Tag Archives: FEI World Cup

Is Anyone Betting on the Boys This Time Around?

Photo: Isabell Werth and Weihegold OLD. (FEI/Jim Hollander)

Defending champion, Germany’s Isabell Werth, may be clear favourite to reclaim the title with her fabulous mare Weihegold, but as the lady herself so often says, “with horses you just never know what’s going to happen!” and there isn’t an equine expert in the world who will argue with that.

A total of 18 combinations from 12 nations will be strutting their stuff at the AccorHotels Arena when the FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2018 Final kicks off in the heart of the City of Lights on 11 April. The final start-list shows a single change, as Australia’s Mary Hanna has withdrawn with Calanta and is replaced by Great Britain’s Hayley Watson-Greaves and Rubins Nite. This means that four countries, Great Britain, Netherlands, Sweden and USA, will field two riders each, but Germany continues to have the largest representation as Werth is joined by Dorothee Schneider riding Sammy Davis Jr., and Jessica von Bredow-Werndl with Unee BB, giving their country a very strong hand. Making waves as the very first rider from the Philippines to qualify for the Final will be 26-year-old former model, Ellesse Jordan Tzinberg, whose captivating back-story includes a determined recovery from a life-threatening accident, and who is likely to attract plenty of attention throughout the week.

In the history of the FEI World Cup™ Dressage series, which is celebrating its 33rd Final, only four men have ever claimed the coveted title.

First was Germany’s Sven Rothenberger with Andiamo in 1990, and it would be another 19 years before America’s Steffen Peters followed suit with Ravel in 2009. Edward Gal and the amazing stallion, Totilas, were champions in 2010 and then his Dutch counterpart, Hans Peter Minderhoud, came out on top with Glock’s Flirt in 2016.

Otherwise, the ladies have been the dominant force, and the most dominant of all was the incredible Anky van Grunsven who posted nine victories over an extraordinary 13-year period between 1995 and 2008, a record unlikely ever to be challenged. To a large extent she is responsible for bringing the sport to the level of popularity it enjoys today, as she championed the early development of Dressage Freestyle to Music which has become so popular with audiences all around the world over the intervening years.

Watching horses “dance” to the rhythm of their Freestyle musical score is quite an experience, the sense of symmetry and the depth of understanding between man and horse is spine-tingling stuff. Edward Gal and Totilas were one of those mesmerising partnerships that left audiences with goose-bumps during their relatively short, but hugely successful, career together, and the Dutchman, the only previous male FEI World Cup™ Dressage champion in contention this time around, brings another really exciting horse to Paris next week, Glock’s Zonik whose extravagant movement has been delighting spectators throughout the winter season.

At 27 years of age Denmark’s Daniel Bachmann Andersen will be one of the youngest competitors at the Final, earning his place with three great performances from the stallion, Blue Hors Zack. And although Britain’s Emile Faurie just squeezed into a qualifying spot after having to withdraw at the last leg in ’s-Hertogenbosch (NED), he has been showing tremendous form with Delatio who shot to centre-stage when runner-up behind Sweden’s Patrik Kittel at Olympia in London (GBR) in December.

Kittel of course is a master show-stealer. If you want to easily understand the appeal of Freestyle Dressage then he’s your “go to” rider right now, as his gift for combining crisp, quality choreography with the most toe-tapping music is second to none. And his unbounded enthusiasm is, quite simply, infectious. It was no surprise when he galloped to the top of the Western European League table this season, and he brings the brilliant Deja to Paris in a few days’ time where the host nation will be represented by Rio Olympians Ludovic Henry and After You.

Girl-power will be out in force, but while the boys will be fewer in number they won’t be overwhelmed.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Clean Sweep for Germany

Photo: Kristina Boe as Rey from Star Wars on Don de la Mar with lunger Winnie Schlüter (FEI/Daniel Kaiser)

The home crowd at the Signal Iduna Cup in Dortmund (GER) was delighted as the national anthem rang out three times at the FEI World Cup™ Vaulting Final as the German contingent produced a clean sweep of victories.

Kristina Boe secured her first FEI World Cup™ Vaulting title with Theresa-Sophie Bresch & Torben Jacobs dominating the Pas-de-Deux event.

The series then came to an electrifying conclusion as Jannis Drewell fought off tough competition to be crowned FEI World Cup™ Vaulting male champion for a second year in a row.

Drawing on her wealth of competition experience and her amazing ability to rise to the occasion under extreme pressure, Kristina Boe performed two outstanding rounds of her Rey from Star Wars freestyle to take the title (8.791 points). Teaming up with her long time team of Don de la Mar and Winnie Schlüter on the lunge, Kristina punched the air as she realised she had done enough to become FEI World Cup™ Vaulting champion.

Kristina had to come from behind after the first round, sitting overnight on 8.745 points to Switzerland’s Nadja Büttiker’s 8.821. The Büttiker v Boe rivalry, which has seen the two athletes go back and forth at the top of the leaderboard, has captivated fans of this year’s FEI World Cup™ Vaulting.

Büttiker’s first round freestyle was a masterclass in perfection.  However, in an otherwise foot perfect second round, during a difficult sideways stand on the croup of the horse Nadja lost balance and fell from Keep Cool III. Whilst the fall took her out of title contention, her otherwise flawless execution secured her second place (8.558).

Third place went to Germany’s Corinna Knauf.  After an impressive qualifying season, which saw her win in Mechelen, Corinna underwent knee surgery, making her third place finish remarkable (8.333). France’s Manon Noel finished 4th (7.942) with Carola Sneekes (NED) 5th on 7.729.  Unfortunately, Switzerland’s Ilona Hannich suffered a similar fate to her compatriot, after an outstanding first round (8.084), she slipped off Latino v. Forst finishing on 7.663 in 6th.

Pas-de-Deux

The German flag was raised for a second time as Theresa-Sophie Bresch and Torben Jacobs secured their first Pas-de-Deux title together in a display of sheer domination. They wowed with their emotive Bonnie and Clyde routine, which saw them accomplish daring lifts linked together with intricate transitions and unparalleled choreography. Together with Holiday on Ice and lunger Alexandra Knauf their title hopes never seemed in doubt – they led the competition from beginning to end (8.337).

The young Swiss pairing of Syra Schmid & Zoe Maruccio secured second, once again highlighting their vast improvement this season (7.820), whilst Marina Mohar and Celine Hoffstetter (SUI) rounded off the podium in 3rd with an assured, creative performance (7.327).

After suffering a tough first round freestyle, Jolina Ossenberg-Engels and Timo Gerdes (GER) bounced back to finish 4th with a second round score of 8.035, finishing on a total of 6.884.

Going in to the final day, could Germany make it three for three?

The FEI World Cup™ Vaulting Final concluded with the male competition. Last year’s champion Jannis Drewell returned to defend his title. On arrival his hopes were put in jeopardy as long term partner Diabolus was not fit to compete. Luckily Viktor Brüsewitz and lunger Gesa Bührig offered up Claus 51 to keep the World Cup dream alive.

France versus Germany, the competition came down to a head to head between Clement Taillez (FRA) and Jannis Drewell (GER). With both competitors sitting on an 8.7 after the first round freestyle, and Drewell in the overnight lead, the competition was on!

Clement performed a brilliant rendition of his ‘Dance’ freestyle to end on a combined total of 8.723. The pressure was well and truly on for last to go Drewell. After only going on Claus 51 for the first time two days ago, and having to adapt with the wrong surcingle, he rose to the occasion. Drewell performed his Pirates of the Caribbean routine with confidence and attacked to score 8.797 – thus retaining his FEI World Cup™ Vaulting title. His achievement was aided by the excellent last minute partnership with lunger Gesa Bührig and Claus, who achieved a brilliant horse score.

Jannik Heiland (GER) occupied third place, matching his 2017 result with a harmonious, elegant freestyle (8.570) with Viktor Brusweitz in 4th by a whisker on 8.561. Testament to the exceptional standard, 5th place Lukas Heppler (SUI) finished on an 8.517, which at any other competition could have been enough to win the event, whilst Hungary’s Balazs Bence overcame some first day horse difficulties to finish 6th (6.237).

By Hannah Eccles

FEI Media contact:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
ruth.grundy@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 45

Ward and His “Independent Woman” Lead Large American Posse to Paris

Photo: McLain Ward and HH Azur. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

The speed with which the last remaining riders have signed up for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final 2018, which kicks off in Paris (FRA) on 11 April, tells you everything you need to know. This is a trophy that every rider wants to win, and the prospect of placing your name on the Roll of Honour that includes so many of the legends of this sport is tantalising. When it happened at last for America’s double Olympic gold medallist McLain Ward (42) at the 2017 Final in Omaha (USA) 12 months ago, he couldn’t hold back his emotions. It had been such a long time coming, and the victory was very, very sweet.

“I’ve been doing this for 25 years or more, and I’ve come so close so many times and one way or another I’ve messed it up!” he said. He made no mistake this time around, however, flawless throughout the entire week with his brilliant mare who he described as “an independent woman”. They’ll be the ones to beat when the action gets underway at the AccorHotels Arena, but they’ll have to be at their very best once again to hold back the top-class opposition.

A total of 10 other US riders have also made the cut from the North American Eastern and Western Sub-Leagues including 2013 champion Beezie Madden (54), and Richard Spooner (47) who won the qualifier in Las Vegas in November, finishing the West Coast series at the top of the leaderboard. Kristen Vanderveen (28) described it as “surreal” when she booked her ticket to Paris with a win at the last leg of the season in Ocala (USA) last weekend.

It will all get very real when the opening speed class begins to throw some light on the destiny of the 2018 trophy in three weeks’ time.

Mexico’s Gustavo Ramos also qualified through the North America series while the countries of South America will be represented by Brazil’s Felipe Amaral who won the South America South series, and Colombia’s Carlos Lopez who qualified through the Western European League. Across the globe, it was local legend Lisa Williams (51) who topped the five-leg South Africa qualifying series. She won’t be bringing a horse to Paris, but she intends to be a spectator and tourist in the City of Lights.

Meanwhile, the Central European League came to a climax with the Final in Warsaw (POL) earlier this month where Estonia’s Urmas Raag (52) reigned supreme and fellow-countryman Rein Pill (57) also qualified for the Longines Final along with Latvia’s Kristaps Neretnieks (28).

The spread of countries at this year’s finale is particularly impressive, embracing all corners of the globe and offering a mouth-watering menu of possibilities. The flags of Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Estonia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Latvia, Mexico, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and USA will all by flying high, and as always, we can expect new faces, a few surprises and the most amazing sport.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Paris Is the Field of Dreams for Aussie Duo as Longines Final Beckons

Photo: Jamie Kermond and Yandoo Oaks Constellation (FEI/Equestrian Australia/Thomas Reiner)

For Australia’s Billy Raymont and Jamie Kermond, these are very exciting times. The pair claimed the top two places in the FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2017/2018 Australian League and are on their way to the Longines 2018 Final in Paris (FRA) which kicks off on 11 April. Raymont (38) cemented his place at the top of the League table with four wins and a host of strong placings that left him 12 points clear of Kermond (32), whose victory in Melbourne was boosted by another good result in Sydney last December. These are two seasoned veterans with a world of experience behind them and good horses underneath them.

Kermond has spent plenty of time honing his skills on the European circuit in recent years. He was crowned Australian Jumping Champion for the third time last season and began introducing his massive 12-year-old gelding Yandoo Oaks Constellation to the delights of the French capital city when lining out at the CSI5* Saut Hermes in the Grand Palais in Paris last weekend.

Raymont, also a multiple national champion, was there too with his 13-year-old gelding Oaks Redwood who had just a single fence down in the first round of last Sunday’s super-tough Grand Prix. These two athletes, and their horses, epitomise the essence of the FEI World Cup™ Jumping series as they complete their preparations for the Final of the series that every rider wants to win.

Kermond has been there before, competing at the 2014 Final in Lyon (FRA), but despite his extensive experience this will be a first for Raymont. “Seems crazy to be honest… I probably felt this kind of thing was out of reach these days, but I’m very lucky with the owners. They’re very excited about the horse… and they’re really keen to keep going and seeing what we can do, and for sure I’m the same!”

“I’m really excited to finally get this opportunity. My whole career has been about doing something like this one day!” — Billy Raymont (Australia)

Joining the Australians at the Final will be the top three finishers in the 13-leg Arab League, Jordan’s Ibrahim Hani Bisharat, Egypt’s Mohammed Osama El Borai and Saudi Arabia’s Abdulrahman Alrajhi. However New Zealand’s Rose Alfeld and Samantha Morrison won’t be travelling. Alfeld had a great run in the seven-round series that began at Hawkes Bay last October but feels she doesn’t have sufficient experience to tackle the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final. “I’m not sure it’s my time yet!” said the 22-year-old rider after bagging the title with her home-bred horse, My Super Nova. Keisuke Koike claimed the single qualifying spots in the Japan League but won’t be making the trip to Europe either.

Thailand’s Jaruporn Limpichati won the South East Asia series at the end of a fantastic run with Irregular Choice. The pair posted three wins on the way to their regional Final where they again reigned supreme to earn the coveted qualifying spot. The Central Asian League champion was Uzbekistan’s Nurjon Tuyakbaev, and winner of the Caucasus/Caspian League was Shalva Gacheciladze from Georgia.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Vanderveen Punches Ticket to Paris with First Longines Victory in Ocala

Photo: Kristen Vanderveen aboard Bull Run’s Faustino de Tili. (FEI/Erin Gilmore)

Kristen Vanderveen (USA) was a winner on all fronts at the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Ocala (USA). Not only did she claim her first Longines victory with an uncatchable jump-off aboard Bull Run’s Faustino de Tili, but she also gained the points necessary to qualify for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final in Paris (FRA) in three weeks’ time.

“It’s really very surreal for me right now,” said Vanderveen, 28. “I’ve always wanted to go to World Cup Finals, and this was a little bit of a last minute decision to come here and see if I could do something special today and get in.”

“It’s really very surreal for me right now. I’ve always wanted to go to the World Cup Finals!” — Kristen Vanderveen (USA)

The stage was set at the beautiful Live Oak Plantation after just three riders managed to produce a clear first round over the course set by Kelvin Bywater (GBR). Vanderveen was dealt the disadvantageous position of having to go first in the jump-off, but she blazed an unbeatable time of 45.93 seconds, galloping full out to the final Longines oxer and getting across the ground swiftly with her horse’s large stride. Last to go, Beat Mändli (SUI) and Galan S made a valiant run at the winner but brought down two rails in the process. Brianne Goutal (USA) and Viva Colombia produced the only other double-clear performance to finish as runners-up with a time of 52.99 seconds.

“There were only 3 of us, so I figured I’d play it out fast as we could and see what happened,” Vanderveen explained. “He fired for me, and he shined for me in the jump-off. He’s a super fast horse.”

America’s Paris Lineup Takes Shape

As the final event of the North American League, Live Oak’s results solidified the American qualifiers for Paris. Vanderveen, with 41 total points for the season, sits sixth in the east coast sub league standings of the North American League and is the fifth-ranked U.S. rider. Eight U.S. riders, including defending World Cup Jumping Final Champion McLain Ward, qualify from this sub league. Devin Ryan finished 11th in Ocala with Eddie Blue, causing him to conclude the season as the third-ranked U.S. rider; he also plans to compete in Paris. West coast rider Jamie Barge (USA) and Luebbo journeyed east to assure themselves a Paris qualification. They are the third-ranked U.S. rider from the west coast sub league; three qualify for Paris.

Beat Mändli, winner of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Washington (USA), finished the season atop the east coast sub league standings with 53 points. Richard Spooner (USA), who won in Las Vegas (USA), was the best in the west, finishing with 60 points.

The Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final takes place in Paris from 10-15 April 2018.

By Catie Staszak

FEI Media Contact:

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

Werth Wins and Gal Glitters as Final Line-Up Is Decided in Den Bosch

Photo: Edward Gal with Glock’s Zonic.  (FEI/Leanjo de Koster Digishots)

With the biggest smile on her face that said it all as she strutted down the centreline for the final time, defending series champion, Germany’s Isabell Werth (48), nailed her fourth win of the season at the last qualifier of the FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2017/2018 Western European League in ’s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands. On an afternoon when many of the early starters were hampered by spooky moments in the ring, the second-half contestants really raised the bar, and once Werth and Emilio took their turn when fifth-last to go, her score of 87.405 would be the winning one.

They weren’t the only partnerships to bring the crowd in the Brabanthalle to their feet, however, as home runners Edward Gal (48) and Glock’s Zonik got the same treatment when slotting into second on 83.900 following a great test. And, last in, compatriot Madeleine Witte-Vrees (45) and Cennin posted 82.555 to demote Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (32) and Zaire-E to fourth place. The packed stadium of spectators enjoyed a real treat in the closing stages, but it was all about Isabell once again as she marches towards the 2018 FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final in Paris, France next month to chase down her second successive title and her fourth overall.

She has rarely looked more happy and confident throughout the extraordinary career during which she has become the most medalled athlete in equestrian sport. And with two wins from her superstar Olympic ride Weihegold and another two from Emilio who was at his very best, her horses are also in the form of their lives this winter. Weihegold the wonder-mare is of course her first choice for the Final, but Werth was thrilled with her 12-year-old gelding whose presence in the ring seems to grow with every outing. Pinned back to second place in Gothenburg, Sweden two weeks ago, he stepped it up even more.

“Emilio certainly showed an improvement today; he was amazing; he felt like 90%!” — Isabell Werth GER (1st)

Another with a big smile at the end of his ride was 2010 champion Gal who can’t help but be excited by the rapid development of his fabulous 10-year-old stallion, Zonic, whose trot extensions drew gasps of delight from the crowd.

““He’s improving so fast; this was only his third World Cup! There are a few little things that need improving, but he keeps surprising me!” — Edward Gal NED (2nd)

The 2018 Final will be another big test for this lovely young horse, and the Dutch are looking stronger by the day, with Witte-Vrees’ stallion Cennin still only 11 and also looking mature beyond his years.

This result has decided the Western European League qualifying spots for the Final which takes place from 11 to 15 April at which nine riders from six nations – Austria, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, Netherlands and Sweden – will do battle with the rest of the best in the world. Britain’s Emile Faurie just squeezed into equal-eighth place despite having to withdraw from this competition with his gelding, Lollipop.

Media contact:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Henrik Leads Western European Cavalry-Charge to Paris

Photo: Henrik von Eckermann. (FEI/Lotta Brundin Gyllensten)

The top riders weren’t hanging about in the aftermath of the last Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2018 Western European League qualifier in Gothenburg (SWE). By last Friday, just five days after Henrik von Eckermann galloped to victory for the second year running at his home event, all 18 qualified for next month’s Longines 2018 Final had already confirmed their intention to compete in Paris (FRA), along with extra athletes Edwina Tops-Alexander from Australia and Colombia’s Carlos Lopez.

The City of Lights is calling, and the world’s top contenders for the most coveted prize in indoor Jumping are answering with a great big “YES!”

Von Eckermann’s last-leg success saw him leap-frog world number four and long-time league leader Kevin Staut who enjoyed another fantastic season, competing at 12 of the 13 Western European qualifiers and booking his spot without question. The Frenchman will be joined at the Final in the AccorHotels Arena from 11 to 15 April by compatriots Simon Delestre and Roger-Yves Bost.

Only one French rider has ever held the coveted FEI World Cup™ trophy in his hands: Bruno Brouqsault sprang a big surprise when winning through in Milan (ITA) in 2004, so there is a major incentive for the host-nation representatives to bring it home once again in this 40th season.

Britain’s Michael Whitaker said in Gothenburg, “It’s about time I won it!” and he’s right about that, having come so very close on many occasions. He’s hoping to make it happen at his 23rd attempt, but Germany’s Marcus Ehning will be bidding to become the first-ever four-time champion. The wizard of warp-speed very nearly leaped to the top of the league leaderboard with by far the fastest jump-off round at the Swedish fixture, only to be denied by a late-falling pole, and is likely to put all the pressure on the rest when the Final gets underway in five weeks’ time.

Ehning’s German counterpart and the 2011 champion, Christian Ahlmann, has also easily made the cut, and a total of 10 Western European nations will be represented at this year’s Final.

America’s McLain Ward is defending champion, and there’s still a way to go before the full line-up for Paris is announced, but it’s shaping up for a mighty battle.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Von Eckermann Sets Swedish Hearts Racing, Whitaker Qualifies for Another Final in Gothenburg

Photo: Michael Whitaker with JB’s Hot Stuff. (FEI/Arnd Bronkhorst)

It was freezing cold outside but the temperature in the Scandinavium Arena was near boiling point when, for the second year in a row, Swedish superstar Henrik von Eckermann (36) and his brilliant mare, Mary Lou, galloped to victory in front of their home crowd at the last leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2017/2017 Western European League in Gothenburg (SWE). Runner-up was Olivier Phillipaerts (24), the young Belgian whose previous visit to this Swedish city didn’t end so happily, while British veteran Michael Whitaker (57) finished third.

“When I saw the jump-off course I knew it would suit Mary Lou. You can totally trust her; you don’t need to take a pull anywhere, just let her run and use her pace and her long stride, and she was fantastic again today!” — Henrik von Eckermann SWE (1st)

From 36 starters, 11 found the key to Peter Lundstrom’s enormous first-round track, and it was the time of 41.59 seconds set by Frenchman Aldrick Cheronnet (Tanael des Bonnes) that von Eckermann was chasing when fourth to go against the clock. He blew that target right out of the water when scorching through the timers in 36.89 seconds, piling the pressure on the rest of the field. Whitaker and JB’s Hot Stuff came close when breaking the beam in 37.52 – “I thought I’d done it. She’s not big but she has a big heart and she’s fast – today she wasn’t fast enough but she always tries her best,” he said of his exciting new ride. However, the last man in would push him down to third.

Olivier Philippaerts made an early departure from last summer’s Longines FEI European Championships in Gothenburg when badly dislocating his shoulder in a fall from H&M Legend of Love during training. “My horses had three months off and this was probably good for my mare, but it takes time to get fit again and I was late starting in the World Cup series, so this is great!” he said when realising that this result means he is qualified for the 39th annual Final which will take place from 11 to 15 April.

Paris last hosted the series finale back in 1987, and Michael Whitaker competed there that year. “I think I’ve done about 25 Finals so it’s about time I won it!” he said. Von Eckermann also has the most coveted trophy of indoor showjumping clearly in his sights. “I finished third in Omaha (USA) last year and I don’t want to finish lower than that this time,” he said.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Dufour Destroys the Opposition with Sensational Performance in Gothenburg

Photo: Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour and Atterupgaard’s Cassidy. (FEI/Arnd Bronkhorst)

Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour (26) and Atterupgaard’s Cassidy brought the Swedish crowd to their feet with a spectacular performance to win the eighth leg of the FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2017/2018 Western European League in Gothenburg (SWE). The pair that claimed individual bronze and team silver at last summer’s Longines FEI European Championships in the same city pinned reigning series champion Germany’s Isabell Werth (48) and Swedish star Patrik Kittel (41) into second and third in the Grand Prix, and they did it again. But this time their winning margin was even more emphatic as the dynamic Danish duo earned a whopping score of 88.200.

That was put into perspective when multi-medaled Werth (Emilio) said: “There is no shame in finishing second on 85 percent!” while Kittel (Delaunay OLD) was ecstatic about his mark of 83.615 that put him in third – “an all-time personal best for me!” he said. Dufour could hardly believe what she had achieved.

“I was nervous because this was the first time for us to do this Freestyle floor-plan. Cassidy can be spooky because he’s a very sensitive horse, but today he was so calm. He was with me every moment of the way and I’ll never forget that standing ovation!” — Cathrine Dufour DEN (1st)

The Swedish spectators held their breath as the Danish partnership performed in complete harmony before exploding with excitement when the horse and rider drew to a halt. Dufour said that Denmark’s Princess Nathalie zu Sayn-Wittgenstein has helped her really raise her game over the last few months. “Rune Willum was my trainer for 15 years and he was like my second father, but in December I started working with Nathalie, and now she is my rock!” she explained after posting her second personal-best score of the weekend.

The result has moved her up to 12th place on the Western European League leaderboard from which the top nine will qualify for the Final in Paris (FRA) in April. Dufour is hoping to make the cut even though she doesn’t intend to compete at the last qualifier in ’s-Hertogenbosch (NED) in two weeks’ time, but Werth will definitely be at the Dutch fixture with Emilio whose confidence and character continues to grow. “Give us one more year to make his canter as good as the piaffe/passage and you will see what more we can do!” said the happy German rider who intends to defend her title at the French finale with her top ride, the Olympic and European gold-medal-winning mare Weihegold.

She’ll be the toughest nut to crack, but Dufour showed that the winds of change are blowing once again through the top ranks of international Dressage and that she and her fabulous chestnut gelding are a major force to be reckoned with.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Langehanenberg Steals the Limelight on Home Ground in Neumünster

Photo: Helen Langehanenberg and Damsey FRH. (FEI/Stefan Lafrentz)

The extraordinary ups and downs of sport were highlighted once again when Helen Langehanenberg (35) and Damsey sealed a superb victory at the seventh leg of the FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2017/2018 Western European League on home soil in Neumünster, Germany. At the previous round in Amsterdam (NED) three weeks ago, the 2013 FEI World Cup™ Dressage champion had to retire when her 16-year-old stallion got his tongue over the bit and their performance fell apart. However, it was perfect harmony every step of the way as their strong score of 83.800 pinned compatriots Dorothee Schneider (49) and Sammy Davis Jr into runner-up spot while Denmark’s Daniel Bachmann-Andersen (27) and Blue Hors Zack slotted into third.

“This was maybe our best result ever – Damsy felt great; he had the perfect mixture of freshness and motivation and he just performed the way every rider wants; the communication between us was really easy!” — Helen Langehanenberg GER (1st)

The atmosphere in the Neumünster arena is notoriously intense. As runner-up Schneider said, “Everything about this show is brilliant, especially the crowd who is so close that it feels like they are also riding your horse!” That didn’t stop her from posting 81.565 for second place and moving even closer to Sweden’s Patrik Kittel at the top of the Western European leaderboard. With just two qualifiers left to go, in Gothenburg (SWE) next weekend and ’s-Hertogenbosch (NED) two weeks later, that’s a really good place to be, because only two German riders can join defending champion Isabell Werth at the Final in Paris (FRA) in April, and sealing one of those two spots is a battle in itself. A total of nine riders, and a maximum of three from any nation, can make the cut from the Western European series.

Spain’s Morgan Barbancon Mestre, fourth to go with Sir Donnerhall ll, caused a stir when stopped by the Ground Jury because her floorplan had been changed overnight. When this was resolved she was allowed to compete, but it was Marie Emilie Bretenoux and Quartz of Jazz from France who led the way at the halfway stage with a mark of 76.300. This, however, would be improved on again and again, Denmark’s Bachmann-Andersen presenting a lovely picture of relaxation and balance with his 14-year-old stallion that rocketed him into the lead on a big mark of 81.475 with six left to go.

Langehanenberg pushed him off his pedestal immediately, however, and Schneider then pinned him back to third, but the talented Dane has now moved into joint-fourth on the leaderboard and looks set to make a big impression at the Final. Langehanenberg winner won’t make it to Paris. “I’m expecting a baby in June, so this was our last show before that and it’s the perfect result! I hope to be back in the saddle again in July though,” Langehanenberg explained.

By Louise Parkes

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Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145