Tag Archives: FEI World Cup

Life Is Beautiful, and He’s Heading Home to Gothenburg

Shino Hirota and Life Is Beautiful. (FEI/Yusuke Nakanishi)

It’s not every day that a skewbald horse who spent many years harness-racing qualifies for the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final, but dreams do come true. And the 16-year-old gelding, Life Is Beautiful, can expect a very warm welcome when he enters the Scandinavium Arena in Gothenburg, Sweden as the Longines 2019 Final begins next April, because he is coming home to the city where he was born.

Ridden by 35-year-old Shino Hirota, this special horse competed in five of the six legs of the FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2018/2019 Japan League, and with three wins and two runner-up placings topped the series leaderboard by a long distance to claim a qualifying spot for the Swedish showdown.

It will be a huge step up for Shino, but her horse is likely to take it all in his stride. Sold to Japan after a career as a harness-racer in Sweden, he was spotted by Kiwi rider Bruce Goodin who advised his business partner, Ryumi Hirota, to buy him.

Ryumi, who represented Japan at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney (AUS) and at three FEI Jumping World Cup™ Finals, wasn’t overly impressed when he tried him at first because he had such an economic jump. But the higher the fences were raised the higher Life Is Beautiful would go, and from the moment Ryumi’s wife, Shino, took up the reins they really clicked.

Now the pair is seen as potential candidates for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on their home turf, so they couldn’t have arrived at the peak of their performance potential at a better time…

All around the globe horses and riders have been hard at work in their regional leagues, and Tegan Fitzsimon (28) posted two wins and two runner-up placings with Windermere Cappuccino to top the New Zealand FEI Jumping World Cup™ series. In Australia, Aaron Hadlow (31) and his mare Vahlinvader were qualified for the Longines 2019 Final long before the last round of Australian series that took place in Sale, Victoria earlier this month. It’s a huge achievement for the rider who has a day-job as an Accounts Clerk and who has developed his winning horse from the outset.

Brazil’s Luis Felipe Pimenta Alves (34) topped the South American League, Egypt’s Abdel Said (29) won the Arab League North Africa Sub-League, and four-time Olympian Ramzy Al Duhami (47) from Saudi Arabia won the Arab League Middle East Sub-League. Not for the first time, Thailand’s Siengsaw Lertratanachai (22) reigned supreme in the South East Asia qualifying series, while the Chinese League was won by Tongyan Liu (51).

All have their own individual stories, and success didn’t come without effort.

However, if there was a prize for fortitude and determination, courage, team-work, ingenuity, and true grit, it would go to South Africa’s Lisa Williams (52) and her horse Campbell. They will arrive in Gothenburg in six weeks’ time after one of the most tortuous journeys imaginable.

Having won the FEI World Cup™ South African League for the third time in a row in the 2017/2018 season, Williams decided to export the cheeky Campbell, whose stable-name is Dennis the Menace, to Europe. It turned into a four-month adventure that tested the character and resolve of everyone, including her horse.

The first 21 days of quarantine in Cape Town were followed by a further 90 in Mauritius which were very tough on “Dennis” who became chronically ill due to the intense heat and humidity. When eventually he arrived in Belgium in March 2018, Williams had less than six months to prepare him for the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 in Tryon, USA but they made it, and have spent the winter months back in Europe preparing for the Longines Final 2019. What a triumph it will be when they ride into the Scandinavium Arena together, flying that South African flag.

Meanwhile, the complete line-up for the 41st FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final has yet to be decided, with the results of the Central European Northern and Southern Sub-League and the Longines North American series rounding it off during the week ending 10 March.

All the results to date can be found here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Werth Wins, but Reynolds Prevents German Whitewash in Neumünster

Isabell Werth with Weihegold. (FEI/Stefan Lafrentz)

The undeniable queen of Dressage, Isabell Werth (49), won the ninth and penultimate leg of the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2018/2019 Western European League on home ground at Neumünster (GER) with her multi-medalled mare Weihegold. On a day when the German star and her accomplished compatriots claimed six of the top seven places in a super-hot competition however, Ireland’s Judy Reynolds (37) lifted the hopes and dreams of enthusiasts around the world when snatching third spot with her brilliant little gelding, Vancouver K.

Werth and her super-mare are defending FEI Dressage World Cup™ double-champions having stormed to victory in Omaha (USA) in 2017 and again in Paris (FRA) last season. They took the lead with a score of 86.810 when fourth-last to go, and their closest challengers were the 2018 Neumünster winners Helen Langehanenberg (36) and Damsey FRH, who were last into the arena, posting a mark of 83.825 for second place.

That pushed Reynolds and the little Dutch-bred gelding she calls JP down to third, but this was a sensational result for the pair who fly the flag of a horse-loving country that is really only waking up to the excitement of the sport of Dressage. After becoming the first-ever Irish partnership to take a podium placing in a Western European League Grand Prix, they broke the Irish international Freestyle record score they set in Amsterdam (NED) last month when putting 82.750 on the board.

“I was in the arena training this morning at 6am, and Patrick [her husband] and I were chatting before we got down to work. We were wondering, do people say, ‘If she can get into the middle of the Germans, then maybe I can too!’” — Judy Reynolds IRL (3rd)

“JP is a relatively normal pony but he’s getting in there and shaking them up a bit!” Reynolds added with a laugh.

She temporarily slotted into runner-up position behind Werth whose performance was met with a roar of approval from the knowledgeable Neumünster crowd. You could hear a pin drop during every test in the compact Holstenhallen.

“It’s outstanding – it’s like riding in a hot-spot and there’s a special emotion here, special people, special spectators, supporting us all the time,” Werth said after posting her fourth winning score of the season and her fifth victory at this German venue.

The crowd clearly enjoyed every moment, and the lady who won the first of her four World Cup titles in Gothenburg (SWE) in 1992 with Fabienne is now planning to give Weihegold a break, but will bring her other top ride, Emilio, to the last leg of the series at ’s-Hertogenbosch (NED) next month as a kind of insurance policy. “Just in case – it’s always good to have two horses qualified!” said the multiple champion who has a super-talented string to choose from and who will be returning to the Swedish city where she posted that first memorable win 27 years ago to defend her title in April.

Langehanenberg’s second-place finish leaves her lying second on the Western European League leaderboard, behind compatriot Dorothee Schneider who lined up fifth with Sammy Davis Jr and who is celebrating her 50th birthday. The biggest dilemma that German team manager Monica Theodorescu has now is to decide which two of the five German riders currently in the leading pack will join Werth at the Final, because each nation is only permitted to field three horse-and-rider combinations.

This result leaves Reynolds on the edge of the qualification zone, with only the top nine from this league making the cut. One more good run at the last leg in ’s-Hertogenbosch should seal it for the Irishwoman whose new Freestyle music and floorplan are going down a storm with both judges and spectators alike. This was only the third time for them to perform to their “Lord of the Dance” soundtrack and, at 17 years of age, the sometimes quirky Vancouver K looks to be still growing in comfort and confidence in the ring.

“JP is in the best form he’s ever been in! It was never our plan to do so many shows so close together but it seems to suit us better and he’s loving it!” said the rider who, as Ireland’s sole representative at the very top end of the sport right now, is inspiring many others in both her own country and elsewhere to strive to also be the best they can be.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Coyle and Eristov Top Two-Horse Jump-Off for Longines Victory in Leon

Jordan Coyle (IRL) and Eristov. (FEI/Anwar Esquivel)

Jordan Coyle (IRL) recorded the biggest win of his career when he topped a two-horse jump-off with Eristov to win the $1,910,000 (~$100,000 U.S.) Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Leon, the newest leg on the North American League.

Coyle, 25, and the 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding had the disadvantageous position of having to jump first over Anderson Lima (BRA)’s shortened track at the Leon Equestrian Club. However, after crossing the timers in 40.37 seconds, they put the pressure on Salvador Onate (MEX) and Big Red, who were fresh off a win in the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Guadalajara just two weeks prior. That pair settled for second with their 41.96-second clear round. Federico Fernandez (MEX) and Davidoff finished third, having recorded just a single time fault in the first round.

“My horse is naturally very fast,” Coyle said. “Going first, I wasn’t sure what to do, as I’m new to Mexico [and this show circuit]. I went as fast as I could go, and it worked.”

Clear rounds were hard to come by in the first round, as Coyle didn’t crack the code to a faultless performance until more than halfway through the class. Even an increase in the time allowed from 79 to 81 seconds only benefited Onate; Coyle was the only competitor to jump the first round cleanly and within the original time allowed.

“On a day like this, I don’t think there are many horses in the world that are as good as him. This is without a doubt my biggest win so far.” — Jordan Coyle (IRL)

One More Chance

The race for points and qualification for the 2019 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final in Gothenburg, Sweden will come down to the wire.

The west coast sub league has officially concluded, and Richard Spooner (USA) leads the standings with 49 points. Eve Jobs (USA) is hot on his heels with 48 points, and Nayel Nassar (EGY) sits in third with 46 points after prevailing in World Cup competition at both Thermal (USA) and Las Vegas (USA).

Beezie Madden (USA) leads the east coast standings with 58 points, but as the reigning World Cup Final Champion, she automatically qualifies. That leaves Molly Ashe Cawley (USA) in strong position with 55 points, just three behind Madden. Wilhelm Genn (GER), McLain Ward (USA), and Laura Kraut (USA) follow closely behind the top two with 47, 45, and 42 points, respectively.

There’s just one more chance for riders to punch their tickets to Gothenburg. The 2018-2019 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ North American League comes to a close with its final qualifier at Live Oak, Ocala. Part of the east coast sub league, the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Ocala gets underway 10 March 2019.

By Catie Staszak

FEI Media Contact:

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

It’s a Hat-Trick for Germany’s Deusser with Brilliant Win in Bordeaux

Daniel Deusser riding Tobago Z. (FEI/Eric Knoll)

Daniel Deusser produced his third sensational win of the season at the 13th and last qualifier of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2018/2019 Western European League in Bordeaux, France.

The 37-year-old German cruised to victory with Calisto Blue at round 3 in Verona (ITA) last October, and then rocketed up the series leaderboard when winning again at round 6 in Madrid (ESP) the following month with Tobago Z. Already heading the WEL leaderboard before competition began, the World No 5 rider and 2014 Longines champion has now accumulated a massive 99 points, and looks set to really put it up to the rest of the them when the Longines 2019 Final gets underway in Gothenburg (SWE) on 3 April.

In the six-way jump-off, it was Tobago Z who sealed it for him yet again, pinning Belgium’s Gregory Wathelet and Iron Man van de Padenborre into runner-up spot and Spain’s Eduardo Alvarez Aznar and Rokfeller de Pleville Bois Margot into third. Deusser can hardly believe what a run of form he’s been having.

“I’ve never had a season like this to be honest – not only three wins but fourth in Leipzig and third in Amsterdam – it’s just been amazing!” — Daniel Deusser (GER)

He admitted that he was “a bit confused” when two of the first four riders jumped clear over Jean-Francois Morand’s tough first-round track. “It was a big, long course with difficult combinations and the time-allowed was long. I thought he would reduce it, but it was such a good decision not to do that – we still only got six clear rounds, so the course designer did a really good job!” Deusser pointed out.

Celine Schoonbroodt-de Azevedo (Chepetta) led the way against the clock with a fence down in 51.92 seconds, but Belgian compatriot, Francois Mathy Jr, made no mistake with the ever-careful Uno de la Roque to set the first real target at 50.96 seconds. Then Norway’s Marie Valdar Longem, 621st in the Longines world rankings, produced her second superb clear of the day from the supercool Si la Sol de Greenbay Z in 53.14 seconds before Wathelet raised the temperature considerably.

His 11-year-old stallion is not long back after an injury-break and with a really positive and forward round they took the lead in 47.72 seconds, so when Alvarez Aznar broke the beam more than a second slower, it was Wathelet’s time that Deusser was chasing. The German hadn’t finally decided his strategy however, even as he set off.

“I knew there was the option to go inside after the double (third fence) but I only decided to do it after he jumped into the double because he was so confident in the air. I knew then we could do it, and then we got a good run to the plank (the following fence) so I just told myself to bring it home and not do anything crazy after that!” — Daniel Deusser (GER)

The top 18 riders on the Western European League table are all eligible for the Longines 2019 Final and current World No. 1, Steve Guerdat, will be chasing down his third title when the action gets underway in seven weeks’ time.

After the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ prizegiving, the Swiss super-hero, whose extraordinarily successful year in 2018 included individual bronze at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Tryon (USA) last September, was presented with the prestigious Longines FEI World’s Best Rider Award for 2018. Steve also accepted the Longines FEI World’s Best Horse Award 2018 on behalf of his brilliant mare, Albfuehren’s Bianca.

Meanwhile, Deusser has decided that Tobago Z will be his choice as he strives for a second Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ series title. “He’ll have four weeks off now and then I’ll take him to ’s-Hertogenbosch (NED) for a last run before the Final. It’s not an advantage to go to Gothenburg as the (WEL) leader, but it’s a really good feeling all the same!” he concluded.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Granato and Carlchen W Outrace the Field for First Longines Victory in Wellington

Alex Granato and Carlchen W. (FEI/Kathy Russell Photography)

In 2018, Alex Granato (USA) and Carlchen W made their Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ debut in Wellington. A year later, they earned their first World Cup victory at the same venue.

Granato and ‘Carl’ topped a competitive nine-horse jump-off to claim the 2019 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Wellington under picturesque conditions at the Jacobs family’s Deeridge Farms. Using footspeed to their advantage, they tore around Alan Wade (IRL)’s shortened track in 42.70 seconds, nearly a second ahead of Mario Deslauriers (CAN) and Bardolina (43.48 seconds). Beat Mändli (SUI) and Dsarie were third, finishing with a time of 44.16 seconds.

“It’s all very surreal. It’s been an amazing week. It’s a privilege to ride at a venue like this, against riders like this that I’ve looked up to for a long time.” — Alex Granato (USA)

Granato has had Carl, an 11-year-old Mecklenberg gelding, for five years. Originally meant to be a sales prospect, he put together a partnership with owner Paige Tredennick to develop the horse for top sport.

“He’s a naturally fast horse, so I got to play that to my advantage and let him run at his pace and stay focused on my track and turns,” Granato said. “We got a bit lucky with a rub in the jump-off, but my horse is very fresh, and we were gearing him toward this week. He came out fresh, strong and ready for it.”

World Cup Race Tightens

Reigning Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final Champion Beezie Madden took over the lead in the east coast sub league standings of the North American League with her fifth-place finish but is already pre-qualified based on her 2018 Finals victory in Paris (FRA). She currently has 58 points, three ahead of Molly Ashe Cawley (USA) with 55.

Just five points separate the following three placings — Germany’s Wilhelm Genn (47), the USA’s McLain Ward (45), and American teammate Laura Kraut (42) — with one east coast event remaining at Live Oak (USA).

Richard Spooner (USA) leads the west coast sub league standings with 49 points. Granato sits ninth with 24 points.

“Coming into the season, World Cup Finals was a big goal, but after jumping at Nations Cup Finals in Barcelona, I missed many of the early qualifiers,” Granato said. “I’ll take a look at my points, and if I’m in contention, I’ll go to Live Oak.”

The North American League continues next on the west coast. The Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Leon (MEX) gets underway 09 February 2019.

By Catie Staszak

FEI Media Contact:

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

Sensational Victory for von Eckermann in Amsterdam

Henrik von Eckermann with Toveks Mary Lou. (FEI/Arnd Bronkhorst)

Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann (37) worked the Dutch crowd into a frenzy and booked his ticket to the series Final with a sensational victory partnering the brilliant mare, Toveks Mary Lou, at the twelfth leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2018/2019 Western European League in Amsterdam (NED).

Last to go in a breathtaking eight-way jump-off, the rider ranked No. 8 in the world did what seemed all but impossible when pinning Switzerland’s Pius Schwizer (56) into runner-up spot by more than half a second, and pushing Germany’s Daniel Deusser (37) down to third.

“I knew it was all or nothing! When you’re last into the ring you have to believe you can do it – if you have any doubt in your mind then it will never work!” — Henrik von Eckermann (SWE)

This marked the most perfect return for the FEI Jumping World Cup™ series to the Dutch capital city after several years of a break. And amongst those celebrating the Diamond (60th) anniversary of Jumping Amsterdam was The Netherlands’ King Willem-Alexander who, like all the spectators packed into the RAI arena, was treated to an unforgettable afternoon of superb sport.

Only one of the eight Dutch contenders made it into the jump-off which began with a superb second clear for the exciting Portuguese pair, Rodrigo Giesteria Almeida and GC Chopins Bushi. That sole Dutchman, Eric van der Vleuten, was more than a half-second slower with Wunschkind when next into the ring but, as expected, Belgium’s Niels Bruynseels and the ever-ready Gancia de Muze roared into the lead in 35.09 seconds when third to go.

Two rides later, however, Frenchman Kevin Staut and For Joy van’t Zorgvliet HDC out-paced them, only to be immediately overtaken by Germany’s Daniel Deusser with his Madrid winner Tobago Z, who broke the beam in 34.67 seconds. Dutch course designer, Louis Konickx, had set them a superb final test, and both Staut and Deusser risked super-tight roll-backs to the vertical three from home.

But penultimate competitor and former world no. 1, Schwizer, who has been rocketing back up the rankings in recent months, found an even tighter line with his 10-year-old gelding Cortney Cox, and galloped through the timers in 33.34 seconds which looked to have surely settled the matter.

However, when it comes to the will to win, there’s no man quite like von Eckermann. Setting his jaw, he started out like his tail was on fire, and the great 13-year-old mare who has carried him to the third step of the podium at the last two Longines Finals gave him her all. Konickx had ensured that courage on the long run to the final fence would be rewarded, and with the Dutch spectators screaming them on, the Swedish pair threw everything they had at it to break the beam in the astonishing winning time of 33.01.

“I could hear the crowd coming down to the last, so I had to tell myself to stay calm! Mary Lou was lacking a bit of power at that stage so I needed to hold her and not go too much, but she is amazing!” he said.

“She has made me in this sport – I’ve had many good ones along the way, including Gotha, but she is the one that has won the most for me and I’m so very grateful to her owner, Mr Tovek, who has given me the opportunities by keeping a horse like her!” — Henrik von Eckermann (SWE)

With Mary Lou he also helped secure team silver for Sweden at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 last September.

As competition began, von Eckermann was lying 19th on the Western European League table, but he has now rocketed up to seventh ahead of the last qualifier in Bordeaux (FRA) in two weeks’ time. He’s missed out on the glorious Longines title by the smallest of margins over the last two seasons, and he’s hungry to try for it again when the 2019 Final kicks off in Gothenburg on 3 April.

“The way to the Final this year has been very stoney, but getting there was my biggest goal for the year. I’ve had two great Finals with Mary Lou before, and I’m so happy to be coming home to my own country to fight for it once again!” the Swedish star 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

Onate and Big Red Break Through in Guadalajara for First Longines Victory

Salvador Onate and Big Red. (FEI/Anwar Esquivel)

Salvador Onate (MEX) had a few anxious moments, but luck was on his side when he rode Big Red to victory in the $1,900,000 (~$100,000 U.S.) Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Guadalajara (MEX) on Saturday.

Onate, the first to keep all of the jumps up over Guilherme Jorge’s (BRA) challenging first round track, originally picked up a single time fault, crossing the timers in 79.60 seconds — six-tenths of a second over the original 79-second time allowed. However, the time was eventually adjusted to 81 seconds, securing Onate’s place in the jump-off.

Jumping first over the shortened track, Onate picked up a rail, but his 42.66-second time held again. With no double-clear performances, he came away with the win over Spain’s Paola Amilibia and VIP (4/46.49 seconds). Simon Nizri (ISR) and D Amour from Second Life Z finished third (4/47.71), with Andres Torres Hernandez (MEX) and Chabacon (8/51.89) taking fourth as the only other pair to qualify for the jump-off.

“Big Red is super smart…. He’s been ridden by many of the best, but it’s funny – this was the first time he’s ever won a grand prix!” — Salvador Onate (MEX)

“I knew there weren’t going to be many clear rounds, and when I had the time fault, I felt very bad for myself — because it’s a rider’s fault, not the horse,” Onate said. “Then, they switched the time, and I got into the jump-off. I was lucky today, all the way.”

The victory marked Onate and Big Red’s first in World Cup competition. The rider credited his quick reaction to pick up the pace in the jump-off as his key to victory.

“It’s kind of a disadvantage to be the first one to go in [in the jump-off],” he said. “I just wanted to go as fast as I could. I knew there were fast riders. As soon as I had one rail, I knew that I had to go very fast. That’s what I did, and it worked.”

By Catie Staszak

FEI Media Contact:

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

Werth and Weihegold Are Untouchable in Amsterdam

Isabell Werth with Weihegold OLD. (FEI/Arnd Bronkhorst)

Germany dominates podium with Schneider in second and Langehanenberg in third 

Four-time series champion, Isabell Werth (49) from Germany, stamped her authority all over the opposition with another superb win at the eighth leg of the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2018/2019 Western European League in Amsterdam (NED).

Having lifted the trophy for the last two years, Werth is automatically qualified for the 2019 Final in Gothenburg (SWE) in April. Her only task throughout the season is to compete twice with the horse with which she intends to defend her title, and after winning in Lyon (FRA) with Emilio and stealing the show in Stuttgart (GER) with Bella Rose, she showed just how spoiled she is for choice when coming out on top once more, this time with the brilliant mare Weihegold OLD who carried her to victory in both 2017 and 2018.

The most medalled athlete in equestrian sport, who is targeting her fifth title and her third in a row, was delighted with Weihegold’s performance, especially following some unexpected shenanigans on their way to pole position in the Grand Prix.

“Today she was much more calm – yesterday she did the first part of the test nicely, but she really turned it on in the canterwork and we couldn’t manage the two-tempis! Today she was much more cool. The thing about her is that sometimes she just wants it all too much – but this is a mistake I can live with!” — Isabell Werth (GER)

On a day of total German domination, her compatriots Dorothee Schneider (49) riding Sammy Davis Jr and Helen Langehanenberg (36) partnering Damsey FRH finished second and third, while fourth place went to popular Swede, Patrik Kittel (42) with Delauney OLD. Schneider has now moved to the head of the Western European League leaderboard from which the top nine will qualify for the Final.

Langehanenberg, series champion in 2013, set the first half of the competition alight with a technically tough but superbly executed Freestyle from the 17-year-old Damsey, who was with her every inch of the way to take the lead with a score of 82.440 that would not be easy to catch. Denmark’s Daniel Bachmann Andersen posted 80.400 with the lovely 11-year-old stallion Blue Hors Don Olymbrio, but the pair who topped the previous leg in Mechelen (BEL) last month, The Netherlands’ Hans Peter Minderhoud and Glock’s Dream Boy NOP, squeezed them out of temporary second spot when putting 81.380 on the board.

And then, with four left to go, Schneider’s Sammy Davis Jr swaggered his way to the top of the scoreboard with a brilliant test that included spectacular trot-work and perfect passage. Their mark of 82.675 was now the one to beat, and Kittel came close when Delaunay OLD was awarded 82.440 for a very difficult floorplan, while the penultimate partnership of Judy Reynolds and Vancouver K danced their way to 80.290. On a day of competition that was of championship standard this would slot her into seventh place and set a new Irish international record score, so her support crew were already celebrating as she left the arena.

Last in, however, Werth and Weihegold were in a league of their own, the mare producing a near-seamless test that clearly demonstrated her extraordinary skills and those of her truly exceptional rider. “She was full of focus and motivation today – really fantastic,” the German legend said of her horse whose beautiful big ears were standing to attention all the way through their test.

Werth plans to do both of the two remaining Western European League qualifiers, on home ground at Neumunster (GER) in three weeks’ time and ’s-Hertogenbosch (NED) in March, giving both Emilio and Weihegold another outing each. And she’s really looking forward to the Final in Gothenburg.

It’s 27 years since she won her first FEI Dressage World Cup™ title in that same Swedish city in 1992, “and it’s very special to go back. I always really love going there because it’s a fantastic show!” she said. But, typically modest, she wouldn’t be drawn on the prospect of posting that fifth series success.

“I would never say I’m going there to win – I’ve been doing this job for a long time now and you never know what’s going to happen. You know me – I always like to keep both feet on the ground!” — Isabell Werth (GER)

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Awesome Ahlmann Scores Again at Longines Leg in Leipzig

Christian Ahlmann with Caribis Z. (FEI/Leanjo de Koster)

It’s long been one of his favourite venues, and Germany’s Christian Ahlmann had his home crowd in the palm of his hand once again when scorching to victory in the eleventh leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2018/2019 Western European League at Leipzig.

Just three weeks ago, the man who currently holds 17th spot in the world rankings clinched a thrilling last-to-go victory in Mechelen (BEL) with the spectacular nine-year-old Clintrexo to shoot up the series leaderboard. Here it was another grey stallion, the 12-year-old Caribis Z, that carried him into pole position when last into the seven-horse jump-off, and he now stands top of the Western European League table with just two qualifying legs left to run.

Belgium’s Francois Mathy Jr (Uno de la Roque) and Italy’s Lorenzo de Luca (Armitages Boy) produced the only other double-clears to finish second and third, while Ahlmann’s compatriot, Daniel Deusser, posted the quickest round against the clock with Tobago, but had to settle for fourth with an unlucky fence down.

Ahlmann’s record at Leipzig is quite something. This was his seventh win at the fixture which celebrates its 22nd anniversary this year, and it was here that he steered Taloubet Z to claim the FEI World Cup™ Jumping title back in 2011. It was also here that he retired that great stallion after their final and emotional winning performance 12 months ago. It holds a very special place in his heart.

“This has always been an amazing show for me, and for my horses!” Ahlmann said as the fixture celebrated a record attendance of 74,700 spectators throughout the weekend.

German course designer, Frank Rothenberger, was determined he wouldn’t have a repeat of what happened in the last two Longines qualifiers at Leipzig Exhibition Centre. In 2018 a total of 15 went into the jump-off, and in 2017 there were 16 horse-and-rider combinations racing against the clock. However, a relentlessly testing first-round track, and a tidy time-allowed of 72 seconds, ensured there were just seven battling it out in the closing stages.

The Netherlands’ Leopold van Asten and VDL Groep Beauty led the way with a fence down in 40.83 seconds, and when Germany’s Tobias Meyer tried a very tight inside turn to the third, he paid the price when Queentina slammed on the brakes. Third to go, Mathy Jr, set a strong target when breaking the beam with a clean round in 41.49 seconds.

Deusser crossed the line in 39.53 seconds but left the same fence as van Asten, the planks at fence five, on the floor and although de Luca was foot-perfect, his time of 42.19 left Mathy still out in front with just two left to go. The crowd gasped when home hero and three-time Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ champion Marcus Ehning kicked out the first before steaming around the rest of the track with the fearless Comme Il Faut, so Ahlmann knew exactly what he had to do, and Caribis Z made it look very easy when cruising through the finish in the winning time of 40.70 seconds to a massive roar of approval from the packed stadium.

“Caribis jumped very, very well – the course really suited him; the short distances were good for me so that was our luck today!” Ahlmann said.

“He’s always been a bit in the shadow of Taloubet and Codex, but he’s taken a huge step forward over the last season and he’s ready for big things now. He jumps really light and he’s very quick in a jump-off; he’s a very sporty horse!” he said of the stallion he knows well, because they’ve been a partnership for the last five years.

Ahlmann said he is unlikely compete at the last two Western European League qualifiers which will take place in Amsterdam (NED) next weekend and Bordeaux (FRA) two weeks later. But with a massive 72 qualifying points Christian Ahlmann can happily relax ahead of the Longines 2019 Final in Gothenburg, Sweden in April. “I have two horses in great shape at the moment, so I’m really looking forward to the Final now!” he added.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

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