Tag Archives: FEI

Bram Storms Round to Become FEI Driving World Cup Champion

L-R: Boyd Exell (AUS) in second place, Bram Chardon (NED) World Cup Champion, and Glenn Geerts (BEL) in third place. (FEI/Richard Juilliart)

In one of the tightest finals in recent history, Bram Chardon (NED) brilliantly held his nerve and clinched his second FEI Driving World Cup™ title in an exhilarating drive off against reigning champion Boyd Exell (AUS) and Glen Geerts (BEL). After a cat and mouse game of swapping positions between the two favourites, it was the 28-year-old soon-to-be father who triumphed in Leipzig.

“I was a bit disappointed about the two knock-downs and I thought I gave Boyd too much room to win. After Friday I was so confident and to have the two faults made me worry a little bit about my final position, but this is amazing and I am so happy!” said Chardon.

After the first round, held late on Friday night in the Leipziger Messe arena, Bram was ahead of Boyd by just under 8 seconds, so started Sunday’s second round on zero. Each driver carried over 50% of the difference between their score and Bram’s going into the final day and as the tension mounted, Boyd, with a penalty score of 3.78, stated, “It’s less than one ball down between us!”

Former champion Koos de Ronde (NED) was the first to drive Jeroen Houterman’s (NED) twisting course, the route unchanged since Friday but the position of some of the obstacles slightly altered. Koos had paid the price for his attacking approach on Friday, clocking up a penalty of 18.99 to carry forward. Back on his usual smooth form, he only nudged one ball, and in a time of 143.19 finished fifth on 166.18.  Next in was Mareike Harm (GER), the first female to compete in an indoor FEI Driving final. Her horses, who she also drives at outdoor events, were off pace in 155.51 and with one ball off, plus a penalty of 14.05, she dropped to seventh on 173.56.

Wild card driver Michael Brauchle (GER), who had set a competitive time on Friday, rolled three balls to add to his time of 144.22, plus a penalty of 10.57 to finish sixth on 166.79.  As the fourth starter, Glen Geerts (BEL) carried over 10.27 but drove a fantastic clear and finished on 148.89 to put himself into the final three. Belgian teammate Dries Degrieck, in his first FEI indoor season, dropped out of contention for the drive off with an unlucky ball on the final obstacle number 13, which cost him the valuable place as he finished behind Glen on 159.68.

As the intensity in the arena grew, Boyd pulled off one of the best rounds of the competition to close the gap between him and Bram. Leaving all the balls on top, he clocked up a time of 132.42, which plus his penalty put him on 136.2.

Admitting that he was extremely nervous, Bram drew on all his experience and matchplay to drive an even faster time of 132.33 but knocking one ball, finished on 136.33, which flipped the order and put Boyd into first place ahead of the drive off between the best three.

The enthusiastic crowd got behind the drivers and increased the already electrifying atmosphere, clapping to the beat of the music. First in was Glen, with his big outdoor horses, who he says are 1.5m longer and up to 20cm higher than the other teams. Having not considered that he would be in the drive off, he said after that he hadn’t thought about the different routes in obstacles 5 & 9 when two gates were taken out. While in 5, he knocked cone 6, so the clock was stopped and he was given an additional 10 penalties. He started again, having taken the foot off the pace, and with another ball down, ended his competition in third place on 323.73.

Bram re-entered the arena and rising to the challenge, produced another exceptional round in 118.39, knocking one ball. But he had done enough to really apply the pressure to Boyd.

All eyes were on the Australian, who was aiming to take his tenth indoor title, and he began in convincing style with all those watching believing that he would retain his title. Yet everyone gasped as right at the end, his horses lost balance between the final two obstacles and he hit cone two, rolling the ball, which crowned Bram World Champion.

In a rousing gesture during the prizegiving, the loudest cheer went to Bram’s proud father, the legendary Ijsbrand Chardon, multiple champion, who came in to hold the reins while Bram took to the podium. After receiving their prizes, champagne was sprayed around then the three drivers performed their famous ‘showboat’ before Bram was left alone to absorb the cheers from an adoring audience and exit at the gallop with his stunning grey horses wearing their new, red winners’ rugs.

Still grinning at the press conference, Bram commented that it was fantastic to have Mareike in the final, and he hoped it went to prove that driving a four-in-hand wasn’t all about strength, but as much about the training and getting the equipment right.

A fitting finale to a fantastic competition, after a much-shortened season, the drivers are now looking towards the outdoor event at Kronenberg (NED). All being well, we can look forward to a full programme of FEI Driving World Cup™ events for the 2022-23 season and much more excitement in this riveting contest between the world’s very best.

Full results here.

by Sarah Dance

FEI Media Contact:

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

Von Bredow-Werndl and Dalera Triumph, while Werth Retires Weihegold in Style

Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (FEI/Richard Juilliart)

There’s nothing like a big win on home ground, but there’s also nothing like retiring a superstar horse in front of a wildly enthusiastic crowd, so the Freestyle finale had it all when Jessica von Bredow-Werndl steered Dalera to victory at the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final 2022 where the sport said a rousing farewell to Isabell Werth’s great mare, Weihegold OLD.

The Leipzig Messe was electric with excitement all night, and some of the equine stars shrank under the intensity of the noisy atmosphere during the first half of the competition.

But when it came down to the wire the big names really rose to the occasion, and it was Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour who lined up second with her new young star Vamos Amigos, while Werth and Weihegold finished third.

Raised the bar

Werth raised the bar when putting a score of 85.921 on the board when fifth-last to go in the field of 17, Weihegold producing a stunning test that was full of energy and beautifully ridden by the lady long known as “The Queen” of dressage. The knowledgeable crowd was with them every step of the way, knowing that this was their last performance together as the mare was to be retired. When they came to a halt, the crowd rose to their feet with an enormous roar to acknowledge them.

Team gold and individual silver at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, European team gold in 2017, three FEI Dressage World Cup™ titles in a row including the last one in 2019, and team gold at last year’s European Championships in Hagen (GER) amongst their many achievements – their record has been extraordinary.

Denmark’s Nanna Skodborg Merrald followed with an impressive performance from the big-moving Atterupgaards Orthilia, who posted 81.239 for second place temporarily; next in was her compatriot, Carina Cassøe Krüth, whose ride on the light-footed, loose-limbed Heiline’s Danciera included fearlessly forward one-tempi changes. The crowd held their breath until the scoreboard showed 84.971 – Werth was still out in front.

Looked threatening

However, the last of the Danes had yet to come, and Cathrine Dufour always looked threatening when steering Vamos Amigo through a brilliant test, although clearly she wasn’t pushing the 10-year-old to the limit in extended canter. It was no wonder because, as she said afterwards, “He was a bomb today for sure!” He certainly looked explosive but contained himself to the very end and, once his rider relaxed the rein, wandered out the arena like he’d heard a crowd like this a million times. He certainly hasn’t though.

“He’s never been in a ring as full as this before; he was really brave today!” Dufour said with delight.

But the story certainly wasn’t over yet because the lady who has dominated the podiums at both the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and the European Championships last summer was yet to take her turn.

Crest of a wave

Jessica von Bredow-Werndl arrived in Leipzig for this week’s Final on the crest of a wave but, as she pointed out, a little “rounder” than usual because she is expecting her second baby to arrive in a few months’ time. However, the little bit of extra weight wasn’t bothering Dalera as the pair executed yet another exquisite test that demonstrated the delightful harmony between these two.

The balance, rhythm, accuracy, and lightness, and the drama of their tempi changes all came together to present the loveliest picture, and as they pranced up the final centreline, it was clear the result was done and dusted. When their score of 90.836 was announced the crowd erupted yet again.

Winner von Bredow-Werndl said afterwards, “I just wanted to come here and of course it was my goal to show what we have shown the last couple of months, but it couldn’t have been better to take a little break now and come back soon!”

Dufour joked that she shouldn’t rush returning to the sport after her baby arrives – “Just stay away for a while!” she suggested with an enormous laugh.

The Danes had every reason to be on a high, Dufour filling second spot, Cassøe Krüth finishing fourth, and Skodborg Merrald lining up in fifth place, while Germany’s Helen Langehanenberg had to settle for sixth. It was a show of mighty strength from Denmark, and it’s a real shot in the arm ahead of this summer’s World Dressage Championships on their home ground in Herning in four months’ time.

Really fantastic

“It’s really fantastic to see how the system in Denmark has gone so well over last four or five years, and you clearly see what has been produced – riders bringing young horses to the top; the two girls that are here are really cool and they can perform under pressure, myself included, and of course we love to put pressure on the girls sitting here!” she said, looking at Werth and von Bredow-Werndl.

“But there is still some way to go; we saw that in 2020 suddenly things change, so for now we are going to keep the horses sharp, try to make a good plan, and then really just enjoy that the Championship is going to be on Danish soil. That is quite fantastic in itself, and we are looking forward to inviting everyone for a great battle and great sport,” Dufour added.

When asked about the Ukrainian flag she had pinned to her tailcoat, she explained, “There is an awful situation going on right now, so I’m wearing it to show support to the people affected by this crazy war.” Newly-crowned champion, von Bredow-Werndl, leaned forward in agreement and added, “We all carry that flag in our hearts.”

Flowing again

After the prizegiving, the emotions were flowing again when Werth and Weihegold entered the arena for the mare’s retirement ceremony. “When you are in a competition you are focused on that, and of course the last line (of their Freestyle) was also quite emotional and when they gave Weihe the standing ovation that was very great. But to go in with the team of people who have been around for the last seven or eight years – that was really emotional, to feel the atmosphere,” Werth said. However, she felt it was the perfect send-off in the end. “It was what you wish for a horse like her, to give her the last honour – it was just super!” she added.

Meanwhile, von Bredow-Werndl reflected on the performance from Dalera that made success possible. “There are no words! She was phenomenal – she always leaves her heart for me in that square (in the arena), and it is not natural at all, and at the same time she does it again and again. I have the feeling even now that we are not yet at the end of our journey together!” said the athlete who believes her mare has even more room for improvement, and who became the sixth German athlete to win the coveted FEI Dressage World Cup™ trophy since the first Final took place back in 1986.

Result here.

by Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Lupacchini Steals the Title for Italy

Lorenzo Lupacchini (ITA) and Rosenstolz 99 (FEI/Richard Juilliart)

Under the lights of the Leipziger Messe, the 2022 FEI Vaulting World Cup™ Champions were crowned. No-one could keep French Manon Moutinho from the female title, whilst Lorenzo Lupacchini took his chance to bring home the glory for Italy. Janika Derks and Johannes Kay gave a spine-tingling ultimate performance to win the Pas de Deux.

After a great start in the Technical Test the trio of Manon Moutinho, Corrine Bosshard, and Saitiri pulled out a show stopping Free Test with a perfect artistic score to win the final on 8.431.  “I am really happy. I could not have expected more from me, my horse, or my lunger. It was a really good experience to start this new season 2022. There is still some work to do, but we are only in April and I am very pleased.”

Bringing back her 2019 winning freestyle theme wasn’t enough for German defending champion Janika Derks.  She had to settle for second place, 8.257.  Making her mark in her first individual World Cup final, Kimberly Palmer (USA) was one of only three female individuals scoring over 8 points and finished in third place (8.009).

The men’s competition went to a tense finish. After slipping from the horse in one of his risk exercises, Lambert Leclezio (FRA) (8.628) had to watch the title go to Lorenzo Lupacchini (8.795). The Italian barely lost a point as he performed gracefully on top of Rosenstolz.

“I am really really happy because I didn’t expect this result. I just participated for enjoying. I was on the third place so far, so I had nothing to lose and nothing to win. So I tried to give emotions and not only exercise,” said Lupacchini.

He becomes one of only two athletes to have won the FEI World Cup™ Final in the Individual and Pas de Deux class. Jannik Heiland completed the podium for Germany (8.019).

An exquisite final performance from the German pair, Janika Derks and Johannes Kay, concluded the FEI Vaulting World Cup™ Final as well as their vaulting careers. Alongside Nina Vorberg and Humphrey Bogart OLD, they left the audience with goosebumps as they became World Cup Winners (8.754). Screaming with delight as he landed his final dismount, Johannes later summed up his experience “Yes, once in my life I competed in the World Cup: that was here and today and that was the last time – and we have won. But winning was not important to me. We made the thing out of it, what we wanted to make out of it. That worked out; we are satisfied… To have found such a beautiful conclusion, in such a beautiful atmosphere – it doesn’t get any better than that.”

Romana Hintner and Eva Nagiller managed to improve on their first round performance to move up into second place (8.016) leaving Chiara Congia and Justin van Gerven in third (7.960).

It has been an historic Final in Leipzig. France and Italy each took the title for the first time in their respective classes. Wrapping up the experience and marking the career end for Janika Derks: “I think we have achieved exactly what we wanted to achieve here again: having fun with the sport, just enjoying it – this was just the perfect show for both of us to find closure for us.”

Full results here.

by Joanne Eccles MBE

FEI Media Contact:

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

Bram Takes the Lead in FEI Driving World Cup Final

Bram Chardon (NED) (FEI/Richard Juilliart)

As the final competitor to start late on Friday night for the first round of the FEI Driving World Cup™ Final in Leipzig (GER), Bram Chardon (NED) laid down his claim to the 2022 title with a fantastic drive.

Smoothly steering his four-in-hand of grey horses through Jeroen Houterman’s (NED) flowing course of thirteen obstacles, he managed to leave the balls on top and recorded a blistering time of 135.80 secs. Reigning champion Boyd Exell (AUS), who is aiming for his 10th indoor title, was the sixth competitor to go and had set the fastest time of the night of 143.35 with no balls down.  Dries Degreick (BEL), in his first FEI World Cup™ Final, drove a quick course but with one ball down finished in third on a score of 152.76.

“It is incredible to start the finals here. I watched the others on the screen. I knew Boyd by far was the quickest time, so I thought, if I can get near his time, I am going to be happy!” a delighted Bram said. “Definitely I was planning on staying clear. I was trying to go a little bit safer, but then when the horses felt so good, I just let them go and pushed them to the end, when I knew there was more in it; this is fantastic.”

Seven of the world’s leading horse four-in-hand Drivers are competing in the 20th Indoor Final which was last held in Bordeaux in February 2020. For the first time a female driver is competing, Mareike Harm (GER), who drove a smooth round but knocked three balls and finished in sixth place on 163.89. Fellow German, Michael Brauchle, the wild card entry, ended the night in fifth on 156.94.

Glenn Geerts (BEL), was fourth on 156.94 after driving a clear but slower round.  Making uncharacteristic mistakes was former champion Koos de Ronde (NED) who ended in seventh on 173.78 after knocking several balls and incurring extra penalties for having to stop so the course could be rebuilt.

All the Drivers are now eligible to return for the second round of the Final on Sunday. They will drive in reverse order and the top three will drive again to decide the final placings.  All except Bram, who will start with a penalty score, which is 50% of the differential between theirs and the leader’s score.

Full results here.

by Sarah Dance

FEI Media Contact:

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

Ward Takes the Lead ahead of Sunday’s Title Decider

McLain Ward with Contagious. (FEI/Richard Juilliart)

America’s McLain Ward knows what it is to win the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup, and the 2017 champion set himself on that path once again when topping the second competition at the 2022 Final in Leipzig, Germany.

A brilliant last-to-go run with Contagious in the seven-horse jump-off against the clock moved him up from overnight fifth to pole position on the leaderboard, and he goes into Sunday’s finale a full fence ahead of The Netherlands’ Harrie Smolders in second place, while young Briton, Harry Charles, shares third spot with first-day leader Martin Fuchs from Switzerland, both just a single penalty point further behind.

The two rounds were filled with drama, with defending series champion and Fuchs’ fellow-countryman Steve Guerdat producing the first clear with Victorio Des Frotards over Frank Rothenberger’s testing first-round track. But all of the leading four returned with penalties this time out, and two of them faulted on the snaking line between fences six and eight that proved highly influential.

The challenge

Ward explained the challenge here. “I thought when we walked the course that was the hardest part. It didn’t line up very well – when you jumped the vertical at six, it was a very awkward line to those big spooky standards (at fence 7) and then you threw in the liverpool, and it was on a half-stride, five-and-a-half. So if you let your horse cut in you got there deep and slow, and they were backing up so the back rail was a problem. It was five and a bit (strides) to the vertical at eight and a few did six; it was just quite uncomfortable,” the American explained.

It was that tricky water-tray oxer at seven that snatched the lead from Fuchs when The Sinner put in a spooky jump and crashed through it, the Swiss rider recovering quickly enough to clear the following vertical, however. Max Kuhner’s Elektric Blue P skewed over the fence, but left it up only for the Austrian duo to bring down the final vertical. Irishman Conor Swail looked en route to a clear with Count Me In only to hit the big oxer at 11 on the 13-fence track, while Germany’s David Will, lying fourth as the action began with C Vier 2, left fence six and the penultimate oxer at 12 on the floor.

Jump-Off

Two fences down put paid to Guerdat’s chances in the jump-off in which the vertical at fence eight, now the second-last obstacle, proved the undoing of three of the remaining six. British veteran John Whitaker was first to fall victim there with Equine America Unick du Franckport when next to go, but his nephew Jack, who is a full 46 years younger, then posted the first clear with the brilliant little grey Equine America Valmy de Lande in 48.66 seconds.

Frenchman Gregory Cottard and Bibici also hit fence eight before Harry Charles overtook his young British rival to take the lead in 47.14 seconds with Romeo 88. Dutchman Smolders put in by far the quickest round with Monaco who stopped the clock in 41.37 seconds but leaving fence eight on the floor, so when Ward set off, last to go, he always looked dangerous. The leaderboard was now at his mercy with those ahead of him all out of contention, and he capitalised on that with a superb tour of the track that snatched the win without hardly turning a hair, leaving Charles in second and Jack Whitaker in third while Smolders lined up in fourth place.

As he said afterwards, he knew exactly what he needed to do.

“I was able to see enough of the jump-off to know it wasn’t actually very fast, and when Harry had the fence down that really opened the door so our game plan was to do just enough but not take too much out of the horse, not only for Sunday but also risking having a fence down,” he pointed out after posting the winning time of 44.03 seconds.

He said the fence down that pinned him back into fifth place was entirely his own fault. “The horse was in brilliant form; I added a stride in a bending line and I put him in not a great spot. It was a mistake on me; the horse wanted to win both rounds!” he said.

Comparing

Comparing the courses, he said, “In the sport nowadays at the top level there are no easy days; there are extremely hard days, but I’d say yesterday was a friendly speed leg. Today, he (course designer Frank Rothenberger) ratcheted it up a couple of notches, a bunch of big verticals; the triple combination was big off the corner with two oxers, and we had a great result.

“Frank has a lot of experience and he knows how to build a competition that brings out the best. And he also challenges riders without making it too hard on the newer, less experienced ones, and people from different regions of the world where the sport isn’t strong. He’s very good at that,” he pointed out.

Harry Charles was delighted when he checked the new leaderboard. “I would definitely have taken that at the start of the day considering my position yesterday (13th). I’m in pretty good company up there (joint-third), more than a fence off McLain, but it’s all to play for on Sunday and I’m pretty happy with that! Even if it wasn’t exactly the day I wanted yesterday, I was very happy with my mare Stardust, and I’m so happy to have made up for it today. It was always my plan to ride Romeo today and Sunday; he’s a big jumper and has Olympic experience behind him,” the 22-year-old rider said.

For 20-year-old Jack Whitaker, this result was also something special. He described his handsome little grey horse as “not so big but he has a big heart; he’s a fighter. We bought him from France when he was six and my dad (Michael Whitaker) rode him until he was about 10, and I’ve only been riding him for a few years. He’s a nightmare to deal with; in the collecting ring he doesn’t like the big screen; he’s really sharp, he see and hears everything, and he gets silly, like a big kid! But when you go in the ring, he just goes, most of the time. When he gets a bit sharp it can go a bit wrong, but he’s unbelievably careful and as long as I’m getting it right, he’s normally clear,” he explained.

Very special

Ward’s title win in 2017 came after many years of trying and was very special, particularly because it was posted on home ground in Omaha (USA). When asked if he now felt under pressure having the advantage going into Sunday’s last class, he reflected:

“I sat at this venue 20 years ago in the lead going into the last day with Victor and blew it on the last line; I remember it very clearly. I sat in this position in 2017 and won, so you take those experiences and you try to use them to help you focus and keep your head right. You need to do your job, your horse has to be in form, and you need a little good fortune to win one of these Championships, and I’ve been on both sides of that coin. I think understanding that helps keep your head in the right place but it’s a challenge. As I told Harry (Charles) earlier, don’t think this gets any easier in 20 years! My team will do a great job and I’m proud of my horse no matter how it comes out – we’ll do our best!” he said.

When asked if he had any advice for his younger rivals, he joked, “I hope they get a little nervous! They are doing a brilliant job. At different stages in your career, you have different mental challenges and we all process it differently, and that’s part of sport and it’s a beautiful thing. I’ve got to work just as hard at it now in this stage of my career as they do at the beginning of theirs, for different reasons. It’s great to be still in the mix; it’s great to see them. I admire both of them their talent and ambition and it gives me energy and makes me still want it,” he said.

Contagious

He talked about his 13-year-old gelding Contagious:

“He’s an incredible tryer. I would have said at the beginning when we first got him that he was a very careful, nice, level Grand Prix horse. I never thought of him as a Championship horse, but he kept developing and he kept building scope. I would ride the scope into him a bit and give him energy, and he ended up jumping the Olympics last year and performing brilliantly and he’s a different horse since then, or maybe I look at him differently now.

“He came out of that a bigger, stronger horse, so he outshines what his natural ability was at the beginning, because he’s a fighter with great quality and he’s a bit of a character – a bit spooky and a bit jumpy, but a winner!”

Result here.

by Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Short Grand Prix Win Goes to Dalera and von Bredow-Werndl

Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and TSF Dalera BB (FEI/Richard Juilliart)

It was no surprise when the reigning Olympic and European gold medallists, 36-year-old Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and her 15-year-old mare TSF Dalera BB, strutted their way into pole position in the Short Grand Prix when the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final 2022 got underway in Leipzig, Germany.

Drawn in prime last-to-go position, the German duo soared ahead of the opposition to post a score of 84.793, pinning Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour and Vamos Amigos into second place and their German counterparts and defending three-time champions Isabell Werth and Weihegold OLD into third.

A strong test from Denmark’s Nanna Skodberg Merrald and the 17-year-old Atterupgaards Orthilia put them top of the leaderboard on a score of 75.752 when fourth to go, and that proved unbeatable until Werth posted 79.756 to go out in front when twelfth into the arena.

But then Dufour broke the 80 percent barrier with a great performance from the 10-year-old Vamos Amigos to put 80.019 on the board, only for von Bredow-Werndl to deny her the top step of the podium with her winning ride.

Freestyle

It’s now down to Saturday night’s Freestyle to decide the fate of the 2022 FEI Dressage World Cup™ title, and for Werth, this entire week is filled with emotion because her great mare will be officially retired that evening in a special ceremony. She couldn’t hold back the tears in her post-competition TV interview.

There was emotion for von Bredow-Werndl too. “As you know, I’m six months pregnant and I feel super fit and so does Dalera, but from a sporting point of view it’s a little bit sad because this is my last big competition before a break,” said the rider who has swept all before her over the last ten months.

Dufour was elated with the result she achieved from her relatively young horse. “I was surprised and super happy with his performance. He was really on fire in the ring and the audience started clapping in the first extension, and I thought, ‘No!’ because he had legs everywhere! But he’s only done a few indoor shows so the fact that he kept his mind in the right place and performed like he did today – that is really fantastic!” she said.

In the shadow

When asked if her Olympic ride, Bohemian, might find himself in the shadow of this new young star, Dufour laughed and said, “No, you don’t know how big Bohemian’s ego is!  Of course, Vamos has plenty of quality and there is way more in him, but Bohemian has more experience so far and I feel very lucky I have two horses that are currently ready for a team position – obviously with the World Championships coming up in Denmark. And I also enjoy every competition because you never know what happens,” she pointed out wisely.

Werth said she was pleased and proud of her great mare. “She did a super job, just a little mistake. I think a one-tempi was a bit short in the beginning; she was so focused and especially the highlights were piaffe/passage and the pirouettes were really good. So I’m just happy and looking forward to Saturday and it’s a pleasure for me to present her in that way. She’s done so many great competitions; from the beginning to the end she always tries to give her best and that makes her a very special horse,” she said.

Looking ahead

Looking ahead to Saturday’s Freestyle, von Bredow-Werndl said she loves her current one “and I think Dalera does too; she feels the rhythm, she knows it’s her music, and maybe that gives her even more confidence.”

It still feels like she’s improving and always giving 100% and when there are mistakes it’s because of me. She’s always on fire and always willing to do her very best.”

Dufour said she is “borrowing bits and pieces from Bohemian’s Olympic Freestyle and since I’ve only done two World Cups, I haven’t had time to make one of his very own (for Vamos Amigos). So I’ve stolen the music and played with the choreography. It’s a super high degree of difficulty, and I think the music suits really well and it tells a story about my life at the moment. I feel like I’m living the dream back home and I just enjoy every day with the horses, and I think the music sums it up really well. It’s a really powerful Freestyle and I’m just excited to ride it. He’s still young and it’s my first World Cup Final, so I’m just here to enjoy it and have fun!” she explained.

Werth is determined that Weihegold will go out in style on Saturday night.

“I hope we can show a very good test like she deserves, and it will be pleasure to be here with a loud crowd in a competition. I think it’s just great to retire her not in an empty arena; she really deserves this atmosphere, so I’m really looking forward to it and I will try to enjoy it. And of course, I have the pressure of showing her as best as possible, more than ever before because it is the last one!”

Result here.

by Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Update on Situation in Ukraine and Support to Ukrainian Equestrian Community

A webinar was held 30 March for the European Equestrian National Federations and associated European Equestrian Federation (EEF) members to provide a comprehensive update on the situation in Ukraine.

Jointly hosted by the European Equestrian Federation (EEF), Ukrainian Equestrian Federation (UEF), UEF Charity Foundation, and the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), the meeting included a thorough overview of the current actions and priorities in Ukraine, as well as an interactive discussion to establish the most efficient processes required to support the equestrian community (including the horses) in Ukraine and those who have fled to neighbouring nations.

The meeting also highlighted the strong collaborative spirit between the National Federations and the willingness from the equestrian community to provide both financial and logistical support through donations of supplies and materials, offers to host individuals, and/or horses and employment opportunities.

Since the onset of the war, the FEI, EEF, and UEF have worked together and tirelessly to provide support and aid through the UEF Charity Foundation and the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund.

Current situation in Ukraine

The UEF Charity Foundation, which was set up at the start of the conflict and has the full support of the FEI and EEF, manages the logistics and coordination of humanitarian aid, the evacuation of horses, and the general information flow to/from the community and those externally wishing to help. Through the website www.helpukrainehorses.eu, offers of material aid (feed, shavings, etc.), monetary donations, and accommodation have been received from across Europe and overseas. To date, over 375 tonnes of material aid have been received at their central hub in Poland and over €75,000 has been donated directly to the Charity Foundation.

Working hand in hand and funded by the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund, the Foundation has also managed the creation of a logistical hub in Granat, located between Lviv and the Polish border, able to accommodate up to 40 horses so they can be prepared for transfer into the European Union. Individuals should contact the UEF Charity Foundation for more information. It is expected this hub will be at full capacity in the coming days.

Whilst the achievements so far have been remarkable, the UEF Charity Foundation gave a stark warning that the requirement for aid is ongoing. Over the next month, an expected 2,000 horses will require support from the Foundation which would equate to triple the number of supplies currently held. As such, there is a need to continue working cooperatively across Europe in order to facilitate the supply of aid.

FEI Solidarity Director Jean-Phillippe Camboulives took this opportunity to urge all National Equestrian Federations “to designate an official representative to first coordinate the offers of support and supplies nationally, and then liaise with the FEI, EEF, and UEF to ensure logistical efficiency.”

Among other things, this would entail that offers for accommodation or employment be coordinated through National Federations, prior to reaching the UEF Charity Foundation and the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund.

Camboulives added that the “FEI Solidarity Relief Fund has been able to provide great support to individual members in the Ukrainian community through neighbouring and European member federations such as the Ukrainian Vaulting team which is currently training and living in Slovakia thanks to the efforts of the host National Federation and the determination of their Secretary General Zuzana Baciak. And there are many examples like this at the moment. We must continue to work together and to coordinate our efforts and use our resources effectively.”

EU Regulations on the movement of horses

FEI Veterinary Director Göran Åkerström provided an update on the situation regarding the transfer of horses from Ukraine into neighbouring EU countries, as well as the essential biosecurity protocols and sanitary requirements, which must be respected to safeguard horse welfare and horse populations both inside and outside of Ukraine. Among the topics covered, he also informed member nations of recent amendments to the existing Health Certificate published this week by the European Commission and taking effect on 29 March through to 15 December 2022 which could facilitate the transit of horses. Given the recent publication, the documents are currently under review by the FEI and clear guidance will be shared to all relevant stakeholders in the coming days.

Looking ahead and planning the future 

Reflecting on the complete collapse of the Ukrainian equestrian industry, the EEF and the FEI gave their full support to help rebuild the Ukrainian Equestrian Federation and the community.

To conclude the meeting, EEF President Theo Ploegmakers said, “The situation in Ukraine is devastating, but the collaboration we have seen across Europe through our members and the FEI is incredibly encouraging. There is still a huge amount of work to be done to help both the equines and the wider equestrian community in Ukraine and I believe through our network in Europe we can continue to provide the necessary support.”

FEI Solidarity Relief Fund:

The FEI set aside a CHF 1 Million Solidarity Relief Fund for the equestrian community in Ukraine, following the invasion by Russian military forces. The allocation was approved by the FEI Executive Board during a meeting convened on 28 February 2022, where members also unanimously condemned the invasion and agreed to remove all international equestrian events in Russia and Belarus from the 2022 FEI calendar. The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) has also joined forces with the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund, establishing the USEF Ukraine Relief Fund to Support Ukraine horses and equestrians, with 100% of funds raised going to the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund to be distributed by the FEI.

EEF:

Founded in 2009, the European Equestrian Federation (EEF) is the representative body for the European based National equestrian Federations. Working closely with the Federation Internationale Equestre (FEI) and the National Federations, the EEF works to maximise the potential and development of equestrianism throughout the continent. The EEF is committed to promoting the sport equestrianism and its good practices, developing the sport across Europe, and providing leadership for a collective European voice in the sport.

UEF Charity Foundation:

The Charity Foundation is registered in Belgium and its mission is to help the Ukrainian equestrian community during the crisis. The Foundation works closely with the FEI and national equestrian federations. For all the latest information and activities, visit https://helpukrainehorses.eu/

Media contacts:

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

EEF
Alice Ward
Communications Manager
alice.ward@euroequestrian.eu
+33 6 40 62 81 97

Boyd Exell Aims to Take His 10th FEI Driving World Cup Championship in Leipzig

Mareike Harm (GER) (FEI/Jon Stroud)

For the first time since 2008 the FEI Driving World Cup™ Final returns to Leipzig (GER) to round off the 2021-22 indoor season. The Driving will take place alongside the FEI World Cup™ Finals for Dressage, Jumping, and Vaulting.

Six of the world’s best international four-in-hand drivers will be vying to take the title in this enthralling event.  Requiring skill, agility, and bravery, teams of four powerful horses must work together as they are steered at the gallop through a combination of obstacles and pairs of cones, with many tight twists and turns.  Although competitors aim for the fastest time, they must also be accurate as penalties are added for any balls that are knocked off.  This event is a popular spectacle which engages the crowd, the electric atmosphere enhanced with rock music and theatrical lighting.

Reigning indoor and outdoor FEI Driving World Champion Boyd Exell (AUS) leads the rankings going into the final.  Winner of more Four-in-Hand World Championships than any other driver, Boyd first took the indoor World Cup title in 2009 in Gothenburg (SWE).  He admits it has been a difficult season, with the early events running so close to each other at the end of 2021, then a long wait until the final.  Having won three of the four qualifying events in Lyon, Stockholm, and then London just before Christmas, Boyd said, “We are keeping our teams, both horse and human, focussed and not taking anything for granted.  It would be a mistake to underestimate the competition.”

Course designer Jeroen Houterman (NED), who designed the tracks in Lyon and London, is keeping his course a secret until he gets to Leipzig.  Mindful of the lack of competition practice the horses have had going into the finals, he has created the sort of test he would produce at the beginning of a season, making it relatively simple.  He hopes his design will encourage flowing driving that is not too difficult on the horses and when walking the course, drivers should be able to see what their options are.

The six qualified finalists are Boyd Exell (AUS), Bram Chardon (NED), who won in Geneva, Koos de Ronde (NED), Glenn Geerts (BEL), Dries Degrieck (BEL), and Mareike Harm (GER).  A seventh, ‘wild card’ competitor has been invited to drive too, Michael Brauchle (GER), but the rules state that he cannot contend for the title.

Competition will be fierce between these talented drivers, with both Koos and Bram being previous title holders, and the home crowd will be cheering loudest for Michael and Mareike, who has the accolade of being the first female to compete at the final.  Mareike had an excellent drive in London and finished in third place, which helped seal her place in Leipzig.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there has not been an FEI World Cup™ Final since Bordeaux in February 2020, and this year the event is being held in April, which is later than usual.  However, the drivers, their horses, and the support teams around them are all highly experienced and will have altered their preparation to take this timing into account.

Driving Ground Jury President, Mark Wentein (BEL), said, “After the Covid-19 lockdowns and cancellation of some of the planned FEI World Cup qualifiers, the top drivers from the international driving scene are very keen to start in Leipzig for the final. Personally, I am convinced that the battle and the sporting standards will be very high. You have of course the World Champion and the title holder Boyd Exell (AUS), but perhaps some other drivers will put the pressure on his shoulders. Anyway, Leipzig will host the four different legs of FEI World Cup Finals and will be the most thrilling moment of the indoor season 2021-22. I expect great sportsmanship from all the competitors.”

Further information on the FEI Driving World Cup™ Final can be found here.

by Sarah Dance

FEI Media Contact:

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

Mexico Has Triumphant Homecoming at Coapexpan

The winning team from Mexico (FEI/Anwar Esquivel)

Mexico earned the series title when the North and Central America and Caribbean division of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ series last took place in 2019. In front of a home crowd at Coapexpan in Xalapa (MEX), the home squad set the tone for a strong 2022 season with a statement victory over Canada and the United States.

Led by newly appointed Chef d’Equipe Mark Laskin, the veteran squad of Nicolas Pizarro (Pia Contra), Federico Fernandez (Romeo), Patricio Pasquel (Babel), and Manuel Gonzalez Dufrane (Hortensia van de Leeuwerk) established a commanding three-rail lead in the first round with a perfect “0” score thanks to clear efforts from Fernandez, Pasquel, and Gonzalez Dufrane. They finished things off with two rails in hand on a final score of 12.

“I’ve been very impressed with the Mexican riders. I have a lot of depth and a lot of riders for us to select from. Obviously, my idea was to really start things off with a bang, and I think we accomplished that,” said Laskin.

It was not quite as smooth of sailing for the United States, as a young American squad was shockingly eliminated in the first round, and with no drop score, every rail counted for Canada, who sat on 12 faults entering Round 2.

But the Canadians rallied. The team’s youngest rider, Jacqueline Steffens, produced a critical clear round to add some pressure, while Pizarro and Fernandez each recorded 8 faults in their respective second rounds. Pasquel and his spectacular homebred Babel bolstered things with a double-clear effort, and Gonzalez Dufrane and Hortensia van de Leeuwerk, who so often have acted as team anchors, delivered once again to cement Mexico’s status atop the podium.

“I’m very comfortable being the anchor rider, and I had no pressure in the second round,” Gonzalez Dufrane said. “My teammates had already [all but] clinched the win.”

“I’m just very grateful to my fellow riders for giving me this amazing gift to win a Nations Cup in our hometown,” Fernandez said, “because that’s the best feeling ever.”

The North and Central America and Caribbean division of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ continues in Vancouver (CAN) on 5 June 2022.

Full results here.

By Catie Staszak

FEI Media Contact:

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

Bertram Allen and Harley vd Bisschop Thrill in 11-Horse Jump-Off

Bertram Allen (IRL) riding Harley vd Bisschop (FEI/Shannon Brinkman)

Bertram Allen (IRL) competes in the already-concluded Western European League, but that didn’t stop him from journeying to Live Oak Stud in central Florida (USA) for the final North American League qualifier of the 2021-2022 season. He rode Harley vd Bisschop straight to the top of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Ocala, besting an 11-horse jump-off.

“He’s 14 and an experienced horse,” Allen said of his mount. “He loves the grass, and the ground here is fantastic.”

A star-studded cast of athletes lined up for one last opportunity to earn NAL points toward qualification for the 2022 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final in Leipzig (GER). The field included points leader Conor Swail (IRL), defending event champion Daniel Coyle (IRL), and Hunter Holloway (USA), who took an NAL win in Las Vegas (USA).

Eleven advanced to Olaf Peterson’s (GER) jump-off, which featured tight turns, long gallop lanes, and eye-catching fences, including one uniquely constructed 1.60m plank, designed to resemble a post and rail wood fence.

Each combination seemed to outpace the next. Defending European Champions Andre Thieme (GER) and DSP Chakaria took an early lead (39.01 seconds), until Coyle set a stiff standard with his mount, Legacy (38.03).

“I saw that Daniel was maybe over a second quicker than [Andre], which I didn’t think was possible. So, I knew I had to give it everything, and it all came off and everything was actually very fast and well, and he really tried hard,” said Allen.

Allen saved best for last, setting himself apart with an early expedient turn and a furious gallop to the last. His winning time was 37.67 seconds.

“I think the main thing was to just stay [on the pace],” he said. “I maybe added one more [stride] to the double, and then we were very fast. I hoped we’d won it at the last.”

Swail (IRL) finished fourth Sunday, but he ended the NAL season as points leader with 74 points, having won three World Cup events at Vancouver (CAN), Sacramento (USA), and Fort Worth (USA). Tiffany Foster (CAN) finished second with 59 points, with Natalie Dean (USA) third on 41 points.

Ocala competitors Coyle, Holloway, Rowan Willis (AUS), Kristen Vanderveen (USA), Margie Engle (USA), and Schuyler Riley (USA) also punched their tickets to Leipzig. The Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final is set for 6-10 April 2022.

FULL RESULTS

By Catie Staszak

FEI Media Contact:

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