Tag Archives: Show Jumping

Swiss Sweep to Victory at Opening Leg of Europe Division 1 Series in Šamorín

Photo: Martin Fuchs and Chaplin (FEI/Łukasz Kowalski)

Irish finish second ahead of Belgians in third

Switzerland secured a definitive victory in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Slovakia in Šamorín. With seven nations chasing points at this first leg of the 2018 Europe Division 1 qualifying series, it was a hotly-contested affair, and the eventual winners already looked well poised for success when leading at the end of the first round on a zero scoreline.

However, the second tour of the track designed by Uliano Vezzani saw a big shake-up, with Italy dropping from runner-up spot to joint-fifth and replaced by the Irish, while Belgium finished third ahead of Brazil in fourth place. Sweden lined up joint-fifth while the German team collected a total of 24 faults for seventh place and Spain accumulated 38 faults to finish last of the eight competing countries.

The Swiss picked up nine faults in round two, but that was without the services of anchorman Steve Guerdat (35) who didn’t have to return to the arena with his mare, Hannah, because the result was already decided, the Irish finishing on 13, Belgium on 16 and Brazil on 18 faults apiece.

“I managed her really well in the first round, and then the team did so good they made it a nice Sunday afternoon for me!” — Steve Guerdat (Team Switzerland)

It wasn’t all plain sailing for Swiss Chef d’Equipe Anky Kistler, however, because he had to give Paul Estermann (54) a late call-up after selected team-member, Jannike Sprunger, had taken a fall. And Estermann’s 10-year-old stallion, Curtis Sitte, was competing in his very first Nations Cup. The pair collected the discard score of eight faults in round one and put five more on the board in round two, but when youngest team member Martin Fuchs (25) produced one of four double-clears on the day then just the single mistake by pathfinders Werner Muff (44) and Daimler at the influential vertical one fence from home had to be added for the final winning scoreline.

“We brought a really good team here and we were aiming for the win – we knew we could do it!” said Fuchs, whose 11-year-old stallion, Chaplin, was sensational. He was particularly delighted because the horse is just returning to top level after injury.

“He won the Grand Prix in Mexico and in Zurich and Doha but after the GCT in Miami he got hurt and this was his first big show back,” Fuchs explained. About the course, he said, “The back bars on the oxers were wide and square so there were quite a few faults, but for me it felt quite easy because Chaplin was jumping so well. He was fresh all the way to the last fence in the second round and this makes me very happy because I knew my planning was right – I gave him more time instead of going to some more indoor shows and today he was fit and just perfect!”

The Swiss now head into the second round of the eight-leg Europe Division 1 series in La Baule (FRA) in three weeks’ time at the top of the league table but only 10 points ahead of the Irish whose runner-up finish was bolstered by a brilliant double-clear from US-based Paul O’Shea riding Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu. The other double-clears came from Belgium’s Nicola Philippaerts (Chilli Willi) and Brazil’s Luiz Francisco de Azevedo (Comic).

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

McLain Ward Claims Stunning Victory in Longines Grand Prix of New York

McLain Ward and Clinta. Photo by Sportfot.

McLain Ward (USA), hailing from Brewster, NY, thrilled a hometown crowd with a flawless triumph in the $382,800 Longines Grand Prix of New York during the final day of the highly-anticipated Longines Masters of New York on Sunday, April 29. Making its long-awaited debut in the heart of the Empire State as the American Grand Slam, the Masters celebrated its 25th competition with an event on American soil as part of Season III of the Longines Masters Series after events in Paris and Hong Kong earlier in the season.

In front of an exhilarated crowd at NYCB LIVE, Home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, the 2017 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping champion and three-time U.S. Olympic medalist led a victory gallop that represented the world’s greatest show jumping talent. Ward and Clinta, an 11-year-old Oldenburg mare by Clinton x Lord Pezi, was the pair to beat in a star-studded jump-off over courses conceived by Dutch course designer Louis Konickx.

The Longines Masters of New York saw top sport throughout four days of competition and Konickx’s tracks rose to the occasion each day. Stopping the short-course clock in a blistering 34.92 seconds, Ward commented on the course designing team, saying, “[Course design] is a real art and I thought it was fantastic for the inaugural event. You have a big crowd, an exciting jump-off, and the course was challenging but it allowed for a few clear rounds and great sport in the jump-off, which is great for the fans.

“It’s always nice to win on your home soil in the U.S. and extra special in New York,” continued Ward. “I can remember years ago when I was a young kid, I won a grand prix at [Madison Square] Garden and that was very special because it was the home state and the home city. It was very special again today here.”

Erynn Ballard (CAN) was poised to become only the second woman to ever win a Masters Grand Prix along with Pénélope Leprévost of France, who earned a Paris title in 2011, when she went clear from the first position in the order. Setting the pace again in the jump-off, Ballard sat in the lead on a time of 35.89 seconds riding Fantast, a 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding by Toulon x Rubens du Ri d’Asse owned by Sagamore Farms.

“New York has always been good to me and I would say this is a career best for me from start to finish,” said Ballard after a banner week that also included a win in the $100,000 Longines Speed Challenge on Friday evening. “I had a big win in the Maclay Finals at Madison Square Garden [in 1998] and everyone was saying New York was my place. I think that’s true for this week. I was hoping for two top 10 finishes and I got three podium finishes. There’s not much more you can do than that.”

Two-time Olympic silver medalist Peder Fredricson (SWE) was hungry for a win and gave a lesson in speed with Hansson WL, the 10-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding by Indra WL x Iowa owned by Måsel AB. He stopped the clock at 35.43 seconds to claim second and bump Ballard to third, but was no match for Ward.

“It’s always difficult to beat McLain,” said Fredricson, who is the reigning Longines FEI European Champion. “He is always quick, but I was really happy with my round. My horse jumped fantastic. If I could have done something, maybe I could have turned tighter to the second to last [jump].

“As a rider, it’s fantastic to ride here,” continued Fredricson on his time in New York. “You really feel the crowd and also in the prize giving, you get really good contact with the people in the audience. I really enjoyed my time here.”

Rounding out the top placings, Olympic team gold medalist Kevin Staut (FRA) took fourth in 36.26 seconds riding Vendom d’Anchat HDC, while Adrienne Sternlicht (USA) was fifth aboard Cristalline in 38.35 seconds.

Ward and his winning mount recently joined forces after he added the ride to his already stacked string, which is made up of five grey mares including Clinta along with his World Cup champion HH Azur.

“It’s great to see her showing all that I thought she could be,” said Ward of the mare he owns with Sagamore Farms. “I saw her in Aachen last summer and fell in love with her, but it took me seven months to get her. She made a great effort today and it was my day.”

A New York native, Ward was complimentary of the Longines Masters of New York and the efforts of its management to introduce unparalleled sport and entertainment to the American market, saying, “They’re really making this an entertainment spectacle, which is phenomenal. It’s something that’s been missing in promoting our sport; making it more exciting to a more diverse audience.”

McLain Ward is now the new contender for the Grand Slam Bonus of €1,000,000 for winning three Longines Grand Prix consecutively in New York (Season III), Paris (Season IV), and Hong Kong (Season IV).

Christophe Ameeuw, CEO and Founder of EEM, had dreamt of bringing the Longines Masters to New York since he conceived the idea of a high-performance show jumping series.

“On behalf of the entire team at EEM and the Longines Masters Series, we want to thank the riders, our partners, our exhibitors, and most importantly, our fans, for making Season III a successful and historic event,” said Ameeuw. “The past four days have exhibited the world’s top athletes and showcased some of the best performances in show jumping history. Bringing the Longines Masters Series to New York has always been a dream and we’re thrilled to have received such a warm welcome. We look forward to continuing this legacy for years to come.”

Madison Goetzmann Wins Prestigious Masters Two Sam Edelman Grand Prix

In a thrilling finale to the Masters Two division at the inaugural Longines Masters of New York, 17-year-old Madison Goetzmann (USA) displayed talent well beyond her years to win the $35,000 Sam Edelman Grand Prix following a seven-horse jump-off.  Riding Prestigious, her 11-year-old Westphalian gelding, Goetzmann of Skaneateles, NY took every risk in the jump-off before galloping through the timers in 35.55 seconds.  With 1984 World Cup champion Mario Deslauriers (CAN) last to go in the jump-off, the crowd was on the edge of its seat as the two-time Canadian Olympian gave it his best effort aboard Bardolina 2, a nine-year-old Holsteiner mare owned by Wishing Well Farm.  It was close, but not close enough, as the pair stopped the clock in 35.70 seconds to finish runner-up.  Megan McDermott (USA) rounded out the top three after incurring four faults in the jump-off in a time of 35.42 seconds.

“It’s amazing!” said Goetzmann of her Longines Masters debut.  “I wasn’t really sure what to expect but it’s managed so perfectly, it’s a beautiful atmosphere, and the crowds are amazing.  I’m really sad that it’s over!”

With top results throughout the Masters Two division, including a win in Saturday’s Mark Cross Trophy riding Curo, Deslauriers, who resides in New York City, was crowned the Stephex Leading Rider.  His reward was a one-year lease on a Stephex STX 2 horse van.

Serena Marron Saves the Best for Last!

The Masters Three Devialet Grand Prix 1.15m kicked off the final day of show jumping competition at the Longines Masters of New York with a nail-biting finish for Serena Marron (USA) riding Donar J.  Clear rounds were elusive in the opening round until the final two riders, Alexandra Cherubini (USA) riding her 16-year-old Oldenburg gelding, Lando, and Marron aboard her 15-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding, both jumped clear to ensure a two-horse jump-off.

First to go in the tie-breaker, Cherubini was going for broke when she ran into trouble at the double combination, forcing her to circle and costing her a total of 13 faults.  With some breathing room, Marron was able to incur four faults yet still take the win.  Joining Marron and Cherubini on the third step of the podium was fellow American Gabrielle Freund riding No Sunday Sales.

Following four days of intense competition in the Masters Three competition, Summer Paulos (USA) captured the Leading Riding Title with three podium finishes, including two victories.  In recognition of the honor, Paulos was presented with a custom Top Jock x Longines Masters Double Door Trunk, Blanket Box, and Saddle Rack.

For full information on the 2018 Longines Masters of New York, visit www.longinesmasters.com.

Contact: Jennifer Wood
jennifer@jumpmediallc.com

Oliver Townend Crowned Winner of Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event

The final day of the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event started in dramatic fashion with both Michael Jung and Christopher Burton’s horses instructed to go to the holding area during the final horse inspection. Tensions were high as the packed crowds waited eagerly for the leading riders to re-present, with both horses eventually passed by the judges.

Over 25,000 spectators flooded the stadium in anticipation of one of the closest competitions in history at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event with only 1.2 penalties separating the top three riders, Michael Jung, Christopher Burton, and Oliver Townend, respectively.

Fifth-to-go, Marilyn Little aboard RF Scandalous, displayed a text-book clear round, finishing to an eruption of applause from the patriotic home crowd, hoping to see a US rider victorious for the first time since 2008. This dream was short-lived as next in to the arena was Great Britain’s Oliver Townend who produced the ride of his life to go clear, celebrating in style with his fist punching the air in recognition of his incredible round. This heaped further pressure on the final two riders. Australia’s Christopher Burton followed but had an unfortunate eight faults pushing Townend closer to the coveted prize. Only one rider could have prevented Townend’s success: all eyes fell on the three-time defending champions, Michael Jung and FischerRocana FST, as they entered the arena, hoping to make history once more. On this rare occasion Jung was unable to clinch the title with four faults dropping him into second place to give Townend a well-deserved victory and keys to a 12-month lease of a Land Rover Discovery vehicle.

“It’s a different world; it’s something I have dreamt of for a long time. We have come a long way to be here and the owners have funded it, so I am so grateful to them for this opportunity. The Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event is one of, if not the best events in the world; the atmosphere is amazing and the fans are fantastic; it’s been the best week!” — Oliver Townend, Great Britain

Townend continued to pay tribute to Cooley Master Class. “I have had him since he was four years old; he has won at nearly every level and never lets us down. He has suffered with injuries in the past and at some points we weren’t sure if he would even come through, but the last two seasons he has been amazing; he has always been cheeky and extremely talented so it’s great to be here with him.”

Michael Jung commented on his performance. “I am sad for FischerRocana as that was absolutely my mistake, but I am happy with our performance and I love this event; it is so beautiful. FischerRocana has been amazing and is incredible to ride, so I am pleased with her.”

Marty Bauman
Chief Press Officer
Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event
508.698.6810
marty@classic-communications.com

Riders Europe Claim Narrow Victory over Riders USA in Riders Masters Cup

Harrie Smolders and Cas 2. Photo by Jump Media.

Team competition was at its finest in a transatlantic showdown between Riders USA and Riders Europe in the innovative $200,000 Riders Masters Cup, presented and created by EEM in collaboration with the European Equestrian Federation.  Show jumping fans were on the edge of their seats as the two teams faced off in a rematch that began at the Longines Masters of Paris back on December 2.  Riders USA chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland (USA) spent the past five months formulating his strategy for a win on home soil and sent out the best of the best to duel against Riders Europe, led by chef d’Equipe Philippe Guerdat (SUI).

In the opening duel, Kevin Staut (FRA) took the win over two-time Olympic team gold medalist McLain Ward (USA) when the American left an uncharacteristic two rails on the floor riding HH Gigi’s Girl.  Georgina Bloomberg then looked like she would emerge victorious with a quick clear aboard Manodie II H but was nipped in the end by Harrie Smolders (NED) to make it two to nothing in favor of Riders Europe.

Olivier Philippaerts (BEL) scored another point for Riders Europe when Adrienne Sternlicht (USA) struggled with her mount, Pembroke, for 12 faults.  Beezie Madden (USA) gave hope to American fans with a clear round aboard Con Taggio to score the first point for Riders USA after Gregory Wathelet (BEL) left a rail on the floor riding MJT Nevados S.  When the final competitor for Riders Europe, 2016 Olympic individual silver medalist Peder Fredricson (SWE), put a clear round on the board with H&M Zaloubet, Laura Kraut was unable to match his faultless performance with Hello Guv’Nor, leaving the opening match score at four to one in favor of Riders Europe.

As the saying goes, especially in show jumping sport, it isn’t over until it’s over.  Facing off in the speed match where double points were on the line, Riders USA had a chance to bring it back for the home crowd.  Ridland adjusted his strategy and sent Kraut back as the lead-off rider.  Riders USA’s confidence swelled when she came out victorious over Philippaerts riding Goofy van T Laerhof with a time of 61.20 versus the Belgian’s time of 61.83 seconds.  That put the score at four to three, with Riders USA quickly gaining on its opponents.

Staut was next in, posting a fast time of 57.43 riding Ayade de Septon et HDC that was soon eclipsed by Madden.  The newly-crowned Longines FEI World Cup Final champion brought in a fresh mount, Jiva, and raced to victory in a time of 57.02 seconds as the crowd went wild.  Suddenly Riders USA had pulled into the lead five to four.

New York City’s sweetheart Bloomberg laid it all on the line in the speed duel, leaving Wathelet in the dust with a brilliant ride.  Riders USA was staging a comeback of epic proportions, surging ahead seven to four.

The excitement continued to mount as Riders USA’s hopes looked bright, but Riders Europe were still breathing down its neck.  Sternlicht gave it her best shot with Pembroke, but when a rail fell Fredricson claimed two valuable points for Riders Europe, tightening the gap and making it seven to six in favor of the Americans.

It all came down to the final duel, which saw two of the fastest riders in the world pitted against each other.  Ward took no prisoners, guiding HH Gigi’s Girl home in a blistering fast time of 54.82 seconds.  Smolders had the weight of a continent riding on his shoulders, but the Dutchman never faltered, taking every risk to cross the timers in an unbelievable 52.91 seconds – by far the fastest time of the night – with Cas 2.  His perfectly calculated and executed performance gave Riders Europe the edge, putting the defending champions from Paris ahead by a nose to win eight to seven over Riders USA.

“It went right down to the wire!” exclaimed Guerdat of his team’s victory.  “We knew USA would be strong tonight because, as Robert said, after Paris they wanted to win back at home.  I have a team who are all champions and the best in the world at the moment.  It would be difficult to get a better team than this!”

Ridland was quick to promise that Riders USA will put up a strong fight the next time the two teams meet.

“We’re not giving up,” the American chef d’Equipe pledged.  “We went down to the wire in Paris and we went down to the wire again tonight.  That final duel was really one for the ages.  We put up one hell of a fight and a great second-half comeback.  We clawed our way back, and that’s what sport is about.

“It’s really exciting to see the top riders in the world going for speed,” concluded Ridland.  “It’s a great format, and I think everybody got their money’s worth tonight.  We’ll be back again!”

While Riders Europe claimed the first edition of the Riders Masters Cup, Riders USA promise a strong comeback for bragging rights when the next edition of the Riders Masters Cup is staged at the Longines Masters in Paris from November 30 to December 2, 2018.

Next Generation of Show Jumping Superstars Showcased in U25 Grand Prix EEM

The show jumping stars of the future were put in the international spotlight Saturday night by EEM with the U25 Grand Prix, open to athletes aged 25 and under.  Founder and producer of the Longines Masters, EEM affirmed its commitment to propelling the next generation forward in their sporting careers.  It was an all-American podium finish, much to the delight of the home crowd, with Catherine Wachtell (USA) of Long Valley, NJ, snatching the win following a five-horse jump-off.  Coached by Todd Minikus (USA), who is competing in the Masters One division in New York, Wachtell, 23, earned the victory with a time of 34.96 seconds aboard Indy van de Roten, a 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare owned by Autumn View Farm.

Hot on her heels was 17-year-old Samantha Cohen (USA) and Carmen, her 11-year-old grey Dutch Warmblood mare.  With Olympic team gold Medalist Laura Kraut as her coach, Cohen gave it her best effort trying to catch Wachtell but fell short of the win when stopping the clock in 35.75 seconds to finish runner-up.  Taking third step on the podium was Samantha Wight, 20, who took a conservative approach, jumping clear in a time of 40.92 seconds aboard Edison.

“It’s a great division and I think it’s one of the most competitive because you have all the young talent and really amazing horses,” said Wachtell, a recent Georgetown University graduate who will be attending Fordham Law School in New York in the fall.  “It’s tough, but it’s really awesome to be a part of!”

Harrie Smolders Scorches to Victory in Masters One Kingsland 1.45m

The world’s best show jumping athletes were once again showcased at the Longines Masters of New York in the $60,000 Masters One Kingsland 1.45m on Saturday, April 28.  Dutchman Harrie Smolders (NED), who is poised to ascend to the number one position in the Longines World Rankings, topped a six-horse jump-off to take the win.  Riding the 13-year-old Holsteiner stallion Capital Colnardo for owner Copernicus Stables, Smolders took charge of the jump-off by blazing around the shortened jump-off track in a time of 33.12 seconds, overtaking the lead from Emanuele Gaudiano (ITA), who had stopped the clock in 34.05 seconds aboard the nine-year-old Oldenburg stallion, Chalou.  Edward Levy (FRA) took third position on the podium riding Rafale d’Hyverniere after posting a clear jump-off performance in a time of 34.84 seconds.

“It was quite a good class with only six clears,” said Smolders of the Masters One 1.45 competition presented by leading European apparel company, Kingsland.  “(Course designer) Louis Konickx did a good job; it was quite delicate.  It was not very big, but still tough in enough to jump.  The time was perfectly set.  In the jump-off, there were very fast ones straight away.  I saw Emanuele Guadiano and thought he had a good pace; into the double combination he could have gone maybe a little faster.  That is the only place he left a little gap, and that is where I tried to beat him.”

Of his appearance in the inaugural Longines Masters of New York, which joins Paris and Hong Kong in the series, Smolders noted, “It is always a high-standard event, very exclusive with high quality service.  We are always happy to come to the Longines Masters anywhere in the world!”

American Victory as Devin Ryan Tops the Lamborghini Masters Power Six Bar

Requiring horsepower in its own right, the $20,000 Lamborghini Masters Power Six Bar saw the fences grow higher and higher as competitors fell by the wayside.  The last man standing was Devin Ryan (USA) and his 12-year-old Hanoverian mare, Florida, the only pair to successfully clear the final height of 1.80m and claim victory.

Hot off his impressive second-place finish in the recent 2018 Longines FEI World Cup Final in Paris, the Longines Masters of New York was Ryan’s first appearance back on American soil.  Hailing from nearby New Jersey, Ryan did not disappoint the home crowd, who willed the pair over each of the six fences on their way to the win.

“I decided I was going to do it for the spectators,” said Ryan, 36, of his decision to enter the Lamborghini Masters Power Six Bar with Florida, a horse he started riding last fall that goes by the nickname ‘Bambi’.  “She’s a really careful mare and it’s always good for a horse to go in a ring and do something a little different.  It was just like doing a gymnastic at home.  I don’t normally jump this high at home but if the horse can do it, it can do it.  She’s super easy to deal with, but when she puts her eye on a jump she turns into a spitfire and she lights up.”

Three riders tied for the runner-up spot after having a fence down in the final test.  Longines Ambassador of Elegance Jane Richards Philips (SUI) partnered with Calinesse de Guldenboom and two up-and-coming American female show jumping stars, Mavis Spencer (USA) aboard Dubai and Kristen Vanderveen (USA) riding Bastian 86, all tried their best, but only Ryan successfully left all the rails in the cups in a true demonstration of horse power.

Canada atop Masters Two Mark Cross Podium

Kicking off Saturday competition at the Longines Masters of New York, two-time Canadian Olympian Mario Deslauriers climbed to the top of the podium after claiming the Masters Two Trophy Mark Cross 1.40m. Deslauriers and Curo, a nine-year-old Oldenburg gelding were fastest in the one-round speed event to cross the timers clear in 57.11 seconds for the win.

“Curo is a blast to ride,” said Deslauriers, who competes for his home country of Canada, but now calls New York City home. “It was a nice change to bring him inside and show him the new fences, the crowd, and all the activity. He really grew up a lot this week.”

Deslauriers is at the Longines Masters of New York with his 18-year-old daughter Lucy, who is competing in the Masters One CSI5* division, saying, “Overall, the event is great and a nice new flavor. To have an indoor event with all the background performances, the boutique area, and this level of sport is a fresh look and I think we need more of that.”

Fellow Canadian competitor Wesley Newlands took second and Samantha Wight (USA) finished third.

Jennifer Kocher Wins Masters Three Oscar de la Renta 1.25m in Fine Fashion

Saturday’s highlight competition in the Masters Three division, the Oscar de la Renta 1.25m, was won by Jennifer Kocher (USA).  The win did not come easily as eight riders passed the first round test to advance to the jump-off over the course set by Louis Konickx of the Netherlands.  Four riders again jumped clear in the tie-breaker with Kocher posting the winning time of 36.02 seconds riding Elion V, a nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion owned by her husband, Andrew Kocher (USA), who is contesting the Masters One division at the Longines Masters of New York.

Tori Corts (USA) finished second with a time 36.90 seconds riding the 14-year-old Chico Bello while Sweden was represented on the podium by Sophie Mörner, the only rider to qualify two horses, both owned by Lövsta Stuteri, for the jump-off.  It was her younger mount, the nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, Elliot, who stopped the clock in 38.46 for third place.

For full information on the 2018 Longines Masters of New York, visit www.longinesmasters.com.

Contact: Jennifer Wood
jennifer@jumpmediallc.com

Fantastic Finish for Erynn Ballard in Longines Speed Challenge of New York 1.50m

Erynn Ballard and Fantast. Photo by World Red Eye for EEM.

Canada’s Erynn Ballard (CAN) emerged victorious riding Fantast in the $100,000 Longines Speed Challenge at the Longines Masters of New York.  It was an all-female podium finish as the women outran the men in one of the only Olympic sports where the sexes compete as equals.  Contesting the identical track that riders already faced in the Season III Longines Masters of Paris and Hong Kong, Ballard’s speed prowess allowed her to take a two-second penalty for a dropped rail yet still emerge victorious with a time of 60.62 seconds.  Considered the world’s speed championship, Ballard’s time in the Longines Speed Challenge was faster than the 60.99 achieved by Julien Epaillard on home ground in Paris and eclipsed the time of 63.47 that Philipp Weishaupt of Germany posted riding Chacon in Hong Kong.

Leading into the competition, Longines Ambassador of Elegance and Co-founder of The Golden Hat Foundation Kate Winslet met local New York children with Autism and accepted a check on behalf of The Golden Hat Foundation, the Longines Masters of New York official nonprofit partner. The Longines Masters of New York also honored Long Island military with a procession by the Marine Corps color guard and mounted police, and EEM received an official citation issued by Nassau County officials, welcoming the Longines Masters Series to New York.

“The Golden Hat Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to changing the way people on the autism spectrum are perceived, by shining a light on their abilities and emphasizing their potential. With proper education and career training, these individuals can truly realize their dreams. Tonight is a shining example of how organizations, like Longines and the Longines Masters of New York, can make an impact to further Autism Awareness in their community,” said Winslet.

New York’s Brianne Goutal-Marteau (USA) kept all the rails in place aboard Fineman, owned by Rose Hill Farm, but finished more than a full second behind Ballard’s time, stopping the clock in 61.86 seconds.  As the first rider on course, Kristen Vanderveen (USA) set the early pace with a time of 62.04 seconds that kept her on the podium in third place with Bull Run’s Faustino de Tili.

“I don’t think there’s anything better!” said Ballard of her Longines Masters debut.  “I was excited to ride here tonight in front of a big crowd; they were cheering for you and cheering for Canada.  As soon as you walk in the ring, you are excited to be here.  It’s really an honor.”

Speaking of the key to her victory with the13-year-old Belgian Warmblood stallion owned by Sagamore Farms, Ballard said, “I think the biggest difference is that my horse has so much natural speed.  His legs are fast, he has a big-stride, and he can turn fast.  I think we won from start to finish.  He’s that fast!”

Created in 2010 by EEM, Founder and Producer of the Longines Masters Series Paris Hong Kong New York, the Longines Speed Challenge is the fastest show jumping competition in the world and always a crowd favorite.  The Longines Speed Challenge is presented by Longines, Title Partner and Official Timekeeper of the Series.

Belgium’s Gregory Wathelet Tops International Jump-Off in Masters One Douglas Elliman Real Estate 1.50m

Gregory Wathelet stood atop an international podium following his sensational win in the $35,000 Masters One Douglas Elliman Real Estate 1.50m on Friday evening, April 27, at the Longines Masters of New York. As the first of six riders to contest the shortened jump-off track set by Dutch course designer Louis Konickx, Wathelet laid down the gauntlet by steering Iphigeneia de Muze to a clear round in a time of 31.74 seconds. None who followed was fast enough to catch the Belgian Olympian, with French speed master and 2014 World Championship double silver medalist Patrice Delaveau posing the biggest threat with a time of 32.13 seconds aboard Aquila HDC, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Haras des Coudrettes. Canada’s Erynn Ballard ensured podium representation from north of the U.S. border by taking third with Catoki’s Son Z for owners Ilan Ferder and Tal Milstein.

“She is ten, but she hasn’t done so much at this level,” said Wathelet of his winning mount, a 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare owned by Dawa Invest – JL Horses. “I have had her for three years, but I took my time. In the last few shows she got better and better. This was the first time she has been on the plane and I was a bit worried, but she did fine.

“We are all familiar with the Longines Masters in Paris and Hong Kong and this is the same concept with a big show that has a great atmosphere,” continued Wathelet. “This is new and the place is good. I hope the weekend brings the same kind of atmosphere as Paris because that is what makes a show!”

Mavis Spencer Reigns over Masters Two 1.45m

Los Angeles, CA native Mavis Spencer dominated the jump-off of the Masters Two Eastern Hay 1.45m competition to earn her first win at the Longines Masters of New York. Riding Sweet Tricia, a nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare that she characterizes as having everything one looks for in a top horse, Spencer bested a three-horse jump-off with a double-clear performance in 39.10 seconds.

“I did the Longines Masters of Los Angeles two years ago and I think it is incredible to have the European environment and horse show that they are able to create here,” said Spencer, whose family spends a lot of time in New York, making it her second home. “This is a super venue and the Longines Masters has done a really nice job. I was really excited to be able to come and show here in New York.”

Joining Spencer on the podium, New York, NY resident and trainer at Old Salem Farm in North Salem, NY, Lucy Davis (USA) rode Cassis 54 to second. They were also clear over the short course in 44.27 seconds. Canada’s Bretton Chad rounded out the top three with The Pugilist on five faults.

Ireland Victorious in Masters Two 1.35m

Jonathan Corrigan won for his home country of Ireland in the first class of Day 2 at the Longines Masters of New York on Friday, April 27. Fifth in the ring from a field of 21, he claimed the Masters Two Écuries d’Ecaussinnes 1.35m accumulator competition with a clear round for 65 points – the class sponsor is the breeding and sport stable founded in 1997 by Christophe Ameeuw, CEO of EEM. A time of 44.14 seconds riding Javas Keltic Mist, a 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, gave the Irish duo the win. Also jumping clear for podium appearances, Tori Corts (USA) took second on Chellini and Cara Raether Carey (USA) finished third riding Cocarie.

Summer Paulos Can’t Be Beat

For the second day in a row, Summer Paulos stood atop the Longines Masters of New York podium after winning the Masters Three The Fuel Stop 1.25m speed competition. Hailing from Newtown, CT, Paulos and Balans RV, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, topped the field by recording a clear round in 49.53 seconds. The time was just over a second ahead of runner up and New York native Charles Stevens. He and Balando finished second, while Lilli Hymowitz took third riding Cylana.

Alexandra Cherubini Has the Speed

Speed was key in the Masters Three Old Salem Farm 1.15m competition. Alexandra Cherubini of Boston, MA had just that to top the field riding her own Lando, a 16-year-old Oldenburg gelding. They broke the timers clear in 49.03 seconds for the victory. Gabrielle Freund set an early lead as the first to go, but settled for second riding No Sunday Sales. Rounding out the podium positions was Grace Busch, who took third for the second day in a row aboard Royal Landor.

For full information on the 2018 Longines Masters of New York, visit www.longinesmasters.com.

Contact: Jennifer Wood
jennifer@jumpmediallc.com

More Millar Magic Helps Clinch Second Canadian Success

Photo: Jonathon Millar with Daveau. (FEI/Anwar Esquivel)

Team Mexico rallies brilliantly, but Team USA takes runner-up spot

In a case of “like father, like son,” Jonathon Millar (43) helped seal victory for Team Canada with a foot-perfect performance at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Mexico in Coapexpan. His legendary father, Ian (71), produced a pivotal double-clear to put their country at the top of the leaderboard at the opening leg of the 2018 North/Central America and Caribbean League qualifying series two months ago, so Jonathon was following suit. And adding even more of a family flavour to the excitement, Jonathon’s wife, Kelly Soleau-Millar, made her Nations Cup debut on the American side that lined up second ahead of Mexico in third.

It seems Millar has team spirit coursing through his veins due to the influence of his dad.

“I was brought up on Nations Cups and Championships being such a big part of his success, and it has rubbed off on me, knowing that being there for the team is more important than winning the Grand Prix – so when it all comes together like it did today then it’s a really great thing!” — Jonathon Millar (Team Canada)

The Canadian foursome that also included Laura Jane Tidball (40), Jenn Serek (35) and Keean White (35) already led the way after the first round of the three-nation contest, but their eight-fault total only gave them a single-fault advantage over the USA carrying nine, while Mexico’s 21-fault first-round effort put paid to their chances. However, in a brilliant second-round rally, Patricio Pasquel (Babel), Luis Alejandro Plascencia (Davinci) and Jose Antonio Chedraui Eguia (Ninloubet) did themselves proud with faultless runs to ensure they added nothing more to the host nation tally.

When impressive American pathfinder Alex Granato produced his second clear of the competition with the bouncy bay gelding Carlchen W, that kept the pressure on the Canadian leaders. But single errors from both Soleau-Millar (Cacharel) and Ali Wolff (Casall), and two mistakes from Jennifer Gates (Pumped Up Kicks), moved the US on to a final total of 17 faults. And this meant that although Tidball (Concetto Son) and Serek (Wicked) each left a single fence on the floor second time out, anchorman White (For Freedom Z) could stay in the clubhouse because even without his help Team Canada would finish with just 16 on the final scoreboard.

Millar was delighted with his 10-year-old gelding Daveau. “He didn’t do the Nations Cup in Ocala because it came too early in the season, but it’s been a really fun process working with him so far and now he’s coming into his own. He gives a thousand percent in the ring, he’s a real fighter and a dream to ride – I couldn’t be more proud of him!” he said. And he was proud and happy for his American wife too. “This was her first Nations Cup, and it was exciting and rewarding that we could do this together today, even on two different teams!”

His Chef d’Equipe, Mark Laskin, is already looking forward to the third and final leg of the North/Central America and Caribbean League, which will take place on home turf in Langley next month, and he was very pleased with the team effort. “We had a great group; they all contributed to our score and to our victory,” he said.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Stellar International Line-Up at CHI Royal Windsor Horse Show

Royal Windsor Horse Show will welcome the world’s best riders to the private grounds of Windsor Castle from 9-13 May 2018, with a line-up fitting to celebrate the Show’s 75th anniversary year. With international competitions taking place across four FEI equestrian disciplines, including CSI5* Show Jumping, CDI4* Dressage and CAIO4* Driving, as well as CEI2* Endurance, the calibre of entries is better than ever before.

International CSI5* Show Jumping

Six of the world’s top 10 Show Jumpers will be taking to the Castle Arena, headed by World No. 1 Kent Farrington (USA), who will be hoping to make a successful return from injury to reclaim his title in the prestigious Rolex Grand Prix. The class, the pinnacle event of the Show, will take place on Sunday 13 May, with a top-class line-up contending for the coveted Rolex Grand Prix and unprecedented prize fund of €300,000.

Reigning European Champion and individual silver medallist at the 2016 Olympics, Peder Fredricson (SWE) and Rio Olympic team gold medallist Kevin Staut (FRA), currently ranked third and fourth in the world respectively, will be hot on Farrington’s heels, seeking to usurp him from pole position in the Rolex Grand Prix, a position he has taken two years consecutively. Top Italian duo, Lorenzo de Luca and Alberto Zorzi along with fellow top-10 rider Steve Guerdat (SUI), individual gold medallist at London 2012, will be adding to the stiff competition.

A strong British contingent, led by crowd favourites Scott Brash and Ben Maher, will be looking to mount a formidable home challenge across the three days of CSI5* competition, including action taking place during a Saturday evening performance.  Father and son combination, John and Robert Whitaker, William Funnell and the notoriously fast Guy Williams will all be sure to set the Castle Arena alight, looking for a home victory.

Britain’s leading lady rider Laura Renwick will be heading the female challengers, along with USA representatives, Laura Kraut, another Olympic gold medallist within the stellar line-up, and Lauren Hough, plus British young rider Emily Moffitt.

Representing Ireland will be Bertram Allen, Denis Lynch and Cian O’Connor, all of whom were part of the European gold medal winning team last summer. Adding further international flair to the competition will be former individual Olympic champions, Canada’s Eric Lamaze and Brazil’s Rodrigo Pessoa, and former World No. 1 Daniel Deusser (GER), fresh from Grand Prix victory at the FEI World Cup Final in Paris last weekend.

International CDI4* Dressage

Reinforcing the international prestige of the Show will be the CDI4* Dressage, with The Al Shira’aa Grand Prix and The Al Shira’aa Grand Prix Freestyle to Music set to take centre stage on the evenings of Thursday 10 and Friday 11 May respectively. Home favourite Carl Hester has dominated Dressage at Royal Windsor in recent years, with victory aboard his Rio Olympic companion Nip Tuck in 2015 and returning to dominate both the Freestyle and Grand Prix with the British-bred Barolo in 2017. Hester will be returning in 2018 with Hawtins Delicato, with whom he recently made his National Grand Prix debut, scoring 76.8%, and the horse with which he is hoping to compete at the FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) later in the year.

Triple Olympic gold medallist, Charlotte Dujardin is sure to pose a serious challenge to Hester’s previous dominance, riding her new Grand Prix partner Mount St John Freestyle, who made an impressive Grand Prix debut last month, scoring 81%. The nine-year-old Hanoverian mare, hailed as Dujardin’s next superstar and nick-named “Mrs Valegro”, is also being aimed at WEG, with Windsor providing an excellent platform to showcase her ability in front of international judges, including Susan Hoevenaars, who will also be judging at WEG itself.

Four-time British Olympian, Richard Davison (GBR), will also be looking to steal Hester’s crown with homebred gelding Bubblingh, out of his former international ride Ballaseyr Royale, who together took the Grand Prix and Freestyle in Roosendaal at the end of last year, as will compatriot Hayley Watson-Greaves (GBR) with Rubins Nite and former British team member Gareth Hughes aboard Don Carissimo.

A strong international contingent will be seeking to dampen British spirits, including Tosca Visser Van Der Meulen and Thamar Zweistra from the Netherlands and Germany’s Juliette Piotrowski, a former Young Rider European team gold and individual silver medal winner. From Japan, Akane Kuroki will be riding her Olympic ride Toots, with young rider Caroline Chew (SGP), silver medal winner at the South East Asian Games, returning aboard Tribiani. Ireland’s Kate Dwyer will be making a spectacular come back from a broken back, which put her out of action for the winter season, aboard the twelve-year-old Snowdon Faberge.

International CAI3*/CAIO4* Driving

The 2018 CAIO Land Rover International Driving Grand Prix, a FEI World Cup qualifier, will play host to a magnificent line-up in each of the three categories; horse and pony four-in-hands and horse pairs.

The 30 horse four-in-hand competitors represent 12 countries including five from the home nation. Among them will be reigning indoor and outdoor World Champion, Boyd Exell from Australia, who earlier this year claimed the FEI World Cup championship for the seventh time, looking for a ninth Royal Windsor win.

Giving him no quarter will be two top competitors from the nation that has dominated gold medal position at the World horse four-in-hand championships over the last decade, the Netherlands’ Ijsbrand Chardon and Koos de Ronde, the latter also being the current FEI World Cup bronze medallist. Chardon’s son, Bram, a previous world pony four-in-hand champion as well as pony four-in-hand winner at Windsor, will make his Royal Windsor debut in horse four-in-hand and will be one to watch. The USA’s Chester Weber will also be back attempting to reclaim his 2014 and 2015 Royal Windsor titles.

GB’s horse four-in-hand challenge will be in the experienced and capable hands of the Basset sisters, Karen and Pippa, as well as Wilf Bowman-Ripley, Dick Lane and Daniel Naprous, whose performance indoors at the London International Horse Show at Olympia has thrilled the home crowd in recent years.

The horse pairs, a CAI3*, will field 18 competitors from 11 nations, including last year’s winner, Lars Schwitte (GER). He will find himself with stiff competition from the current world bronze horse pairs medallist Beat Schenk (SUI) as well as the experienced Barry Capstick (IRL). The challenge from the home nation will come from successful horse pairs driver David Matthews, as well as barrister Chris Smith, current chairman of British Carriagedriving.

Competition in the 9-strong pony four-in-hand, also a CAI3*, will be as strong as it is in the other two categories with last year’s winner, Tinne Bax from Belgium out to retain her 2017 Royal Windsor title. The Netherlands’ Jan de Boer, the current world silver medallist and six-time Royal Windsor winner, will provide tough opposition, with Britain’s Sara Howe, Roger Campbell and Joanna Broadbent all determined to uphold the Union Jack.

Show Director, Simon Brooks-Ward, said, “The calibre of entries at this year’s Show is second to none, demonstrating the ever-increasing international prestige of the event and cementing its status amongst the best shows in the world. We’re honoured to welcome some of the world’s finest horses and riders and are looking forward to watching the world-class action unfold.”

To find out more about Royal Windsor Horse Show, or to book tickets, visit www.rwhs.co.uk. Tickets can also be purchased by calling the box office on 0844 581 4960 from the UK and +44 (0)121 7966290 internationally. Windsor residents should call the Windsor Information Centre on 01753 743589.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Telford gayle@revolutionsports.co.uk +44(0)7717 776928

Madden Clinches Her Second Title in a Cliffhanger

Photo: FEI/Jim Hollander.

Fellow-American Ryan finishes a close second, Sweden’s von Eckermann takes third

America’s Beezie Madden (54) held on to win the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2018 title in Paris (FRA), but she didn’t do it the easy way. In a cliffhanger of a second round she faulted for the first time over three tough days of jumping when last to go with the brilliant Breitling LS. And the crowd had to hold their breath until she crossed the line to a roar of approval, separated by just two penalty points from compatriot Devin Ryan (36) in second place.

The biggest surprise package of the week, the relatively unknown Ryan was relentlessly cool yet again as his apparently bomb-proof grey gelding son of the great stallion Zirocco Blue continued to make the super-tough courses designed by Spain’s Santiago Varela look fairly elementary.

The hard-luck story of the final afternoon was that of Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann (37) who had to settle for third place for the second year in a row. In runner-up spot and carrying four faults as the afternoon began, he might have forced Madden into a jump-off but for a mistake with Tovek’s Mary Lou in the closing moments. He wasn’t forgiving himself for that. Madden knew she’d been in a fight.

“When I had that rail down, I was a little nervous, but I still felt my horse was jumping well and I knew I had to pull it together to finish on four (faults) and try to get it done!” — Beezie Madden (USA)

The rider who previously claimed the title in 2013 said it was “double-exciting” to post her second win, and particularly with this 12-year-old stallion. “We’ve really believed in him but he’s taken time to mature, so for him to come through today is fantastic! It’s taken a little while to replace Simon (her 2013 World Cup winning ride) and Cortes (team silver 2016 Olympic Games) but it’s happening!” she added.

Her two nearest rivals kept all the pressure in place when making no mistake in the first round, von Eckermann carrying his four points forward and Ryan still sitting on a total of six.  A little rattle at the oxer at fence three on the 13-obstacle course, and another at vertical no. 7 set American hearts beating a little faster, but Madden cleared the line with nothing to add, so the top end of the standings looked the same when the top 20 returned for round two over a new track.

And Ryan, who hails from Long Valley in New Jersey, did it again, steering Eddie Blue home with apparent ease once more. At just nine years old the horse was the youngest in the Final but you’d never have guessed. “His brain is unbelievable; he never knocked a pole as a five or six-year-old; he won the American Gold Cup as an eight-year-old and was second at Devon, one of our biggest shows in the US – he’s just a fantastic horse!” said the man who qualified from the US East Coast series.

Second-last into the ring von Eckermann knew he would pressure Madden with a clear, and he was beating himself up about having the second fence down this time out. “It was my mistake; my horse jumped fantastic as always, but we got too close and I interfered – I should have trusted her quality and it wouldn’t have happened,” said the clearly disappointed Swede.

You could hear a pin drop after Madden’s stallion hit the middle element of the triple combination at fence six. One more error would hand the title to fellow-American Ryan, but the lady who has two Olympic gold medals in her trophy cabinet along with a whole lot more valuable hardware didn’t crumble, bringing Breitling home with nothing further to add for a very popular victory.

Only five female athletes have taken the title in the 40-year history of the series that every rider wants to win, and they all have one thing in common. Like Madden, Melanie Smith (1983), Leslie Burr Lenehan (1986), and Katharine Burdsall (1987) all flew the American flag, while three-time winner Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum from Germany (2005, 2008, 2009) was born in Los Angeles, California. It seemed history was repeating itself, as Burdsall’s victory was also posted at exactly the same Paris venue when the Jumping Final was last staged in France 31 years ago.

The final standings showed three US riders in the top four places as 2017 winner, McLain Ward, slotted into fourth spot. The happiest of all was new double-champion Madden. “I love the World Cup Final – each year I make it a goal to get there, and to win, and I did it again!” said the lady who will be aiming join the elite club of three-time champions when the Final returns to Gothenburg in Sweden for the 23rd time next April.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Beezie and Breitling Are Unbeatable Again in Paris

Photo: Beezie Madden and Breitling LS. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

America’s Beezie Madden (54) almost made it look easy as she moved one step closer to clinching the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2018 title in Paris (FRA) with her second victory of the week with Breitling LS.

Last to go in a thrilling nine-horse jump-off, she cruised home to overtake The Netherlands’ Harrie Smolders (37) and his lovely stallion Emerald, while Henrik von Eckermann (37) clinched third with the mare Toveks Mary Lou. And that result has promoted the Swede to second in the overall rankings ahead of Sunday’s two-round finale in which Madden will kick off with a one-fence advantage. The American star, and series champion in 2013, was thrilled with Breitling.

“He has a super temperament – actually he’s so nice that a lot of people don’t seem to realise he’s a stallion! He’s careful and clever, and every time I call on him he does everything I want – I couldn’t ask for any more!” — Beezie Madden (USA)

Her compatriot, Devin Ryan, held onto the third spot he established with Eddie Blue in the speed competition despite being one of six to collect a single time penalty over the 14-fence first-round track. Course designer, Spain’s Santiago Varela, set a fast enough time limit of 75 seconds, but it was the first two elements of the triple combination at fence nine that put paid to Marcus Ehning’s chances of becoming the first-ever four-time FEI World Cup™ champion. And it wasn’t Germany’s day as his compatriot Daniel Deusser, lying second overnight, saw his hopes of a second title crushed when his 2014 winning ride, Cornet d’Amour, appeared to mis-read the first element of the double at fence five.

Frenchman, Kevin Staut, led the way against the clock with Silver Deux de Virton HDC, and his clear set the early target at 36.87 seconds. He stayed out in front when America’s Jamie Barge and Luebbo were also foot-perfect but fractionally slower, but Smolders reset the parameters with a blistering round from the feisty stallion Emerald who broke the beam in 33.44 seconds. Belgium’s Olivier Philippaerts didn’t threaten that with Legend of Love who crossed the line clear in 35.19, but von Eckermann came close when stopping the clock on 33.92 and then only Madden was left to challenge Smolders for the win.

A tight turn to the fourth fence on the jump-off track, a double of verticals, was essential, and although defending champions, America’s McLain Ward and HH Azur, posted the quickest time of 32.74 seconds, they hit the first element here. Madden’s Breitling, however, was flawless once again, putting on another jumping exhibition to clinch pole position as they breezed through the timers in 33.22. “Left turns to a vertical used to be our nemesis, but he’s figured out his front end now,” the double Olympic gold medallist pointed out.

When asked if she was feeling confident with a one-fence lead going into Sunday’s title-decider, she said, “It’s nice to have a rail in hand, but we are really only halfway through the competition. We have two more rounds and maybe a jump-off on Sunday… it can all change a lot yet.”

Smolders admitted he might have made an error of judgement in competing his other ride, Zinius, in the opening speed leg. “It’s always easy to say that afterwards, but Zinius had a very good indoor season and he’s naturally fast in speed classes so I made that decision, but it didn’t work out. I don’t like to lose, but I don’t mind being beaten by Beezie who won in style – and this was a great class tonight,” he said.

Madden’s closest rival on Sunday, however, will be von Eckermann. “I didn’t ride so great to the double of verticals (in the jump-off), I was a bit over-careful but my horse jumped both rounds fantastic,” he said, and you can tell he’s pretty confident that there’s plenty more left in Mary Lou’s tank for Sunday’s challenge.

But mistakes will be very costly indeed on the final afternoon, as Philippaerts, Ward, and Sweden’s Douglas Lindelow are in joint-fourth place carrying just six faults apiece, and Smolders and Colombia’s Carlos Lopez are only a single fault further behind.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

A Magical Round with Breitling Gives America’s Madden Early Lead

Photo: Beezie Madden and Breitling LS. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

She’s done it before, coming out on top five years ago, and America’s Beezie Madden, one of just four lady riders in the field of 37 starters, threw down the gauntlet to all the rest when galloping to victory in the opening speed competition at the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final 2018 in Paris (FRA).

The double Olympic gold medallist gave her 12-year-old stallion, Breitling LS, a spectacular ride, full of confidence, precision and determination to finish almost a second clear of runner-up Daniel Deusser (36) from Germany who also knows what it’s like to hold this coveted World Cup trophy in his hands. The big surprise of the evening was the third-place finish for Madden’s compatriot, the relatively unknown Devin Ryan (36) who goes into the second test just three points off the lead after results were calculated into points.

But none of those at the head of the leaderboard have any room for complacency, because stalking them is three-time title-holder Marcus Ehning from Germany who finished fourth with Cornado NRW, while one of the most talked-about partnerships ahead of these Finals, Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann and Toveks Mary Lou, are close behind in fifth. It’s going to be a sizzler all the way to the finale when the new champion will be crowned.

Madden was happy with her result having mastered the balance between speed and risk over the clever 13-fence course set by Spain’s Santiago Varela better than all the rest.

“It’s quite tense on the first day… it’s a little bit of a juggling act, so when it all works out well it’s a big relief!” — Beezie Madden (USA)

Fellow-American and defending champion McLain Ward fell victim to a tight turn to the penultimate double where HH Azur hit the first element, which added four seconds to their time and has left them in tenth place overall. That’s a long way behind, but as Madden pointed out, “At these Finals it’s just one day at a time!”

The omens are looking good for her, however. She recalled that when she steered Simon to victory, in a thrilling showdown against Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat in Gothenburg in 2013, she also won on the first day. And Breitling is really on top of his game right now.  “He’s only competed three weeks this year. He won the World Cup qualifier at Thermal, we did a 4-Star Grand Prix and Nations Cup (in Wellington) and he was clear in the Nations Cup and won the Grand Prix and then did another 4-Star Grand Prix (in Wellington) and won that as well,” she pointed out. She’s delighted with this horse which, like her previous winner Simon, she got from Dutch Olympic champion Jeroen Dubbeldam and which she has now been riding for five years.

Deusser has every reason to be pleased too, because it is the horse that carried him to glory in Lyon (FRA) in 2014 that has put him right in the frame. The 15-year-old Cornet d’Amour has had a long injury-break but was clearly back in the zone, and although Deusser has the possibility of an alternative ride for the next two competitions, he said that he will probably bring the grey back out over the next two days because he’s feeling really great.

At just nine years of age, Devin Ryan’s Eddie Blue is the youngest horse at this Final. “It’s been a dream of mine to represent the States at some level and so here we are and it’s great that there are two of us up here tonight!” he said when joining the considerably more experienced Madden on the press conference platform.

The second test may bring some significant changes, however, and with Belgium’s Pieter Devos (Espoir), Spain’s Eduardo Alvarez Aznar (Rokfeller de Pleville Bois Mar), Colombia’s Carlos Lopez (Admara) and Sweden’s Douglas Lindelow (Zacramento) also squeezed inside that top 10, and double-champion Steve Guerdat just a single point behind Ward in eleventh place, then the leaders have very little breathing room. And as Deusser said, “We had a very very good course because nobody went really really fast – I think all the horses are jumping good still and have enough power for tomorrow.” Power is what the second competition will be all about.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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