Tag Archives: Show Jumping

Team Germany Overtakes Sweden, Fredricson Maintains Individual Lead

Philipp Weishaupt and Zineday. (FEI/Leanjo de Koster)

Team Germany overtook Sweden to rise to the top of the leaderboard on the second day of the FEI Jumping European Championship 2023 in Milan (ITA), but the difference between the top three sides is only fractional going into the team medal decider.

A tally of 9.31 gives Germany just 0.2 penalty points of an advantage over Sweden with 9.51, while the defending champions from Switzerland lie third with 9.92, followed closely by Ireland on a 10-point scoreline.

It could hardly be tighter, and it’s a recipe for a thriller right to the end.

Meanwhile, another superb performance from Sweden’s Jens Fredricson and Markan Cosmopolit has maintained their place at the top of the individual leaderboard.

A costly mistake at the very last fence saw Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs and Leone Jei drop from overnight second spot to 15th place, so another super-smooth performance from Germany’s Philipp Weishaupt and Zineday has moved them up from third up to second, while Fuchs’ team-mate Steve Guerdat is now lying third with Dynamix de Belheme.

There are still four nations left in the race for one of the three qualifying spots on offer for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games – Switzerland, Austria, Italy, and Spain. The Netherlands, France, and Great Britain will complete the line-up when only the top 10 countries will do battle in the final round of the team competition along with the top 50 individuals in the rankings so far.

Lost their grip

The Swedes lost their grip on pole position when, despite superb clears from both Fredricson and Henrik von Eckermann riding Iliana, they had to count one of the eight-fault results posted by both Wilma Hellström and Cicci BJN and their anchor partnership of Rolf-Göran Bengtsson and Zuccero.

In contrast, Germany only had to add the four picked up by pathfinders Marcus Ehning and Stargold when both Weishaupt and Jana Wargers were foot-perfect over the considerably more testing 14-fence track. German anchor, Gerrit Nieberg, racked up 12 faults with Ben, but that would be their discard when the best three results per team were counted.

Only Guerdat jumped clear for Switzerland, so they had to add both of the four faults picked up by Fuchs and Bryan Balsiger partnering Dubai du Bois Pinchet, while Edouard Schmitz’s double-error with Gamin van’t Naastveldhof was their drop-score.

After clears for both Michael Duffy with Cinca 3 and Shane Sweetnam with James Kann Cruz, the Irish looked set to threaten the Swiss, but last-line rider Eoin McMahon and the mare Mila were one of many partnerships to fall victim to the big oxer three from home that followed the open water. Those four faults had to be counted, because Trevor Breen and Highland President left two on the floor. But there is only a whisper between the top four.

Clear

A total of 14 horse-and-rider combinations jumped clear and they were all full of praise for the tracks set for them so far this week.

“The course was super; all compliments to him (course designer Uliano Vezzani) also from yesterday,” said world number one Henrik von Eckermann after finishing his fault-free run.

“Today there are some big jumps out there, but they are not completely demanding on the horse. But you need to be able to ride accurately, to have all the gears to go forward, backwards for the last line, to the water, to the triple combination,” he said. “So it’s asking a lot from the rider and I think that’s how it should be. If you ride good you have good chances, and not only that it’s the last hole on the jump.

“I felt a little bit of pressure after Germany’s clear and Steve’s clear, and I wanted to give them (the rest of the Swedish team) a good feeling and I think I did. We still have the drop score in our pocket and I hope we don’t need to use it,” he said after coming out of the ring. Unfortunately, however, they did.

Flawless

Weishaupt’s rides with Zineday have been flawless, and he’s clearly already eyeing up not just a team medal, but an individual one as well.

“So far, it’s only two days of competition but Zineday felt very good in the warm-up. I had an amazing feeling yesterday in the speed class; he was really relaxed and focused. And today he continued what he showed yesterday, his great performance, his great talent, and it was a pleasure to ride him and I hope we can keep that form for the next three rounds!” he said.

Talking about the nine-year-old Oldenburg gelding, he said his expectations were always high coming to Milan. “He was third in the Grand Prix of Aachen, and if you are selected for the German team, they expect you are capable of jumping that level so I was expecting this.”

He described Italy’s Uliano Vezzani as “a fantastic course designer!

“We had a fantastic speed class yesterday; it wasn’t the biggest jumps but he showed all his experience with the beautiful way he built. The footing was great and today; it was a great course again, very tricky and long; you needed control and scope but he did a great job!”

He described Zineday as “a bit special; he has his own head, so you have to leave him a little bit like he is, but he has just tremendous qualities.”

Jana Wargers’ clear was also copybook. “I’m very happy with my round and very happy that I was able to jump clear for the team. Limbridge is just fantastic,” she said of the 14-year-old gelding with which she finished ninth individually at the FEI Jumping World Championship 2022 last summer.

“He makes it so easy, and he lets me shine in every round and he never gives up. Today he showed again how special he is, and I’m very proud of him!” she said.

Dream week

Meanwhile, Jens Fredricson’s dream week continues. He’s on a zero score, but Weishaupt is only 0.31 behind, followed by Guerdat, the flying Frenchman Julien Epaillard with Dubai du Cedre, von Eckermann in fifth, and Italy’s Emanuele Camille in sixth with Odense Odeveld. In the individual standings, there is less than a fence between the top 14, but there is a long way to go before the new individual champion is crowned.

It’s still pretty extraordinary to be leading the posse with a horse that was originally bought for the Swedish riding school in Strömsholm, but who proved too naughty to do his job there. So he eventually found Jens in the saddle, and together they finished third at the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final 2022 in Leipzig (GER) before helping to take the team world title in Herning (DEN) a few months later.

“I’m enjoying myself; it’s a fantastic show and my horse is in great form!” Fredricson said. To find himself in individual contention at a championship is a first-time experience, and he is relishing it.

“I’ve been around, I’ve been in some finals, but I’ve never really been up there. So to have a horse like this when you are 55 is special. He’s like a cat now; he can lengthen and shorten and he’s self-confident — he’s just a great horse!” he pointed out.

He didn’t have to listen to any rock music before he went in the ring.  “Yesterday I needed to get in in a better mood so I was listening to Iron Maiden, but not today because I had almost too much energy, I was almost jumping around, so I think Beethoven would have been better!”

All Startlists and Results here.

by Louise Parkes

press@fei.org
www.fei.org

Swedes Forge Early Lead in Milan, Swiss in Hot Pursuit

Jens Fredricson and Markan Cosmopolit. (FEI/Leanjo de Koster)

The reigning Olympic and World team gold medallists from Sweden flexed their not-inconsiderable muscles when taking the lead on the opening day of the FEI Jumping European Championship 2023 at San Siro racecourse in Milan, Italy. With scores converted into points, they go into the first round of the second competition with only a narrow advantage over the defending European champions from Switzerland, while Germany lies in overnight third, fractionally ahead of Ireland in fourth place.

The edge

Super performances from all four Swedish team members gave them the edge, Wilma Hellström setting out their stall with a great clear round from the one-eyed Cicci BJN, before Rolf-Göran Bengtsson steered the grey stallion Zuccero into temporary pole position when also foot-perfect in 73.60 seconds.

Fredricson blew that target out of the water when galloping through the timers in 71.98 seconds with Markan Cosmopolit, and that would prove unbeatable at the end of the day. Others might be quicker, but they wouldn’t leave all the timber in place and would therefore be penalised with expensive seconds to add.

One of those would be the last Swedish team member and world number one Henrik von Eckermann, who broke the beam in the super-fast time of 69.38, but who clipped the first element of the double at fence three with the mare Iliana to add four more seconds to their tally. Despite that, Team Sweden’s finishing total, when converted into points, leaves them with 1.51 penalties, just 0.41 ahead of the chasing Swiss.

First rider

The very first rider into the arena, Switzerland’s Bryan Balsiger, showed nerves of steel when bringing Dubai du Bois Pinchet home clear. Although team-mate Edouard Schmitz and Gamin van’t Naastveldhof had two down, both Martin Fuchs with Leone Jei and Steve Guerdat with Dynamix de Belheme produced spectacular clears.

Germany got off to an edgy start when Gerrit Nieberg and Ben 432 picked up 16 faults, but although Jana Wargers and Limbridge had one down, they were fast. So when Philipp Weishaupt was clear and super-quick with Zineday and Marcus Ehning and Stargold left just one on the floor, it was enough to secure third spot on the team leaderboard at this early stage. Their tally of 5.31 points leaves the Germans just 0.69 ahead of the Irish, who were quietly impressive, Eoin McMahon sealing a good day for the Boys in Green with a great run from the former Ludger Beerbaum ride, the mare Mila.

His clear in 73.88 seconds would be good enough to settle him in overnight eighth place on the individual leaderboard, just behind Sweden’s Bengtsson in seventh and von Eckermann in sixth.

The fastest man of the day, Julien Epaillard, lies fifth for France with Dubai du Cedre, and this pair would hold the lead but for a mistake at the second element of the last of the three doubles, all of which proved very influential. Switzerland’s Guerdat lies fourth, Germany’s Weishaupt is in third, Switzerland’s Fuchs holds second spot, while Sweden’s Fredricson will be out in front when the action resumes.

Winning ride

Talking about the winning ride, Fredricson said he found a good rhythm the whole way around the course and that both he and his 12-year-old gelding felt motivated and relaxed. The Swedes are clearly confident about their prospects.

“We have a lot of experience now in championships and we have learned a lot over the years,” Fredricson pointed out. They are not getting too carried away about being in the early lead on both the team and individual leaderboards.

“I don’t think anyone on the team is surprised; we had a very good feeling, but we know this is just the start. These Championships are a bit like a slalom, and today was only the first downhill run!” he added.

Von Eckermann was surprised by his mistake with the relatively inexperienced Iliana, but was still well-pleased with his result. “I had a great feeling with the mare; she was very calm, and I don’t know why I had the fence down… but otherwise everything went according to plan, and I was still quick enough so I could help the team. We have three really good scores. I think we are in the lead and that’s what we wanted for today – now only six more clear rounds and it’s done!” he said with a laugh.

Performance

Guerdat described Switzerland’s day as “a good team performance. The Swedish were even better but it’s looking quite good; we are on form but it’s still a very long way, so we have to stay calm, keep the form and ride good,” he pointed out.

Despite bringing Dynamix home in the fourth-quickest time of the day, he wasn’t happy with his own performance. “I didn’t give her a good ride, but she’s amazing and she helped me today, so I hope I can keep her form and improve mine – then we will be good!” he said.

He really liked the course, which proved the perfect first-day test. “It didn’t ride as nice as it walked; it was a much more difficult course than what we walked first.

“There were a lot of mistakes, and you didn’t have to go crazy fast to be in front, which is what you want for a Speed class in a Championship – so hats off to the course designer; it was good sport today!” he said.

Team-mate Fuchs was also pleased with how things worked out. Talking about his thrilling round which held the lead until Fredricson overtook him. he said, “Leone Jei was fantastic. I had a good plan going in, leaving out a few strides without taking too much risk. He has such a big stride and has the experience at this level so I can do my course as I planned.”

Ease

The Longines oxer at fence eight – 1.50m high by 1.60m wide and on a left-bending line after the open water – was one of the main bogey fences of the day, and the world number four athlete who took team gold and individual silver with the same horse at the last European Championship in 2021 described how he tackled it with such ease.

“I left out a stride to the water and after the water jump, which is only possible with a horse with such a big canter as Leone. He always over-jumps the water so that helped me a lot in that line because I didn’t have to add. Pulling back, it would have been difficult, but like this I could give him some space and let him use the canter that he has,” Fuchs explained.

The Swiss have their eyes firmly fixed on team gold. “Our main focus is on the Nations Cup; we have a very strong team and we want to defend our title. We had a great season so we want to keep it up, and everyone will try this week to defend the title and then we will see on Sunday where it brings us (in the battle for individual medals). The goal is also to win a spot for Paris, but if we defend our title we will be in Paris for sure, so we try to medal here and not worry about Paris just yet!” he pointed out.

Tickets

There are three tickets for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games up for grabs this week and, following this opening competition, fifth-placed Austria and sixth-placed Italy are right in the hunt. But there are two more days of jumping to go before that piece of the puzzle falls into place.

Individual leader, Jens Fredricson, is a happy man. Before he went in the ring, he psyched himself up by listening to his favourite rock music, and after his ride the 55-year-old rider got a phone call from his father, Ingvar Fredricson – a call that any son would like to get.

“He told me he’d watched me on TV today and that this was the best round I have ever ridden. He’s been watching me for 42 years, so that’s a bit special!” Jens said. Even more reason for the Swedish jumping star to want to hold onto that precious lead over the coming days. But the story of the FEI Jumping European Championship 2023 is only beginning to play itself out.

All Startlists and Results here.

by Louise Parkes

press@fei.org
www.fei.org

CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament 2023 Highlights

(Calgary, Alta Sept. 6, 2022 – Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ – Photo: Mike Sturk)

The CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament will once again welcome the world’s best horse and rider combinations to Calgary, Canada for five days of intense show jumping competition from 6-10 September 2023. Based in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Spruce Meadows is considered to be one of North American’s premier equestrian venues. Spectators attending the show will not only experience spectacular scenery, but thrilling competition, alluring shopping, and inspiring entertainment.

The CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament will be the second Major to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, with celebrations beginning at CHIO Aachen in June, exactly 10 years after the first Major took place. Within this, the focal point of the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament, the CPKC ‘International’, presented by Rolex, the third Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Major of 2023, will provide a fitting conclusion to five days of sporting excellence.

Throughout the week, the Blacksmith World Championships will take place in the Behind Equi-Plex arena. The daily competitions are a brilliant opportunity to witness the great skill, precision, and accuracy required through the categories of forge work, blade-smithing, and welding. In addition, equine inspired demonstrations and live entertainment will take place daily, varying from a live tutorial held by Jonathan Field on the topic of Horsemanship, to demonstrations held by Canadian, Pia Formuller, on Grand Prix Dressage, and Vaulting demonstrated by the Diamond Willow Vaulting Club. Prepare to come away amazed and full of knowledge!

Read more here.

© 2023 Rolex – Rolex Grand Slam

Milan in Full Focus ahead of European Titles Clash

Marcus Ehning will be flying the German flag partnering Stargold at the FEI Jumping European Championship 2023 in Milan (ITA). (FEI)

The build-up is reaching a climax ahead of the FEI Jumping European Championship 2023, which gets underway at San Siro Racecourse in Milan, Italy on 30 August.

Team and individual medals are up for grabs, and the flags of 24 nations will fly high at this 37th edition of an event that is steeped in the stories of champions.

A total of 87 athletes and their horses are entered, with 16 countries fielding teams and eight more represented by individuals. The chance for three unqualified teams from FEI Olympic Groups A and/or B to pick up a starting spot at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games also adds to the prospect for a super-competitive week of thrilling sport.

History

This is only the third time in its 66-year history for the FEI Jumping European Championship to be staged in Italy. There were only individual medals on offer when the Italy’s Graziano Mancinelli and Rockette reigned supreme in Rome in 1963 where two more greats – Germany’s Alwin Schockemöhle with Freiherr and Great Britain’s Harvey Smith on Warpaint – stood on the second and third steps of the podium.

At San Patrignano in 2005 it was Marco Kutscher and Montender who came out on top ahead of Switzerland’s Christina Liebherr in silver, while The Netherlands’ Jeroen Dubbeldam claimed individual bronze. Germany took the team title – first introduced in 1975 – that year too, when Kutscher was joined by Marcus Ehning, Christian Ahlmann, and Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum to pin Switzerland and The Netherlands into silver and bronze.

Ehning has an extraordinary record at European Championships, dating all the way back to Hickstead (GBR) in 1999 when he joined Michaels-Beerbaum, Carsten-Otto Nagel, and Ludger Beerbaum to clinch team gold. He did it twice more – in 2003, when he also claimed individual bronze, and in 2005. He was on the silver-medal-winning teams in 2007, 2019, and 2021, and took team bronze in 2009.

Riding the exciting 12-year-old stallion Stargold, with whom he won the 5* Grand Prix in Aachen (GER) last month, the 49-year-old Olympic, World, and European team gold medallist and three-time FEI Jumping World Cup™ champion is back in Otto Becker’s selection this year. He will be accompanied by Gerrit Nieberg, Jana Wargers, Philipp Weishaupt, and Christian Kukuk.

Germany holds pole position on the European Championships Roll of Honour with seven team and 15 individual gold medals collected down the years, three of the latter going to the legendary partnership of Paul Schockemöhle and Deister over three consecutive editions in the 1980s. André Thieme will not defend the individual title he won with DSP Chakaria at Riesenbeck (GER) in 2021.

Defending

The defending team champions are Switzerland, and Chef d’Equipe Michel Sorg brings all four of the side that clinched victory at Riesenbeck (GER) two years ago – Martin Fuchs, who also clinched individual silver on that occasion, Steve Guerdat, Bryan Balsiger, and Elian Baumann, along with Edouard Schmitz.

The Swiss are in flying form after a summer filled with success including victory in Aachen and three sensational wins in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Europe Division 1 series. But they know they have no room for complacency, because they have a double mission in Milan.

Despite their prominence in the sport, they are still chasing a qualifying spot at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games and will be on the hunt for one of the three on offer, along with teams from Austria, Denmark, Italy, Norway, Portugal, and Spain. If they don’t make the cut this time around, they only have one more chance when a single spot comes up for grabs at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final in Barcelona (ESP) at the end of September. They won’t want to leave it that late.

Full list

The full list of teams for the 2023 Championship is Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland, and all have entered five athletes, except for Norway and Portugal, who send only three. Individuals will represent Bulgaria, Greece, Israel, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Slovakia, Turkey, and Ukraine.

There will be seven of the top 10 and 13 of the top 20 riders in the latest world rankings all flying their countries’ flags, with world number two Julien Epaillard and world number six Simon Delestre amongst Henk Nooren’s formidable French quintet, while the ultra-dependable Harrie Smolders – currently world number three – is listed on Jos Lansink’s Dutch team.

Seventh-ranked Shane Sweetnam headlines Michael Blake’s Irish side, while Di Lampard’s British team includes reigning Olympic champion and world number nine, Ben Maher. Sweden has world number one and double world champion, Henrik von Eckermann, playing a starring role in a side that also includes Jens Fredricson, Wilma Hellström, Rolf-Göran Bengtsson, and Petronella Anderson.

The Swedes have never won the European team title, taking silver in 2001 and 2017 and bronze in 2013. They twice won individual gold, Bengtsson and Ninja La Silla in 2011 and Peder Fredricson and H&M All In in 2017.

Timetable

The Championship timetable begins with the first horse inspection on 29 August, which will be followed by a training session before the draw for order-of-go in the evening. The first competition, a Table C Speed and Handiness, is open to teams and individuals and takes place on 30 August, with the score for each athlete converted into penalties at the end of the day.

The second competition begins with one round on 31 August, and is open to all teams and individuals, but only the top 10 teams and top 50 individuals go through to the second round on 1 September, when the team medals will be decided.

The top 25 go through to the first round of the individual final on 3 September, with the top 12 returning for a second round to decide the fate of the European individual title for 2023.

Further information here.

by Louise Parkes

press@fei.org
www.fei.org

Rolex Grand Prix Summer Season

Photo: Peter Nixon – Windsor 2023

Beyond the prestigious Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, Rolex is the title partner of a number of coveted summer Grands Prix. Over the course of four months, beginning in May, and drawing to a close in August, the world’s best horse and rider combinations gather at some of the most iconic shows across Europe and North America to contest these elite competitions.

Royal Windsor Horse Show hosted the first Rolex Grand Prix of the summer season. Bathed in the glorious afternoon sunshine, Windsor Castle provided a fitting backdrop for this prestigious class. In total, nine combinations made it through to the jump-off, delivering top-class entertainment for the packed-out grandstands. It was, however, the battle between Martin Fuchs and the 2020 Individual Olympic Champion Ben Maher that truly set the crowds alight. The Swiss rider’s spectacular turn to the penultimate fence secured his victory aboard Conner Jei by 0.40 seconds. Ben Maher and Explosion W therefore settled for second place, with Ireland’s Bertram Allen and Pacino Amiro completing the podium in third.

Held from 25-28 May, the Eternal city hosted the 90th edition of the CSIO Roma Piazza di Siena, staged in the magnificent Villa Borghese gardens. The Italian course designer Uliano Vezzani’s masterfully designed course saw 11 combinations from the 50 starters proceed to the jump-off. The 5* Rolex Gran Premio Roma has been won by some of the sport’s best athletes, with the prize this year going to FEI European Championships individual gold and team silver medallist, André Thieme. Sweden’s Jens Fredricson riding Markan Cosmopolit claimed the runner-up spot, ahead of Brazil’s Stephen de Freitas Barcha and Primavera Imperio Egipcio.

Held on the stunning shores of the Atlantic Ocean in western France, the Jumping International de La Baule has welcomed elite level show jumping for over 60 years. Often considered to be one of the most picturesque shows on the equestrian calendar, top horses and riders can often be spotted riding on the beautiful beaches each morning. The exquisite scenery provided a fitting location for the fierce competition take took place on the last day of the show. Belgium’s Nicola Philippaerts, with the ever-competitive mare Katanga v/h Dingeshof, produced two faultless and fast clear rounds to claim their first 5* victory together. Last to go in the jump-off, Sweden’s Jens Fredricson came home just 0.32 seconds slower to take second place once again, while the World No. 1, Henrik von Eckermann, took third place.

Read more here.

© 2022 Rolex – Rolex Grand Slam

Results from FEI European Championships for Ponies in Jumping, Dressage, Eventing in Le Mans

Individual Medals: GOLD: GER-Nell Röming and Marlon 192. SILVER: Sina Brügger and Next Generation. BRONZE: Marlene Hayessen and Betty Boo 14. FEI European Championships for Ponies | Eventing. Photo: FEI / Libby Law

Outstanding performances by German athletes in the Dressage and Eventing competitions, earning 5 out of 5 golds, and Ireland taking top spots in both Team and Individual Jumping at the FEI European Championships for Ponies in Jumping, Dressage, and Eventing 2023 held in Le Mans (FRA).

Jumping Individual Podium
1° Paddy Reape (IRE) & Fernando
2° Ellen Hammarström (SWE) & Ocean des As
3° Kian Dore (IRL) & Sparkling Lackaghmore Joey

Jumping Team Podium
1° Ireland
2° Sweden
3° Great Britain

Dressage Individual Podium
1° Lilly Marie Collin (GER) & Cosmo Callidus NRW
2° Julie Sophie Schmitz-Heinen (GER) & Chilli Morning WE
3° Liezel Everars (BEL) & FS Capelli de Niro

Dressage Individual Freestyle Podium
1° Lilly Marie Collin (GER) & Cosmo Callidus NRW
2° Liezel Everars (BEL) & FS Capelli de Niro
3° Maria Theresa Pohl (GER) & Der Kleine Sunnyboy WE

Dressage Team Podium
1° Germany
2° Denmark
3° Belgium

Eventing Individual Podium
1° Nell Röming (GER) & Marlon 192
2° Sina Brügger (GER) & Next Generation
3° Marlene Hayessen (GER) & Betty Boo 14

Eventing Team Podium
1° Germany
2° France
3° Ireland

Check the full results here.

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Swiss Sweep to Victory Again in St Gallen

Martin Fuchs and Leone Jei. FEI/Martin Dokoupil

They waited 22 years to post a long-awaited win on home ground in St Gallen last year, and Team Switzerland stole the show once again when topping the opening leg of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ 2023 Europe Division 1 series at their home venue.

Their back-to-back victory was no walk in the park, however, with the result only decided in a thrilling jump-off against the clock in which home hero Martin Fuchs sealed it with a clear round from Leoni Jei, while Brazil’s Yuri Mansur and Miss Blue-Saint Blue Farm QH were quicker but left the very last fence on the floor.

The Brazilians were truly impressive, firmly in the lead at the halfway stage on a zero score and without even having to call on their anchor partnership of Pedro Veniss and Nimrod de Muze Z. But in the end, it was Fuchs and teammates Edouard Schmitz, Bryan Balsiger, and Steve Guerdat who stood top of the podium, both Balsiger and Guerdat bolstering Swiss chances with superb double-clear performances.

Generous

The time-allowed of 77 seconds proved generous over Swiss course designer Gerard Lachat’s 12-fence track, but the final line of three fences that included a triple bar to a tight double of vertical-to-oxer and the final planks proved influential.

In glorious sunshine, the horses looked fresh and full of enthusiasm as they enjoyed the big open arena, and when Francisco Jose Mesquita Musa (Alea Marathon), Rodrigo Pessoa (Major Tom), and Mansur and his impressive 10-year-old mare all went clear first time out, then Veniss didn’t need to go as only the best three scores would count.

However, Great Britain and Switzerland were only a fence behind, on four faults going into round two when the British fell back with the addition of eight, while the Swiss, in contrast, really rose to the challenge to add nothing to their four-fault scoreline.

Chink

The first chink in the Brazilian armour was a brick out of the wall at fence two in an otherwise foot-perfect second run from Mesquita Musa. Pessoa produced a second spectacular clear and Veniss was faultless on his first tour of the track, but when Mansur’s mare kicked out the top plank at fence five at her second attempt, then they moved also on to a four-fault tally, forcing a third-round head-to-head.

That was also a thriller, Fuchs throwing down a superb target time of 42.14 seconds with a clear that had the home crowd gasping all the way. But Mansur was well up on time coming to the last and broke the beam in 41.84 seconds. Fuchs didn’t see the final fence fall for the Brazilian and initially thought he’d been beaten.

“I couldn’t even watch the last fence because I was looking at the time on the clock hoping Yuri would be slower. And then the clock stopped and he was faster and I was ‘whaaaat’!” said Fuchs.

As it happened, he had nothing to worry about. “I have to say congrats to team Brazil and Yuri Mansur for really making it so exciting for everyone today,” he added.

A great day

“What a great day!” 30-year-old multiple champion Fuchs said. “It was a very exciting class; my teammates were fantastic and my horse was great. I had a rail in the first round and was obviously very disappointed with that, because he jumped fantastic and I really thought we could go for the clear. But in the next round he really gave everything, and that’s also why we decided I would be the one to jump off, because my horse felt great today.”

When Swiss pathfinder Schmitz had the first element of the triple combination at fence six down on his second tour of the track, there was nothing sure about the destination of the St Gallen Nations Cup title.

“Now I knew we had to deliver clear rounds, because the Brazilian team looked very, very strong in the first round. We knew we had to put pressure on them and that’s how it turned out. It worked out really great, and it’s always very sweet to win in front of the home crowd,” Fuchs added.

Encouraging

When asked if the result is encouraging ahead of the challenge of achieving qualification for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, which until now has evaded Team Switzerland, Fuchs quickly replied, “We don’t need any encouragement! We are all already highly motivated to get this Olympic qualification, and a win like this gives you confidence, gives you a boost. If you can win in front of the home crowd where the pressure is high, then you know you can deliver also at a Championship, and that’s an important point we can take away from today,” he said.

Olympic places are on offer at the forthcoming FEI Jumping European Championship and at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final 2023, which will take place in Barcelona (ESP) at the end of September. But before all that, there will be another five exciting rounds to decide the line-up for the Longines Final to which the top seven of the ten nations competing in Europe Division 1 will make the cut.

Sopot in Poland is the next port of call for competitors in this exciting top-level series, which also stops off at Rotterdam (NED) later in June before moving to Falsterbo (SWE) and Hickstead (GBR) in July and finally visits Dublin (IRL) in August.

by Louise Parkes

press@fei.org
www.fei.org

Luiz Francisco de Azevedo and Nashville Win $39,000 ProElite Welcome Stake CSI 2*

Luiz Francisco de Azevedo and Nashville ©Kendall Lueder for Natalie Suto Photography

May 25, 2023 – Luiz Francisco de Azevedo (BRA) and Nashville were the fastest of the day to take top honors in the $39,000 ProElite Welcome Stake CSI 2*, the first international Welcome Stake of the 2023 season as part of Tryon Spring 4 competition. Francisco de Azevedo and Santa Cecilia Stables LLC’s Nashville (Diamant De Semilly x Darco), a 2013 Belgian Warmblood gelding, sped through the jump-off timers in 38.56 seconds to clinch the win. Scott Keach (AUS) and Wild Thing (Caraca x Contango II), Keach’s own 2012 gelding produced a 41.49-second jump off round to earn reserve. Accepting the third-place ribbon was Maria Gabriela Brugal Gasso (DOM) and J’adore Flamenco, the 2012 Anglo-Arabian gelding owned by BG Stables LLC, stopping the clock in 42.22 seconds.

Sixty-two entries challenged the first round, with the course set by Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) and welcoming nineteen pairs to challenge the second round. Francisco de Azevedo was a bit surprised with how many entries qualified for the jump off, after walking the course and discerning its difficulty, but emphasized that it felt great to win against “many, many good riders and good horses. I decided to take all the risks, and it paid off. My horse is a naturally fast horse, and I took all the other risks inside and decided to turn really tight. It went well!”

Victoria Heurtematte and Scarlett Du Sart Z Dominate $6,000 Two Phase CSI 2*

Victoria Heurtematte (PAN) and Scarlett Du Sart Z claimed the win in Wednesday’s $6,000 Two Phase CSI 2* in a field of 39 entries, stopping the speed phase timers in 26.32 seconds to clinch the blue ribbon. McKayla Langmeier (USA) and Pepita VD Rollebeek, Linda Landmeier’s 2015 Belgian Warmblood mare (Tangelo VD Zuuthoeve x Toulon), cleared the speed phase in 27.50 seconds to receive second place honors, while third went to Luis Fernando Larrazabal (VEN) aboard Baroness, the 2015 Westphalian mare (Balous Bellini) owned by Leeann Ablin, after their 28.05-second clear performance. Twenty-two horse-and-rider pairs cleared the power phase to continue on to the short track, with twelve entries posting double-clear rounds over both portions of the Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) track.

For more info and results, visit www.Tryon.com.

CSIO Roma Piazza di Siena: Elegance amongst Tradition

Geneva, 23 May 2023 – CSIO Roma Piazza di Siena is recognized as one of the most beautiful horse shows on the international equestrian calendar, staged in the magnificent Villa Borghese gardens in the Italian capital from 25-28 May. The four-day event will showcase intense competition from the best horse and rider combinations on the show jumping circuit, concluding on Sunday 28 May with the 5* Rolex Gran Premio Roma.

The show has a rich history, with roots dating back more than a century. Combining elegance and style with world-class sport and athleticism, it attracts competitors from around the world. Rolex became Official Timekeeper of the show, as well as Title Sponsor of the esteemed Grand Prix, the Rolex Gran Premio Roma, in 2018.

The organizers have striven for continuous improvement since the show’s inception in 1922, ensuring the event’s stature as one of the most revered in the equestrian calendar, and in 2018, the 18th century oval was re-grassed returning it to its original splendour. As well as the Rolex Gran Premio Roma, the show hosts a Nations Cup, a prestigious team competition featuring the best show jumpers from across the world representing their countries.

The Rolex Gran Premio Roma has been won by some of the best show jumping horse and rider combinations in the history of the sport, with previous winning riders including Rodrigo Pessoa in 2009 and Eric Lamaze in 2011 and 2014.

This year, several athletes will travel to the Eternal City with hopes of etching their names into the history books of CSIO Roma Piazza di Siena. Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs will be looking to emulate his uncle Markus Fuchs, who won the prestigious Grand Prix in 2001, but will face stiff competition from former World No. 1 Daniel Deusser from Germany.

Martin Fuchs stated: “CSIO Roma Piazza di Siena is one of the most picturesque and prestigious shows in the world; it is such an incredible setting being located in the heart of such a historic and vibrant city. As with all Rolex Grands Prix, the standard of competition will be excellent, requiring skill and horsemanship to win.”

Virginie Chevailler
Rolex SA
virginie.chevailler@rolex.com

Merrick Haydon
rEvolution
mhaydon@revolutionworld.com

United States Is Golden in the Golden State

McLain Ward (USA) riding Contagious (FEI/McCool Photos)

The United States won their second consecutive Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ event Sunday in San Juan Capistrano (USA), securing a comfortable victory in front of a home crowd at The Oaks International Grand Prix Field two weeks after triumphing in Mexico.

The event marked the first Nations Cup event held in the state of California, and Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland brought forward a powerhouse team that featured Lillie Keenan (Argan de Beliard), Karl Cook (Kalinka van’t Zorgvliet), Laura Kraut (Dorado), and McLain Ward (Contagious).

The squad delivered. Over Leopoldo Palacios’ (VEN) 1.60m track, they finished on a total score of 12 faults. Ireland finished second (17 faults), with Mexico third (33 faults).

“Qualifying for the Nations Cup [Finals] in Barcelona had to be a major priority, because that’s one of two ways left to qualify for the Olympics. We basically took our ‘A’ team at the beginning of the year and split it in half. We sent the first half to Mexico [and came here] with the other half,” said Ridland.

All three riders from the U.S.’s silver medal-winning squad from Tokyo were represented across the two teams. In Mexico, Kraut delivered three clear rounds when prevailing in a jump-off against Mexico. In San Juan Capistrano, it was Ward’s turn to lead the way. Ward produced the only double-clear effort on the day aboard his partner from the Tokyo Olympic Games, Contagious.

“I thought Leopoldo set a very challenging track. When I walked it, I have to say I was a tiny bit surprised at how big it was,” Ward said. “But it’s a five-star Nations Cup. There are huge consequences to this qualification, and that’s the way it should be.”

The United States boasted a comfortable lead heading into the second round, with more than a rail in hand over Canada. But Ireland launched a tremendous rally their second time around the course. Neither Andrew Bourns (Sea Topblue), David Blake (Claude), nor Conor Swail (Nadal Hero & DB) touched a pole, finishing the round with just a single fault added to their scorecard.

That put a greater amount of pressure on the home nation, but veterans Kraut and Ward were clear for the U.S., securing the victory. Not a single U.S. rider incurred more than 4 faults in a single round of competition.

“When this group of riders that we have here are on form, it suits us when it’s more difficult. So I think it worked in our favour,” said Ward.

Kraut was the only rider to have also competed in Mexico. In that event, she rode her Tokyo Olympic Games mount, Baloutinue. In San Juan Capistrano, she brought forward 10-year-old Dorado for his Nations Cup debut.

“I was thrilled with him,” Kraut said. “I will tell you, in the first round, he definitely was impressed. I agree with McLain that the course was much more difficult than I was expecting, and it caught me off guard. [Dorado] was a little bit shy from the first round, and he could have gotten smaller for the second round, or he could have grown. He grew and rode around beautifully, like he’d been doing it a long time.”

With their victory, the United States increased their lead in the North and Central America and Caribbean division; they boast 200 points. Mexico sits second with 170 points, and Canada is third (150 points).

The division concludes in Vancouver (CAN) on 4 June 2023.

Full Results

By Catie Staszak

press@fei.org
www.fei.org