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BENGTSSON BAGS THE HONOURS IN THE LAST QUALIFIER AT ‘S-HERTOGENBOSCH
‘s-Hertogenbosch (NED) 28 March 2010 – Sweden’s Rolf-Goran Bengtsson scorched to victory in the last qualifying leg of the Rolex FEI World Cup Jumping series at ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands today when pipping Ireland’s Jessica Kuerten by the smallest of margins. In a thrilling 16-horse jump-off that kept spectators rooted to their seats it was Kuerten who seemed to have set an impossibly fast target for the rest when eighth to go against the clock. But the coolest of cool Swedes cruised home to shave one-tenth of a second off her time when last to go with his 11 year old stallion Casall la Silla.
Australia’s Edwina Alexander and Cevo Itot du Chateau slotted into third ahead of Ludger Beerbaum and Gotha in fourth while fifth place went to The Netherlands’ Piet Raijmakers Jnr. whose father, Piet Senior, officially retired from international competition today and was honoured in an emotional ceremony after the World Cup class concluded. In front of the packed stadium British legend John Whitaker told Raijmakers Senior “you were a very hard man to beat and you never gave up – until now!” whlle the Dutch veteran commented that “my riding career been a beautiful holiday for the last 35 years – now I must actually go to work!”
The 13-fence course designed by Holland’s Louis Konickx proved a little too jumpable and allowed 16 through to the second-round jump-off which consequently turned into a relentless gallop against the clock. But if there is one partnership that gets high on speed it’s Jessica Kuerten and Lady Georgina Forbes’ brilliant mare Castle Forbes Libertina who set off at a break-neck pace when eighth to go against the clock, and they shattered the target of 35.06 seconds set by Raijmakers Jnr when breaking the beam in 32.60 seconds. Germany’s Marcus Ehning and Noltes Kuchengirl hit the very last fence while French rider Penelope Leprevost and Mylord Carthago hit the penultimate oxer, but Edwina Alexander and Itot du Chateau were foot-perfect to temporarily slot into runner-up spot – the size of the jump produced by this spring-heeled little chestnut at the final oxer drawing gasps of excitement from the crowd.
Ben Maher’s chances disappeared when Robin Hood clipped the second fence while Dutchman Harrie Smolders and Exquis Powerfree clipped the first element of the double three from home, although their time was the quickest of the day as they broke the beam in 32.35 seconds. With just three left to go Ludger Beerbaum set off on a fabulous tour of the track with his nine year old mare Gotha who has been increasing in confidence all season and returned a competitive clear in 33.47 seconds to ensure a prominent place in the final line-up, and when reigning World Champion Jos Lansink from Belgium hit the Rolex vertical, now third on the track, only Bengtsson could prevent Kuerten – winner at both Leipzig and Gothenburg – from making it a hat-trick of wins in the 2009/2010 Rolex FEI World Cup Jumping series.
Even Bengtsson thought it was all done and dusted. “I watched Jessica’s ride on the screen and thought it was impossible to beat a horse so sensationally fast,” he said afterwards. “I knew it would be difficult to make the same seven strides from fence one to fence two but I thought I’d try – it was very long, but we made it – my horse has a long, slow canter so he is difficult to adjust and my job was to stay focused and to keep him jumping off that long stride, and then I got a great shot to the last and that was it!” he added, making it all sound very elementary. This great result however has not earned the master horseman a starting spot in the final as he is lying 24th on the series table and only the top-20 are qualified.
For Kuerten today was another triumph, even if she had to settle for runner-up spot. She has amassed a massive 90 points and heads the Western European League table with a nine-point advantage over next-best rider, Germany’s Marco Kutscher. She knows she is now a strong favourite to take the title in Switzerland in just over two weeks’ time after an exceptional run of form that included five more top placings at this weekend’s Dutch fixture. She’s not enjoying the pressure that puts on her however and insisted today that, although her three great mares are on top form, she prefers a single-competition challenge to the three-day test of a World Cup Final. And she is feeling particularly protective of Castle Forbes Libertina who is not long back in work after a seven-month injury layoff. “I think I will take her to Geneva but I am not finally decided,” she said.
For Bengtsson, Casall la Silla’s victory is the result of a patient wait for him to mature into a truly competitive jumper. “I spent a long time building him up through young horses’ classes and I never pushed him to do anything before he was ready – I’m profiting from that now. For the last three-quarters of a year he has been more and more consistent in jump-offs and I can trust him more to go quick and stay focused – we’ve had a very, very good late season,” he explained. Today he brought that great season to the perfect conclusion.
RESULT: 1, Casall La Silla (Rolf-Goran Bengtsson) Swe 0/0 32.50; 2, Castle Forbes Libertina (Jessica Kuerten) Irl 0/0 32.60; 3, Cevo Itot du Chateau (Edwina Alexander) Aus 0/0 33.32; 4, Gotha (Ludger Beerbaum) Ger 0/0 33.47; 5, Van Schijndel’s Rascin (Piet Raijmakers Jr) Ned 0/0 35.06; 6, Opium VS (Marc Houtzager) Ned 0/0 38.42; 7, Caramell KS (Svante Johansson) Swe 0/0 40.47; 8, Exquis Powerfree (Harrie Smolders) Ned 0/4 32.35; 9, Noltes Kuchengirl (Marcus Ehning) Ger 0/4 33.72; 10, Mylord Carthago (Penelope Leprevost) Fra 0/4 34.30; 11, Robin Hood (Ben Maher) GBR 0/4 34.30; 12, Audi’s Alpapillon-Armanie (Vincent Voorn) Ned 0/4 37.08; 13, Valentina Van’t Heike (Jos Lansink) Bel 0/4 38.33; 14, Primeval Wings (Gert-Jan Bruggink) Ned 0/8 31.71:15, Ukinda (Hugo Simon) Aut 0/8 34.45; 16, Peu a Peu (Daniel Etter) Sui 0/8 35.02. Full results at: www.scg-nl.nl.
ROLEX FEI WORLD CUP JUMPING 2009/2010 – Western European League Standings after Round 13 at ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands:
1. Jessica Kuerten – 90
2. Marco Kutscher – 81
3. Pius Schwizer – 77
4. Edwina Alexander – 75
5. Marcus Ehning – 74
6. Rodrigo Pessoa – 71
7. Ludger Beerbaum – 67
8. Kevin Staut – 59
9. Beat Mandli – 57
10. Eric van der Vleuten – 57
11. Philipp Weishaupt – 57
12. Patrice Deleveau – 55
13. Penelope Leprevost – 54
14. Michael Whitaker – 51
15. Daniel Etter – 50
16. Svante Johansson – 49
17. Luciana Diniz – 48
18. Dermott Lennon – 43
19. Natale Chiaudani – 43
20. Steve Guerdat – 39.
Complete standings at www.feiworldcup.org.
Facts and Figures:
A total of 16 horses and riders qualified for the second-round jump-off
5 of the top ten horses in today’s winning line-up were stallions – including Rolf-Goran Bengtsson’s 11 year old Casall La Silla
There were 4 four mares in the top ten line-up also
Both Brazil’s Rodrigo Pessoa (6th) and Australia’s Edwina Alexander (4th) finished the qualifying season in the top 20 on the Western European League leaderboard. However they do not take the place of Western European League riders so Italy’s Natale Chiaudani and Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat take the last two qualifying places at present.
FEI Jumping Director John Roche – “I want to thank the organising committee here at ‘s-Hertogenbosch for a fantastic job, BMC for all their help and Rolex for their support without which this series would not take place.”
Rolf-Goran Bengtsson, talking about his failure to qualify for the final – “Sweden only had one spot early in the season at the qualifying rounds and I was fourth in Stuttgart but then had a fence down next time and several more shows with one down – that’s just the way it goes sometimes.”
Rolf-Goran Bengtsson, talking about his winning ride, Casall la Silla – “he likes to be the boss at home but once he is at a show he is much more settled and much easier to handle.”
CALENDAR OF EVENTS FOR WESTERN EUROPEAN LEAGUE: 1, Oslo (Norway) 9-11 October; 2, Helsinki (Finland) 15-18 October; 3, Lyon (FRA) 28 Oct-1 November; 4, Verona (Italy) 5-8 November; 5, Stuttgart (Germany) 15-22 November; 6, London-Olympia (Great Britain) 15-21 December; 7, Mechelen (Belgium) 26-30 December; 8, Leipzig (Germany) 21-24 January; 9, Zurich (SUI) 28-31 January; 10, Bordeaux (France) 5-7 February; 11, Vigo (Spain) 11-14 February; 12, Gothenburg (Sweden) 25-28 February; 13, s’Hertogenbosch (The Netherlands) 25-28 March; FINAL – Geneva (Switzerland) 14-18 April.
Broadcast Schedule can be downloaded from www.feiworldcup.org.
FEI World Cup Jumping has entered its 32nd season. The series, created in 1978, today comprises 14 leagues on all continents. The best riders from 121 preliminary competitions will qualify for the final in Geneva, Switzerland which takes place from 14-18 April 2008.
The Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI), founded in 1921, is the international body governing equestrian sport recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and includes 133 National Federations.
Equestrian sport has been on the Olympic programme since 1912 with three disciplines – Jumping, Dressage and Eventing. It is one of the very few sports in which men and women compete on equal terms. It is also the only sport which involves two athletes – horse and rider. The FEI has relentlessly concerned itself with the welfare of the horse, which is paramount and must never be subordinated to competitive or commercial influences.
Denise Van der Net
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