Tag Archives: FEI World Cup

Sensational Victory for von Eckermann in Amsterdam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Catie Staszak

FEI Media Contact:

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

Werth and Weihegold Are Untouchable in Amsterdam

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

Germany dominates podium with Schneider in second and Langehanenberg in third 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Awesome Ahlmann Scores Again at Longines Leg in Leipzig

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Swiss Bliss as Brilliant Fuchs and Clooney Win at Basel

Martin Fuchs and Clooney. (FEI/Katja Stuppia)

Swiss spectators were treated to a superb moment of top sport when homegrown hero, Martin Fuchs (26), stormed to victory at the tenth leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2018/2019 Western European League at Basel (SUI).

This was the tenth anniversary of the fixture staged in the medieval Swiss town, but the first time for the venue at St Jakobshalle to host a leg of the Jumping World Cup series. The young man who scooped individual silver at last year’s FEI World Equestrian Games™ made it all the more memorable when steering his faithful grey gelding Clooney to a last-to-go win in a nail-biting three-horse jump-off against the clock.

“It’s amazing! So many people came here today, lots of my friends and my family, so to win at home in front of them is always so special – this was a great day for me and my amazing horse Clooney!” — Martin Fuchs (SUI)

The Netherlands’ Marc Houtzager (48) had to settle for runner-up spot with Sterrehof’s Calimero while Belgium’s Pieter Devos (32) and Apart slotted into third on a day when a first-round clear proved very difficult to achieve.

The opening course designed by Germany’s Frank Rothenberger was no walk-in-the-park, with testing turns, difficult stride distances, and a tight time-allowed of 68 seconds ensuring that only those horse-and-rider partnerships that were completely in sync would leave all the timber intact. A total of 21 had given it their best before Houtzager put the first clear on the board and, as so often happens, that was followed by another from Devos who was next to go. Two horses later Fuchs would add his name to the very short list of successful contenders to make the cut into the second-round race against the clock.

Houtzager was first to take on the jump-off track and set the target with a great clear in 38.84 seconds, but Devos upped the pace considerably when next to go with his Stuttgart winner, Apart. However, the influential double at fence 11 was still in place and when the pair lost impulsion after a tight turn on the approach the first element fell for four faults in the very quick time of 36.98 seconds.

So as Fuchs entered the arena the result was still wide open and the crowd was buzzing in anticipation. Clooney was crowned Swiss Horse of the Year this week and hopes were high that the dynamic duo whose stellar career already includes ninth place individually at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, a fourth-place finish at the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final in Omaha (USA) in 2017 and that individual silver at last year’s World Championships would steal the last-minute limelight.

It was some pressure, but they didn’t disappoint, the gallant 13-year-old grey responding with all the willingness in the world as his rider asked him to lengthen his stride between the two oxers at the midway stage, putting in a supreme effort to clear the tricky double three from home and then turning super-tight to the penultimate red vertical. Fuchs kept his eye on the finishing line as they cleared the final fence, and when he turned to check the time, he threw his hat in the air in celebration as 37.61 seconds left him the clear winner. The crowd went wild.

“He was a bit fresh and spooky in the first round and the short time-allowed didn’t make it any easier – I was just inside time which was a bit lucky!” he said afterwards. But he did have a plan. “I saw the riders going before me and I discussed what to do with Steve (Guerdat) and my dad (Thomas Fuchs),” said the man who also topped the fourth leg of the Western European series in Lyon (FRA) in November.

He has now moved back up to third on the Western European League which continues to be led by his fellow-countryman and World No. 1 rider Steve Guerdat, while Devos is in second place. With 55 points on the board Fuchs is well qualified for the Longines 2019 Final in Gothenburg, Sweden in April and is now heading off to compete in Florida, USA for the next few weeks and is taking Clooney with him.

Basel’s entry to the Western European League circuit got the thumbs up from FEI Jumping Director John Roche. “The event has been organised to the highest standard; there was a completely full house today and the atmosphere was electric. A home win went to the last man into the arena, so you couldn’t have written a better script for a fantastic day of sport!” he said.

The League now moves on to Leipzig, Germany next weekend.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Ahlmann Is the Master at Mechelen

Christian Ahlmann and Clintrexo Z. (FEI/Dirk Caremans)

Kevin Staut is runner-up in four-way battle of legends

Germany’s Christian Ahlmann (44) clinched a thrilling last-to-go victory at the ninth leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2018/2019 Western European League at the Nekkerhal Stadium in Mechelen, Belgium. In a tense competition from which only four of the 39 starters emerged to battle it out against the clock, the crowd was treated to a feast of legendary proportions, because these were four of the greatest masters of their craft, and they put on an exhibition of showjumping at its very best.

Ahlmann is a four-time Olympian and former FEI World Cup™ champion, and it was Rio 2016 Olympic team gold medallist Kevin Staut (38) from France whom he pinned into runner-up spot, while World No. 1, The Netherlands’ Harrie Smolders (38), lined up in third. Ahlmann’s compatriot, Ludger Beerbaum (55) has long been one of the biggest names in the sport, but this time around he had to settle for fourth when things didn’t quite go his way in the jump-off.

The first-round course set by Belgium’s Eddy Geysemans tested horses every inch of the way, with the first fence, the double at eight, and the triple combination at 10 all taking a steady toll. But only a single time fault kept Ireland’s Denis Lynch (The Sinner), Italy’s Lorenzo de Luca (Armitages Boy), and Celine Schoonbroodt-de Azevedo (Chepetta), one of 13 Belgian contenders, from making the cut into the second round. The 71 seconds time-allowed was tight, but as Geysemans said, “the best riders were able to make it – if we had changed the time after the first three riders, we would have had more clears, but the jump-off was great as it was!”

Staut led the way with a stunning run from his new ride, the 10-year-old Edesa’s Cannary, which he has only been competing since October and which raced through the timers in 40.98 seconds to set the pace. Smolders took time to check his route carefully before setting off with the 14-year-old stallion Don VHP Z, the horse that helped him claim individual silver at the 2017 FEI European Championships in Gothenburg (SWE). But they weren’t quite fast enough when galloping home in 41.42 seconds.

Beerbaum was well in touch when turning to the first of the two remaining elements of the triple combination two fences from home, but he lost his line and the 15-year-old gelding Casello ran past the fence, racking up 14 faults and leaving it wide open for Ahlmann as he set off, last to go. And Ahlmann had his game-face on from the start, weaving his way around the twisting track with the fabulous grey stallion Clintrexo Z who stopped the clock on 39.87 without hardly turning a hair. It was an amazing performance for a horse of just nine years of age.

“We built him up in the stallion approvals and later in young-horse classes, and Judy (his wife Judy-Ann Melchior) did some 3 and 4-Star Grands Prix and then allowed me to take him over and move him up another step. He won in Wiesbaden in May and Münster in August and he’s quickly growing into the big sport now. He really loves it, and he gets better and better week after week.” — Christian Ahlmann (GER)

And he was extra-happy that he did well because his family, including his young son Leon, were watching from the sidelines. He says Clintrexo Z is made of the right stuff for the top end of the sport.

“In the ring he knows exactly what to do and he is afraid of nothing. Whether he’s competing in Aachen or here it wouldn’t make any difference to him; he’s always really positive and tries his best – he’s everything you could wish for!”– Christian Ahlmann (GER)

Now the man who has competed at seven FEI Jumping World Cup™ Finals, including Leipzig in 2011 where he came out on top with the great Taloubet Z, has the 2019 Longines Final in Gothenburg, Sweden next April in his sights. In sixth place with 46 points on the leaderboard he is easily qualified, and he’s spoiled for choice about which of his horses to take there.

Runner-up Staut was also very happy. “This was my goal coming here – not to be second but to gain more points to get to the Final!” he said, having moved into third with 51 points to his credit.

Basel in Switzerland will stage the next leg of the Western European League series in two weeks’ time.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Dream Win for Minderhoud in Mechelen

Peter Minderhoud and Glock’s Dream Boy NOP. (FEI/Dirk Caremans)

Glock’s Dream Boy NOP lived up to his name when carrying 2016 champion Hans Peter Minderhoud (45) from The Netherlands to victory at the seventh leg of the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2018/2019 Western European League in Mechelen, Belgium.

At just 10 years of age, this young stallion is demonstrating colossal potential, and his score of 83.665 pinned 2013 series winner Helen Langehanenberg (36) from Germany and Damsey FRH into second, while the super-exciting Portuguese partnership of Maria Caetano (32) and Coroado strutted their way into third.

The final five all produced stunning performances, with Sweden’s Therese Nilshagen (35) finishing fourth with Dante Weltino OLD despite some miscommunications early in their test, and Ireland’s Judy Reynolds (37) making a great comeback with Vancouver K to line up in fifth place.

Mechelen was also making a welcome come-back this week after a few years’ absence from the FEI Dressage World Cup™ circuit. So just before the prizegiving ceremony was perfect timing for an emotional farewell tribute to Tiamo, the 18-year-old gelding that carried Belgium’s Jorinde Verwimp to many great moments and who finished eighth on their very last outing together.

Minderhoud’s win is another milestone in the rapid progression being made by his still quite inexperienced young horse, who won the Grand Prix and finished third in the Freestyle at Olympia, London (GBR) just before Christmas. “He only did a few Grand Prix competitions before qualifying for Tryon (FEI World Equestrian Games) this year – it was a bit early for him in his career, so after that I gave him a long rest and then restarted at Olympia. That wasn’t the most easy show for him to come back to, and I was not so happy with how he felt… he had been going so well at home. But then I bring him to another show here in Mechelen ten days later and he is super – I mean super!” said the delighted Dutchman.

“Here he was much more focused, not like at Olympia where I had to survive it a little! Today I could ride to the point, and he was really trying for me!” — Hans Peter Minderhoud (NED)

Caetano and her adorable grey Lusitano, Coroado, set a whole new standard when posting 80.160 when fifth last to go of the 15 starters. At the fourth leg of the Western European League in Madrid (ESP) last month they scored 77.655 for third place, but things didn’t go to plan at Olympia where their mark of 73.900 left them well down the line. There’s something really special about this pair who have sprung to prominence recently, however, and they both looked radiant after showing the most fabulous passage and piaffe, and a great sense of harmony, during their wonderful performance.

Langehanenberg bettered that when scoring 82.880 despite testing the nerve of Judge at C, Belgium’s Jacques van Daele, as she powered to a very late halt. And although Reynolds and her 16-year-old gelding didn’t challenge for the top spot, their new routine to a wonderful compilation of traditional Irish music had the spectators’ toes tapping and put 78.570 on the board.

Nilshagen’s chances were hampered when her horse dropped the contact early in their test, but with a degree of difficulty of 10 and the stallion’s breathtaking extended canter, they clawed it back to put 80.090 on the board. So Minderhoud was chasing Langehanenberg’s leading score as he set off, last to go, and Dream Boy didn’t let him down. He’s a horse that’s growing in confidence all the time, and after winning the Grand Prix he was always the one to beat.

“He’s a very sweet horse, and because he’s seen all the things that approved stallions see at a young age, he’s not really spooky or anything. In the beginning I felt he went into himself a bit in big arenas, but yesterday and today he was much happier.” — Hans Peter Minderhoud (NED)

With just three more qualifiers to go in the Western European League, the next port of call is on Minderhoud’s home turf in the Dutch capital city of Amsterdam at the end of January. Having moved up to joint-third on the leaderboard, he’s looking forward to getting to the 2019 Final next April in Gothenburg, Sweden, which is where he won the coveted FEI Dressage World Cup™ title two years ago.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

An Exell-ent Day for the FEI Driving World Cup

FEI Driving World Cup™ Presented by Dodson & Horrell was won by Australia’s Boyd Exell in a gripping two round competition.

The Martin Collins Enterprises Christmas Tree Stakes was won by Daniel Deusser (GER) riding Cornet.

The afternoon performance of the Osborne Refrigerators Shetland Pony Grand National was won by Archie Gubb riding Gruntness Inogee and the evening performance by Poppy Dadson riding Merkisayre Sea Duble.

The Kennel Club Large Senior Dog Agility Finals was won by multiple Olympia champion Natasha Wise and Pebbles.

Exell Sets the Standard Again

The world’s most outstanding four-in-hand driver, Boyd Exell, crowned an exemplary week of Extreme and FEI World Cup™ driving competition with a win in the final round of the FEI Driving World Cup™ presented by Dodson & Horrell.

“I’m so pleased with my horses,” the Australian driver and trainer said. “Five years ago I had a superb team and I’ve spent the intervening years trying to replicate it. With the two new horses I’ve recently put in to the mix, I feel I’m really getting close. They just get faster and faster.”

Experienced Dutch driver Koos de Ronde, who has competed every year since driving became part of the Olympia programme, was Exell’s closest challenger after the first round, with Belgian Glenn Geerts in third place.

These three returned for a drive-off, which got off to a dramatic start when one of Geerts’ horses slipped turning to come off the bridge. Driving is a close-knit community and fellow competitors flew to help; happily, all four horses were up in moments and the Olympia crowd showed their appreciation by giving Geerts a standing ovation.

Quickly regaining his focus, de Ronde drove a proficient round, bettering his time but picking up a 4-second penalty. Exell again put his foot to the floor to drive his fourth clear round, knocking three seconds off his first-round time to take the victory and extend his lead in the rankings.

“Olympia was very brave to agree to stage this competition eight years ago, but it has been so well supported by Dodson & Horrell and Hugh and Karen Scott-Barrett. The drivers love it; it’s a highlight of the World Cup calendar and it’s an honour to be here.”

British competitor Daniel Naprous, whose stunt work can be seen in Wonder Woman, The Crown, and Peaky Blinders, has steadily improved his times during the week and finished fifth overall.

Cornet Hits a High Note

Germany’s Daniel Deusser, the world number seven, set a fast pace in the jump-off of The Martin Collins Enterprises Christmas Tree Stakes to take the class on the 14-year-old grey Cornet, by the leading jumping sire Cornet Obolensky.

This class bucked the trend, with only four through to the jump-off. First to go, Deusser, who rides for Stephex Stables in Belgium, set a fast pace with a clear in 31.25 seconds. Simon Delestre for France on Conbelleza also left all the fences up but was fractionally slower in 32.07 seconds.

Maikel van der Vleuten was third for the Netherlands on Idi Utopia and William Funnell, who has now moved up to second place behind Geir Gulliksen in the Leading Rider of the Show rankings, was fourth on Billy Diamo.

“I expected there to be more clear rounds, but the track had lots of bends off corners and that seemed to be causing trouble,” explained Deusser, who will ride Cornet d’Amour in the Turkish Airlines Olympia Grand Prix. “Cornet is one of my top horses, but sometimes it’s nice to drop him into a smaller height competition so that it’s easy for him.”

The Voltaire Design Mince Pie Stakes

Earlier in the day, Shaunie Greig travelled all the way from Fife to add a win in The Voltaire Design Mince Pie Stakes to her list of prestigious 148cm victories. Riding Casino Royale VIII, she produced the sole double clear of the class.

Shaunie, 15, was the fifth of the six riders to go in the jump-off and, with no faultless performers before her, there was everything to play for.

“I was aiming for the win, so I needed to go clear, but not too crazy,” she said. “I had watched Purdi Digby [who was first to go] so I knew where to go on the course.”

Nicole Lockhead Anderson riding Gangnam Style ll finished second with a fence down.

Tribute to the Late Tim Stockdale

Saturday came to a moving close with the Whitaker family’s annual presentation of the Ryan’s Son Trophy for services to the sport. This year, with many of his colleagues looking on, it was presented posthumously to Tim Stockdale whose wife Laura and sons Joe and Mark were there to collect it.

Tickets can be purchased at www.olympiahorseshow.com or by telephone on 0844 995 0995.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com / +44 (0)203 176 0355

William Whitaker Wows the Crowd with Emotional Win at Olympia

William Whitaker with Utamaro d’Ecaussines. (FEI/Jon Stroud)

There’s nothing quite like a big win in front of the home crowd to trigger the emotions, but Great Britain’s William Whitaker (29) wasn’t the only one with a tear in his eye after he reigned supreme in the eighth leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2018/2019 Western European League at Olympia in London (GBR). The packed stadium of spectators went wild with delight when their own man soared to victory over a world-class field in an 18-horse jump-off that was a nail-biter to the final footfall.

“It’s surreal! Since I’ve been coming here as a kid this has been a dream, and I can’t believe it’s actually happened!” — William Whitaker (GBR)

This was the biggest result of Whitaker’s career to date, as he pinned Belgium’s Karel Cox (36) into runner-up spot while American star, Laura Kraut (53), lined up in third.

With so many jumping clear over the first track presented by Portuguese course designer Bernardo Costa Cabral, it was never going to be easy to come out on top, but Whitaker had no doubt about his plan. “The World Cup at Olympia is like a Championship: you get one shot at it every year and it’s all got to come together on the day. I told myself, if you’re clear in the first round then don’t hold back!” – and he certainly didn’t when seventh to go with Utamaro d’Ecaussines.

He’s long had a superb relationship with the courageous 14-year-old stallion, and when the pair set the target at 37.02 seconds with the smoothest of fast rounds in which every fence seemed to come up in exactly the right spot, and every turn was pure perfection, then that really put it up to the rest of them.

However, two horses later it seemed Karel Cox and the nine-year-old Evert might just catch them when galloping down to the last. But the clock showed 37.21 to leave the Belgian contenders trailing by two-tenths of a second. Whitaker could hardly bear the tension.

“It was torture! Especially the last few – every one that goes by you get closer to the win, and it’s not just anyone; it’s the best riders in the world!” — William Whitaker (GBR)

Third-last to go was the magical German and world no. 4, Marcus Ehning, with his Geneva winner Pret a Tout. But when they turned too tight to the penultimate vertical, they paid the price with a pole down in the quickest time of 36.03 seconds.

Australia’s Edwina Tops-Alexander and Vinchester, winners of the previous leg at La Coruña in Spain two weeks ago, made a wider turn there to come home clear in 38.17, but Laura Kraut and Zeremonie looked a real threat when last into the ring. The pair who helped clinched team gold for the USA at the FEI World Equestrian Games in September stormed home with a determined run, but their time of 37.70 seconds would only prove good enough for third. It was destined to be William Whitaker’s day, and he could hardly believe it.

He was of course following in a proud family tradition. His uncles, John and Michael Whitaker, have enjoyed many major successes in the world-famous Grand Hall at Olympia during their spectacular careers. Following in their legendary footsteps means a great deal to their nephew.

“I have memories of watching John and Michael winning the World Cup here – one of the things that got me out of bed in the morning was thinking that someday I could do it too!” — William Whitaker (GBR)

And he was full of praise for Utamaro. “It helps when you’re on a horse like him; he has such a good brain and mentality. In the collecting ring I was struggling to get him into canter, but he just lights up when he goes in the ring; he grows a foot! I’m delighted for the horse and the owners, Jasmin and Ludwig Criel – he’s had fantastic results over the years, but we never won a Grand Prix and I can’t believe it’s this one!” Whitaker said.

He’s got some changes coming up in the new year when he will be relocating to Germany, so he’s not quite clear if he will be in a position to line out in further World Cup qualifiers. “We’ll sit together after Christmas and make a plan,” he said.

For many others chasing down those precious points towards the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final in Gothenburg, Sweden next April, however, the next port of call is Mechelen in Belgium next weekend.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Frederic Wandres Victorious after Nail-Biting Finish

Day two of Olympia, The London International Horse Show promised to be a spectacle and it certainly lived up to expectations. The FEI Dressage World Cup™ Grand Prix Freestyle supported by Horse & Hound was won by Germany’s Frederic Wandres on his chestnut gelding, Duke of Britain, in a nail-biting finish.

Ahead of the start of the Show’s evening performance, the top eight Service Show Jumpers competed in the Services Jumping Championship. After a closely fought two rounds it was LCpl Laura Charley from 16 Signals Regiment and Vice Versa who took the spoils, with the Royal Navy’s Petty Officer Sophie Fuller and Infinaty and LCpl Holly Hall of 254 Medical Regiment, The Royal Logistics Corps and WKD San Remo slotting into second and third places, respectively.

After the presentation of the awards for the Services Jumping Championship, the crowd was treated to a mesmerising display of natural horsemanship by Spaniard, Santì Serra, who is widely regarded as one of the most accomplished equestrian artists in Europe. Through an astonishing level of trust and confidence, the 30-year-old “Horse Whisperer” from Barcelona demonstrated his extraordinary talent of controlling three of his horses with his mind and body. The Osborne Refrigerators Shetland Pony Grand National was won by Alfie Diaper and Damerham Briar Lilly.

Duke Demonstrates His Class

The result could not have been closer with two riders finishing on an equal score in the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Grand Prix Freestyle supported by Horse & Hound. The win, however, was awarded to Frederic Wandres and Duke of Britain (80.030%), the first German combination to win the World Cup leg in London. The pair headed the class by virtue of higher artistic marks, meaning British favourite Charlotte Dujardin and Hawtins Delicato had to settle for second place.

Dujardin and ‘Del’ were the first to set the competition alight with their expressive kur set to the familiar compilation from ‘How to Train Your Dragon,’ a freestyle which was first performed by Dujardin on Valegro in 2011. Frederic and Duke, third in last night’s Grand Prix, were, however, always going to be a threat and the pair did not disappoint, performing a fluent and mistake free test with a high degree of difficulty. The attractive chestnut, like Delicato, is also British bred and did not miss a beat, willingly performing canter pirouettes to tempi changes and passage to extended trot and back.

“For me to reach the magical 80% is a dream come true, especially in the company of these riders,” said Wandres, who attributes much of his success to the solid temperament of Duke, who is by the well-known stallion Dimaggio and was bred near Windsor by Tony and Sarah Pidgley .

“I trust Duke totally – I could ride him in any arena anywhere and as long as I don’t make a mistake; he won’t make a mistake,” said Wandres, who is now fourth in the FEI World Cup™ ranking.

Dujardin was equally delighted with her ride on ‘Del’.

“Yesterday he was a bit sticky in the arena so today I was better prepared,” said Dujardin, who was taking Del though only his second ever freestyle.

“He is still relatively inexperienced, and nothing can prepare you or your horse for the atmosphere of this arena – which is just the best and there is no show like it,” said Dujardin. “All I really wanted to do was come away with a positive experience, so I couldn’t be any more pleased.”

Dutch Olympian Hans Peter Minderhoud was not quite as happy, having to settle for third place with the young breeding stallion Glocks Dream Boy (77.990%) who sadly, like many others, made some technical mistakes, which ultimately proved too expensive in the loss of marks.

British rider Hayley Watson-Greaves and her longstanding partner Rubins Nite delighted the home crowd with a fluent and assured freestyle that put them in fourth place.

The FEI Dressage World Cup™ series of qualifiers continues through to next April when the final takes place in Gothenburg, Sweden (3-7 April).

Tickets can be purchased at www.olympiahorseshow.com or by telephone on 0844 995 0995.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com / +44 (0)203 176 0355