his faithful grey gelding Clooney to a last-to-go win in a nail-biting three-horse jump-off against the clock.

“It’s amazing! So many people came here today, lots of my friends and my family, so to win at home in front of them is always so special – this was a great day for me and my amazing horse Clooney!” — Martin Fuchs (SUI)

The Netherlands’ Marc Houtzager (48) had to settle for runner-up spot with Sterrehof’s Calimero while Belgium’s Pieter Devos (32) and Apart slotted into third on a day when a first-round clear proved very difficult to achieve.

The opening course designed by Germany’s Frank Rothenberger was no walk-in-the-park, with testing turns, difficult stride distances, and a tight time-allowed of 68 seconds ensuring that only those horse-and-rider partnerships that were completely in sync would leave all the timber intact. A total of 21 had given it their best before Houtzager put the first clear on the board and, as so often happens, that was followed by another from Devos who was next to go. Two horses later Fuchs would add his name to the very short list of successful contenders to make the cut into the second-round race against the clock.

Houtzager was first to take on the jump-off track and set the target with a great clear in 38.84 seconds, but Devos upped the pace considerably when next to go with his Stuttgart winner, Apart. However, the influential double at fence 11 was still in place and when the pair lost impulsion after a tight turn on the approach the first element fell for four faults in the very quick time of 36.98 seconds.

So as Fuchs entered the arena the result was still wide open and the crowd was buzzing in anticipation. Clooney was crowned Swiss Horse of the Year this week and hopes were high that the dynamic duo whose stellar career already includes ninth place individually at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, a fourth-place finish at the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final in Omaha (USA) in 2017 and that individual silver at last year’s World Championships would steal the last-minute limelight.

It was some pressure, but they didn’t disappoint, the gallant 13-year-old grey responding with all the willingness in the world as his rider asked him to lengthen his stride between the two oxers at the midway stage, putting in a supreme effort to clear the tricky double three from home and then turning super-tight to the penultimate red vertical. Fuchs kept his eye on the finishing line as they cleared the final fence, and when he turned to check the time, he threw his hat in the air in celebration as 37.61 seconds left him the clear winner. The crowd went wild.

“He was a bit fresh and spooky in the first round and the short time-allowed didn’t make it any easier – I was just inside time which was a bit lucky!” he said afterwards. But he did have a plan. “I saw the riders going before me and I discussed what to do with Steve (Guerdat) and my dad (Thomas Fuchs),” said the man who also topped the fourth leg of the Western European series in Lyon (FRA) in November.

He has now moved back up to third on the Western European League which continues to be led by his fellow-countryman and World No. 1 rider Steve Guerdat, while Devos is in second place. With 55 points on the board Fuchs is well qualified for the Longines 2019 Final in Gothenburg, Sweden in April and is now heading off to compete in Florida, USA for the next few weeks and is taking Clooney with him.

Basel’s entry to the Western European League circuit got the thumbs up from FEI Jumping Director John Roche. “The event has been organised to the highest standard; there was a completely full house today and the atmosphere was electric. A home win went to the last man into the arena, so you couldn’t have written a better script for a fantastic day of sport!” he said.

The League now moves on to Leipzig, Germany next weekend.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Counting Down to the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup 2019 Series

Nicola Philippaerts of the winning Belgian team at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Barcelona 2018 Final (FEI/Lukasz Kowalski)

Celebrating the 110th season of team sport at its very best

The excitement is already building ahead of the opening round of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ 2019 series which will kick off at Deeridge Farm in Wellington, Florida (USA) next month. This top-class team sport, which combines national pride and passion with super-sharp competition, is as fresh as ever as it celebrates its 110th season.

Trust and understanding between horses and their riders, solidarity amongst the team members and their support crews, and the unique camaraderie between athletes from a wide range of countries as they challenge for the title they all want to win sets this series apart from the rest. It’s the battlefield of the greats, and each and every horseman and horsewoman want to place their names amongst those who have gone before them in pursuit of Nations Cup glory.

The Wellington fixture is part of the three-leg North America, Central America & Caribbean league that also includes a visit to Coapexpan (MEX) in May and to Langley (CAN) in June. There will be a single qualifier for the Middle East region at Abu Dhabi (UAE) in February, while the sole Europe Division 2 qualifier looks set to take place in Athens (GRE), with full details yet to be confirmed.

For the 10 Europe Division 1 teams the edge-of-the-seat action gets underway at La Baule (FRA) in May, and from there it moves on to St Gallen (SUI), Sopot (POL) and Geesteren (NED) in June, and then to Falsterbo (SWE) and Hickstead (GBR) in July. This league is always hotly contested, with emotions running particularly high when riders are flying their country’s flag in front of their home crowd. The last of the seven legs in this division will take place in Dublin (IRL) in August, and each team has been allocated four specific qualifying opportunities, with all four results counting in the battle for a qualifying spot at the 2019 Final.

The reigning champions from Belgium have been allocated points-gaining opportunities at La Baule, Sopot, Geesteren, and Hickstead, and after their heady win in 2018 they will be hoping to do it all over again.

Peter Weinberg’s “Never Give Up Team” demonstrated the very essence of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ concept when producing a gutsy, determined performance to clinch victory in the super-tough finale at the Real Club de Polo in Barcelona (ESP) last October. They had only just climbed back into Europe Division 1 after relegation, so their victory was all the sweeter.

“We call ourselves the “Never Give Up Team” because we were fighting to the very last rider!” said the Belgian Chef d’Equipe that day.

For the seventh successive season the Final will return to the Spanish venue from 3 to 10 October this year, and there will be an extra-special edge to it. Because along with the hugely prestigious Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ 2019 trophy, the last remaining qualifying spot for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will also be up for grabs. This will go to the highest-placed team not already qualified, so as the race to earn a starting spot at the 2019 Final begins there is a whole lot hanging in the balance, and fantastic days of superb sport ahead.

Don’t miss a hoofbeat….

Calendar details here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Power Brings the Honours Back to Ireland Once Again

Katie Power (centre), Red Morgan (left), and Nicole Lockhead Anderson (right). (FEI/Dirk Caremans)

Britain’s Morgan and Lockhead Anderson finished second and third

For the second year running, Ireland stood top of the podium when Katie Power stormed to victory with Ghost Rider in the FEI Ponies’ Jumping Trophy Final at Mechelen, Belgium. In a thrilling deciding class that went right down to the wire, the 15-year-old from Dungarvan in County Waterford produced the only double-clear performance to leave the result beyond doubt.

Britain’s Red Morgan (14) with Bodyssee des Avelines and Nicole Lockhead Anderson (16) riding Gangnam Style ll finished second and third, while Sweden’s Ebba Danielsson, who is only 12 years old, lined up in fourth place with Dynamite Spartacus.

“In the last round I was lying second and I knew I had to go clear. Red was in the lead but he made a mistake and I won – I can hardly believe it!” — Katie Power (IRL)

Power finished tenth individually and was a member of the Irish team that just missed out on bronze at the FEI European Pony Championships at Bishops Burton (GBR) this summer.

At the inaugural FEI Ponies’ Jumping Trophy Final 12 months ago, Ireland’s Seamus Hughes-Kennedy reigned supreme, and the Irish came out in big numbers again this year with Power lying third after the three qualifying legs staged in Herning (DEN) and Lyon (FRA) in October and at Stuttgart (GER) in November. It was Portugal’s Molly Hughes Bravo who topped the leaderboard going into the Final, with Ireland’s Max Wachman, Power, Charlotte Houston, and Aisling McGuinness filling the next four places, and Britain’s Shaunie Greig in sixth ahead of compatriot Lockhead Anderson in seventh place. But there was a big shake-up of the standings during the week.

There was plenty of pressure in the preliminary classes, and it was Lockhead Anderson, a member of the European gold medal winning British side at Bishops Burton, who came out on top in Thursday’s first speed competition in which Power finished eighth. In Friday’s second qualifier it was Morgan who headed the line-up, with Power again down the line in seventh spot.

But her pony, the 16-year-old Irish-bred grey gelding Ghost Rider, is a veteran at this level of competition and just kept improving. He seemed to know that this was the day, and never touched a pole to clinch it. “Day one was not very good because my helmet slipped and I had two fences down. Day two was better with only one down, and today my pony jumped amazing!” Power explained.

Mechelen Sport Director, Peter Bollen, explained the concept of the FEI Jumping Ponies’ Trophy.

“This series was created to help pony riders and young riders to get to a better level. The first year was not easy, but now we have a lot of riders willing to compete and they learn a lot by going to shows alongside the 5-Star riders.” — Peter Bollen (Sport Director, Mechelen)

He had some exciting news about the future of the series which will, once again, conclude at the Belgian venue next December. “In 2019 there will be four qualifiers, because the December show in Paris will join the series,” he confirmed.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Ahlmann Is the Master at Mechelen

Christian Ahlmann and Clintrexo Z. (FEI/Dirk Caremans)

Kevin Staut is runner-up in four-way battle of legends

Germany’s Christian Ahlmann (44) clinched a thrilling last-to-go victory at the ninth leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2018/2019 Western European League at the Nekkerhal Stadium in Mechelen, Belgium. In a tense competition from which only four of the 39 starters emerged to battle it out against the clock, the crowd was treated to a feast of legendary proportions, because these were four of the greatest masters of their craft, and they put on an exhibition of showjumping at its very best.

Ahlmann is a four-time Olympian and former FEI World Cup™ champion, and it was Rio 2016 Olympic team gold medallist Kevin Staut (38) from France whom he pinned into runner-up spot, while World No. 1, The Netherlands’ Harrie Smolders (38), lined up in third. Ahlmann’s compatriot, Ludger Beerbaum (55) has long been one of the biggest names in the sport, but this time around he had to settle for fourth when things didn’t quite go his way in the jump-off.

The first-round course set by Belgium’s Eddy Geysemans tested horses every inch of the way, with the first fence, the double at eight, and the triple combination at 10 all taking a steady toll. But only a single time fault kept Ireland’s Denis Lynch (The Sinner), Italy’s Lorenzo de Luca (Armitages Boy), and Celine Schoonbroodt-de Azevedo (Chepetta), one of 13 Belgian contenders, from making the cut into the second round. The 71 seconds time-allowed was tight, but as Geysemans said, “the best riders were able to make it – if we had changed the time after the first three riders, we would have had more clears, but the jump-off was great as it was!”

Staut led the way with a stunning run from his new ride, the 10-year-old Edesa’s Cannary, which he has only been competing since October and which raced through the timers in 40.98 seconds to set the pace. Smolders took time to check his route carefully before setting off with the 14-year-old stallion Don VHP Z, the horse that helped him claim individual silver at the 2017 FEI European Championships in Gothenburg (SWE). But they weren’t quite fast enough when galloping home in 41.42 seconds.

Beerbaum was well in touch when turning to the first of the two remaining elements of the triple combination two fences from home, but he lost his line and the 15-year-old gelding Casello ran past the fence, racking up 14 faults and leaving it wide open for Ahlmann as he set off, last to go. And Ahlmann had his game-face on from the start, weaving his way around the twisting track with the fabulous grey stallion Clintrexo Z who stopped the clock on 39.87 without hardly turning a hair. It was an amazing performance for a horse of just nine years of age.

“We built him up in the stallion approvals and later in young-horse classes, and Judy (his wife Judy-Ann Melchior) did some 3 and 4-Star Grands Prix and then allowed me to take him over and move him up another step. He won in Wiesbaden in May and Münster in August and he’s quickly growing into the big sport now. He really loves it, and he gets better and better week after week.” — Christian Ahlmann (GER)

And he was extra-happy that he did well because his family, including his young son Leon, were watching from the sidelines. He says Clintrexo Z is made of the right stuff for the top end of the sport.

“In the ring he knows exactly what to do and he is afraid of nothing. Whether he’s competing in Aachen or here it wouldn’t make any difference to him; he’s always really positive and tries his best – he’s everything you could wish for!”– Christian Ahlmann (GER)

Now the man who has competed at seven FEI Jumping World Cup™ Finals, including Leipzig in 2011 where he came out on top with the great Taloubet Z, has the 2019 Longines Final in Gothenburg, Sweden next April in his sights. In sixth place with 46 points on the leaderboard he is easily qualified, and he’s spoiled for choice about which of his horses to take there.

Runner-up Staut was also very happy. “This was my goal coming here – not to be second but to gain more points to get to the Final!” he said, having moved into third with 51 points to his credit.

Basel in Switzerland will stage the next leg of the Western European League series in two weeks’ time.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Dream Win for Minderhoud in Mechelen

Peter Minderhoud and Glock’s Dream Boy NOP. (FEI/Dirk Caremans)

Glock’s Dream Boy NOP lived up to his name when carrying 2016 champion Hans Peter Minderhoud (45) from The Netherlands to victory at the seventh leg of the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2018/2019 Western European League in Mechelen, Belgium.

At just 10 years of age, this young stallion is demonstrating colossal potential, and his score of 83.665 pinned 2013 series winner Helen Langehanenberg (36) from Germany and Damsey FRH into second, while the super-exciting Portuguese partnership of Maria Caetano (32) and Coroado strutted their way into third.

The final five all produced stunning performances, with Sweden’s Therese Nilshagen (35) finishing fourth with Dante Weltino OLD despite some miscommunications early in their test, and Ireland’s Judy Reynolds (37) making a great comeback with Vancouver K to line up in fifth place.

Mechelen was also making a welcome come-back this week after a few years’ absence from the FEI Dressage World Cup™ circuit. So just before the prizegiving ceremony was perfect timing for an emotional farewell tribute to Tiamo, the 18-year-old gelding that carried Belgium’s Jorinde Verwimp to many great moments and who finished eighth on their very last outing together.

Minderhoud’s win is another milestone in the rapid progression being made by his still quite inexperienced young horse, who won the Grand Prix and finished third in the Freestyle at Olympia, London (GBR) just before Christmas. “He only did a few Grand Prix competitions before qualifying for Tryon (FEI World Equestrian Games) this year – it was a bit early for him in his career, so after that I gave him a long rest and then restarted at Olympia. That wasn’t the most easy show for him to come back to, and I was not so happy with how he felt… he had been going so well at home. But then I bring him to another show here in Mechelen ten days later and he is super – I mean super!” said the delighted Dutchman.

“Here he was much more focused, not like at Olympia where I had to survive it a little! Today I could ride to the point, and he was really trying for me!” — Hans Peter Minderhoud (NED)

Caetano and her adorable grey Lusitano, Coroado, set a whole new standard when posting 80.160 when fifth last to go of the 15 starters. At the fourth leg of the Western European League in Madrid (ESP) last month they scored 77.655 for third place, but things didn’t go to plan at Olympia where their mark of 73.900 left them well down the line. There’s something really special about this pair who have sprung to prominence recently, however, and they both looked radiant after showing the most fabulous passage and piaffe, and a great sense of harmony, during their wonderful performance.

Langehanenberg bettered that when scoring 82.880 despite testing the nerve of Judge at C, Belgium’s Jacques van Daele, as she powered to a very late halt. And although Reynolds and her 16-year-old gelding didn’t challenge for the top spot, their new routine to a wonderful compilation of traditional Irish music had the spectators’ toes tapping and put 78.570 on the board.

Nilshagen’s chances were hampered when her horse dropped the contact early in their test, but with a degree of difficulty of 10 and the stallion’s breathtaking extended canter, they clawed it back to put 80.090 on the board. So Minderhoud was chasing Langehanenberg’s leading score as he set off, last to go, and Dream Boy didn’t let him down. He’s a horse that’s growing in confidence all the time, and after winning the Grand Prix he was always the one to beat.

“He’s a very sweet horse, and because he’s seen all the things that approved stallions see at a young age, he’s not really spooky or anything. In the beginning I felt he went into himself a bit in big arenas, but yesterday and today he was much happier.” — Hans Peter Minderhoud (NED)

With just three more qualifiers to go in the Western European League, the next port of call is on Minderhoud’s home turf in the Dutch capital city of Amsterdam at the end of January. Having moved up to joint-third on the leaderboard, he’s looking forward to getting to the 2019 Final next April in Gothenburg, Sweden, which is where he won the coveted FEI Dressage World Cup™ title two years ago.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

William Whitaker Wows the Crowd with Emotional Win at Olympia

William Whitaker with Utamaro d’Ecaussines. (FEI/Jon Stroud)

There’s nothing quite like a big win in front of the home crowd to trigger the emotions, but Great Britain’s William Whitaker (29) wasn’t the only one with a tear in his eye after he reigned supreme in the eighth leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2018/2019 Western European League at Olympia in London (GBR). The packed stadium of spectators went wild with delight when their own man soared to victory over a world-class field in an 18-horse jump-off that was a nail-biter to the final footfall.

“It’s surreal! Since I’ve been coming here as a kid this has been a dream, and I can’t believe it’s actually happened!” — William Whitaker (GBR)

This was the biggest result of Whitaker’s career to date, as he pinned Belgium’s Karel Cox (36) into runner-up spot while American star, Laura Kraut (53), lined up in third.

With so many jumping clear over the first track presented by Portuguese course designer Bernardo Costa Cabral, it was never going to be easy to come out on top, but Whitaker had no doubt about his plan. “The World Cup at Olympia is like a Championship: you get one shot at it every year and it’s all got to come together on the day. I told myself, if you’re clear in the first round then don’t hold back!” – and he certainly didn’t when seventh to go with Utamaro d’Ecaussines.

He’s long had a superb relationship with the courageous 14-year-old stallion, and when the pair set the target at 37.02 seconds with the smoothest of fast rounds in which every fence seemed to come up in exactly the right spot, and every turn was pure perfection, then that really put it up to the rest of them.

However, two horses later it seemed Karel Cox and the nine-year-old Evert might just catch them when galloping down to the last. But the clock showed 37.21 to leave the Belgian contenders trailing by two-tenths of a second. Whitaker could hardly bear the tension.

“It was torture! Especially the last few – every one that goes by you get closer to the win, and it’s not just anyone; it’s the best riders in the world!” — William Whitaker (GBR)

Third-last to go was the magical German and world no. 4, Marcus Ehning, with his Geneva winner Pret a Tout. But when they turned too tight to the penultimate vertical, they paid the price with a pole down in the quickest time of 36.03 seconds.

Australia’s Edwina Tops-Alexander and Vinchester, winners of the previous leg at La Coruña in Spain two weeks ago, made a wider turn there to come home clear in 38.17, but Laura Kraut and Zeremonie looked a real threat when last into the ring. The pair who helped clinched team gold for the USA at the FEI World Equestrian Games in September stormed home with a determined run, but their time of 37.70 seconds would only prove good enough for third. It was destined to be William Whitaker’s day, and he could hardly believe it.

He was of course following in a proud family tradition. His uncles, John and Michael Whitaker, have enjoyed many major successes in the world-famous Grand Hall at Olympia during their spectacular careers. Following in their legendary footsteps means a great deal to their nephew.

“I have memories of watching John and Michael winning the World Cup here – one of the things that got me out of bed in the morning was thinking that someday I could do it too!” — William Whitaker (GBR)

And he was full of praise for Utamaro. “It helps when you’re on a horse like him; he has such a good brain and mentality. In the collecting ring I was struggling to get him into canter, but he just lights up when he goes in the ring; he grows a foot! I’m delighted for the horse and the owners, Jasmin and Ludwig Criel – he’s had fantastic results over the years, but we never won a Grand Prix and I can’t believe it’s this one!” Whitaker said.

He’s got some changes coming up in the new year when he will be relocating to Germany, so he’s not quite clear if he will be in a position to line out in further World Cup qualifiers. “We’ll sit together after Christmas and make a plan,” he said.

For many others chasing down those precious points towards the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final in Gothenburg, Sweden next April, however, the next port of call is Mechelen in Belgium next weekend.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Endurance Temporary Committee Holds First In-Person Meeting at FEI HQ

Lausanne (SUI), 12 December 2018 – The Temporary Committee, established by the FEI Board in October to urgently review the Endurance rules in order to address the issues currently affecting the discipline, held its first in-person meeting at FEI Headquarters in Lausanne (SUI).

Dr Sarah Coombs (GBR), who chairs the Temporary Committee, said after the meeting: “Today’s meeting generated really strong and productive debate and, together with input from a broad spectrum of stakeholders, we have already drawn up a list of our key focus areas. Your voices are being heard. We are under no illusions about the challenges of the task ahead, but the future of the discipline is under the spotlight and we will do whatever is necessary to rebuild the trust of our community and restore the image of a discipline that has every right to remain a part of the FEI, provided the rules are adhered to and enforced to ensure that our horses are protected and cheating is stamped out.”

The Temporary Committee has already received a huge amount of feedback from the Endurance Community on a number of key areas, including:

  • Increased testing of horses for prohibited substances;
  • Increased sanctions for horse abuse;
  • Review of speeds;
  • Reassessment of rules on mandatory rest periods;
  • Redefinition of elimination codes (particularly Catastrophic Injury);
  • Elite athlete status and “jockey riders”;
  • Qualifications, including qualification as a combination;
  • Increased completion percentage before allowing upgrade to next level;
  • Reinstate and redefine two-hour invasive treatment rule;
  • Hyposensitivity screening (the use of the FEI Hyposensitivity Control System (HCS) was voted in at last month’s FEI General Assembly for implementation in 2019);
  • Heart rates and presentation times at Vet Gate;
  • Definition of and registration of trainers;
  • Over-training/over-competing;
  • Mandatory medication logbook and out of competition testing;
  • Extended provisional suspension for horses testing positive to Banned Substances
  • Course design
  • Tack and equipment
  • Crewing numbers

This first meeting also provided the Temporary Committee with the opportunity to establish the methodology it will use to fulfil its remit to carry out an in-depth review of the rules that will bring the discipline back to its original roots of Endurance riding as opposed to Endurance racing, with horse welfare and horsemanship at its core, while still maintaining the competitive aspect of the sport. The Temporary Committee also agreed a consultation process that will involve further liaison with stakeholders to avail of their expertise and in-depth knowledge of the discipline.

In addition to the chair Dr Coombs, the other members of the Temporary Committee are Endurance athlete and member of the FEI Athletes’ Committee Tarek Taher (KSA), chef d’équipe of the Dutch Endurance team Pieter Wiersinga (NED), FEI Veterinary Committee member Dr Tim Parkin (GBR), who heads up the scientific research conducted at the University of Glasgow as part of the FEI’s Global Endurance Injuries Study (GEIS), and Valerie Kanavy, a former member of the FEI Athletes’ Committee and the Athletes’ Representative on the Endurance Committee (2014-2018).

FEI Vice President Mark Samuel (CAN) joined the meeting and will facilitate communications between the Temporary Committee and the FEI Board. The FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez, FEI Endurance Director Manuel Bandeira De Mello, FEI Veterinary Director Göran Akerström, and other FEI staff members also attended the meeting.

The Temporary Committee will hold its next in-person meeting on 15 January 2019 and there will be a dedicated Endurance session at the FEI Sports Forum 2019 (15-16 April) during which the Temporary Committee will provide an update to delegates.

Media contacts:

Grania Willis
Director Communications
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 42

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

Tops-Alexander Makes It a Back-to-Back Double at La Coruña

Edwina Tops-Alexander with Vinchester. (FEI/ Manuel Queimadelos/Oxer Sport)

“Pretty amazing!” was how Australia’s Edwina Tops-Alexander (44) described her victory in the seventh leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2018/2019 Western European League series in La Coruña, Spain.

For the second consecutive year she out-paced all her rivals to head the line-up at the Casas Novas Equestrian Centre where the packed stadium of spectators enjoyed a thrilling 10-horse jump-off that held them on the edges of their seats to the very end. Last year she came out on top at the same venue with the mare, California, who was just 10 years old at the time. But what made her success all the more spectacular was the fact that she was partnering a nine-year-old stallion called Vinchester who was jumping the biggest track of his entire career.

“I never would have believed that this would happen – he only jumped 1.50m for the first time earlier this week and today was his first 1.60m! If you told me he’d have a few down I wouldn’t have been surprised, so I’m a little bit taken aback!” — Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS)

Runner-up spot went to another nine-year-old, Chalou, ridden by Italy’s Emanuele Gaudiano (32) while German legend, Ludger Beerbaum (55), slotted into third with his new ride Cool Feeling.

It was Beerbaum’s compatriot Christian Kukuk who set the target over Javier Trenor’s jump-off track, bringing the handsome stallion Colestus home with a smooth run in 46.85 seconds when first to go. Next in, Sweden’s Irma Karlsson looked set to seriously improve on that, but her quick 10-year-old mare Ida van de Bischop misunderstood the instructions on the approach to the remaining two elements of the triple combination and ran past the second element to put paid to their chances.

Faster rounds were then posted by Frenchman Olivier Robert (Tempo de Paban) and Belgium’s Jos Verlooy (Igor), and when both Helsinki winner Gudrun Patteet (Sea Coast Pebbles Z) and The Netherlands’ Leopold van Asten (VDL Groep Beauty) left a fence on the floor, then it was Verlooy’s 44.24 seconds that Tops-Alexander was chasing. And despite her horse’s inexperience, she set off like a rocket to produce a cracking round that demonstrated the extraordinary courage and ability of her young mount, shaving almost a full two seconds off the target time when clearing the line in 42.26 seconds.

Gaudiano gave it his best shot when breaking the beam in 43.01 with the enigmatic Chalou, whose toe-stretching jumping technique sets him apart from the rest, and when Austria’s Max Kuehner and Chardonnay hit the second fence. then only Beerbaum could steal Tops-Alexander’s thunder. The German giant has only been riding the 10-year-old gelding Cool Feeling, formerly competed by Canada’s Ben Asselin, since September, but the man who has taken four gold medals from seven Olympic Games and who has lined out in 21 FEI Jumping World Cup™ Finals should never be under-estimated. Beerbaum looked well in touch all the way to the final line where a check saw him stop the clock on 43.26 seconds for third place and a considerable improvement up to 15th spot on the current standings.

This win has boosted Tops-Alexander, who also collected points at the opening leg in Oslo (NOR), to joint-fifth spot and, with 35 points, she is within easy reach of a qualifying place for the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final in Gothenburg, Sweden next April. She’s planning to go to the next leg at Olympia, London (GBR) in two weeks’ time and to Basel in Switzerland where the Western European League will resume on 13 January.

In London her fans will get to see the amazing Vinchester whom she only started riding in August. “He was previously competed by a young French rider called Arthur Le Vot who I never met!” she explained. “He’s a horse with a lot of blood and a great mind; he wants to do everything for me and he’s very sure of himself – he’s great!”

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Werndl Secures Spectacular Win in Salzburg

Benny Werndl with Daily Mirror. (FEI/ Lukasz Kowalski)

Germany’s Benjamin Werndl (34) threw his hat into the ring for a place at the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final next April when producing a spectacular victory with Daily Mirror at the fifth leg of the 2018/2019 Western European League in Salzburg, Austria.

The pair’s performance wasn’t perfect, with a few glitches along the way, but the best bits weren’t just good – they were breathtaking. And with only three riders from each nation allowed into the Final, Werndl is putting intense pressure on his German counterparts for one of those slots after moving to the top of the leaderboard alongside compatriot Dorothee Schneider.

It was Sweden’s Patrik Kittel (42) who lined up second with Delatio while Schneider slotted into third with Faustus on a day when all of the leading partnerships really stepped it up to another level. Werndl was almost speechless with delight after topping both Grand Prix and Freestyle.

“This horse is a gift… I’m having an unbelievable trip with him; he’s developed so much over the last few months and I can’t find the right words to describe how much it means to me!” — Benjamin Werndl (GER)

Werndl, whose sister Jessica von Bredow-Werndl was on the gold medal winning team at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ (WEG) 2018 in September, was already lying second on the league table, following his win in Budapest (HUN) in September and points collected for fifth place at both the WEL opening leg in Herning (DEN) in October and the third leg in Stuttgart (GER) last month. It’s been a strong and steady progression, and it was clear that there’s a lot more to come from Daily Mirror despite the fact that the gelding son of Damon Hill is 14 years old.

“There’s so much more potential in this horse, and now my job is to find out how to bring it out!” said the rider who was on the German long-list for the WEG. “He had a break of two years before he came to us a couple of years ago, so he still feels a bit like a young horse building up experience, and I really wasn’t expecting him to be so cool in this arena today – he’s just the perfect gentleman!” Werndl added.

He was eleventh to go of the 15 starters, and when his test kicked off with a double-pirouette followed by two-tempi changes and another double-pirouette on the centre line, then it was obvious he meant business. Daily Mirror’s ground-eating extended walk earned a 9 from four of the five judges as the daring duo marched to the first over-80% score of 80.790. And then he had to sit back and watch four more formidable contenders.

Australia’s Kristy Oatley and Du Soleil posted 79.330 before Patrik Kittel and his new ride Delatio, which was competed by Great Britain’s Emile Faurie until July of this year and was runner-up for the Swede on their World Cup debut in Lyon last month, put 80.010 on the board to slot into second spot. And that’s where they would remain despite a lovely performance from European and World team gold medallist Schneider and her super-exciting “Grand Prix baby,” the 10-year-old gelding Faustus who scored 79.730 for third place.

Now that he has the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final 2019 in his sights, Benny Werndl really wants to get there, but he knows the battle for one of the German slots is not yet over. “All the other ladies want to go there too, but at least now I have a good chance, and I’m hoping to get to another qualifier in either Amsterdam (NED) or Neumünster (GER) in the new year,” he said.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Isabell Werth and Weihegold Old Back to Top FEI Dressage World Rankings

Isabell Werth (GER) and Weihegold Old. (FEI/ Leanjo de Koster)

Olympic silver individual and gold team medallist duo, Isabell Werth and Weihegold Old, have topped the FEI Dressage World Rankings once again (2742 points), following their win in the Grand Prix and the Grand Prix Freestyle to Music at the Sweden International Horse Show (“Saab Top Ten Dressage 2018”) in Stockholm (SWE). The famous combination, who were number one for almost two years, from November 2016, only sat in second place for a couple of months behind Laura Graves and Verdades (USA). The American duo now drop back to second place again with 2714 points.

Dressage Queen Isabell Werth can be found three times in the top four of the ranking list, as she holds the third place with Bella Rose 2 (2690 points) and the fourth place with Emilio 107 (2658 points).

A number of other combinations moved up in the rankings, thanks to the Saab Top Ten Dressage 2018 and the FEI Dressage World Cup™ qualifier in Madrid (ESP) on 23-25 November 2018. Patrik Kittel with Delaunay Old (SWE) moved from the 97th to the 11th place (2280 points), whilst Daniel Bachmann Andersen and Blue Hors Zepter (DEN) jumped from the 175th to the 33rd place (2030 points). Claudio Castilla Ruiz and Alcaide (ESP) also made an enormous leap from the 118th to the 43rd place (1923 points).

With the FEI Dressage World Cup™ season continuing over the next few months there will certainly be more impressive changes in the ranking list.

FEI Media Contact:

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

Olga Nikolaou
Media Relations Officer
olga.nikolaou@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 56