Tag Archives: FEI World Cup

Delightful Dalera Gives Birthday-Girl von Bredow-Werndl Another Win in Neumünster

Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and TSF Dalera BB. (FEI/Stefan Lafrentz)

When Jessica von Bredow-Werndl won the third leg of the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2019/2020 Western European League with TSF Dalera BB in Stuttgart (GER) in November, she described herself as “over the moon!” But she was even more thrilled as she celebrated her 33rd birthday with a superb performance from the 13-year-old mare who pinned reigning champion Isabell Werth and Emilio into runner-up spot.

“This was a Personal Best for Dalera and me! She’s a rockstar, and the cutest horse in the world! She was amazing today – in piaffe and passage she was just breezing along, so I could breathe, relax, and enjoy myself. There was such lightness, and it felt so easy and harmonious. I didn’t have to ask her for anything; all I had to do was just lead her through the test,” said von Bredow-Werndl after posting the winning score of 89.640.

Helen Langehanenberg and the evergreen 18-year-old Damsey FRH slotted into third ahead of von Bredow-Werndl’s brother, Benjamin Werndl, who finished fourth with the exciting 11-year-old Famoso, while the first of the visitors to get into the line-up was The Netherlands’ Adelinde Cornelissen who steered Zephyr into fifth place.

It was another of the powerful German contingent, 26-year-old Sonke Rothenberger, who led the way at the halfway stage when putting 79.285 on the board. But series double-champion Cornelissen overtook him when eleventh to go of the 15 starters, with a test that oozed energy and bounce as she racked up some maximum 10s along the way for a mark of 82.150.

Then 2013 champion Langehanenberg put Germany back in charge, starting out with a 9.5 for walk and collecting consistently high marks as she moved the target-score up to 85.220 with Damsey FRH. At 18 years of age, it seems this stallion loves his competition outings as much as ever. “He still feels so fresh!” said Langehanenberg who is also targeting the final leg of the WEL series in ’s-Hertogenbosch (NED) next month.

However, von Bredow-Werndl’s effortless performance with Dalera would be the winning one of the day, the fluency and quiet understanding between horse and rider presenting a lovely picture that saw them pick up lots of 10s and leaving them just shy of the 90 percent mark on a score of 89.640. For the second time this season, superstar Isabell Werth had to settle for second place behind her team-mate.

In Stuttgart von Bredow-Werndl and TSF Dalera BB pipped Werth and Weihegold, who have won the last three FEI Dressage World Cup™ Finals. And von Bredow-Werndl did it again, this time with the mare she steered to team gold at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 in Tryon, USA and to team gold as well as Freestyle bronze at last summer’s FEI European Championships in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. No wonder she has the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in her sights with this horse now.

“I won’t take her to the Final because I have Tokyo in mind, but I’ll bring Zaire to ’s-Hertogenbosch and decide if she will go to Las Vegas,” said the German rider who closely watched her brother, Benjamin Werndl, as he steered his rising star Famoso through a lovely balanced test to slot into fourth place on a mark of 85.165 when last to go.

As Benjamin pointed out afterwards, the Neumünster crowd is a bit special, and this competition was of the highest level.

“Here you are a bit scared to make a mistake, because the crowd is so knowledgeable, they will see it right away!” he joked. “Our sport is getting better and better all the time, so the competition is really tough. There are new riders coming up all the time and you think they can’t get better, but they do, so it’s really super!” he added. He shared the lead on the Western European League table with his sister, and although she has nudged ahead, his 65 points leave him more than comfortable in the race for a place at the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final 2020 in Las Vegas in April.

Gothenburg in Sweden stages the penultimate leg of the Western European League qualifying series, with the last leg taking place in ’s-Hertogenbosch in The Netherlands on 14 March.

Result here.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Guerdat Raises the Roof with Brilliant Win in Bordeaux

Steve Guerdat with Victorio des Frotard. (FEI/Richard Julliart)

Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat left spectators aghast with his brilliant victory in the 13th leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2019/2020 Western European League at Bordeaux in France.

Riding the fiery chestnut gelding Victorio des Frotard, with which he also posted a superb win in Basel (SUI) as the New Year began, he produced a full-on fearless round in the nine-horse jump-off and couldn’t be caught, despite the best efforts of German runners-up Daniel Deusser and Jasmien v. Bisschop and third-placed Belgian Niels Bruynseels with Ilusionata van’t Meulenhof.

The man who held the World No. 1 spot throughout all of 2019, and who reclaimed it this month after compatriot Martin Fuchs snatched it from his grasp in January, can hardly do wrong right now. Everything came up beautifully for the Swiss star and for the brave Victorio whose confidence seems to be growing with every outing. The horse’s gallop down to the final fence was nothing short of breathtaking, and Victorio is turning out to be quite some find for the London 2012 Olympic Games and three-time Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ champion.

“He’s like a thoroughbred when you see him trotting around – you don’t expect much – but in canter as soon as you let him go, he has a huge stride! He’s feeling really good now, and this gives me the confidence to push and attack the fences even more,” he said of the horse who he has been riding since the middle of last year.

There were 10 French contenders amongst the 38 starters to take on Jean-Francois Morand’s 14-fence first-round track, but only one of the home runners, Rio 2016 Olympic team gold medallist and 2013 individual European champion Roger Yves Bost, jumped clear to make the cut into the second-round race against the clock. And the home crowd went wild when, second to go, he set the early jump-off target with another brilliant performance from his faithful 14-year-old mare Sangria du Coty, who broke the beam in 32.96 seconds.

Two horses later, Portugal’s Luciana Diniz decided to play the percentage game with a beautifully executed but careful clear from the powerful 13-year-old stallion Chacco Blue ll in 39.08 seconds. But, sixth into the ring, Stuttgart winner Pieter Devos went out in front with a great run from Apart in 32.23 seconds and now the Belgian rider’s time was the one to beat.

Guerdat did it easily, Victorio answering every call on every turn and jumping like a cat over the double at the halfway stage of the track. And when the Swiss pair landed over the penultimate vertical and Guerdat asked for acceleration, he got everything he asked for and more. The clock showed 30.82 seconds as they cleared the line, and that really put it up to the last two into the ring.

Deusser wasn’t intimidated and slotted into runner-up spot when breaking the beam with his 11-year-old grey mare Jasmien in 31.59, and then Bruynseels was last to try to nudge Guerdat out of pole position. But despite a great run from his 12-year-old chestnut mare, who looked ready to gallop from the second she came into the ring, their time of 31.71 would only be good enough for third place on a night of truly quality sport.

Talking about Ilusionata, Bruynseels said, “I have her a year and it took time to get to know her. She has a lot of blood and she’s a very special character! Her previous rider told me that he never warmed her up at shows. I tried at the first show where we competed but after two minutes I had to get off! At home she is great to work but at shows she is completely different. Here in Bordeaux is great because we can lunge and ride back at the stables. I only get on her one or two riders before my turn,” he explained.

Deusser confirmed that he is planning to bring Jasmien to the Longines 2020 Final in Las Vegas, USA in April. He’s well-qualified, lying fifth on the Western European League table after his impressive performance. Guerdat still intends to bring Venard de Cerisy to the Final despite all the good results he has had recently with Victorio. “I want to stick with my original plan,” said the man who is bidding to become the first-ever rider to win four World Cup titles.

He won the 2019 Final with Alamo, but last month the horse returned to his Mexican owner and will in future compete with Gerardo Pasquel Mendez in the saddle. Talking about the horse,he started competing in the autumn of 2017, Guerdat said, “Alamo had a big place in our team and was part of our family, but from the beginning I knew he would go back to Gerardo. He was supposed to leave us a year ago, so we got an extra year and that was great. It’s hard to separate from him but I’m happy that I know where he is and I know his groom and rider, that always makes it a little bit easier – but we do miss him!”

The defending champion won’t be lining out in the 14th and last leg of the Western European League in Gothenburg, Sweden in two weeks’ time, but the pressure there will still be immense, with those last elusive qualifying points up for grabs and a lot of hungry riders chasing them down.

FULL RESULTS

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

No Jump-Off, No Problem for Salvador Onate in Leon

Salvador Onate and Beautiful Red. (FEI/Rodrigo Ceceña)

Salvador Onate (MEX) did what no one else could in the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Leon (MEX). He secured a victory aboard Beautiful Red with a single time fault, as no other rider could leave all of the jumps up over Anderson Lima’s (BRA) challenging track.

No jump-off was needed to determine a winner. Onate and his mount finished on a first-round score of 1 and a time of 83.88 seconds, less than a second over the 83-second time allowed. Arturo Parada Vallejo (MEX) was the fastest rider on the day, finishing second with 4 faults in 78.72 seconds. Juan Jose Zendejas Salgado (MEX) finished third with Just Nice van het Indihoff; that duo also had a 4-fault score, but their time was slightly slower (79.40 seconds).

“As soon as I walked the course, I knew there would only be maybe one or two clear rounds. In the ring, I knew I had to take my time and that it would be better for me to take my time and maybe have a time fault, and I had to gamble a bit with that.” — Salvador Onate (MEX)

“There were some pretty amazing riders [behind me], and I thought there would be at least one clear,” he added. “It all worked out in the end.”

Onate had nothing but praise for his mount, who has stepped up while his top horse Big Red is en route to Europe to make a bid for the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo (JPN).

“She just rose to the challenge,” he explained. “It was a pretty tough course — very technical. She just jumped her heart out. She did amazing.”

The win held special meaning for Onate, as he both owns and resides on the Leon venue property. A year ago, Onate finished second with Big Red in the same event.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “To win a World Cup anywhere, let alone in my hometown — it’s just amazing. I can’t explain how much it means.”

The 2019/2020 North American League hosts its final qualifying event on the east coast in Ocala (USA) on 8 March 2020.

FULL RESULTS

By Catie Staszak

FEI Media Contact:

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

Kenny Tops Star-Studded Field in Wellington

Darragh Kenny (IRL) and Classic Dream. (FEI/Shannon Brinkman)

In a field that included four former Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final Champions, both sub league leaders in the North American League, and the World’s top ranked rider, it was World No. 8 Darragh Kenny (IRL) that shined brightest in the $213,300 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Wellington (USA) at Deeridge Farms.

Kenny and Classic Dream took home a victory and 20 crucial qualifying points toward the 2020 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final, set for Las Vegas (USA) in April. The duo crossed the timers with a comfortable winning margin, recording a final time of 36.70 seconds. Cassio Rivetti (BRA) finished second aboard Bacara d’Archonfosse with a time of 38.29 seconds, while Devin Ryan (USA) and Eddie Blue finished third. That duo’s time was 39.00 seconds.

“He was fantastic. He jumped unbelievably. He’s such an incredible horse because he’s so simple to ride. He just wants to jump the jumps clear, and today he was super.” — Darragh Kenny (USA)

Despite the accomplished nature of the field, just three combinations were able to navigate a clear first round to advance to the jump-off of Alan Wade’s (IRL) course, and all three repeated the feat in the jump-off. Last to go of the trio, Kenny confidently rode his mount straight to the top of the leaderboard, a reflection of his belief in his horse.

“We always felt he was a top grand prix horse and [that] he could go to the highest level,” Kenny explained. “I think he’s only starting to show that now. He was incredible as a 7-year-old [and as] an 8-year-old, [but] he had a bit of a rough last year — a few little mistakes here and there getting used to the height. Now, this year he started out fantastic. I think in the future, he’ll be one of the best horses in the world.”

Kenny is registered with the Western European League, and his 20 points moved him into 10th in those standings with 45 points. On the North American League east coast, Beezie Madden (USA) moved to the top of the standings with a sixth-place finish aboard Breitling LS. She now has 59 points. Brian Moggre (USA) sits second with 56 points, while Adrienne Sternlicht (USA) is third with 46 points. The top seven in the east coast standings all jumped at Wellington.

On the west coast, Karl Cook (USA) remains atop the standings with 58 points, but Rivetti moved into second and now has 46 points. Ashlee Bond (ISR) is third in the standings with 39 points.

The North American League continues in Leon (MEX) on 8 February 2020.

FULL RESULTS

By Catie Staszak

FEI Media Contact:

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

Houtzager Is the Hero as Dutch Dominate Amsterdam

Marc Houtzager and Sterrehof’s Dante. (FEI/DigiShots)

On an afternoon of Dutch delight, Marc Houtzager and the amazing mare Sterrehof’s Dante threw down an extraordinary performance to snatch victory in the twelfth leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2019/2020 Western European League series on home ground in Amsterdam (NED).

It was at the expense of compatriot Harrie Smolders who, third to go in the nine-horse jump-off, looked to have set an unbeatable target-time when breaking the beam in 35.03 seconds with the 11-year-old gelding Monaco. But, second-last into the ring, Houtzager’s 12-year-old mare seemed to have grown wings as she flew around the course to shave almost a full second off that when crossing the line in 34.05 seconds. Belgian riders Pieter Clemens and Niels Bruynseels lined up third and fourth.

“I never rode such a fast jump-off at this level in my life! The mare was fantastic today!” — Marc Houtzager (NED)

There were four home-side contenders in the second-round decider and Jeroen Dubbeldam, Sydney 2000 Olympic individual gold medallist and holder of double World and European titles, kicked off with a careful clear in 40.12 seconds with Oak Grove’s Carlyle. Clemens shaved almost five full seconds off that, however, finishing with a flyer over the last with the 11-year-old Quintini when next to go.

Then Smolders reset the target with a superb round in 35.03, and it looked like he wasn’t going to be shaken from the top of the tree until Houtzager took his turn. Foot to the floor from the outset, Houtzager’s line to the double, three fences from home, saw him up on the clock and the mare’s relentless gallop over the penultimate oxer and down the long run to the last saw them race through the finish in an incredible 34.05 seconds. Not even the super-fast last-to-go Belgian partnership of Bruynseels and Gancia de Muze could challenge that, crossing the line in 35.33.

“Sometimes the jump-off goes as you planned and sometimes not, but today was my day!” Houtzager added. “I saw Harrie and Maikel go, so I knew I had to give everything and it was a bit of a risk taking that turn into the double, but my mare jumped fantastic and she’s really careful, so I didn’t have to worry – to win by one second, that’s a lot! And Harrie said if somebody has to beat me today, I hope it’s you – and it was!” said Houtzager, team silver medallist at the London 2012 Olympic Games and a linchpin of the Dutch Jumping team for many years.

Smolders said the competition was exceptional and praised course designer Louis Konickx for his great work throughout the week at Jumping Amsterdam. “The course was brilliant, and the biggest thing of this afternoon was to see the crowd enjoying themselves and to feel the atmosphere – it brings us to another level. Our horses are doing things we didn’t even know they could do; that’s what makes this sport and this event amazing!” he said.

Talking about his winning ride, Sterrehof’s Dante, Houtzager explained that his wife, Austrian international Julia Houtzager-Kayser, competed the mare at 2-Star level before he took over the ride a year ago. “And she has stepped up to 5-Star level so easily,” he said. “We’ve taken her slowly, but I knew that today was the day I could take a risk with her. She’s so fast, even in the air; she’s always going forward and she gallops so fast!” he said.

Although this result has boosted the Dutchman to eighth place on the Western European League table, he doesn’t intend taking Sterrehof’s Dante to the Longines 2020 Final in Las Vegas in April. “Tokyo (2020 Olympic Games) is an option for her along with Calimero, so we won’t do the Final this time around,” Houtzager explained.

His third-place finish means Belgium’s Clemens has now boosted his points tally and, lying 23rd on the Western European League table with a total of 30 points, he’s not far outside the top-18 who will make the cut. “For me it would be a dream to ride at the World Cup Final, so tomorrow I will sit down and make a plan because there are two more qualifiers left, so we will see,” he said.

He won’t be the only one eagerly chasing down those longed-for points in Bordeaux (FRA) on 8 February and at the last leg in Gothenburg (SWE) on 23 February.

FULL RESULTS

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Sanchez-Cozar and Azcárraga Share the Sash in Guadalajara

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FULL RESULTS

By Catie Staszak

FEI Media Contact:

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

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

Isabell Werth and Weihegold OLD. (FEI/DigiShots)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Result here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Palm Beach Young Elite Auction to Benefit Babington Recovery

Proceeds from a horse will be auctioned to benefit the Babington Family

There will be an exciting new auction that will debut during the CSIO4* Nations Cup week at Palm Beach Masters in Wellington, Florida and a special effort to support Kevin Babington as he continues to recover from the catastrophic fall he sustained in 2019.

The Palm Beach Auction will present 16 elite young jumpers for sale via live auction on February 13th at 7pm in the VIP tent at Deeridge Farm. The 16 horses are the result of a selection process that involved a wide search across Europe and the involvement of the sport’s best breeders, trainers, and selectors.

Kevin Babington’s journey to recover from life-changing injury became a touch point upon which the entire equestrian industry rallied around because Kevin himself is a sportsman who is held in the highest esteem both for his show jumping accomplishments and for his unselfish manner and help delivered to so very many of us. The Palm Beach Auction gratefully accepted his assistance in the selection process, and to give back, a 17th horse will be auctioned off on February 13th, with 100% of the sale proceeds going directly to Kevin and his family to help offset the costs of his recovery.

A stunning three-year-old Balou du Rouet x Clinton gelding named “Balou Son” was donated by friends of Kevin to be auctioned as the first horse of The Palm Beach Auction. All are invited to attend the auction on February 13th, and the official Presentation of horses on February 2nd, directly following the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping qualifier at Palm Beach Masters.

Register at www.thepalmbeachauction.com.

Instagram @thepalmbeachauction

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Lynch Books Las Vegas Ticket with Brilliant Win in Leipzig

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch highlights here.

FULL RESULTS

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Super Steve Guerdat Posts Swiss Victory at Basel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FULL RESULTS

By Louise Parkes

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