Germany’s Marco Kutscher steered Cornet’s Cristallo to victory at the seventh leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2014/2015 Western European League at Olympia in London (GBR) today. (FEI/Jon Stroud)
Olympia, London (GBR), 21 December 2014 – German riders dominated the prizewinner’s line-up at the seventh leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2014/2015 Western European League at Olympia in London, Great Britain, where Marco Kutscher steered Cornet’s Cristallo to victory ahead of defending series champion Daniel Deusser riding Carriere.
Excitement is always guaranteed at the hugely popular pre-Christmas fixture staged in the Grand Hall, where the proximity of the spectators and the tight confines of the arena combine to create an electric atmosphere. And today’s competition sizzled from start to finish, with 13 of the 38 starters qualifying for the second-round jump-off against the clock.
Britain’s Robert Whitaker made the first-round course designed by Ireland’s Alan Wade look deceptively uncomplicated when foot-perfect as first rider into the ring. However, it quickly became clear that the track was best suited to horses requiring minimal adjustment to their stride pattern, while the time-allowed of 72-seconds took its toll. And for three of today’s starters – Britain’s Ben Maher and Michael Whitaker and Australia’s Edwina Tops-Alexander – it was utterly frustrating to miss out on the deciding round when collecting just a single time fault each.
Wade tested control of pace all the way, and the tall vertical at four was influential as was the following triple combination of a double of oxers followed by a vertical. The next line of three fences also proved testing, the vertical at six requiring caution before kicking on to the wide oxer at seven and then a tricky three-stride distance to a water-tray vertical at eight which came up very quickly for onward-bound horses. Wade also set them a challenge on the last line of fences, with the oxer at 11 followed by a double of verticals before the run down to the final oxer. The was a huge moan from the crowd when long-time World No. 1, Britain’s Scott Brash, made it all the way here only to leave it on the ground with Hello Sunshine.
A little careful
Robert Whitaker and Catwalk IV set the jump-off target with a clear in 40.49 seconds, while the normally super-fast Italian combination of Luca Moneta and Connery were also a little careful when leaving all the poles in place in 42.10. Norway’s Geir Gulliksen and Edesa S Banjan were fault-free in 41.42, but Sweden’s Malin Baryard-Johnsson and H&M Tornesch raised the temperature when first to break the 40-second barrier in 39.70 seconds, and that result was always going to count.
Last year’s Olympia winners, The Netherlands’ Maikel van der Vleuten and VDL Groep Sapphire B, hit the penultimate vertical, formerly fence four, which played a major role this time out. Located close to the arena entrance and on an angle to the remaining two elements of the former triple combination which brought this second course to a close, it caught a number of horses off-balance including the fabulous 8-year-old stallion, Singular LS La Silla, who looks another real star-ride for Germany’s Marcus Ehning.
With five left to run, defending Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping champion, Daniel Deusser, took command with a superb run from the 11-year-old mare Carriere who broke the beam in 38.44 seconds, but his lead was short-lived, because fellow-countryman Kutscher galloped through the timers in 37.66 seconds despite an unsettling moment at the double at 9, now three from home. “The beginning of the jump-off wasn’t perfect and I wanted to do one less to the double but he was a bit behind me – he really helped me there. I was very deep, very close – but he made it!” Kutscher said afterwards.
However, he had to watch three strong challengers take their turn before he would be assured of victory. Constant van Paesschen has enjoyed a tremendous season with Citizenguard Toscan de Sainte who was recently named Horse of the Year in Belgium, but a mistake at the third-last, the oxer at fence 3, was followed by two more for 12 faults. The penultimate contender was Bertram Allen who had already racked up a double of wins at the London fixture over the last few days and the 19-year-old Irish sensation who clinched victory on his World Cup debut in Verona, Italy last month looked set to do it again until his mare, Molly Malone, clipped the penultimate vertical before crossing the line in what would be the fastest time, 36.81 seconds.
Tantalising maximum points
Now only Britain’s John Whitaker stood between Kutscher and those tantalising 20 maximum qualifying points, but the 59-year-old maestro’s stallion, Argento, stood too far off the oxer at fence three to also return a four-fault result. It would be his son, Robert, who would fly the flag for family and country when slotting into fourth behind Baryard-Johnsson in third and Germany’s Kutscher and Deusser in first and second spots respectively.
“It’s my first press conference here this week. I normally have a good show in London but so far it wasn’t great, so I was a bit disappointed until today!” said Kutscher afterwards. “I knew if I was in the jump-off I’d have a good chance and it worked out for me,” he added. He congratulated his fellow-countryman Deusser who borrowed Carriere to compete in London. “It was his first time to ride the horse and he had a very good class today. Even with a horse he doesn’t know he’s always dangerous,” he pointed out.
Deusser, who competes for Stephex Stables, explained that two of his horses were injured last week. “I really wanted to come to London so I said to my boss that I have two options. Either I stay at home or I take two others, and he said on Tuesday just try this horse one time. So I rode her on Tuesday morning and she was on the truck on Tuesday afternoon!” said the man who is pre-qualified for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2015 Final as defending champion.
Baryard-Johnsson said, “It’s my second time in three years to finish third! He (her stallion H&M Tornesch) had a very, very good round; he’s in great shape and we really tried today, both of us, so I’m super-happy!”
Fourth-placed Robert Whitaker was delighted to finish best of the British. He reflected on his bad luck at the previous leg in Madrid, Spain where he had victory in his grasp only to lose control of Catwalk who ran past the final fence. “We should have won that day!” he said. “The last few shows he’s been jumping very well and the course really suited him today,” said the rider who is getting married in Barbados next month.
With just five of the 12 qualifying legs remaining, the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2014/2015 Western European League now moves on to Mechelen in Belgium where the action takes place on Tuesday 30 December.
For further information on the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2014/2015 leg at Olympia, London (GBR), go to www.olympiahorseshow.com or contact Press Officer Jo Peck, JoPeck@hpower.co.uk, +44 1753 847 900.
The next leg takes place at Mechelen, Belgium on 30 December. For details of the Belgian fixture, check out website www.jumping-mechelen.com or contact Press Officer Edith de Reys, Email email@example.com, Tel +32 475 659281.
Full result here.
Facts and Figures:
The Grand Hall at Olympia in London (GBR) was the venue for Round 7 of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2014/2015 Western European League today.
38 horse-and-riders started in the competition won by Germany’s Marco Kutscher and the 11-year-old Corent’s Cristallo.
13 qualified for the second-round jump-off against the clock.
6 horse-and-rider combinations jumped double-clear rounds.
3 horse-and-rider combinations picked up just a single time fault in the first round.
Course designer was Ireland’s Alan Wade.
4 German riders qualified for the jump-off.
Runner-up in today’s competition was reigning Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping champion Daniel Deusser from Germany.
2 of the riders who qualified for the jump-off were Belgium’s Jos Verlooy and Ireland’s Bertram Allen who are just 19 years of age and a full 40 years younger than British legend, John Whitaker, who was last to go in today’s deciding round.
With 40 points or more now accumulated, 5 riders are confirmed for a place at the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2014/2015 Final in Las Vegas, USA next April – Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat, Netherlands’ Harrie Smolders, Germany’s Marco Kutscher and Daniel Deusser and Kevin Staut from France.
There are 5 remaining rounds of the series, and the next takes place at Mechelen in Belgium on Tuesday 30 December 2014.
Marco Kutscher GER, talking about the challenge of riding in a small arena like Olympia: “It depends on the course builder, it was really nice to ride all the courses so far.”
Daniel Deusser GER: “As I live in Mechelen I can walk to the arena next week! That’s my next show, then Basel. I don’t really need the points as I’m pre-qualified for the Final, but it’s always a better feeling if you have a few points and know you’re in the game. I don’t know which horse I’ll ride in the Final but I will try and get a few more points.”
Robert Smith GBR, when asked if he would have gone quicker if his draw in the jump-off was different: “I would’ve won! Actually I wouldn’t have changed anything.”
Daniel Deusser, talking about the course: “I didn’t think we’d get 13 clears, the fences came up very very quick, I thought it was a really difficult course and the time was really short.
There were a lot of good horses, the ground is good and the atmosphere is good. This was a super class with a great jump-off!”
Alan Wade, course designer: “Every night in the 1.50m classes we had plenty of clear rounds, so I knew they were jumping well. In the jump-off today I thought my countryman (Bertram Allen) could win! We put up the fences in the jump-off. We believe to keep the standard. We know they’re capable of going fast, but don’t want them to go flat out every day, we want jumpers to win, as well as fast jumpers.”
Full standings here.
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