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Sweden Takes Command in Compiègne

Antonia Ramel (SWE) and Curiosity. (FEI/Laurent Zabulon)

Heading into the final day of competition at the FEI Dressage Nations Cup™ in Compiègne (FRA), it was apparent it would take a monumental shift in momentum for Sweden to relinquish its grasp on the lead. Still, the dominance with which the squad of Juliette Ramel (Buriel K.H.), Antonia Ramel (Curiosity), and Patrik Kittel (Touchdown), led by Chef d’Equipe Jo Bena, executed victory was eye-opening. When Kittel and Touchdown received an 82.025 percent score for their Freestyle, it left Sweden’s final margin of victory at 32 points. Spain (48 points) finished second, with Belgium (51 points) third.

The win marked the third for Sweden at Compiègne in the last five years, having also triumphed in 2018 and 2021.

“We were a bit ahead of the others this time, and I’m very happy about that. They are doing so well in the ring and also in their training, and it looks very promising for the future,” said Chef d’Equipe Jo Bena (SWE).

Each point was equal to an athlete’s placing, with lower numbers reflecting top performances. All athletes competed in Saturday’s Grand Prix before splitting across Sunday’s Grand Prix Special and Grand Prix Freestyle tests, with the three best results tallied. No Swedish rider received a point tally in double digits, with all three making the podium in at least one test. After recording just 10 points from the Grand Prix, Sweden was even more dominant on Sunday, adding just six points to their score. While Kittel was the highest placing Nations Cup rider in the Grand Prix Freestyle, Juliet Ramel finished second in the Special (75.277%), with Antonia Ramel just behind her in third (72.043%).

“The horses have done very fault-free tests, and if there have been small faults, we have still be able to pick it up with high points,” Kittel said. “I think that’s what I’m most happy with. The thing is: the horses have all just been there for us through the entire weekend.”

Sweden put forth a squad of veteran riders — each an Olympic veteran — but the horses brought forward were mixed in experience. Touchdown had only performed two previous Freestyle tests at the CDI5* level and had never before contested a CDIO event. Curiosity, formerly trained in jumping, is also new to the level, having represented Sweden in one previous Nations Cup event at Aachen (GER).

“He’s been with me for a long time,” Antonia said. “He was in the beginning a jumping horse, which he did until he was six. I’ve educated him on my own, and I’ve had him now for seven years.”

With three appearances in the Olympic Games and a bronze medal from the European Championships, Buriel K.H. stood tall as the equine veteran of the group. The gelding performed with remarkable consistency, recording just 3 points in the Grand Prix (75.391%) and two points in the Grand Prix Special.

“He’s an amazing character. He always has my back,” Juliette said. “I’ve had him since he was 7; now he’s 16. So we’ve had a long partnership.”

Sweden’s win put them atop the standings for the 2022 FEI Dressage Nations Cup™ season with 15 points. Spain sits second with 13 points, two ahead of Belgium (11 points). The FEI Dressage Nations Cup™ returns 23-26 June in Rotterdam (BEL).

“It means a lot [to start the season strongly]. It’s always good to have a victory in a five-star Nations Cup to start with, and then we can go on with the rest,” Bena said. “And we have been lucky and also good, I would say, [in previous years], because we have won in Compiègne before. We like it very much here.”

By Catie Staszak

FEI Media Contact:

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

New FEI Solidarity Relief Fund initiatives for Ukraine launched in May 2022

Photo: Ukraine’s Diana Borovyk and Baby Royal at the FEI Dressage European Championships 2021 for Youth in Oliva (ESP) © Lukasz Kowalski.

A recent visit by a Ukrainian delegation at the FEI Sports Forum 2022 in Lausanne sees additional initiatives and projects approved for funding by the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund.

Established in February 2022, the dedicated CHF 1 Million FEI Solidarity Relief Fund for Ukraine has been actively supporting a number of equestrian related schemes across Ukraine and neighbouring nations receiving Ukrainian horses and athletes. This includes, among others, the creation of a logistical hub in Granat (UKR), located between Lviv and the Polish border, to prepare horses for transfer into the European Union; funding and distribution to regional hubs of critical horse supplies such as feed and bedding; and the emergency evacuation of a Vaulting team.

In order to deliver the aid efficiently and have the desired impact in situ, the FEI has been working hand in hand with the Ukrainian Equestrian Federation (UEF) and the UEF Charity Foundation, with FEI President and Chair of the Solidarity Committee Ingmar De Vos (BEL) referring to their Ukrainian colleagues as their “eyes and ears on the ground.”

For the FEI and the Ukrainian delegation, headed up by Secretary General Mykhailo Parkhomchuk from the Ukrainian Equestrian Federation (UEF) and accompanied by members from both the UEF and the Charity Foundation, this recent in-person visit provided a platform to discuss the priorities, review ongoing support systems in place, but also establish new programmes and set long term objectives for Ukraine and the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund.

Following these discussions, among the programmes being launched in Ukraine throughout May, four new athlete scholarships have been allocated; bespoke veterinary supplies have been sourced and prepared for dispatch; as well as financing for the purchase of 80 temporary horse boxes in order to support the setup of additional horse hubs in Ukraine.

Based on the existing FEI Solidarity Athlete Scholarship scheme, two Ukrainian Jumping athletes – Oleksandr Prodan and Anastasia Bondarieva – and two Ukrainian Dressage athletes – Danylo Konovalov and Diana Borovyk – have been selected to receive the scholarship grant to support training and competition related preparation with the ultimate goal of representing Ukraine at FEI Championships in 2022 and 2023.

Aged between 17 and 24, they were already competing at international level before the onset of the war, but the current circumstances meant they had to put many of their aspirations on hold. For Diana Borovyk, having survived the blockade of Sumy and taking up residence in her local equestrian centre to be with her horses while the war raged around her, being able to continue training and competing is “a dream come true.” She has also received a personal invitation to participate in a Young Riders Class at the CHIO Aachen Festival 2022, where she has every intention of showing her sporting determination and perseverance in the face of adversity.

The dedicated emergency veterinary supplies, which are being packaged into specialised kits and dispatched to strategic locations around Ukraine, include over the counter as well as prescription medication so the veterinarians onsite have all the necessary supplies to care for the horses remaining in the country. The bespoke veterinary kits have been sourced through the FEI Veterinary Department and are entirely funded by the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Ukraine Relief Fund, which is supplementing the FEI Solidarity Fund with 100 percent of all donations raised being distributed through the FEI to ensure effective and targeted use of the funds.

The USEF Ukraine Relief Fund has already reached over 100,000 USD and continues to work closely with US based philanthropic organisations to leverage their fundraising networks to support the horses and people of Ukraine.

In addition to the existing horse hub in Granat which was financed by the FEI to prepare all the necessary documentation for horses to cross the border and has been operational since March, the FEI is now working with the UEF Charity Foundation to supply 80 horseboxes to two new hubs which are being built to allow horses to remain safely in Ukraine. The new hubs are located near existing stables so the horses will have access to all the necessary infrastructures and can continue to train in good conditions.

These last two initiatives are especially relevant given the unknown when it comes to the duration of the conflict and the need to work together to keep horses and athletes safe in Ukraine. For FEI President Ingmar De Vos (BEL), there is a clear progression in the support structure and goals of the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund. “At the onset of the war, the FEI reacted quickly to the situation and set up the Solidarity Fund with the initial outreach aimed at sourcing and funding for immediate and vital supplies as well as evacuation related procedures, unaware of how long the conflict would perdure and how devastating it would be.

“We have now reached a point where we can be more strategic because we have the systems in place, so the meetings in Lausanne with the Ukrainian delegation at the end of April were really fruitful, and we can already see several programmes and initiatives launched as a result.

“The initiatives are a mix of short to mid-term objectives aimed at keeping individuals and horses safe and well in Ukraine, but also long-term future proofing to ensure the sport is not entirely put on hold and can recover after the war. It has been awe-inspiring to see the global equestrian community come together to support Ukraine and we will continue to do everything in our power to maximise the reach of the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund to help the equestrian community and the horse lovers of Ukraine.”

About the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund:

The FEI set aside a CHF 1 Million Solidarity Relief Fund for the equestrian community in Ukraine, following the invasion by Russian military forces. The allocation was approved by the FEI Executive Board during a meeting convened on 28 February 2022, where members also unanimously condemned the invasion and agreed to remove all international equestrian events in Russia and Belarus from the 2022 FEI calendar. The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) has also joined forces with the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund, establishing the USEF Ukraine Relief Fund to Support Ukraine horses and equestrians, with 100% of funds raised going to the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund to be distributed by the FEI.

About the UEF Charity Foundation:

The Charity Foundation is registered in Belgium and its mission is to help the Ukrainian equestrian community during the crisis. The Foundation works closely with the FEI and national equestrian federations. For all the latest information and activities, visit https://helpukrainehorses.eu/.

Media contact:

Olivia Robinson
Director, Communications
olivia.robinson@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 35

Swiss Team Prove Age Is No Barrier in Eventing with Nations Cup Win

L to R: Beat Sax, Mélody Johner, Nadja Minder, Robin Godel, and Chef d’equipe Dominik Burger. (FEI/Richard Juilliart)

It was a double victory for the Swiss, when Robin Godel’s Jumping clear round clinched the individual prize and a win for Team Switzerland. This was the first leg of the FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ and took place in Pratoni del Vivaro (ITA). France, who were overnight leaders going into the final day, finished a close second, and Sweden, who were overall winners of the Series in 2021, finished third. The home side Italy was fifth.

It was a tense finish after the French team left Godel no room for error in the Jumping phase. The 23-year-old athlete kept his cool on Grandeur de Lully CH, to incur just one time penalty which sealed the deal for his team. “I was very focused, but I tried to have only good pressure,” he said after his round. “It was an amazing week for the team. We did good on the cross-country; the four riders were very impressive and the horses gave all they had. For the World Championships it is exciting.”

Speaking about this as a test event for this year’s FEI World Championships for Eventing, Godel said, “It is amazing here; the ground is wonderful; I have never cantered on ground like this. For the World Championships, we want qualification for Paris (Olympics) and that’s the main focus and for sure we will be going for the podium too.”

Pratoni has proved a happy hunting ground for the Swiss, who won the Nations Cup here in 2019. The team this year consisted of two Nations Cup first timers: 62-year-old Beat Sax, who has just one horse to compete and has been eventing for 45 years, and 20-year-old Nadja Minder. They were joined by Tokyo Olympic riders Godel and Mélody Johner.

Six-time Olympian Andrew Nicholson has been coaching the Swiss team for several years and summed up their performance: “It was outstanding. They keep getting better, more confident, and are pulling together as a team. They are passionate and want to do it and they are making the younger ones hungry, which then pushes the older riders.”

Saturday’s Cross-Country shook up the leaderboard and left it tight at the top. Switzerland finished just 0.1 of a penalty behind France going into the final phase. Germany, who led the way after the dressage phase, was relegated to 9th after just two of their team members completed. Sweden, who was in eighth after the dressage, produced four strong Cross-Country performances to climb to third.

Pratoni del Vivaro will be hosting the FEI World Championships for Eventing and Driving, from 15-25 September. Course Designer Giuseppe della Chiesa and Director of the Championships concluded: “From a sports side the cross-country went well here this week. From the side of the organisation, there’s a lot to do yet but we are getting there, and it was very important to have this competition as a Nations Cup and also as a test event. The nature of the soil here is something unique. Horses love it and if it rains, it doesn’t change it and there are very few places in the world like that. It is an important venue as the Olympic venue in 1960 and is one of the very few Olympic venues which is still used for the same purpose.”

The FEI Nations Cup™ Eventing action moves to Houghton Hall (GBR) from 26-29 May, the second of nine events in the FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ Series.

Full results here.

by Eleanore Kelly

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

FEI Publishes Second Part of EHV-1 Report on 2021 Outbreak in Mainland Europe

Lausanne (SUI), 22 April 2022 — The FEI has published Part 2 of the Report into the 2021 outbreak of the neurological form of Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) in mainland Europe. This section of the Report focuses on the Return to Competition protocols put in place to ensure the safe resumption of FEI Events after the six-week FEI-imposed lockdown on international sport in Continental Europe.

Part 2 of the Report also focuses on the EHV-1 By-Laws and sanctioning system, and evaluates their effectiveness, along with the elements that were subsequently incorporated into the FEI Veterinary Regulations 2022 approved at the FEI Hybrid General Assembly in November 2021.

The 30-page Report (Part 2), together with over 200 pages of Annexes, has been produced by FEI Veterinary Director Dr Göran Åkerström and Grania Willis, former FEI Communications Director and now Executive Consultant to the FEI.

“It was important to take a really forensic look at the 2021 EHV-1 outbreak itself, and this was the basis of Part 1 of the Report, but it was equally important to review the Return to Competition measures post-lockdown,” Dr Åkerström said. “This is what we have done in Part 2, along with the related By-Laws and the resulting amendments to the FEI Regulations.

“Knowing how busy the members of our community are in their daily lives, we have simplified things to make the Report a more user-friendly experience by adding a dynamic Table of Contents, so that readers can go directly to the elements/sections they wish to read, as we did with Part 1 of the Report.”

Part 2 of the Report is published here, on a dedicated page within the Biosecurity Hub of the FEI website home to all the content related to the investigation into the 2021 outbreak in mainland Europe.

It sits alongside Part 1 of the Report published on 28 February 2021, which provides a comprehensive and factual picture of the outbreak, including the series of events, causes, roles, and responsibilities, and analysis.

Part 3 of the Report, elements of which will be presented at the FEI Sports Forum 2022 (25-26 April), will incorporate further risk mitigation of EHV-1, including conclusions from the scientific EHV-1 vaccination review commissioned by the FEI, and the suggested way forward. This concluding section of the Report, with the Sports Forum presentations incorporated as Annexes, will then be published as Part 3 in May 2022.

Media contacts:

Olivia Robinson
Director, Communications
olivia.robinson@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 35

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46+

Rodolpho Riskalla: “You can do the job even if you’re disabled”

Rodolpho Riskalla (BRA) riding Don Henrico at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games (© FEI/Liz Gregg)

The April edition of The Para Equestrian Digest is now out!

This month, Paralympic & World Championship medallist Rodolpho Riskalla (BRA) provides his views of what businesses can do to provide a more inclusive environment for people with disabilities.

About The Para Equestrian Digest

The FEI launched The Para Equestrian Digest in February 2022.  The online magazine was created for Para Equestrian athletes and the people connected to the sport so they can share – in their own words – their personal experiences and disability stories. Every month, the Digest will put the spotlight on an athlete or project in Para Equestrian sport with the aim of improving disability awareness and inclusion.

Previous editions of The Para Equestrian Digest: https://www.fei.org/stories/lifestyle/my-equestrian-life/para-equestrian-digest

March 2022: US Paralympian and 2021 FEI Against All Odds Award winner Beatrice De Lavalette talks about mental health and how she coped with losing both her legs in the airport terrorist attack in Brussels (BEL) on 22 March 2016.

February 2022: Five-time Paralympic gold medallist and two-time European Para Dressage champion Natasha Baker (MBE, OBE) talks about ableism and what can be done to change people’s attitudes towards disability.

Media contact:

Vanessa Martin Randin
Senior Manager, Media Relations & Communications
vanessa.randin@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 73

Fuchs Wins the Title with the Horse of His Heart

(L to R) runner-up Harrie Smolders (NED), winner Martin Fuchs (SUI), and third-placed Jens Fredricson (SWE). (FEI/Richard Juilliart)

Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs was rightly proud when standing top of the podium as winner of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2022 Final in Leipzig, Germany. He came so close to clinching the trophy at the last Final in 2019 when slotting in behind his compatriot and three-time champion Steve Guerdat, and as he said, “I’ve been a couple of times second in Championships, and you obviously have it in mind you could be second again with the best riders in the world coming after me today.”

But in the end, he and his trusty steed Chaplin were the only ones in the leading pack to stand firm in the closing stages. Chaplin gave him everything, and more, over two rounds of tough jumping in which only three of the 30 starters left both courses intact. When Sweden’s Jens Fredricson was one of those, he finished third behind The Netherlands’ Harrie Smolders who claimed the second step of the podium.

Held the lead

America’s McLain Ward held the lead as the final day began, but a first-round error with Contagious left the 2017 champion vulnerable. He shared a four-fault tally with Smolders as the second round got underway, with Fuchs stalking the two of them carrying just five and on level pegging with young British star Harry Charles riding Romeo.

But a pole off the first element of the triple combination second time out saw Charles lose his grip, and when Smolders’ gelding, Monaco, clipped the following vertical, then Fuchs was quickly moving up the order.

Ward had no leeway now when last to go; any mistake would see his advantage unravel, and when his 13-year-old gelding lowered the middle element of the triple combination and also the white planks three fences from home, Fuchs had it in the bag, becoming only the fourth Swiss rider in the long history of the FEI Jumping World Cup series to hold the trophy aloft.

He rode Chaplin in Thursday’s first competition but swapped for The Sinner in Friday’s second leg. “After having a rail down on Friday, I wasn’t so sure I had made the right plan. But then I was still sitting in third place, so I thought two clear rounds with Chaplin on Sunday and we’ll be on the podium.

“That I end up winning this prestigious and historical competition obviously is a dream come true. All the best of the best riders’ names are written on this trophy and now to add mine is fantastic!” he said. He is the second member of the Fuchs family to win it; his uncle Markus Fuchs took the title with the brilliant Tinka’s Boy back in 2001.

Upset

Talking about losing his lead in Friday’s competition but somehow holding on for victory, he said, “When I came out on Friday, I walked to the warm-up and was pretty upset, but then Steve said, ‘Congratulations, now you must win on Sunday after what you did today!’ In hindsight when I looked at the video of my round, I was very happy, though obviously I was a bit lucky that I ended the course with these four points. It was a good plan that Chaplin had two days of rest and came back today to produce two clear rounds”

This was Smolders’ second time to finish in runner-up spot; his last was partnering Emerald back in 2016 when Guerdat posted the first of his three wins. But the Dutchman was delighted with his horse. “This was his first Championship, and I wasn’t sure how it would be. We knew he could do it one day, but over three days it’s a totally different story. He was coping with it very easily, so I think this won’t be his last Championship,” the delighted Dutchman said.

Plenty to celebrate

Meanwhile, Jens Fredricson also had plenty to celebrate. The older brother of Swedish phenomenon Peder Fredricson never touched a pole, and although others may have been surprised to see him on the podium, he wasn’t a bit surprised himself. He was lying ninth as the day began, and he and his horse, Markan Cosmopolit, were in spectacular form.

“I had great expectations actually and I enjoyed every second; it’s fantastic to be here doing what I love!” he said.

He describes himself as a “hobby rider” but his CV would suggest he’s long been a serious contender with a lifetime of international successes behind him. “I work at Flyinge and Stromsholm. I’m responsible for the next generation of riding instructors in Sweden,” he explained.

His last time at an FEI World Cup Final was on home ground in Gothenburg in 2013, and he admitted he’s made quite a few changes to his riding style since then. Partly due to the influence of his younger brother, Peder.

“I had the advantage of watching him going up to World No. 1. We talked almost every day so even if I wasn’t at the shows, I was there mentally. I followed his thinking and his development and I tried to do the same things, and I’ve changed a little bit my approach to the fences, and I now have a horse with very big scope. So I can sit a bit more still and have a better style. Before I used to throw my heart over and then we went over together; now when I look at the videos of my riding and it looks quite okay! I’m blessed that I have such good contact with my little brother. One of the most fantastic things in our sport is that I’m 55 years old and getting better every day. If I was running 100 metres, I would be less good every day!” he said with a laugh.

He also pointed out how great it is to see the younger generation rising through the ranks. “You want young riders coming up; there are some in their 20s like Jack (Whitaker, GBR) and Harry (Charles, GBR) and others. It’s important to have positive young riders coming along with good horses; that’s how the sport develops and gets better,” he pointed out.

Biggest names

Fuchs of course is one of those, not yet 30 but already one of the very biggest names in the sport. Over the last five years he has rarely been off the podium at any of the majors, taking individual silver at the FEI World Equestrian Games in 2018, runner-up at the last World Cup Final in 2019, and following with individual European gold that same year before taking team gold and individual silver at the FEI European Championships in 2021. Now he’s topped all that by taking the trophy every rider treasures: the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup.

And he did it with the big, brave, and charming Chaplin who he calls “the horse of my heart!” Many of the Swiss rider’s biggest wins were achieved with his brilliant grey Clooney who he describes as “a superstar and the most talented horse I’ve ever had.” But Chaplin is also super-special.

“He is just the biggest fighter; he doesn’t have the ability that Clooney has, but at the end he always gives everything. It was nice in the past few weeks because we got a lot of photos of his first foals, because last year he started breeding with some mares, so in the last two weeks we have a lot of pictures of new Chaplin babies so that was exciting. And now to come here and win the World Cup Final with him….”

For sure that is a dream come true.

Result here.

by Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Bram Storms Round to Become FEI Driving World Cup Champion

L-R: Boyd Exell (AUS) in second place, Bram Chardon (NED) World Cup Champion, and Glenn Geerts (BEL) in third place. (FEI/Richard Juilliart)

In one of the tightest finals in recent history, Bram Chardon (NED) brilliantly held his nerve and clinched his second FEI Driving World Cup™ title in an exhilarating drive off against reigning champion Boyd Exell (AUS) and Glen Geerts (BEL). After a cat and mouse game of swapping positions between the two favourites, it was the 28-year-old soon-to-be father who triumphed in Leipzig.

“I was a bit disappointed about the two knock-downs and I thought I gave Boyd too much room to win. After Friday I was so confident and to have the two faults made me worry a little bit about my final position, but this is amazing and I am so happy!” said Chardon.

After the first round, held late on Friday night in the Leipziger Messe arena, Bram was ahead of Boyd by just under 8 seconds, so started Sunday’s second round on zero. Each driver carried over 50% of the difference between their score and Bram’s going into the final day and as the tension mounted, Boyd, with a penalty score of 3.78, stated, “It’s less than one ball down between us!”

Former champion Koos de Ronde (NED) was the first to drive Jeroen Houterman’s (NED) twisting course, the route unchanged since Friday but the position of some of the obstacles slightly altered. Koos had paid the price for his attacking approach on Friday, clocking up a penalty of 18.99 to carry forward. Back on his usual smooth form, he only nudged one ball, and in a time of 143.19 finished fifth on 166.18.  Next in was Mareike Harm (GER), the first female to compete in an indoor FEI Driving final. Her horses, who she also drives at outdoor events, were off pace in 155.51 and with one ball off, plus a penalty of 14.05, she dropped to seventh on 173.56.

Wild card driver Michael Brauchle (GER), who had set a competitive time on Friday, rolled three balls to add to his time of 144.22, plus a penalty of 10.57 to finish sixth on 166.79.  As the fourth starter, Glen Geerts (BEL) carried over 10.27 but drove a fantastic clear and finished on 148.89 to put himself into the final three. Belgian teammate Dries Degrieck, in his first FEI indoor season, dropped out of contention for the drive off with an unlucky ball on the final obstacle number 13, which cost him the valuable place as he finished behind Glen on 159.68.

As the intensity in the arena grew, Boyd pulled off one of the best rounds of the competition to close the gap between him and Bram. Leaving all the balls on top, he clocked up a time of 132.42, which plus his penalty put him on 136.2.

Admitting that he was extremely nervous, Bram drew on all his experience and matchplay to drive an even faster time of 132.33 but knocking one ball, finished on 136.33, which flipped the order and put Boyd into first place ahead of the drive off between the best three.

The enthusiastic crowd got behind the drivers and increased the already electrifying atmosphere, clapping to the beat of the music. First in was Glen, with his big outdoor horses, who he says are 1.5m longer and up to 20cm higher than the other teams. Having not considered that he would be in the drive off, he said after that he hadn’t thought about the different routes in obstacles 5 & 9 when two gates were taken out. While in 5, he knocked cone 6, so the clock was stopped and he was given an additional 10 penalties. He started again, having taken the foot off the pace, and with another ball down, ended his competition in third place on 323.73.

Bram re-entered the arena and rising to the challenge, produced another exceptional round in 118.39, knocking one ball. But he had done enough to really apply the pressure to Boyd.

All eyes were on the Australian, who was aiming to take his tenth indoor title, and he began in convincing style with all those watching believing that he would retain his title. Yet everyone gasped as right at the end, his horses lost balance between the final two obstacles and he hit cone two, rolling the ball, which crowned Bram World Champion.

In a rousing gesture during the prizegiving, the loudest cheer went to Bram’s proud father, the legendary Ijsbrand Chardon, multiple champion, who came in to hold the reins while Bram took to the podium. After receiving their prizes, champagne was sprayed around then the three drivers performed their famous ‘showboat’ before Bram was left alone to absorb the cheers from an adoring audience and exit at the gallop with his stunning grey horses wearing their new, red winners’ rugs.

Still grinning at the press conference, Bram commented that it was fantastic to have Mareike in the final, and he hoped it went to prove that driving a four-in-hand wasn’t all about strength, but as much about the training and getting the equipment right.

A fitting finale to a fantastic competition, after a much-shortened season, the drivers are now looking towards the outdoor event at Kronenberg (NED). All being well, we can look forward to a full programme of FEI Driving World Cup™ events for the 2022-23 season and much more excitement in this riveting contest between the world’s very best.

Full results here.

by Sarah Dance

FEI Media Contact:

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

Von Bredow-Werndl and Dalera Triumph, while Werth Retires Weihegold in Style

Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (FEI/Richard Juilliart)

There’s nothing like a big win on home ground, but there’s also nothing like retiring a superstar horse in front of a wildly enthusiastic crowd, so the Freestyle finale had it all when Jessica von Bredow-Werndl steered Dalera to victory at the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final 2022 where the sport said a rousing farewell to Isabell Werth’s great mare, Weihegold OLD.

The Leipzig Messe was electric with excitement all night, and some of the equine stars shrank under the intensity of the noisy atmosphere during the first half of the competition.

But when it came down to the wire the big names really rose to the occasion, and it was Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour who lined up second with her new young star Vamos Amigos, while Werth and Weihegold finished third.

Raised the bar

Werth raised the bar when putting a score of 85.921 on the board when fifth-last to go in the field of 17, Weihegold producing a stunning test that was full of energy and beautifully ridden by the lady long known as “The Queen” of dressage. The knowledgeable crowd was with them every step of the way, knowing that this was their last performance together as the mare was to be retired. When they came to a halt, the crowd rose to their feet with an enormous roar to acknowledge them.

Team gold and individual silver at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, European team gold in 2017, three FEI Dressage World Cup™ titles in a row including the last one in 2019, and team gold at last year’s European Championships in Hagen (GER) amongst their many achievements – their record has been extraordinary.

Denmark’s Nanna Skodborg Merrald followed with an impressive performance from the big-moving Atterupgaards Orthilia, who posted 81.239 for second place temporarily; next in was her compatriot, Carina Cassøe Krüth, whose ride on the light-footed, loose-limbed Heiline’s Danciera included fearlessly forward one-tempi changes. The crowd held their breath until the scoreboard showed 84.971 – Werth was still out in front.

Looked threatening

However, the last of the Danes had yet to come, and Cathrine Dufour always looked threatening when steering Vamos Amigo through a brilliant test, although clearly she wasn’t pushing the 10-year-old to the limit in extended canter. It was no wonder because, as she said afterwards, “He was a bomb today for sure!” He certainly looked explosive but contained himself to the very end and, once his rider relaxed the rein, wandered out the arena like he’d heard a crowd like this a million times. He certainly hasn’t though.

“He’s never been in a ring as full as this before; he was really brave today!” Dufour said with delight.

But the story certainly wasn’t over yet because the lady who has dominated the podiums at both the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and the European Championships last summer was yet to take her turn.

Crest of a wave

Jessica von Bredow-Werndl arrived in Leipzig for this week’s Final on the crest of a wave but, as she pointed out, a little “rounder” than usual because she is expecting her second baby to arrive in a few months’ time. However, the little bit of extra weight wasn’t bothering Dalera as the pair executed yet another exquisite test that demonstrated the delightful harmony between these two.

The balance, rhythm, accuracy, and lightness, and the drama of their tempi changes all came together to present the loveliest picture, and as they pranced up the final centreline, it was clear the result was done and dusted. When their score of 90.836 was announced the crowd erupted yet again.

Winner von Bredow-Werndl said afterwards, “I just wanted to come here and of course it was my goal to show what we have shown the last couple of months, but it couldn’t have been better to take a little break now and come back soon!”

Dufour joked that she shouldn’t rush returning to the sport after her baby arrives – “Just stay away for a while!” she suggested with an enormous laugh.

The Danes had every reason to be on a high, Dufour filling second spot, Cassøe Krüth finishing fourth, and Skodborg Merrald lining up in fifth place, while Germany’s Helen Langehanenberg had to settle for sixth. It was a show of mighty strength from Denmark, and it’s a real shot in the arm ahead of this summer’s World Dressage Championships on their home ground in Herning in four months’ time.

Really fantastic

“It’s really fantastic to see how the system in Denmark has gone so well over last four or five years, and you clearly see what has been produced – riders bringing young horses to the top; the two girls that are here are really cool and they can perform under pressure, myself included, and of course we love to put pressure on the girls sitting here!” she said, looking at Werth and von Bredow-Werndl.

“But there is still some way to go; we saw that in 2020 suddenly things change, so for now we are going to keep the horses sharp, try to make a good plan, and then really just enjoy that the Championship is going to be on Danish soil. That is quite fantastic in itself, and we are looking forward to inviting everyone for a great battle and great sport,” Dufour added.

When asked about the Ukrainian flag she had pinned to her tailcoat, she explained, “There is an awful situation going on right now, so I’m wearing it to show support to the people affected by this crazy war.” Newly-crowned champion, von Bredow-Werndl, leaned forward in agreement and added, “We all carry that flag in our hearts.”

Flowing again

After the prizegiving, the emotions were flowing again when Werth and Weihegold entered the arena for the mare’s retirement ceremony. “When you are in a competition you are focused on that, and of course the last line (of their Freestyle) was also quite emotional and when they gave Weihe the standing ovation that was very great. But to go in with the team of people who have been around for the last seven or eight years – that was really emotional, to feel the atmosphere,” Werth said. However, she felt it was the perfect send-off in the end. “It was what you wish for a horse like her, to give her the last honour – it was just super!” she added.

Meanwhile, von Bredow-Werndl reflected on the performance from Dalera that made success possible. “There are no words! She was phenomenal – she always leaves her heart for me in that square (in the arena), and it is not natural at all, and at the same time she does it again and again. I have the feeling even now that we are not yet at the end of our journey together!” said the athlete who believes her mare has even more room for improvement, and who became the sixth German athlete to win the coveted FEI Dressage World Cup™ trophy since the first Final took place back in 1986.

Result here.

by Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Lupacchini Steals the Title for Italy

Lorenzo Lupacchini (ITA) and Rosenstolz 99 (FEI/Richard Juilliart)

Under the lights of the Leipziger Messe, the 2022 FEI Vaulting World Cup™ Champions were crowned. No-one could keep French Manon Moutinho from the female title, whilst Lorenzo Lupacchini took his chance to bring home the glory for Italy. Janika Derks and Johannes Kay gave a spine-tingling ultimate performance to win the Pas de Deux.

After a great start in the Technical Test the trio of Manon Moutinho, Corrine Bosshard, and Saitiri pulled out a show stopping Free Test with a perfect artistic score to win the final on 8.431.  “I am really happy. I could not have expected more from me, my horse, or my lunger. It was a really good experience to start this new season 2022. There is still some work to do, but we are only in April and I am very pleased.”

Bringing back her 2019 winning freestyle theme wasn’t enough for German defending champion Janika Derks.  She had to settle for second place, 8.257.  Making her mark in her first individual World Cup final, Kimberly Palmer (USA) was one of only three female individuals scoring over 8 points and finished in third place (8.009).

The men’s competition went to a tense finish. After slipping from the horse in one of his risk exercises, Lambert Leclezio (FRA) (8.628) had to watch the title go to Lorenzo Lupacchini (8.795). The Italian barely lost a point as he performed gracefully on top of Rosenstolz.

“I am really really happy because I didn’t expect this result. I just participated for enjoying. I was on the third place so far, so I had nothing to lose and nothing to win. So I tried to give emotions and not only exercise,” said Lupacchini.

He becomes one of only two athletes to have won the FEI World Cup™ Final in the Individual and Pas de Deux class. Jannik Heiland completed the podium for Germany (8.019).

An exquisite final performance from the German pair, Janika Derks and Johannes Kay, concluded the FEI Vaulting World Cup™ Final as well as their vaulting careers. Alongside Nina Vorberg and Humphrey Bogart OLD, they left the audience with goosebumps as they became World Cup Winners (8.754). Screaming with delight as he landed his final dismount, Johannes later summed up his experience “Yes, once in my life I competed in the World Cup: that was here and today and that was the last time – and we have won. But winning was not important to me. We made the thing out of it, what we wanted to make out of it. That worked out; we are satisfied… To have found such a beautiful conclusion, in such a beautiful atmosphere – it doesn’t get any better than that.”

Romana Hintner and Eva Nagiller managed to improve on their first round performance to move up into second place (8.016) leaving Chiara Congia and Justin van Gerven in third (7.960).

It has been an historic Final in Leipzig. France and Italy each took the title for the first time in their respective classes. Wrapping up the experience and marking the career end for Janika Derks: “I think we have achieved exactly what we wanted to achieve here again: having fun with the sport, just enjoying it – this was just the perfect show for both of us to find closure for us.”

Full results here.

by Joanne Eccles MBE

FEI Media Contact:

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

Bram Takes the Lead in FEI Driving World Cup Final

Bram Chardon (NED) (FEI/Richard Juilliart)

As the final competitor to start late on Friday night for the first round of the FEI Driving World Cup™ Final in Leipzig (GER), Bram Chardon (NED) laid down his claim to the 2022 title with a fantastic drive.

Smoothly steering his four-in-hand of grey horses through Jeroen Houterman’s (NED) flowing course of thirteen obstacles, he managed to leave the balls on top and recorded a blistering time of 135.80 secs. Reigning champion Boyd Exell (AUS), who is aiming for his 10th indoor title, was the sixth competitor to go and had set the fastest time of the night of 143.35 with no balls down.  Dries Degreick (BEL), in his first FEI World Cup™ Final, drove a quick course but with one ball down finished in third on a score of 152.76.

“It is incredible to start the finals here. I watched the others on the screen. I knew Boyd by far was the quickest time, so I thought, if I can get near his time, I am going to be happy!” a delighted Bram said. “Definitely I was planning on staying clear. I was trying to go a little bit safer, but then when the horses felt so good, I just let them go and pushed them to the end, when I knew there was more in it; this is fantastic.”

Seven of the world’s leading horse four-in-hand Drivers are competing in the 20th Indoor Final which was last held in Bordeaux in February 2020. For the first time a female driver is competing, Mareike Harm (GER), who drove a smooth round but knocked three balls and finished in sixth place on 163.89. Fellow German, Michael Brauchle, the wild card entry, ended the night in fifth on 156.94.

Glenn Geerts (BEL), was fourth on 156.94 after driving a clear but slower round.  Making uncharacteristic mistakes was former champion Koos de Ronde (NED) who ended in seventh on 173.78 after knocking several balls and incurring extra penalties for having to stop so the course could be rebuilt.

All the Drivers are now eligible to return for the second round of the Final on Sunday. They will drive in reverse order and the top three will drive again to decide the final placings.  All except Bram, who will start with a penalty score, which is 50% of the differential between theirs and the leader’s score.

Full results here.

by Sarah Dance

FEI Media Contact:

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