Tag Archives: Steve Guerdat

Olympic Champion Steve Guerdat Features on First Day of FEI Sports Forum

Steve Guerdat (SUI), centre, with Wayne Channon (GBR), rapporteur, and fellow panelist Cesar Hirsch (VEN). (FEI/Richard Juilliart)

Lausanne (SUI), 4 April 2016 – “Being open and transparent is vital to us as we are discussing matters which have the intention to, and most probably will, affect the future of our sport,” FEI President Ingmar De Vos said in his opening address at the fifth edition of the FEI Sports Forum in Lausanne (SUI). “By coming together to share experiences and to discuss the future, we are showing our strength and unity as a sport and our willingness to lead and not be led.”

The two-day Forum has attracted a record number of 320 delegates, with representatives from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), National Federations, the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF), stakeholders, sponsors, riders, trainers, media, volunteers, guests and FEI staff almost filling the auditorium at the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) Business School, which has hosted the Sports Forum for the past four years.

IMD Professor Stéphane Garelli, the day’s first speaker, referenced the increasing impact of sport on the global economy. “When you look at sport, you are speaking of something that is joyful and happy. You have the privilege in sport and the FEI to bring happiness to people.”

The opening day was dedicated to FEI Officials, their career pathway, remuneration and education, with the sessions providing the opportunity to debate key questions related to the involvement of the National Federations, costs, calendar and geographical spread, standards and strategy.

“The Officials are a group of people that play an important role in our sport and without whom our sport would not be possible. Our officials are in the frontline when it comes to preserving integrity and ensuring that a level playing field is maintained,” Ingmar de Vos said.

The first session debated the optimal career pathway for FEI Officials, promotion, demotion, and sanctions. There was also debate on ways to measure the quality of officiating and whether there should be an age limit of FEI Officials.

Vicki Glynn, Chief Executive Officer of the New Zealand Federation, supported the removal of the age limit for FEI Officials. “Legally it is age discrimination. The age limit must be removed. We are one of only two organisations that retain age limits for officials. We should put a more effective evaluation process in place and like many countries do when renewing drivers’ licenses, you need to have an eye sight test, medical test.”

Delegates raised the importance of educational support from the FEI to increase the level of understanding of the sport amongst officials, and the correct application of FEI rules.  There was general consensus that training and education are key to the development and understanding of the sport.

“People need to learn to follow procedures; judges need to learn that, but one thing we cannot miss is the horsemanship these people should have,” Olympic Champion Steve Guerdat (SUI) said. “Yes we need rules, the rules are black and white, but we must not forget we have a horse in our sport, a living animal, and the officials must understand the importance of horsemanship.”

Education was the focus of the second session, giving delegates the opportunity to raise questions on the involvement of National Federations in educating officials, balancing costs without impacting quality, and focusing on standards and education strategy.

Maarten van der Heijden, Secretary General of the Royal Dutch Equestrian Federation, called for standardised education material, and underlined the willingness of the Federation to share its own material for use by the FEI and other National Federations for education purposes.

“The riders want to have good judges so we can stay on a level playing field and look after our horses; we want clean sport and we want good judges,” Steve Guerdat said. “Unfortunately we need to find money and I understand it’s very expensive. On my point I would have absolutely no problem giving away part of the prize money, but I’m sure I’m one of the few riders.

“There’s a lot of pressure on those people; they have big decisions to take. We could maybe help them by creating a kind of panel to help them take the big decisions. It shouldn’t only be the steward and judges. Maybe have a vet, a rider, an independent person for the panel.”

Fellow panellist Rocio Echeverri also commented on the remuneration debate. “I really don’t believe that someone who does it on a voluntary basis is more or less professional. As an official, I’m 100 per cent committed whether I get paid or not. Getting more money doesn’t make us better officials. It’s about ethics. Payment does not make a better official in my opinion.”

“We don’t want to sacrifice quality to get quantity, or sacrifice quality for expense, quality is an investment,” said Wayne Channon, who was the only person to voice the view that all judges should be appointed by the FEI. Other delegates spoke in favour of retaining the split between Organising Committee and FEI appointments, stating that payment should come from whichever body appointed the Officials.

There was also concern expressed by a number of delegates for both the less developed nations and the non-Olympic disciplines. “Don’t forget the smaller disciplines that are less professionalised and with less prize money. These athletes deserve well educated officials too,” Maarten van der Heijden said.

FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez closed the first day’s sessions with a summary of the discussions on evaluation, age limit, mentoring, rotations, professionalism, subsidising education courses and remuneration with the help of the three rapporteurs.

“We can learn from other sports,” Sabrina Ibáñez said. “The conclusions will be brought to the Bureau and a task force will be created to look at the individual issues. We will come up with some concrete measures to present to you.”

After the session, the Secretary General commented on the positive feedback on the new way of running the Sports Forum. “We are genuinely committed to integrating members of our community and giving them a starring role in the discussions so that they could lead the debate as moderators and panelists. It was extremely well received by all the delegates as they felt they were an integral part of a direct dialogue.”

The detailed programme for the FEI Sports Forum 2016 is available to view and download here.

The FEI online platform is open for continued discussions on all topics raised at the FEI Sports Forum here.

The first session on Officials career pathway was led by moderator Sandra Wiedmer, Secretary General of the Swiss National Federation, with a panel made up of Teodor Sheytanov, Secretary General of the Bulgarian National Federation, Mariette Withages (BEL), former International FEI O-Judge, Marisol Casado (ESP), IOC Member and President of the International Triathlon Union, Hope Hand (USA), FEI Para-Equestrian Committee Member, with Reining Committee Member Pierre Ouellet (ITA) acting as rapporteur.

The second session, which focused Officials education, was moderated by Sally Ike (USA), with a panel of FEI Steward General Dressage Jacques van Daele (BEL), FEI Reining Committee member Raymond Grether (NED), FEI Executive Board Member & Athlete Committee Chair Maria Gretzer (SWE), and Peter Kallings (SWE), FEI List Group Member and FEI Testing Veterinarian. Harald Muller (GER), FEI Education & Standards Director, acted as rapporteur.

The third session, which focused on Officials appointments and remuneration, was moderated by FEI Jumping Committee member Stephan Ellenbruch (GER). The panel was made up of Peter Bollen (BEL), Jumping Committee Member, Rocio Echeverri (CRC), Endurance Committee member, Cesar Hirsch (VEN), FEI Nomination Committee Member and Swiss star Steve Guerdat (SUI). International Dressage Riders Club Secretary General Wayne Channon (GBR) was rapporteur.

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Guerdat Claims Second FEI World Cup Jumping Final Victory

Photo Credit: FEI/Arnd Bronkhorst.

Gothenburg (SWE), 28 March 2016 – Olympic champion, Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat, showed nerves of steel when galloping to victory at the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final for the second year in a row.

The crowd in the Scandinavium Arena in Gothenburg (SWE) went wild after the 33-year-old rider produced two faultless rounds with the 10-year-old gelding Corbinian to claim the €172,500 prizewinner’s purse. It was the perfect end to a great final for the Swiss champion, bringing his earnings for the weekend to €232,100.

The Netherlands’ Harrie Smolders took the runner-up spot and a handsome pay cheque of €131,250 for these two rounds and must now be one of the hot favourites for a place in Rio.

Germany’s Daniel Deusser, winner of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Final in 2014, stood on the third step of the podium and was all too happy to join forces with Smolders to hoist Guerdat and the trophy into the air in celebration.

Guerdat was out in front going into the final decider, but had to leave all the fences on Santiago Varela Ullastres’ brilliant course standing if he was going to do the back-to-back double after his win in Las Vegas (USA). Despite the pressure and with the passionate crowds oohing and aahing over every fence, he held his nerve to finish on a perfect zero for the win.

“It’s really special,” an emotional Guerdat said. “I wasn’t really thinking I would stand here in front of you as the Final winner today. I have a really strong team supporting me, people who get up early every morning and work really hard, so I want to thank my whole team; it’s really a team victory. We all have the same goal. It’s me who’s standing here in front of you, but there are many people who should be standing here with me. It’s a team victory more than ever I think.”

Guerdat’s biggest wins have come with three different horses – Nino des Buissonnets at London 2012, the mare Albufuehrens Paille in Las Vegas last year, and now his latest champion Corbinian. Today’s victory was the fourth for Switzerland in the series, with Markus Fuchs taking the cup in 2001, Beat Mandli in 2007, and now two in a row for Guerdat.

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Olympic Champion Guerdat Lifts the Longines Trophy Once Again

Second-placed Harrie Smolders from The Netherlands (left) and third-placed Daniel Deusser from Germany (right) lift the newly-crowned Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2016 champion, Steve Guerdat from Switzerland, aloft to celebrate his second consecutive title victory. (FEI/Dirk Caremans)

Gothenburg (SWE), 28 March 2016 – Olympic champion, Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat, showed nerves of steel when galloping to victory at the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final for the second year in a row.

The crowd in the Scandinavium Arena in Gothenburg (SWE) went wild after the 33-year-old rider produced two faultless rounds with the 10-year-old gelding Corbinian to claim the €172,500 prizewinner’s purse. It was the perfect end to a great event for the Swiss champion, bringing his earnings for the weekend to €232,100.

The Netherlands’ Harrie Smolders took the runner-up spot and a handsome pay cheque of €131,250 for the two rounds, while Germany’s Daniel Deusser, winner of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Final in 2014, stood on the third step of the podium and joined Smolders in hoisting Guerdat and the trophy into the air in celebration.

“It’s really special,” an emotional Guerdat said. “I wasn’t really thinking I would stand here in front of you as the Final winner today. I have a really strong team supporting me, people who get up early every morning and work really hard, so I want to thank my whole team; it’s really a team victory. We all have the same goal. It’s me who’s standing here in front of you, but there are many people who should be standing here with me. It’s a team victory more than ever I think.”

Guerdat’s biggest wins have come with three different horses – Nino des Buissonnets at London 2012, the mare Albufuehrens Paille in Las Vegas last year, and now his latest champion Corbinian. His victory was the fourth for Switzerland in the FEI World Cup™ Jumping series, with Markus Fuchs lifting the trophy in 2001, Beat Mandli in 2007 and Guerdat now making it two-in-a-row.

Historic double

The Swiss rider was already out in front going into the final decider, but had to leave all the fences on Santiago Varela Ullastres’ brilliant course standing in both rounds in order to complete his historic double. As the first round began the sport’s biggest stars were all lining up behind him, three-time FEI World Cup™ Jumping champion Marcus Ehning from Germany just two points adrift after the first two days’ results were converted into points, and Deusser and Smolders carrying just 3 points apiece while Belgium’s Nicola Phillipaerts was one fence adrift of the leader carrying four.

The first track was enormous but jumped really well, the double at fence nine proving the bogey with its water trays under each element. Austria’s Max Kuhner produced the first clear with the fabulous nine-year-old grey, Chardonnay, and next to leave all the timber intact was Dutch star Maikel van der Vleuten with VDL Groep Verdi. Germany’s Christian Ahlmann with Taloubet and Ireland’s Denis Lynch with All Star kept their scorelines at eight points apiece when also foot-perfect, and that began to put the pressure on the remaining 10 of the 26 starters. Germany’s Marco Kutscher and Chaccorina were fault free to hold on a six-point tally, and Penelope Leprevost from France did likewise with Vagabond de la Pomme to remain on five, but Philippaerts dropped out of contention with two fences down.

Breezed in

Both Smolders’ stallion, Emerald NOP, and Deusser’s gelding Cornet d’Amour, with which he won the 2014 title in Lyon, France, breezed in without incident but Ehning would pay a high price for a single error at the second element of the bogey double at nine. So when Guerdat added nothing to his scoreline Smolders and Deusser were still stalking him closely.

The second track was another colossal test and again definitely not for the faint-hearted. But this Final has produced spectacular sport and continued to highlight extraordinary horses and super-talented riders, with the audience loving every moment of it. When Australia’s Chris Chugg jumped clear in the second round with the beautiful mare, Cristallina, who is only eight years old, the spectators jumped to their feet to give them a standing ovation and, always the showman, Chugg produced a lovely bit of theatre as he accepted their appreciation. And America’s Callan Solem, almost unknown across the European circuit, also drew huge applause for her brilliant second-round clear with VDL Wizard.

In the end it was a case of whether the three at the top end of the leaderboard would crack, but none of them did, Smolders throwing down yet another jumping exhibition with Emerald before Deusser followed suit with Cornet d’Amour.

Fever-pitch

The atmosphere was at fever-pitch as Guerdat rode back into the ring for the last time, knowing that, although he could afford a few time faults, a falling pole would put paid to his chances, leaving the Dutchman and the German battling it out for the title in a third-round jump-off. The Swiss rider set off with his jaw set and his adrenalin running, and the crowd rode every fence with him and his horse, wriggling in their seats with concern and anticipation, only to burst into an explosion of sound as the pair galloped through the finish with a zero score still on the display screen.

Guerdat admitted that the memory of last year’s Final still haunted him despite his victory, so his main concern was to get things absolutely right this time around.

“It was important to me to ride better than last year – I won, but that was the only reason to be happy that day! I didn’t ride very well and that stays always in your head,” he insisted. He was also concerned about his 10-year-old gelding, Corbinian. “I didn’t want to put too much pressure on him; I wasn’t sure how he was going to react over the championship because he doesn’t have that much experience. But he felt very good already when I rode him before the class and powerful again, after a day off yesterday. Today I thought he was really fighting with me, which is not always the case. Sometimes it’s more that we are not fighting against each other but that we are trying to look for each other, and it’s just not that smooth. But today… it felt that the horse was really with me and fighting with me, and that gives you confidence along the course,” he explained.

Thrilled

It was their time in the second round that separated Smolders and Deusser, the Dutchman’s quicker trip giving him the edge. Smolders was delighted with the performance of his stallion Emerald and really enjoyed the whole experience of the 2016 Final. “I was very thrilled because this was his (Emerald’s) first championship and he convinced me in every way this week. He’s a very attractive horse and he loves the atmosphere here. I must say it was great sport and super exposure of how our sport should be; the audience, the course designing, everything was very good publicity for our sport. Also to have this kind of money from Longines is just as it should be.”

Third-placed Deusser said he had no regrets about his placing. “I made a stupid mistake on the second day and that’s why I’m third, but the sport has been really strong this weekend. When I walked the second-round course, I was quite impressed; it was big! I saw Steve in the warm-up and we actually laughed and went ‘waaahhhhh!’ I said to him if we are still on the podium in the top three after the second round I’m happy with that, and he laughed and said, ‘me too!’ In the end that’s how it finished and for me that’s a reason to be happy today!” he said.

The fun and games on the presentation podium underlined the great sportsmanship and the tremendous spectacle enjoyed by everyone in Gothenburg. All the riders had every reason to be proud of their contribution a great event, but Guerdat looked to be the proudest man of all as he finished up this evening on a poignant note.

When asked if he had the opportunity to share his success with his father, Philippe Guerdat, who was at the show as Chef d’Equipe for the French, the double-champion said, “Yes, we saw each other… he’s been a rider himself so he knows what it’s about; we come from the same life, the same world so we don’t need to talk too much or see each other too often. We just love each other, and those moments belong to him as much as they belong to me – like father and son.”

For further information on the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final 2015/2016 in Gothenburg (SWE) from 23-28 March 2016, visit www.gothenburghorseshow.com or contact Press Officer Lotta Amnestål, lotta.amnestal@ridsport.se, +46 709 79 56 35.

Full result here.

Facts and Figures:

26 horse-and-rider combinations lined out for the third and deciding competition at the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final 2016 at the Scandinavium Arena in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Olympic individual gold medallist and defending Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping champion, Steve Guerdat, was holding the lead going into the final day on a zero score with Corbinian, and claimed the title with a double-clear performance.

His horse, Corbinian, is a 10-year-old gelding.

The last three riders to go in the first round – Germany’s Daniel Deusser (Cornet d’Amour) and Marcus Ehning (Cornado NRW) and Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat (Corbinian) – were all riding horses sired by Ehning’s former champion ride, Cornet Obolensky.

Course designer Santiago Varela from Spain presented them with a 13-fence test in the first round in which the double of oxer to vertical at fence nine with water-trays beneath each element proved the bogey fence.

9 horse-and-rider combinations jumped clear in the first round.

8 horse-and-rider combinations jumped clear in the second round.

Steve Guerdat’s victory brings the number of Swiss wins in the 38-year history of the FEI World Cup™ Jumping series to four.

Quotes:

Santiago Varela Ullastres, course designer: “Neither of the rounds was easy. I want to congratulate these three guys (Guerdat, Smolders and Deusser) they took all the pressure really well. And I’d like to thank one person who normally doesn’t appear at press conferences, the Technical Delegate Louis Konickx, who did a very good job.”

Lotta Nibbel, Gothenburg Horse Show Organising Committee:  “We had huge audiences and four sold-out shows this year – a total of 89,020 people watching and experiencing it together. It’s been fantastic!”

John Madden, FEI First Vice-President and Chairman Jumping Committee: “It takes so much to put a an event like this together; it’s all based around Longines, our partner at the FEI who are so supportive of the World Cup Final, and it brings us everything we want, the true meaning of our sport, the unity of the horse and rider and the passion. Think of everything that goes into these riders to put this performance on. And then think of the backstage work from FEI to the Organising Committee to Gotevents and the unbelievable sponsor, the Swedish Federation and Gothenburg itself being such a huge part of it. It takes these great athletes and these great horses to put on a great show. We have to thank all the people involved.”

Steve Guerdat SUI (winner), when asked when he felt his relationship with his horse was beginning to gel: “To be honest, just the last show in ‘s-Hertogenbosch I had a really good feeling over three days. That was the first time. We had some good rounds but one day good, one day not so good, one day the jump was good but the rideability was bad and the next day was the other way round, so always working on things. I said after London at the World Cup in December I want to plan this horse for the Final, and then I took him three weeks in Spain to just play around with small classes, because I really wanted to try and get to know him a little bit better, so he didn’t jump bigger than 1.40m classes; he jumped eight or nine classes, but just 1.30m to 1.40m. I tried a few bits; I tried to change a little big my riding, and after that I thought he really needs to do one bigger show before the Final so we went to ‘s-Hertogenbosch and I jumped him three days in a row and he felt really really good for three days, and that really gave me confidence coming into this final.”

John Madden, FEI First Vice-President and Chairman Jumping Committee: “After walking each course you could see it was going to be a fair, difficult test, and after walking the second round today, I said to Santi (course designer) that I’m absolutely sure whoever wins will be the correct winner. Because this was an excellently tested championship. Every aspect was tested and I think even the second and third-placed riders can say that they weren’t cheated in any way. They had a chance to win, but Steve won fair and square over a fantastically complete test.”

Steve Guerdat SUI (1st), when asked when he knew his horse was ready for a big event like the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final:  “I didn’t know how he was going to be. I know he is a very talented horse, very powerful, actually a kind of championship horse, but when you haven’t been there you don’t know how they are going to be. He did feel a bit tired after his jump-off on Saturday, but already yesterday he again felt really fresh and relaxed and today when I went into the second round he felt as good if not better than in the first round. That doesn’t mean you’re going to jump clear, but it gives you the confidence to concentrate on the main things.”

Harrie Smolders NED (2nd), when asked if he believed before this weekend’s event that his stallion, Emerald, would go the distance: “Like Steve I didn’t know the answer; my horse always uses a lot of energy at every jump; even at small fences he tries very hard and it’s my job to make it as easy as possible for him, don’t over-ask too many things, but he convinced me really well today over the two rounds and I think his last round was even better than the first!”

FEI YouTube

Rider biographies: view online and download here.

By Louise Parkes

Media Contacts:

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Ahlmann Wins Dramatic Second Competition, but Guerdat Holds Lead

Christian Ahlmann and Taloubet Z won the second leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2016 Final in Gothenburg, Sweden. (FEI/Dirk Caremans)

Gothenburg (SWE), 26 March 2016 – Germany’s Christian Ahlmann won the dramatic second leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2016 Final in Gothenburg, Sweden, but defending champion, Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat, leads the standings going into Monday’s third and last competition.

Ahlmann and the brilliant 16-year-old stallion, Taloubet Z, set the standard in the seven-horse jump-off against the clock and couldn’t be caught, but Ireland’s Denis Lynch rocketed up the leaderboard when producing the only other double-clear of the competition to finish second ahead of The Netherlands’ Harrie Smolders and Emerald in third, while Guerdat and Corbinian slotted into fourth place.

Marcus Ehning finished fifth with Cornado NRW to keep the potential for a record-breaking fourth series title still very much alive for this popular German star, while his compatriot Marco Kutscher lined up sixth with Chaccorina ahead of America’s Peter Lutz and Robin de Ponthual in seventh spot.

Degree of difficulty

Course designer, Santiago Varela from Spain, increased the degree of difficulty with today’s tough first-round track that tested power, accuracy, rideability and courage. The triple combination at fence eight proved influential, but it was the line from the oxer at 11 to the vertical at 12, the following water-tray oxer at 13 and the final vertical at fence 14 that decided the fate of many. Horses that jumped big at 11 often arrived deep at the tricky vertical at 12 with its gold-coloured poles offset by a rocking horse fence-filler. And some also put their eye on the water-tray under the penultimate oxer at 13 to put themselves out of contention as they rode down to the last.

There were no clears until Ahlmann set off, ninth of the 33 starters, and the pure class of the round he produced from the stallion with which he won the FEI World Cup™ Jumping title on home ground in Leipzig (GER) in 2011, always suggested that today he would be the man to beat.

First to go against the clock, he again just cruised home in 36.85 seconds without appearing to be under the slightest pressure, and although Lynch also left all the fences intact with his stallion All Star who has been in the form of his life in recent months, he seemed to have left the door wide open for those following him when stopping the clock in 41.42 seconds. But as it turned out, none of the rest could leave all the fences in place, both America’s Peter Lutz and Germany’s Marco Kutscher collecting eight faults while Harrie Smolders lowered the oxer at fence two, now the third-last obstacle on the track, and then Marcus Ehning clipped the second element of the double at fence three and the penultimate vertical to put paid to his chances.

Guerdat looked set to threaten Ahlmann’s lead when last to go, but the crowd gasped when Corbinian hit the opening vertical. When asked afterwards if this unnerved him and made him change his plan, the Swiss rider said, “No, I just wanted to make sure I didn’t have another fence down, I wasn’t going to catch Christian anyway so I was going for second place. That was the plan – it was never about winning the class today; it was to be in the lead tonight. The championship overall is more important than a single class,” he said wisely.

One of the favourites

Ahlmann was one of the firm favourites to take the 2016 title before the Final got underway, but he was lying well down the leaderboard after two mistakes with Colorit.

He talked about his disappointment when things didn’t quite go his way in the first leg. “The plan was a little bit different, but it’s the sport. I tried to take one day (of jumping) off Taloubet and to use another horse, it was a risk but not a big risk because he did well over the past few weeks, but yesterday was not our best day, and at the end two down left me in 25th place. It was a really bad start, but this is a championship and the possibility is still there and we had a very good second day apparently!” he pointed out.

Talking about his plan for the jump-off, he said, “I sure wanted to go fast; I have a really fast horse, an unbelievable horse and my only chance to move forward in the rankings was a good result today so I had no other option – so I tried to put my colleagues under pressure and it worked out!”

He now lies joint-10th alongside Irishman Lynch and America’s Lutz going into the final afternoon and well within sight of that coveted Longines FEI World Cup™ trophy.

Reason to be pleased

Lynch, meanwhile, also had every reason to be pleased. “My horse (All Star) is not a very quick horse, but today I was lucky because my colleagues had fences down so I finished second. I’ve taken a long time with this horse. I’ve had him since he was six years old and he likes playing around, bucking and messing a lot, so he’s not always that easy, but we know each other really well now,” he said of his 13-year-old stallion. “And he’s been in great form since December and through January and February with lots of good rounds,” he added.

Harrie Smolders admitted that his stallion, Emerald, is also feeling pretty good, in fact so good that he very nearly unseated his rider in the first round today. “He jumped just amazing, almost too well in the first round – I almost came flying off but luckily I stayed on him! I knew I needed a top place today to be in touch for Monday so I’m pleased with how it has worked out, and now I’m waiting for Monday,” he said.

Guerdat, meanwhile, reflected on how things have fallen in place for him over the last two days. The possibility of taking his second Longines title in a row looks very much on the cards.

A lot of questions

“I’m really happy. There were a lot of questions before the Final started that I really didn’t know the answer to… my horse has lot of ability; he has quality and he will be a very good horse one day, but we are still a bit looking for each other and I didn’t think he would be good enough to be in the lead before the final day,” he pointed out. But the defending champion is not getting too carried away with it all just yet. “It was just another day today; I’m going to enjoy myself tomorrow and I’m really looking forward to Monday now!” he added.

Talking about his horse, Corbinian, he explained, “He’s done quite a few big classes with me just we haven’t been so much in the results; we’ve had a lot of four faults and sometimes eight faults, never really because of a lack of quality but because I can’t get to his quality. He’s a bit difficult to ride for me; I did two or three nations cups last year and maybe four or five five-star Grand Prix classes and he was very good in the World Cup in London. I felt then he was the horse for this final; I had the luck to be already qualified so I didn’t have any pressure to get the points.”

Guerdat also made a joke at his own expense as the post-competition press conference was coming to a close. When asked what made him decide to come back for the jump-off knowing that there are two more rounds of jumping and that he might already be leading the standings, he replied, “I’m not that good at calculating, but I thought if I don’t mess it up completely I would be in the lead, but I wasn’t exactly sure – I’m here for the sport and not the mathematics!” he said.

When it comes to the crunch on Monday, however, it looks very possible that the Olympic gold medallist and defending Longines champion may well have the last laugh.

For further information on the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final 2015/2016 in Gothenburg (SWE) from 23-28 March 2016, visit www.gothenburghorseshow.com or contact Press Officer Lotta Amnestål, lotta.amnestal@ridsport.se, +46 709 79 56 35.

Full result here.

Full standings here.

Facts and Figures:

33 horse-and-rider combinations started in the second competition at the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2016 Final in Gothenburg, Sweden.

The winner was Germany’s Christian Ahlmann riding Taloubet Z, the horse with which he won the FEI World Cup™ Jumping title in Leipzig, Germany in 2011.

However, it is the defending champion, Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat, who heads the leaderboard going into Monday’s third and final competition when adding a fourth-place finish to his fifth place in the opening Speed class.

Course designer, Spain’s Santiago Varela, presented a 14-fence challenge, with a time-allowed of 79 seconds.

7 first-round clears.

A total of 13 horse-and-rider combinations picked up four faults in the first round.

America’s Katie Kindan was eliminated for two refusals for Nougat du Vallet in the first round, and fellow-American Charlie Jacobs retired with Flaming Star.

The bogey fence in the first round was the vertical at fence 12 which consisted of two gold-coloured poles with a golden rocking-horse as the fence filler.

The top 30 riders after today’s competition will qualify for Monday’s third and last competition, and 20 of those will advance to the second round.

Any riders who jump clear in the first round, even if they will finish outside the top 20, are also permitted to go again in the second round but their result will not count for the final classification.

Quotes:

Santiago Varela, Course Designer: “I want to congratulate all the riders; they rode really well and it was a nice competition. I feel good about how it went.”

Christian Ahlmann GER (1st), when asked about the formula for keeping Talboubet so fit and competitive five years after winning the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping title with him in Leipzig: “It’s nothing special; I just think you need a real Ferrari like him and it makes it a bit easier!”

Steve Guerdat SUI (4th), when asked if he thought he could repeat his winning performance of last year: “We’ll see; I’m delighted to have so many good horses and I can definitely ride better than I did in the final last year!”

Rider biographies: view online and download here.

By Louise Parkes

Media Contacts:

At Gothenburg:

Lotta Amnestål
Press Officer
lotta.amnestal@ridsport.se
+46 709 79 56 35

At FEI:

Grania Willis
Director Press Relations
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 787 506 142

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

Steve Guerdat Displays Precision Timing to Win Rolex Grand Prix at CHI Geneva

Steve Guerdat and Nino Des Buissonnets. ©Rolex/Kit Houghton.

13 December 2015, CHI Geneva, Switzerland – The world of international show jumping reached its season climax at the greatest indoor show – CHI Geneva. Staged over four days, the show built to its peak today with the Rolex Grand Prix, one of the three Majors that comprise show jumping’s ultimate prize – the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.

Roared on by the near 9,500 spectators packed into the world-famous Geneva Palexpo Arena, Swiss hero Steve Guerdat riding his champion horse Nino Des Buissonnets, demonstrated their impeccable partnership, exceptional skill and perfect timing to win the Rolex Grand Prix in dramatic style for a impressive third time.

NEW ROLEX GRAND SLAM CONTENDER

16 riders made it through the challenging first round course into the jump-off. Guerdat was ninth to go, chasing an incredibly fast time of 41.45 seconds set by Rolex Testimonee Eric Lamaze from Canada. Steve Guerdat knew he had to be fast, and as he entered the arena the Swiss fans went wild. The crowd then hushed and held its breath as Guerdat expertly guided Nino around the course with a new time of 40.94 secs taking him into first place ahead of Lamaze. With seven more riders still to follow to try and beat his time, Guerdat could only watch on. France’s Simon Delestre held nothing back and came within a breathtaking 0.03 seconds of Guerdat’s time.

It was then left to fellow Rolex Testimonee, Kent Farrington from the USA, to beat Guerdat. Typically, Farrington gave it everything and went clear, but his time of 41.47 was not quite fast enough on this occasion. Having already written his name into the history books, Scott Brash from Great Britain, riding Hello Sanctos, came to CHI Geneva as the first, and so far only, rider to succeed in completing the extraordinary feat of winning the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping: he won the three Majors of the year – the Rolex Grands Prix of CHI Geneva 2014, Switzerland; CHIO Aachen 2015, Germany; and the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ 2015, Canada.

Unfortunately it was not to be his day this time around, as Rolex Testimonee Brash just clipped fence 11 in the first round, taking him out of the competition. So a new cycle of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping has now began at CHI Geneva 2015, with Steve Guerdat – who must now win all three Majors in succession to claim the biggest challenge in the history of the equestrian sport.

Steve Guerdat said: “The beginning of the jump-off was a little bit difficult for me and Nino, but he is a special horse – he is a genius. The rest of the jump-off went like we planned and I am really happy with the result. This show is really, really important for me. I always plan it as it is one of the main weekends in the year for me – for me it is not just another show so I try to plan in long in advance and come with fresh horses like it was a Championship for me – the crowd always helps me and luck must do the rest.”

ROLEX GRAND PRIX QUALIFICATION

After four qualifying classes at CHI Geneva, 40 of the world’s best horse and rider partnerships secured themselves a place in the Rolex Grand Prix. Staged over two courses, the riders had to memorize the layout and route of two of the hardest 5* Grand Prix courses in the world. Every second counts in order to take them to victory with the challenge of having to clear 26 fences over the two courses covering a total of 770 meters, and completing the first course within just 71 seconds.

ESTEEMED INTERNATIONAL RIDERS

The roll-call of riders in the Rolex Grand Prix was a truly star-studded cast, with riders travelling from 18 different countries. These included some of the world’s top current riders: the reigning double World and European Champion, Jeroen Dubbeldam from the Netherlands; Daniel Bluman from Columbia; and Lauren Hough from USA.

The Rolex family of equestrian Testimonees was well represented with six riders qualifying for the Rolex Grand Prix. These included Kevin Staut; Rolex’s youngest Testimonee, Bertram Allen; Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping winner Scott Brash; Eric Lamaze; Kent Farrington; and the new 2015 CHI Geneva Rolex Grand Prix winner Steve Guerdat.

All eyes now turn to CHIO Aachen in July 2016 for the next leg of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping – the sport looks to Guerdat to see if he can now continue on where he left his journey after winning the CHI Geneva Rolex Grand Prix in 2013 to write himself into the history books once more.

2015 CHI GENEVA ROLEX GRAND PRIX RESULTS

1. Steve Guerdat (SUI), riding Nino Des Buissonnets, 40.94 secs
2. Simon Delestre (FRA), riding Qlassic Bois Margot, 40.97 secs
3. Eric Lamaze (CAN), riding Fine Lady 5, 41.45 secs
4. Kent Farrington (USA), riding Voyeur, 41.47 secs
5. Emanuele Gaudiano (ITA), riding Admara, 42.01 secs

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Rolex SA
Virginie Chevailler
virginie.chevailler@rolex.com
+41 22 302 2761

Revolution Sports + Entertainment
Rod Kohler
rod@revolutionsports.co.uk
+44 7770 647 662

Steve Guerdat and Alessandra Bichsel Cleared of Wrongdoing by FEI

Lausanne (SUI), 28 September 2015 – Swiss Jumping riders Steve Guerdat and Alessandra Bichsel, whose horses tested positive for Prohibited Substances earlier this year, have been cleared of any wrongdoing following separate legal agreements with the FEI. The agreements, in which the FEI accepts that the positives were caused by poppy seed contamination, have been independently approved by the FEI Tribunal.

Under the terms of the agreements, there are no sanctions against either Guerdat or Bichsel other than the automatic disqualification of the horses’ results at the events where they tested positive in accordance with Article 9 and Article 10.1.4 of the FEI Equine Anti-Doping (EAD) Rules.

Samples taken from the horse Nino des Buissonnets, ridden by Guerdat, at the La Baule CSIO5* in France on 17 May returned positive for the banned substances Codeine and Oripavine and the controlled medication substance Morphine. Samples taken from the horse Nasa (FEI ID FRA45675), also ridden by Guerdat, at the same event on 16 May returned positive for the banned substance Codeine and the controlled medication substance Morphine. The sample from Nasa also showed traces of Oripavine, but not at a sufficiently high level for the testing laboratory to declare a positive.

Samples taken from the horse Charivari KG (FEI ID 102ZB26), ridden by Bichsel, at the CSIOY (Young Riders) in Deauville (FRA) on 8 May also returned positive for the same three substances, Codeine, Oripavine and Morphine.

The two athletes, Guerdat and Bichsel, were notified of the positives by the FEI on 20 July and were both provisionally suspended. The three horses were also provisionally suspended for a two-month period.

The FEI Secretary General Sabrina Zeender acknowledged in July that the three positives were probably the result of contamination, but that standard procedure still had to be followed.

The FEI Tribunal agreed to lift the provisional suspensions on the two athletes on 27 July, but requests for the lifting of the provisional suspensions on the horses were denied. The two-month provisional suspensions imposed on the horses expired on 19 September.

Both Guerdat and Bichsel had used the same feed supplier, and independent laboratory tests have proved that the feed was contaminated with poppy seeds. The FEI accepts that the circumstances of the cases were exceptional and that the presence of the three prohibited substances in the horses’ samples is consistent with poppy seed contamination.

The FEI also accepts that the two athletes have demonstrated that they bear no fault or negligence and have also established how the Banned Substances entered the horses’ systems, the two requirements under the FEI Equine Anti-Doping (EAD) Rules in order to have the two-year period of ineligibility and other sanctions eliminated.

Under the terms of the two agreements, neither of the athletes was required to appear before the FEI Tribunal for a hearing. However, the panel of FEI Tribunal Chair Erik Elstad (NOR), Pierre Ketterer (FRA) and Henrik Arle (FIN) was called upon to give its formal approval of the agreements in accordance with the Article 7.6.1 of the FEI Equine Anti-Doping and Controlled Medication Regulations (EADCMRs).

The FEI Tribunal’s Final Decision states that it can find “no grounds to object to or disapprove the terms of the Agreement and is satisfied the Agreement constitutes a bona fide settlement” of the three cases. The cases are now closed.

“Both these athletes and the Swiss National Federation have worked in full cooperation with the FEI to secure these landmark agreements and it’s good to know that since the beginning of this year the FEI processes can facilitate such settlements so that athletes are able to clear their names when contamination is involved,” the FEI Secretary General said.

“Steve Guerdat and Alessandra Bichsel fully accepted that standard procedures had to be followed, but were able to provide proof that the positives were due to contamination, which meant that we could reach a settlement that was acceptable to both the FEI and to the FEI Tribunal.”

The agreements were reached in accordance with Article 7.6.1 of the EADCMRs, which was implemented on 1 January 2015 following approval at the 2014 FEI General Assembly. The provision, in line with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) regulations, allows for an agreement between the Person Responsible and the FEI, and the agreements with Guerdat and Bichsel mark the first time that such a settlement has been reached under the new provision.

The Final Decisions for the consolidated cases of the two horses Nino des Buissonnets and Nasa is available here, and the Final Decision for the horse Charivari KG is here.

Specified Substances

The FEI has proposed that certain substances on the FEI Equine Prohibited Substances List should be classified as “Specified Substances” in a similar approach to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code. The proposed introduction of the “Specified Substances” category is the result of a lengthy consultation process involving both the FEI Veterinary Committee and the FEI List Group. The FEI Bureau agreed during its in-person meeting on 9 June this year to put the proposal to the vote at the General Assembly.

The substances that will be classified as Specified Substances will be determined by the FEI List Group together with the FEI Laboratory Group. The purpose is to recognise that it is possible for a substance to enter a horse’s system inadvertently, and the proposed Specified Substances approach would allow the FEI and/or the FEI Tribunal more flexibility when prosecuting a case or when deciding on sanctions.

The Specified Substances approach will be voted on by the National Federations at the FEI General Assembly in Puerto Rico in November 2015.

Specified Substances are not necessarily less serious agents than other Prohibited Substances, and nor do they relieve the Personal Responsible (PR) of the strict liability rule that makes them responsible for all substances that enter a Horse’s system. However, there is a greater likelihood that these substances could be susceptible to a credible non-doping explanation.

FEI Media Contacts:

Grania Willis
Director Press Relations
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 787 506 142

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

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

FEI Tribunal Maintains Provisional Suspensions on Swiss Jumping Horses

Lausanne (SUI), 10 August 2015 – The FEI Tribunal has maintained the two-month provisional suspensions on the three Swiss Jumping horses Nino des Buissonnets (FEI ID FRA45550) and Nasa (FEI ID FRA45675), ridden by Steve Guerdat (SUI), and Charivari KG (FEI ID 102ZB26), ridden by Alessandra Bichsel (SUI). Two-month provisional suspensions were imposed on the horses on 20 July after they tested positive for prohibited substances.

Samples taken from Nino des Buissonnets at the CSIO5* ‎at La Baule (FRA) on 17 May returned positive for the banned substances Codeine and Oripavine and the controlled medication substance Morphine. Samples taken from Nasa at the CSIO5* ‎at La Baule (FRA) on 16 May returned positive for the banned substance Codeine and the controlled medication substance Morphine. The horse’s sample also showed traces of Oripavine, but not at a sufficiently high level for the testing laboratory to declare a positive. Samples taken from Charivari KG at the CSIOY (Young Riders) in Deauville (FRA) on 8 May returned positive for the banned substances Codeine and Oripavine and the controlled medication substance Morphine.

The two athletes, Guerdat and Bichsel, were notified of the positives on 20 July and both immediately requested the lifting of the provisional suspensions. Although the FEI Tribunal lifted the provisional suspensions on the riders on 27 July, requests for the lifting of the provisional suspensions on the three horses were denied at that time.

The FEI Tribunal subsequently responded to Guerdat’s request for a further decision regarding the lifting of the provisional suspensions on his horses to be taken by today, 10 August, the closing date for definite entries for the FEI European Jumping Championships 2015 in Aachen (GER).

As a result of today’s FEI Tribunal decision to maintain the provisional suspensions of the horses, although Guerdat is eligible to compete in Aachen, he will not be able to ride Nino des Buissonnets, one of his horses declared for the championships and will need to select an alternative pre-declared horse.

Decisions on the full merits of the cases will be made at a later stage.

FEI Media contacts:

Grania Willis
Director Media Relations
Grania.willis@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 42

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
ruth.grundy@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 45

FEI Tribunal Lifts Provisional Suspensions on Guerdat and Bichsel

Lausanne (SUI), 27 July 2015 – The FEI Tribunal has lifted the provisional suspensions on Swiss Jumping riders Steve Guerdat and Alessandra Bichsel, following preliminary hearings for the two riders at the end of last week. The lifting of the provisional suspensions will come into force today, 27 July at midnight CEST (Swiss time).

The FEI Tribunal’s decision is mainly based on the scientific evidence presented by the persons responsible (the athletes) which suggests the likelihood of food contamination.

Both riders had been provisionally suspended after horses on which they were competing tested positive for prohibited substances, including banned substances.

Samples taken at the CSIO5* at La Baule (FRA) on 17 May from the horse Nino des Buissonnets (FEI ID FRA45550), ridden by Steve Guerdat, returned positive for the banned substances Codeine and Oripavine, and the controlled medication substance Morphine.

Samples taken at the CSIO5* at La Baule on 16 May from the horse Nasa (FEI ID FRA45675), ridden by Steve Guerdat, returned positive for the banned substance Codeine and the controlled medication substance Morphine. The horse’s sample also showed traces of Oripavine, but not at a sufficiently high level for the testing laboratory to declare a positive for the substance.

Samples taken at the CSIOY (Young Riders) in Deauville (FRA) on 8 May from the horse Charivari KG (FEI ID 102ZB26), ridden by Alessandra Bichsel, returned positive for the banned substances Codeine and Oripavine, and the controlled medication substance Morphine.

A preliminary hearing was held via teleconference on Thursday 23 July to hear Steve Guerdat’s request to lift the provisional suspension imposed on him and the two horses Nino des Buissonnets and Nasa.

A preliminary hearing was held via teleconference the following day, Friday 24 July to hear Alessandra Bichsel’s request to lift the provisional suspension imposed on her and the horse Charivari KG.

While the FEI Tribunal lifted the provisional suspensions on the two riders, requests for the lifting of the provisional suspension on the three horses were denied. The Tribunal found that irrespective of the source of the prohibited substances, banned substances had been found in the system of the horses and it is the FEI’s established policy to impose a provisional suspension period of two months in such cases.

Today’s decisions purely ruled on the lifting of the provisional suspensions. Decisions on the merits of the cases will be made at a later stage.

FEI media contact:

Malina Gueorguiev
Manager Press Relations
malina.gueorguiev@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 33

Guerdat Claims the Longed-for Longines Trophy at Last

Las Vegas (USA), 19 April 2015 – Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat was a happy man when claiming the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2015 title at the Thomas & Mack arena in Las Vegas, USA today. “I’ve been waiting a long time for this moment!” said the 32-year-old Olympic champion whose last-to-go ride was an absolute thriller.

He came into today’s drama-filled final competition sharing the lead with America’s Rich Fellers, but it was French rider Penelope Leprevost who lined up second at the end of the day, while 19-year-old Irish talent, Bertram Allen finished third.

“I’ve been trying a long time to win this and I’ve come close many times. It’s the third time I was in the lead going into the final competition, and today I nearly messed it up again! Coming to the last I was riding more like a cow-horse rider,” Guerdat said afterwards. “I’m so happy, I feel blessed!”

Six clear rounds

With riders going in reverse order of merit, there were only six clears from a start-list of 29 over another tough course from Anthony D’Ambrosio in the first round today. The vertical at fence nine claimed a number of victims but there were also plenty of faults posted later on the track, with horses beginning to fade after three days of demanding jumping.

One of the features of the 2015 Final has been the remarkable performances of the younger generation, and it was 24-year-old Douglas Lindelow from Sweden, lying 12th with Casello, who was first to leave all the poles in place. The Netherlands’ Maikel van der Vleuten and VDL Groep Verdi immediately followed suit and when America’s Beezie Madden (Simon) and Belgium’s Jos Verlooy (Domino), who each carried six penalty points into the last day, were also fault-free, they shot up the leaderboard, while Penelope Leprevost (Vagabond de la Pomme) carrying five penalties, put the pressure on the top three when also foot-perfect.

Bertram Allen and Molly Malone were just one penalty point behind the leaders as the day began, but they began to look vulnerable when the massive 1.75m-wide oxer at fence five hit the floor. And when Guerdat jumped clear, but joint-leader Fellers had two fences down, the Swiss star went into the second round still on a clean sheet. With Leprevost and Allen now lying joint-second with five faults apiece, he had a fence in hand as the second round began. But things didn’t go quite to plan for the eventual champion this time out.

Faulted once more

Both Leprevost and Allen faulted once more to put them on a nine-fault final total, and it seemed the Longines 2015 title must surely already be in Guerdat’s grasp. But the crowd gripped their seats and gasped when his chestnut mare, Albfuehren’s Paille, hit the first element of the double at five. And then it almost completely unravelled for the Swiss star on the turn to the last.

“I don’t really want to think about it!” he said afterwards. “I didn’t expect the first mistake; those four strides (from fence 4 to 5a) turned out to be very, very long, and that triple combination wasn’t good for me at all, but once we were past that I thought now stay calm. But coming to the last I knew the time was tight. I could hear Martin Fuchs outside the arena saying ‘go, go!’ and I don’t know what I did. I just went as fast as I could to the finish line, but unfortunately there was a big fence in the way!” he said with a laugh.

The last fence indeed hit the floor with crash, and it was only his ferocious gallop to get through the beam inside the 68 seconds time-allowed that saved the day. If he had added a single time fault to the eight fence penalties he had just collected, would have been forced into a three-way jump-off against Leprevost and Allen. And he has endured too many unsuccessful FEI World Cup™ Final jump-offs before to make that an enticing prospect.

Leprevost’s faster time of 65.30 with Vagabond de la Pomme secured runner-up spot while Allen had to settle for third when a half-second slower.

A real fighter

Guerdat described his winning ride, Albfuehren’s Paille, as “a real fighter; today a lot of horses were really struggling but every time she sees a fence she wants to jump it, no matter what.”

Today’s victory is particularly sweet for the new champion. “I’ve been three times on the podium, twice in the jump-off and always finished in the top 10. I always wanted to win this,” Guerdat said. Talking about his determination to eventually succeed, having competed at 10 finals, he said, “I have good people around me who keep me calm and confident and keep me going. You need a little bit of luck; you have to keep believing in yourself and your horse and if you come so close so many times you deserve to win it one time!”

For further information on the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final 2014/2015 in Las Vegas, USA from 15 to 19 April, visit www.worldcuplasvegas.com or contact Press Officer Marty Baumann, marty@classic-communications.com, +1 508 698 6810.

Full result here.

Facts and Figures:

Olympic champion, Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat, won the 37th Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final 2015 in Las Vegas, USA today.

29 horse-and-rider combinations started the final class which consisted of two rounds over two different courses.

20 went through to the second round.

Time-allowed in round 1 was 71 seconds, in round 2 it was 68 seconds

6 clears in the opening round, no clears in the second round today.

Riders competed in reverse order of merit in both rounds.

The new Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping champion, Steve Guerdat, stood on the podium three times previously – he was third with Tresor at the 2007 Final in Las Vegas, second in 2012 with Nino des Buissonnets in Den Bosch (NED) and second again in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2013 with Nino des Buissonnets.

74,390 spectators attended the FEI World Cup™ Finals at the Thomas & Mack arena in Las Vegas, USA this week.

Quotes:

FEI First Vice-President and Chair Jumping Committee, John Madden – “My impression of this event is wow! It’s been a fantastic week of fantastic sport. The drama in the final, such close competition and such movement on the leaderboard. The horses jumped really well and almost anything could have happened in that last round!”

Beezie Madden USA, who finished fourth – “I have a fantastic team behind me and I’m so happy with the way my horse went. One rail down today cost me a lot but it’s been a fantastic week. I want to thank Las Vegas and Longines because we’ve all had a great time.”

Steve Guerdat SUI, talking about his choice of horse for this year’s Final – “Paille has always had very good results. We had a great winter season; every 5-Star Grand Prix but Bordeaux was clear rounds and so I decided she should make the trip to Vegas, saving Nino (his Olympic ride) for the European Championships.”

Penelope Leprevost FRA – “Mine is a nice horse with a good mind, and it was all easy for her this week.”

Bertram Allen IRL – “I knew I was in with a reasonable chance this week; thankfully it went really well to plan and it’s great to be on the podium today.”

Steve Guerdat SUI – “My horse belongs to Albfuehrens Stud, they have a hotel and restaurant in Germany but it’s only 40 minutes from my place, over the border in Switzerland. They bought the horse three years ago and someone else rode her. I was very lucky when they asked me to take over the ride.”

Bertram Allen IRL – “In the first round I made a mistake but felt she (Molly Malone) jumped quite good, but the second round was a bad round – I got much too close to fence two. But I’m very happy to be here. I’ve had a great week and feel honoured to be sitting up her with these riders at this young age.”

Steve Guerdat SUI – “I want Thomas Fuchs to come and have a drink with me, he is the most important man in my life and I love him to bits.”

FEI YouTubehttps://youtu.be/a5wz55gI42M.

By Louise Parkes

Media Contacts:

At Las Vegas:

Marty Baumann
Press Officer
marty@classic-communications.com
+1 508 698 6810

At FEI:

Grania Willis
Director Media Relations
Grania.willis@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 42

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
ruth.grundy@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 45

Guerdat Gallops to Victory in Second-Round Thriller

Steve Guerdat won the thrilling second round of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2015 Final with Albfuehren’s Paille. (FEI/Dirk Caremans)

Las Vegas (USA), 17 April 2015 – Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat showed exactly why he’s the reigning Olympic champion when coming out on top in the gripping second round of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2015 Final at the Thomas & Mack arena in Las Vegas, USA tonight. Anthony D’Ambrosio’s course proved very tough indeed, and just six of the 32 starters qualified for the jump-off against the clock in which the 32-year-old rider and his 12-year-old mare, Albufuehren’s Paille, clinched it with a superb run when second-last to go.

It was a thriller from the outset, and with the crowd getting behind every competitor the atmosphere was electrifying. The home supporters had even more to cheer about when four of the six to jump first-round clears were flying the US flag, 2013 champions, Beezie Madden and Simon, filling second spot at the end of the night ahead of Lucy Davis and Barron in third, while the 2012 champions, Rich Fellers and Flexible, finished fourth. Norway’s Geir Gulliksen and Edesa S Banjan lined up fifth ahead of America’s McLain Ward and Rothchild in sixth.

Proven right

Course designer, Anthony D’Ambrosio, accurately predicted the number that would make it into the jump-off, but those spots were hard-earned as his first track took a heavy toll. Poles fell all around the course, with the line from the triple bar at seven to the following double – vertical to oxer – claiming plenty of victims. But it was the penultimate triple combination of two big oxers followed by a vertical that was the bogey of the night. A total of 16 horses faulted here, and D’Ambrosio said afterwards, “There was a difficult choice of distances, and either choice needed to be executed to perfection. Many of those who chose to go on six strides ended up without enough impulsion at the middle element, and I was surprised more didn’t go for the five.”

Last into the ring first time out were Thursday’s Speed-leg winners Bertram Allen and Molly Malone, and they went on the five strides here, clearing the two big oxers only to lower the final vertical. However, with the quickest four faults, the 19-year-old Irishman slotted into seventh place to keep himself well in contention going into Sunday’s finale when his mare may well feel the benefit of not having had to return to the ring for a second time tonight.

Against the clock

Gulliksen led the way against the clock, faulting at the third-last, and Davis showed there was plenty of room for improvement on his time of 40.06 when she shaved almost eight seconds off that with a brilliant round from Barron that went perfectly to plan until they lost their distance to the final fence and left that on the floor.

Third to go, Madden produced the first clear in 33.31 seconds, but it wasn’t all plain sailing as she explained. “I can be fastest with Simon on the turns, and I angled the liverpool (second fence on this track) but he lost his footing to the skinny (following vertical) and I had to do an extra stride to the double as a result. I felt a bit rattled, but we picked it up and I thought we did pretty well in the end,” she said.

Ward was next to go, but his round fell apart when Rothchild ground to a halt at the skinny vertical, third fence on the course, and they completed with 18 faults on the board. In stark contrast, however, Guerdat’s tour of the track was as smooth as a bar of Swiss chocolate, the mare who helped him win the Western European League qualifying series with a last-leg victory in Gothenburg, Sweden last month, breaking the beam in 32.87 seconds to take the lead. And when, last to go, Flexible hit the first fence, Fellers was only challenging for a strong four-fault result as he raced home in 32.80 seconds.

As many points as possible

Guerdat said the courses so far have been very tough. “We will have to see which horses recover best after the last two days. Stamina will count for a lot now, they need to be in top shape to jump again on Sunday,” he pointed out. And Madden agreed. “Now it comes down to clear round jumping and speed doesn’t count so much. There’s usually a lot of movement in placings on the last day, and in a small indoor like this, well anything can happen!” she said.

The Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping title is one that has eluded Guerdat, and it’s been a pretty frustrating experience. “In 2012 I went into a jump-off with Rich and he won, and in 2013 it was a jump-off with Beezie and she won, and then last year I was leading going into the final day and I messed up again!” he said with a laugh tonight. So maybe this time lady luck will be on his side, but we have to wait until Sunday to find out.

And with results turned into points after the first two competitions, it’s going to be edge-of-the-seat excitement to the very end, because Guerdat and Fellers now share the lead on a zero score, closely followed by Bertram Allen carrying just one penalty point while Penelope Leprevost from France is next in line with five. It’s still very much all to play for before the destination of the 2015 Longines title is decided.

For further information on the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final 2014/2015 in Las Vegas, USA from 15 to 19 April, visit www.worldcuplasvegas.com or contact Press Officer Marty Bauman, marty@classic-communications.com, +1 508 698 6810.

Full result here.

Overall rankings ahead of Sunday’s final competition here.

Facts and Figures:

Course designer, America’s Anthony D’Ambrosio, presented another 13-fence track for tonight’s second competition in the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2014/2015 Final at the Thomas & Mack arena in Las Vegas, USA.

The time-allowed in the first round was 73 seconds.

The bogey fence on the track was the penultimate triple combination.

35 horse-and-rider combinations started in tonight’s class.

16 countries were represented.

5 horse-and-rider combinations qualified for the thrilling second-round jump-off won by Olympic champion Steve Guerdat from Switzerland riding Albfuehren’s Paille.

The youngest horse in the competition was the eight-year-old mare KS Corradina, ridden by Latvia’s Andis Varna.

The oldest horse competing was the 19-year-old stallion Flexible, who was lying second with his American rider Rich Fellers as the competition began and who finished fourth tonight but goes into Sunday’s finale sharing the lead with Guerdat on a zero score after the results of the first two competitions were converted into points.

Ireland’s Bertram Allen, winner of Thursday’s opening competition, lies third going into Sunday’s decider, carrying just a single penalty point.

The Jumping horses have a rest day tomorrow, but tonight’s three top riders, Guerdat, Madden, and Davis, will be back in the arena because they will be teaming up with three National Reined Cow Horse Association riders for a special exhibition, “The Duel in the Desert”, in which they will ride cow horses while their team-mates take up the challenge of jumping fences.

Quotes:

Steve Guerdat SUI, talking about his mare, Albfuehren’s Paille: “She came to me 10 months ago with two other horses from Albfuehrens; she’d already been quite successful for another rider. She has a great character and she’s a big fighter. She doesn’t do a big show over the fences but she has jumped a lot of clear rounds over the winter. She’s jumped clear in seven or eight Grand Prix. I’m very pleased to have her.”

Lucy Davis USA: “I was in 16th going into today so there was no room for being conservative. I went as fast as I could without totally unravelling my horse for Sunday. I wasn’t clear, but I’m glad to move up the leaderboard. I’m not as close to the top as I was hoping; now I will just try to jump clear rounds.”

Steve Guerdat SUI: “I planned to pick up as many points as possible today. In the jump-off I had to try to catch Beezie, and I’m very happy how it worked out.”

Lucy Davis USA, talking about her ride down to the influential triple combination in the first round today: “I planned to do six (strides) but after watching people struggle I decided to switch to five, my horse has a big stride and a lot of scope and he handled it perfectly.”

Steve Guerdat SUI: “I love this show; for a few years it didn’t come back to Las Vegas. I think shows in Europe have a lot to learn from the way they do things here, and a lot of the European riders have asked me what it is like. I tell them it’s so good – the atmosphere, the music, the spectators are happy and laughing and cheering for every horse – it’s all about entertainment for the crowd and I think it’s great; I really like it.”

FEI YouTube:

Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final 2014/15 Las Vegas – Steve Guerdat – YouTube – https://youtu.be/LrJYZgiw1kM.

Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final 2014/15 Las Vegas – Final 2 News – YouTube – https://youtu.be/OTVqOlObSUU.

By Louise Parkes

Media Contacts:

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Marty Baumann
Press Officer
marty@classic-communications.com
+1 508 698 6810

At FEI:

Grania Willis
Director Media Relations
Grania.willis@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 42

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
ruth.grundy@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 45