There is a new spring in the step of the FEI World Cup Dressage Western European League as it begins its second quarter-century with the 2010/2011 opening leg at Odense, Denmark later this week. The recent announcement of a three-year sponsorship deal with fashion designer Reem Acra, who puts her name to both the Western European season and the overall series final, hails the blossoming of a fresh era in the history of this sport which has enjoyed astronomic growth in popularity in recent times.
Largely responsible for the upsurge of interest in top-class dressage has been a single horse-and-rider combination who won their way into the hearts of horse-lovers all around the world over the last 18 months during a sensational record-breaking spree. The Netherlands’ Edward Gal and the fabulous black stallion Moorlands Totilas have, in terms of competitiveness, appeal and pure ability, raised the bar beyond all expectations and transformed the once-demure dressage world into a showcase of extreme excitement. It was confirmed last week that the stallion has been sold however, and so his partnership with Gal is ended. But their legacy is a raised profile for the sport on which they have left an indelible impression.
AHLMANN WINS AS GERMAN RIDERS DOMINATE OPENING ROLEX LEG AT OSLO by Louise Parkes
Oslo (NOR) 17 October 2010 – Christian Ahlmann won the opening leg of the 2010/2011 Rolex FEI World Cup Jumping Western European League series at Oslo in Norway this afternoon where German riders scooped the top three places. And Ahlmann’s victory was all-the-more creditable for the fact that the 36 year old rider suffered the tragic loss of one of his top horses, the nine year old stallion Calvados Z, earlier in the day.
“For sure today it wasn’t easy for me to ride and to concentrate on my job,” Ahlmann said after completing his victory gallop with his 10 year old stallion Taloubet Z, “but Taloubet really did his very best for me.” It was the German master, Ludger Beerbaum, who slotted into second place ahead of Lars Nieberg in third. The first non-German in the line-up was fourth-placed Frenchman Kevin Staut, who headed Holland’s Leon Thijssen in fifth place.
Oslo (NOR) 15 October 2010 – Oslo in Norway is the venue for the exciting first leg of the 2010/2011 Rolex FEI World Cup Western European League Jumping series this Sunday, October 17.
This weekend’s line-up includes six of the top-ten riders on the Rolex World Rankings including No. 1 Kevin Staut from France, Switzerland’s Pius Schwizer (No. 3), Germany’s Ludger Beerbaum (No. 7) and Marco Kutscher (No. 8), Australia’s Edwina Alexander (No. 9) and Ireland’s Jessica Kuerten (No. 10). The riders are all keen to earn early points on the road to the series final which will take place in Leipzig, Germany from 27 April to 1 May 2011.
Marcus Ehning, a member of the German team that claimed gold in the Jumping Championship at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky, USA just over a week ago, is the defending Rolex FEI World Cup Jumping champion.
You can watch all the action from the 13 qualifying legs, and the final, LIVE on FEI TV – don’t miss a hoof-beat!
13 October 2010 – Following the success of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky, the Driving world can expect more thrilling competition as the sport moves indoors for the 10th season of the FEI World Cup Driving.
Ten top class drivers, including eight from the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, will battle for the Driving World Cup title in seven competitions. For the first time ever, all three FEI World Cup Finals – the Rolex FEI World Cup Jumping; the Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage; and the FEI World Cup Driving – will be staged together in one venue at Leipzig in Germany.
Five World Champions
The qualification season consisted of 14 competitions throughout Europe and no less than five World Champions have qualified for the 2010-2011 season.
6 September 2010 – Hungary’s Zoltan Lázar scored his first-ever international four-in-hand victory at a CAIO when winning at Breda, the Netherlands, ahead of Werner Ulrich (SWI) and the best Dutch driver at this prestigious competition, Mark Weusthof, but the Dutch team once again proved invincible, staying well ahead of Switzerland and Sweden throughout the Nations Cup competition.
Twenty-eight drivers from 10 nations started at the beautiful Prinsenhoeve Estate in Breda, an outstanding venue which boasts the only Dutch Nations Cup competition in the history of Dutch driving. Breda has also been host to a number of other equestrian events this year, such as the FEI World Para-Equestrian Driving Championships, Pony Driving Championships, international and national Eventing competitions as well as national Jumping and Dressage fixtures.
Other vehicles and equipment
Breda was the last outing for the top drivers before the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. The carriages and other equipment of the Dutch, German and Swiss teams have already been shipped to Kentucky and most of the drivers therefore started with borrowed vehicles and harnesses. Drivers like Koos de Ronde and Theo Timmerman from the Netherlands competed with different horses in Breda to save their best horses for Kentucky.
22 August 2010 – Britain’s Emily Baldwin spearheaded a competitive international field to win her first ever HSBC FEI World Cup event, at the inaugural Haras du Pin (FRA) CIC3*-W, the penultimate competition in the 2010 series.
Baldwin, 29, and her 14-year-old Dutch-bred Drivetime, are an experienced combination and are renowned for producing elegant, expressive Dressage tests, so it was no surprise to see them lead this phase.
They slipped to fourth with a handful of Cross-Country time penalties, but then regained the top spot with a clear Jumping round to finish just 2.2 penalties ahead of Belgium’s Karin Donckers on Lamicell Charizard.
Baldwin and Drivetime, by Zuidhorn, are now heading for the Pau CCI4* (FRA) in November, the last of the five 2010 HSBC Classics. “I’m absolutely thrilled,” said Baldwin. “It’s my biggest win to date. I have won a CIC3* before, but not an HSBC FEI World Cup event. My horse is quite a character in the stable yard anyway, and now he will be very pleased with himself!”
16 August 2010 – Niklas Lindbäck scored a popular home win in the 10th leg of the HSBC FEI World Cup Eventing at Malmö (SWE) and boosted Swedish spirits at what was an important national team trial before the forthcoming Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky (USA) next month.
Lindbäck, who rose from 10th after Dressage on Mr Pooh to take the top spot after Cross-Country with the second-fastest round, held on to win with a clear over the coloured poles. “I’m so very pleased with my horse and with my whole team. It’s great to win on home ground and I’m glad the crowd appreciated it. It’s been a good competition in which riders were certainly put to the test,” he said afterwards.
Two other Swedish riders finished in the top 10, Katrin Norling and her experienced Pandora Emm, third, and Malin Larsson on Piccadilly, ninth. But aside from Australian visitor Clayton Fredericks’s eighth place on Brookleigh, German riders were the main beneficiaries.
Dressage leader Simone Deitermann (GER) was second on her Badminton hero Free Easy NRW, while three of her compatriots are now making serious headway on the FEI HSBC World Cup rankings, which are still led by Michael Jung (GER).
17 July 2010 – Boyd Exell (AUS) today notched up his third individual victory at Aachen, the most prestigious international Four-in-Hand Driving competition, to add to his wins in 2003 and 2009. The Australian had a head start in the dressage and held onto his lead throughout.
Four times World Champion IJsbrand Chardon (NED) finished second, ahead of Christoph Sandmann (GER), and it was the Netherlands that won the Nations Cup ahead of hosts Germany, with Switzerland in third.
The CAIO and World Cup Qualifying competition in Aachen was run in a different format. The Four-in-Hand drivers drove the regular dressage test on Thursday, followed by the obstacle driving competition on Friday. The marathon, broadcast live on television, was run as the final phase to bring the combined driving competition to a dramatic finish.
2 July 2010 – After a full investigation into the facts surrounding the disqualification of Sapphire (McLain Ward) at the FEI World Cup Final in Geneva, the FEI has determined that the horse was incorrectly eliminated from the second round on 16 April 2010, however, Sapphire’s disqualification from the final round of the World Cup remains in place.
McLain Ward will immediately be awarded all ranking points and prize money related to his second place finish in the second round of the FEI World Cup Final. This will not affect ranking points and prize money awarded to other riders in the competition.
As a result of this investigation, the FEI has also decided to issue mandatory guidelines to be applied by the Veterinary Commissions appointed for FEI Events in order to strengthen the hypersensitivity protocol that was applied in Geneva. These guidelines will be communicated to all National Federations prior to the CHIO in Aachen (GER).
The USEF, McLain Ward and Tim Ober have stated that they do not agree with the FEI on the question of whether Sapphire displayed a level of sensitivity that justified her disqualification from the third round of the World Cup and also disagree with the process followed however, in the best interest of the sport, they have dropped their legal case against the FEI and will not challenge this disqualification.
Vecsés (HUN), 13 JUNE 2010 – Dutch four-in-hand driver Koos de Ronde took the victory at the international combined driving event in Vecsés, Hungary. De Ronde stayed ahead of home driver Zoltán Lázár in this FEI World Cup Qualifying competition, where the horse teams also battled in the nations competition. Switzerland’s Werner Ulrich came third, improving every event with his Lusitano team of horses.
Heat hit Hungary
The temperature in Vecsés, the home base of the sympathetic Hungarian four-in-hand driver József Dobrovitz and his family, rose to around 30 degrees Celsius throughout the weekend. The organising committee had taken the necessary precautions to ensure the welfare of the horses and shortened the A-section of the marathon to 1,2 kilometres and lowered the pace of the walk section. All competitors got fifteen minutes instead the usual ten minutes rest at the obligatory halt in the marathon before the obstacle phase. This turned out to be a wise decision and none of the competing horses had any problems at the finish of the marathon.