Tag Archives: FEI World Cup

Fuchs Wins the Title with the Horse of His Heart

(L to R) runner-up Harrie Smolders (NED), winner Martin Fuchs (SUI), and third-placed Jens Fredricson (SWE). (FEI/Richard Juilliart)

Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs was rightly proud when standing top of the podium as winner of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2022 Final in Leipzig, Germany. He came so close to clinching the trophy at the last Final in 2019 when slotting in behind his compatriot and three-time champion Steve Guerdat, and as he said, “I’ve been a couple of times second in Championships, and you obviously have it in mind you could be second again with the best riders in the world coming after me today.”

But in the end, he and his trusty steed Chaplin were the only ones in the leading pack to stand firm in the closing stages. Chaplin gave him everything, and more, over two rounds of tough jumping in which only three of the 30 starters left both courses intact. When Sweden’s Jens Fredricson was one of those, he finished third behind The Netherlands’ Harrie Smolders who claimed the second step of the podium.

Held the lead

America’s McLain Ward held the lead as the final day began, but a first-round error with Contagious left the 2017 champion vulnerable. He shared a four-fault tally with Smolders as the second round got underway, with Fuchs stalking the two of them carrying just five and on level pegging with young British star Harry Charles riding Romeo.

But a pole off the first element of the triple combination second time out saw Charles lose his grip, and when Smolders’ gelding, Monaco, clipped the following vertical, then Fuchs was quickly moving up the order.

Ward had no leeway now when last to go; any mistake would see his advantage unravel, and when his 13-year-old gelding lowered the middle element of the triple combination and also the white planks three fences from home, Fuchs had it in the bag, becoming only the fourth Swiss rider in the long history of the FEI Jumping World Cup series to hold the trophy aloft.

He rode Chaplin in Thursday’s first competition but swapped for The Sinner in Friday’s second leg. “After having a rail down on Friday, I wasn’t so sure I had made the right plan. But then I was still sitting in third place, so I thought two clear rounds with Chaplin on Sunday and we’ll be on the podium.

“That I end up winning this prestigious and historical competition obviously is a dream come true. All the best of the best riders’ names are written on this trophy and now to add mine is fantastic!” he said. He is the second member of the Fuchs family to win it; his uncle Markus Fuchs took the title with the brilliant Tinka’s Boy back in 2001.

Upset

Talking about losing his lead in Friday’s competition but somehow holding on for victory, he said, “When I came out on Friday, I walked to the warm-up and was pretty upset, but then Steve said, ‘Congratulations, now you must win on Sunday after what you did today!’ In hindsight when I looked at the video of my round, I was very happy, though obviously I was a bit lucky that I ended the course with these four points. It was a good plan that Chaplin had two days of rest and came back today to produce two clear rounds”

This was Smolders’ second time to finish in runner-up spot; his last was partnering Emerald back in 2016 when Guerdat posted the first of his three wins. But the Dutchman was delighted with his horse. “This was his first Championship, and I wasn’t sure how it would be. We knew he could do it one day, but over three days it’s a totally different story. He was coping with it very easily, so I think this won’t be his last Championship,” the delighted Dutchman said.

Plenty to celebrate

Meanwhile, Jens Fredricson also had plenty to celebrate. The older brother of Swedish phenomenon Peder Fredricson never touched a pole, and although others may have been surprised to see him on the podium, he wasn’t a bit surprised himself. He was lying ninth as the day began, and he and his horse, Markan Cosmopolit, were in spectacular form.

“I had great expectations actually and I enjoyed every second; it’s fantastic to be here doing what I love!” he said.

He describes himself as a “hobby rider” but his CV would suggest he’s long been a serious contender with a lifetime of international successes behind him. “I work at Flyinge and Stromsholm. I’m responsible for the next generation of riding instructors in Sweden,” he explained.

His last time at an FEI World Cup Final was on home ground in Gothenburg in 2013, and he admitted he’s made quite a few changes to his riding style since then. Partly due to the influence of his younger brother, Peder.

“I had the advantage of watching him going up to World No. 1. We talked almost every day so even if I wasn’t at the shows, I was there mentally. I followed his thinking and his development and I tried to do the same things, and I’ve changed a little bit my approach to the fences, and I now have a horse with very big scope. So I can sit a bit more still and have a better style. Before I used to throw my heart over and then we went over together; now when I look at the videos of my riding and it looks quite okay! I’m blessed that I have such good contact with my little brother. One of the most fantastic things in our sport is that I’m 55 years old and getting better every day. If I was running 100 metres, I would be less good every day!” he said with a laugh.

He also pointed out how great it is to see the younger generation rising through the ranks. “You want young riders coming up; there are some in their 20s like Jack (Whitaker, GBR) and Harry (Charles, GBR) and others. It’s important to have positive young riders coming along with good horses; that’s how the sport develops and gets better,” he pointed out.

Biggest names

Fuchs of course is one of those, not yet 30 but already one of the very biggest names in the sport. Over the last five years he has rarely been off the podium at any of the majors, taking individual silver at the FEI World Equestrian Games in 2018, runner-up at the last World Cup Final in 2019, and following with individual European gold that same year before taking team gold and individual silver at the FEI European Championships in 2021. Now he’s topped all that by taking the trophy every rider treasures: the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup.

And he did it with the big, brave, and charming Chaplin who he calls “the horse of my heart!” Many of the Swiss rider’s biggest wins were achieved with his brilliant grey Clooney who he describes as “a superstar and the most talented horse I’ve ever had.” But Chaplin is also super-special.

“He is just the biggest fighter; he doesn’t have the ability that Clooney has, but at the end he always gives everything. It was nice in the past few weeks because we got a lot of photos of his first foals, because last year he started breeding with some mares, so in the last two weeks we have a lot of pictures of new Chaplin babies so that was exciting. And now to come here and win the World Cup Final with him….”

For sure that is a dream come true.

Result here.

by Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

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

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

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

Taking It to the Max

At the draw for the FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final in Paris in 1987 (L to R): Leslie Burr-Lenehan (USA), World Cup Director Max E Ammann, and Nick Skelton (GBR). (FEI Archive)

As the FEI celebrates its centenary, one man’s name stands out when it comes to the development of equestrian sport over the last 100 Years – journalist, historian, art collector, and creator of the FEI World Cup™ Jumping series, Mr. Max Ammann.

There are people who talk, and people who do, and Switzerland’s Max Ammann is very definitely one of the latter. Over a 30-year period from 1978 to 2008, he drove equestrian sport out of a culture of conservative complacency and into an era of energy and progress that has brought us to where we are today.

He didn’t do it alone. He had the support of the three FEI Presidents of his era, and in particular the late Prince Philip who championed many of his innovative ideas.

And the story began in the fishing, farming, and wine growing lakeside village of Ermatingen in Switzerland where his father kept horses on the family farm.

Two businesses

“For over 100 years our family had two businesses. One was local transport and the other was buying fruit and vegetables from farmers and delivering to big shops in Zurich and St Gallen. So we had five horses, and in 1945 my father decided to compete with them. At that time, we had Driving competitions on a local and national level, and he competed from 1946 until 1955. He was quite successful and I was his groom,” Max says.

That led to father and son travelling to many big horse shows over the following years, and when Max moved to New York in 1964 as Foreign Correspondent for Swiss, German, and Austrian newspapers he decided to drop in on the National Horse Show which, at the time, was staged in Madison Square Garden. “I met a lot of people including Bill Steinkraus, Frank Chapot, Kathy Kusner, and Bert de Nemethy. So I started writing about horses and horse shows for (Swiss magazines) Cavallo and Reiter Revue and (American publication) Chronicle of the Horse,” he explains.

He returned to Europe for the FEI World Championships in Jumping at La Baule (FRA) in 1970 and the Olympic Games in Munich (GER) in 1972, and then in 1973 relocated to Switzerland once again when taking up the job of Chief Editor at Luzerner Tagblatt, the daily newspaper in Lucerne.

Agreement

“I had an agreement that I would go to 10 or 15 horses shows every year, so I started with the CSIOs, which were the dominant events at the time, and then began going to indoor shows which were practically unknown. I was the only foreign journalist at s’Hertogenbosch (NED), Amsterdam (NED), Berlin (GER), or Dortmund (GER), but I wrote about the competitions and I could feel that there was something happening in the sport,” Max says.

What he was feeling was the change of mood brought about by the success of those World Championships in La Baule. The 1960s had been very difficult.

“Most international events in showjumping were held outside Europe at the time. The ’64 Olympics were in Tokyo (JPN), in ’68 they were in Montreal (CAN), and in ’66 the World Championships in Jumping were in Argentina. Also that year the big Swamp Fever (Equine Infectious Anaemia) crisis happened, and as a result no continental Europeans competed at the Eventing World Championships in Burghley (GBR) and no Irish or British competed at the European Jumping Championships in Lucerne (SUI).”

Change for the better

But there was a major change for the better in the 1970s in a number of different ways. Jumping grew in popularity after the thrilling World Championships at La Baule in 1970 and the size and scale of the Munich Olympic Games in 1972, which will forever be remembered for the devastating terrorist attack, but which were also the largest yet, setting records in all categories with 195 events and 7,134 athletes from 121 National Olympic Committees.

That led to a coming together of journalists and riders alike, and during the FEI World Championships at Hickstead (GBR) in 1974 the International Alliance of Equestrian Journalists was formed.

The riders then decided they wanted the same kind of representative body, and at a meeting in Geneva in 1977 they established the International Jumping Riders Club of which Max was Secretary for a few years.

With the sport clearly moving in a more positive direction, TV broadcasters became increasingly interested in it. “When we were in Aachen or Hickstead we went to dinner together each evening and of course we talked a lot. We discussed the binding together of shows to create more interest, and that’s how the World Cup idea was born,” Max says.

Indoor shows became the main focus, and originally the plan was to create a Formula 1 motor-racing-style series, “in other words one worldwide tour.” However, Bill Steinkraus felt it was too complicated, in part due to the cost and stress of transporting horses all round the world. So the League system, that still remains to this day, was considered.

Presented

In 1978 Max presented the idea to then FEI Secretary General Fritz Widmer who advised him to take it to a Jumping Committee meeting in Brussels, Belgium where the FEI had its headquarters at the time. They liked it and made a favourable report to FEI President, the late Prince Philip, who invited Max to Windsor to discuss it.

“I had already written the rules and he liked it very much and said two things – ‘First, if we do it, then you have to run it!’ and ‘Now I’m going to translate it from American English into proper English!’”

Then there was the question of who should pay for it. Max spoke with Mark McCormack, manager and founder of IMG group which managed top sports figures and celebrities, but they weren’t interested, instead offering to sign up the world’s top riders. When that didn’t materialise, Max turned to an old friend, former Olympic rider Anders Gernandt, who was now a commentator on Swedish TV. And that was the turning point in the story.

“He put me together with the President of Volvo, Pehr Gyllenhammar, who invited me to dinner with a group including his friend Ulf Bergqvist, a Director of a bank and the Director of the Scandinavium Arena in Gothenburg. They listened to my presentation and I said I’d need 480,000 Swiss Francs which at the time was quite some money! After dinner we sat down and had some Cognac, and Gyllenhammar put out his hand and said, ‘It’s a deal!’ So now I had the agreement of Prince Philip and the President of Volvo and that was sufficient,” Max says.

Concept

So what was it about the concept of the Jumping World Cup that they found so appealing?

“I think it just had to come. I’m not a gambler; I only take calculated risks and I was absolutely sure it would succeed because there were precedents in skiing and football and other sports. And in the meantime, I had talked to many horse shows in New York, Washington, to Gene Mische in Florida, to people in Toronto, Berlin, Dortmund, and Vienna and they were all interested.”

And where did Max get the confidence and skills to put it all together?

“I come from a little village on Lake Constance, and my father had a business so the logical thing when I left Secondary School was to make an apprenticeship in business. So I worked with an international transport company and travelled all around Europe for five years learning the job. Then I worked in shipping companies in Hamburg and Basel, so I had a business education before I switched to journalism in the early 60s. I knew how to make an offer, how to write letters, how to calculate, how to read figures in an annual report, and I spoke English, French, and German and all of that helped,” he explains.

In an obituary after the death of Prince Philip, Max wrote that when HRH was elected FEI President in 1964, words like sponsorship, communications, doping control, marketing and public relations were unknown at the FEI. “It was Prince Philip who brought the FEI forward; he was a visionary but also a very practical man,” he says.

FEI

Max left his job at Luzerner Tagblatt and, with a contract created by the Prince, worked from FEI HQ when it moved from Brussels to Berne. And as the years rolled on, he was involved in the early stages of the creation of the Dressage and Driving World Cups which were based on similar lines.

“The Dressage people became jealous of the Jumpers because they were getting a lot more media attention and there was a lot of discussion about how the Dressage World Cup should be, including some wild ideas. Prince Philip was annoyed by some of the proposals made at a Board meeting, so he told the Dressage Committee to sit with me to sort it out and I told them ‘Gentlemen, I don’t know anything about Dressage or how to develop or promote it, but I can help sell it!’ And a member of the Dressage Committee saved it when suggesting we have a Grand Prix with the best going into the Kur which is the World Cup competition. So through the Grand Prix you preserve the tradition of Dressage and with the Kur you have what people like to see!”

The next discipline that wanted a World Cup was Eventing. “At the Olympics in Seoul in ’88, the Americans wanted it and Roger Haller came to me asking for help to make it happen. Princess Anne was then President and I discussed it with her, but she rightly thought it would be too difficult because Eventing horses don’t compete every week, so nothing came of it,” Max says. However, the FEI Driving World Cup would become a reality.

Seminar

At the FEI Driving World Championships in Hungary in 1989, Max heard the Driving Committee discussing the details of a seminar the following day. “I said to them, what you are talking about is of no importance for the future of the sport; you need to discuss finance, how to create interest, and how to get journalists to cover the sport!”

The following morning, he got a call from Committee President Jack Pemberton asking him to address the seminar, and it went so well he was invited to create an ad hoc Committee of which he would be Chairman. Instead of inviting insiders, however, Max opted to bring in non-specialists including the marketing manager of the Winter Olympics and, after two meetings, they put a proposal to a seminar in Wolfsburg in 2002. Not everyone was initially impressed by the new formula, but a week later the organisers at Aachen expressed an interest and the series began in earnest a year later.

In the lead-in, however, and much to Max’s amusement, a test-run in Gothenburg didn’t meet with everyone’s approval. “I invited all the World Champions of the previous 20 years and they were allowed to train from 11pm to midnight before their event. It was their first experience at a big indoor show, so they drove like maniacs for an hour! Olaf Petersen was course building for the Jumping World Cup and he came racing into my office the following morning and shouted, ‘It looks like a battlefield out there; don’t let those mad Drivers in my arena again!'” Max relates with a laugh.

The FEI Driving World Cup™ survived, however, and went on to become another major success.

Overview

Max’s involvement in equestrianism has given him a great overview. He’s passionate about recording the history of the sport and the two books he wrote for the FEI – “Equestrian Sport in the Olympic Games” and “The History of the FEI Championships” – have become a valued resource.

Looking back on that history, he recalls that not everyone played by the rules down the years. He talks about the Nations Cups staged in Harrisburg, Washington, New York, and Toronto where they ran the classes with just three team-members instead of four, “because they felt four riders with one drop-score was too complicated.” And they broke the rules even further when permitting women onto those teams.

“In the summer of 1950 they had trials for New York and Toronto, and the three riders who qualified were Arthur McCashin, Norma Matthews, and Carol Durant, even though, officially, women were not allowed to compete in Nations Cups at the time – but I think the FEI were half-asleep in Brussels!” Max says with a chuckle.

Talking about his relationship with the three Presidents of his era, he describes Prince Philip as “the best the FEI ever had, an absolute leader and a thinker.” Max learned that HRH didn’t always mean what he said, however.

“He had his specialities when you talked with him. When he said ‘I see,’ he didn’t see at all, so you had to explain more. And when he said ‘I don’t understand,’ you knew he understood perfectly well, but didn’t like what you just said!”

Men’s Club

Max constantly describes the FEI as “a Men’s Club” during those years, and says when Prince Philip’s daughter, Princess Anne, took over the Presidential role, she did a great job but had a much tougher time than her father, simply because she was a woman.

HRH the Infanta Doña Pilar de Borbon was also a good President. “She had a less competitive background than Anne, who was an Olympian and a European champion and was from a horse family. But Doña Pilar loved horses and worked very hard at the FEI,” Max says.

Back on the subject of three-rider Nations Cup Jumping teams, Max says he’s a big advocate of the formula which will be used at this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo. “Because we have to make our sport understood by the ordinary people, not just the specialists,” he says earnestly. “I sat for 30 years in press stands at Aachen and Rome and even there you have to watch and make calculations, and that shouldn’t be necessary.”

Reasoning

“I understand the reasoning of riders and Chefs because of course it’s nice to give young riders their first experience and share the responsibility more. But you could do that by having three riders in Superleague teams and allow the lower developing level teams to have four,” he says.

And what if the three-rider format produces strange results? “Well, that’s sport, and sport doesn’t produce justice; it produces winners!” he insists.

Max retired from the FEI in 2008 but he never sits still. As editor of L’Annee Hippique for 30 years, during which time he also produced “about 30” Media Guides and two books on the World Cup, he has continued writing and recently published an extensive history of the Swiss Equestrian Federation. As an art collector and art lover, he is involved in the work of the Foundation for Naive and Outsider Art in St Gallen, which supports lesser-known artists who are “not in the mainstream.”

Speaking about the philosophy behind his successful career, Max says it was built on engaging everyone in conversations, and on his belief that “you shouldn’t hide and you shouldn’t lie! When you make decisions, you have to stand over them and be prepared to explain why you made them.”

Max Ammann made a lot of good ones, and equestrian sport today owes him a great debt of gratitude.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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