Tag Archives: Henrik von Eckermann

A Golden Moment for Swedish Showjumping

(L to R) Henrik von Eckermann, Malin Baryard-Johnsson, and Peder Fredricson. (FEI/Arnd Bronkhorst)

It’s almost a century since Sweden last won Olympic Jumping Team gold, and they did it with both style and grace.

A magnificent performance all week from Henrik von Eckermann with King Edward, Malin Baryard-Johnsson with Indiana, and Peder Fredricson with All In led to high expectations that this could be the night they would bring the ultimate honour back to their country for the first time in 97 years. But it wouldn’t be easy.

As the final competition played itself out it came down to a head-to-head with the feisty American threesome of Laura Kraut with Baloutinue, Jessica Springsteen with Don Juan van de Donhoeve, and McLain Ward with Contagious, and they wouldn’t be handing anything over without a fight. The two sides completed the first round with eight faults apiece, and the battle lines were drawn.

Belgium was already assured of bronze when collecting 12 faults in the opening round. Team France looked set to be the biggest threat to all others when single time faults from both Simon Delestre and Berlux Z and Mathieu Billot with Quel Filou in the opening round left them sitting pretty before Penelope Leprevost set off. But elimination at the third fence for Vancouver de Lanlore shattered the French dream of repeating the glory they enjoyed five years ago in Rio de Janeiro.

So Pieter Devos (Claire Z), Jerome Guery (Quel Homme de Hus), and Gregory Wathelet (Nevados S) could sit back in the knowledge that the third step of the podium would belong to Belgium, and the stage was set for one last roll of the dice for the Americans and Swedes.

Final showdown

With all three team members returning to the ring for the final showdown, it was Kraut who led the way for the USA with her 11-year-old gelding, scorching through the finish in 41.33 seconds to set the pace. And although Sweden’s von Eckermann took a new route, he was a little slower when breaking the beam in 42.00 seconds with King Edward who, sensationally, never lowered a single pole in five rounds of tough jumping this week.

Springsteen returned clear for USA in 42.95 seconds, so when Baryard-Johnsson was quicker, crossing the line in 41.89, the Swedes already had a small advantage. But Ward was next to go, and shaving seconds off all those ahead of him, he raced through the finish in 39.92 to really put it up to Swedish anchorman Fredricson.

But how cool is the man who took his second successive Individual silver medal, and with the same horse, just three days ago?

As he set off you could read the complete determination on Fredricson’s face. Did he feel the tension as he galloped down to the last fence, knowing what was hanging in the balance?

“Oh, the pressure was on!” he admitted. “My god, in these situations when you have two teams like this you really want to win. McLain was fast; I saw his round and I knew what I had to do, and today the poles stayed up and the time was on my side!

“I had the speed and I gave him (All In) a lot of room. He’s in super shape, but I was really worried he would take the front pole with his hindlegs, but he came up!” he said after breaking the beam in an amazing 39.01 seconds to seal the victory.

In the end, just 1.3 penalty points separated the two sides, but the joy in the aftermath for both teams was palpable. They’d been in a fair fight and the best side had won. No hard feelings, just delight in great sport played out between great opponents.

Enjoyed

Ward enjoyed every moment of it. “It was great to be in the battle!” he said with a big smile. “Sweden’s win wasn’t unexpected here, but they took it to another level; we would have had to have an incredible day to beat them. I think we pushed them right to the limit, and in competition when you push them to that limit and they still win you’ve got to be proud of the fight!”

“We just didn’t give up!” agreed his team-mate Kraut. “It was hard-fought and Sweden were incredible all week, so if you’re going to lose you’re going to lose to them, and we can live with that!”

Springsteen said, “It was wild, watching the last couple go, wondering if we would have to jump-off or not; you really got the jitters, but it was very exciting!”

But it was even more exciting for the new Olympic champions. There was no-one begrudging their success. They won fair and square and they were immensely proud of their achievement.

“Yes, it’s a dream come true – to win an Olympic gold medal. I think that’s every athlete’s dream for sure!” said Baryard-Johnsson. “We’ve been so well prepared for everything at this championship; we’ve not missed out on anything; we have a team behind us that’s incredible. All of us, the way we’ve ridden shows how confident we’ve been and how they’ve all made it possible for us to totally focus on what to do in there. We knew it was very possible for a jump-off because it was only one round, and we knew we didn’t want the silver medal this time!” said the rider who was a member of the Swedish side that took Olympic team silver in Athens (GRE) 17 years ago.

More special

Von Eckermann just missed out in the Individual Final on Wednesday night when finishing fourth, “so that’s why it’s even more special tonight!” he said. “It was a frustrating fourth place but I’m so happy that I pulled myself together and told myself to leave what I can’t change behind me and focus on this. No one can say we didn’t deserve it!”

He added that there should be medals awarded to the horses as well as the riders. King Edward certainly deserved a medal having jumped through the entire week without ever dropping a pole.

Fredricson’s last round was the stuff of champions, and Ward, who has won plenty of accolades himself, acknowledged that. “He’s one of the best, and his record with that horse is spectacular. What horsemanship and what planning, and all the people around him. But he’s also been at the top of the sport with other mounts too which is testament to his riding; it’s not just one horse,” he said.

Typically modest, Fredricson was thoughtful when asked what this glorious victory meant to him.

“It’s unbelievably satisfying to get this gold. And my horse deserves it also for the way he jumped. I’m so happy for him and his owner and groom and the whole team and my team-mates. This is a great feeling!” he said.

Facts and Figures:

Sweden last won Team gold at the Olympic Games in Paris in 1924 when the three-rider side consisted of Ake Thelning (Loke), Axel Stahle (Cecil), and Age Lundstrom (Anvers).

Sweden also won Olympic Team gold on home ground in Stockholm in 1912 and in Antwerp in 1920.

For the Final competition, two changes were made to the teams that competed in Friday’s Jumping Team Qualifier – Willem Greve and Zypria S stepped out of the Dutch team and Harrie Smolders stepped in with Bingo de Parc, while Rodrigo Pessoa and Carlito’s Way stepped out of the Brazilian team so Yuri Mansur and Alfons stepped in.

Final medal standings in Jumping:

  • Jumping Team: Gold – Sweden; Silver – USA; Bronze – Belgium.
  • Jumping Individual: Gold – Ben Maher (GBR), Explosion W; Silver – Peder Fredricson (SWE), All In; Bronze – Maikel van der Vleuten (NED), Beauville Z.

Quotes:

Ben Maher, Individual gold medallist, talking about Great Britain’s decision to withdraw after Holly Smith and Harry Charles collected 24 faults between them: “Holly and Harry are young riders; they’ve ridden incredibly tonight but unfortunately it hasn’t gone our way as a team. And Explosion’s welfare is paramount for me. I’m not a quitter on the team. I always push to the end but we’re an extremely long way off any medal contention, and he’s done everything for Team GB and me as a rider this week and his welfare is a priority.”

Malin Baryard-Johnsson SWE, talking about her mare Indiana: “When she goes in a second time, she’s always jumping better so I totally trust her; she made a tiny mistake in the first round and I was quite sure she wasn’t going to make another one the way she was jumping and the way she’s trying. She’s just incredible. It was up to me to make sure she was fast enough.”

Henrik von Eckermann SWE: “Somehow once we went to the jump-off, we felt so prepared. We’d gone through every detail before, and when Peder had the last fence down, we said OK, we have to see what happens then and everyone was very clear about what to do. Get on with it and don’t be second, whatever happens!”

Results here.

by Louise Parkes

Media contacts:

Grania Willis
Executive Advisor
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 42

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+

Henrik von Eckermann and Glamour Girl Win $6,000 CSI4* Bainbridge Companies 1.40m Jumpers

Henrik von Eckermann and Glamour Girl © Sportfot.

February 4, 2021 – Wellington, FL – As FEI competition opened for the Marshall & Sterling/Great American Insurance Group CSI4* week at the 2021 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann rode Glamour Girl, owned by Portfolio Horses, LLC, to victory in the $6,000 Bainbridge Companies 1.45m Jumpers CSI4* on the Derby Field at Equestrian Village on Thursday, February 4.

In the second class of the day, Henrik von Eckermann and Glamour Girl posted the fastest time for the win. A field of 32 horse and rider combinations set out over the course designed by Anderson Lima (BRA) consisting of nine efforts in the first phase and five obstacles in the second phase. Von Eckermann piloted the talented 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare by Vdl Zirocco Blue x Moonlight II, to a double-clear effort in 26.56 seconds.

Olivia Chowdry and Chuck Berry 8 Fly to First in the $6,000 CSI2* Palm Beach Equine Clinic 1.40m Jumpers

Olivia Chowdry (USA) and Chuck Berry 8, owned by Atlas Equine Holdings, LLC, began the day with a win in the $6,000 Palm Beach Equine Clinic 1.40m CSI2*. A field of 73 challenged the two-phase class, and there was no catching Chowdry and the 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Chacco Blue x Watzmann, as they distanced themselves from the field by over a second, finishing in a time of 27.33 seconds.

“I’ve been training with Katie Prudent for almost five years, and I thought we were planning to go in the ring and set up for tomorrow’s qualifier,” she said with a laugh. “I should probably know by now that if you’re with Katie, you’re in it to win it. My horse was really, really good. I’ve had him for three years now. He’s naturally quite a quick horse. Usually where I suffer the next day is the rideability, but I think this seems to be a great time for him. We spent a lot of time working on the flat, got him nice and relaxed to get him ready, and he feels fantastic. I’m really excited for the rest of the week.”

For more information and results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.

Inside CHIO Aachen 2019: Riders to Watch at This Year’s Rolex Grand Prix

Rolex Grand Prix winner of CHIO Aachen 2018, Marcus Ehning (Photo credit: Rolex / Ashley Neuhof)

From 12-21 July 2019, visitors from all over the world will once again travel to Germany to witness one of the most prestigious equestrian events of the year, CHIO Aachen. The nine-day event will play host to the second Major of the year, the Rolex Grand Prix, in which the world’s top equestrian athletes will go head-to-head as they each contend for the highly sought-after victory.

The world’s greatest horse-and-rider combinations will be vying for one of show jumping’s most prestigious titles, the Rolex Grand Prix. With many of the world’s top 20-ranked riders set to compete, the field looks wide open; however, following strong recent performances on the outdoor circuit, there are notable partnerships that could claim the Rolex Major win:

Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann and his impressive Toveks Mary Lou have demonstrated outstanding consistency, having recently won the Rolex Grand Prix at CHI Royal Windsor Horse Show. The infamously quick duo flew through a faultless jump-off, defeating 15 of the world’s top 20-ranked riders. With the outdoor show jumping season well and truly underway, von Eckermann shows no sign of decelerating and has high hopes of continuing his Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping journey.

Daniel Bluman made history at CSIO Roma Piazza di Siena, becoming Israel’s first ever rider to claim victory at this prestigious event, after winning the Rolex Grand Prix. The complicated course saw only four of the 44 combinations go clear in the first round, with Bluman and his 11-year-old gelding, Ladriano Z, proving unbeatable after going clear in the jump-off. The 29-year-old rider has his sights set on his next victory and will pull out all the stops to secure his first Rolex Major title.

Rolex Testimonee and show jumping hero, Eric Lamaze, has displayed remarkable determination this season. Lamaze won the PwC Cup at last month’s ‘National’ CSI5* presented by Rolex at Spruce Meadows, in which he and his mare, Fine Lady 5, won an electrifying jump-off. Just two days prior, Lamaze won the RBC Grand Prix of Canada presented by Rolex with his 13-year-old gelding, Chacco Kid. After his recent successes, the unstoppable 51-year-old rider will do everything in his power to lift the coveted trophy at CHIO Aachen.

© 2019 Rolex – Rolex Grand Slam

Henrik von Eckermann Wins Rolex Grand Prix on Final Day of Royal Windsor Horse Show

The closing day of the 76th edition of Royal Windsor Horse Show was blessed with clear blue skies and bright sun as final victories were secured for the top-class competitors.

The climax of the CSI5* Show Jumping, the Rolex Grand Prix, went to Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann following a nail-biting jump-off. Earlier in the day, Ireland’s Shane Breen took the CSI5* Manama Rose Show Stakes title, and The ClipMyHorse.TV Under 25 Jumping Competition was won by Joseph Stockdale.

Her Majesty The Queen was present for the Extreme Driving supported by Karen and Hugh Scott-Barrett, which premiered at the Show this year. It was Australia’s Boyd Exell, fresh from his win in the Land Rover International Driving Grand Prix, who steered his way across the finish line in the fastest time of 158.83.

Lucy Aspell was crowned winner of the final Land Rover Shetland Pony Grand National.

Packed crowds gathered at the Castle Arena for the pinnacle of the week’s action, The Rolex Grand Prix. Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann and Toveks Mary Lou emerged victorious to rapturous applause over course designer Bob Ellis’ challenging course, making a thrilling finale for the Show.

The track demanded bold and precise riding from the field of 34 combinations, including 15 of the world’s top twenty riders, contesting the €500,000 prize, the richest purse ever in UK Show Jumping. The tough course reduced the sensational calibre of talent down to 12 clear combinations to progress to the jump-off.

First to go in the deciding round was British rider William Funnell, whose homebred Billy Diamo demonstrated sheer skill and bravery to keep the partnership’s cool and secure the first double clear round. The pair set the tone for the rest of the competition, having made the decision to go for precision rather than pace, in a time of 47.58 seconds.

William Funnell commented: “It is fantastic, an amazing venue; the crowd was great. It really makes you want to do well. Billy Diamo is another super horse that we have bred; we hope he will qualify for the 2020 Olympics and this year we want to make sure he qualifies for the European Championships, because he is that type of horse.”

Next to go, and also waving the British flag, was Robert Whitaker and 16-year-old Catwalk IV. Despite a strong start the pair was unable to sustain a clear round as the fast pace led to an unlucky pole down, keeping Funnell at the top of the table.

Belgian rider Gregory Wathelet (Spike Van Der Withoeve), already a winner this week and hoping to replicate his success, was the first of several combinations to incur four faults at the Rolex oxer at the last. It was Frenchman Simon Delestre (Hermes Ryan) who was able to successfully challenge Funnell and knock him into second place. Delestre’s carefully navigated turns obtained a clear round in 45.07 seconds; although not the fastest over the ground yet, he was the quickest clear and into the lead. German riders Christian Ahlmann (Take A Chance On Me Z) and Daniel Deusser (Cornet 39) were likely contenders to challenge Delestre’s time. Both competitors were a real threat against the clock; however, they finished with four and eight faults, respectively, keeping Delestre in prime position with five riders to go.

Henrik von Eckermann wasted no time in shaving time off the clock with the 13-year-old mare Toveks Mary Lou. A tight turn into the penultimate fence and speed into the last oxer shaved over two seconds off Delestre’s time to finish on 43.02 seconds and snatch first place. With two to go, including two Olympic medallists, von Eckermann had confirmed a top three position but faced the toughest competition yet, leading to a nail-biting conclusion to the Rolex Grand Prix.

Eric Lamaze, who secured his place in the jump-off with great form, would no doubt be one of the strongest contenders for pace. However, the Canadian rider had a pole down at the second and the last fence with Chacco Kid. This meant the results of the competition were in the hands of Kent Farrington (USA), a two-time winner at Royal Windsor Horse Show, and Creedance.

The former World Number One and his chestnut gelding Creedance, seemed to be the likely winners as the pair presented one of the most striking rides of the jump-off, until an unexpected error at the last resulted in four faults to confirm von Eckermann the winner.

The victorious von Eckermann said: “Mary Lou is such a fantastic horse; she is so quiet at home but when she gets to shows, she really comes to life and gets very excited. She has a fantastic mind; she always helps me and really wants to make it; that’s what makes her such a special horse. I haven’t competed here for 10 years, so it is great to be back! The crowd was amazing, and I have really enjoyed my time at this event. I definitely hope to be back next year to defend the title!”

Bathed in glorious sunshine, the final day’s showing at Royal Windsor lifted the spirits of competitors, officials, and spectators alike, and saw several riders and owners achieve first-ever wins here in the Castle grounds.

In working hunter pony ranks — another prestigious feature of the show — the top spot went for the first time to Leyla Wheelright and her 143cm winner, Star Smokey, who jumped a superb round over a tricky course which claimed many notable scalps. This combination recently stood restricted champions at the British Show Pony Society winter championships.

The reserve award stayed in the same class, going to in-form Alice Homer, 17 — winner of the working show horse class earlier in the week — and Comberton Coda.

Cheshire-based showman Robert Walker, who clocked up four class wins and two championships on day one, received another red rosette when the Wallace family’s exciting large riding horse prospect, Southills The Sorcerer, headed a quality field.

The title, though, upset the formbook when Danielle Heath was called forward with the Mears family’s six-year-old novice champion, Times Square, pipping the super-consistent Casino and Jayne Ross. A seven-year-old show pony bought just two weeks ago gave veteran owner Gita Jago her first Royal Windsor open show pony title since 1992.

The final cones phase of the Land Rover International Driving Grand Prix was not without its changes of fortunes. In the Horse Four-in-Hand, serially successful Dutch driver, Ijsbrand Chardon, posted the first double clear, putting pressure on the five drivers ahead of him. In third place, his fellow countryman, Koos de Ronde, winner of the marathon, kept a cool head and collected the only other double clear to secure his position in the top three.

Lying second, expectations on Ijsbrand Chardon’s son, Bram – 2019 FEI World Cup™ Champion – were high but he unexpectedly clipped the marker to cones 19 as he made a turn earlier in the course. For this he collected 3 penalties and a 10-sec handicap which dropped him behind de Ronde.

With nine penalty points in hand, Boyd Exell from Australia drove a measured round, uncharacteristically knocking down two cones and collecting time faults. His final score, however, was sufficient to secure him his tenth title at Royal Windsor.

“It has been a hard-working few days,” Boyd remarked. “However, I’m very pleased with the new six-year-old in the team; he did all three phases, and this is only his second competition. This was his first cones course.”

The first class of the day, Pony Four-in-Hand, saw a dramatic change in the order. Lying fourth GB’s Roger Campbell delivered a double clear. The two competitors ahead of him at this time – Jaqueline Walter (GER) and Tinne Bax (BEL) – both made mistakes, dropping them behind Campbell. In first place, Jan de Boer, from the Netherlands, looking for his eighth win here, had 15+ penalties in hand at this stage. Sadly, it proved not enough and a difficult round for him and his Welsh ponies saw him drop behind Roger by less than one penalty point. This gave GB their first Pony Four-in-Hand win since 2000.

“My overwhelming emotion at the moment is surprise!” Campbell remarked. “I wouldn’t say the weekend went entirely to plan – I had a few problems in the dressage and then made some rein-handling mistakes in the marathon. Today, however, was excellent.”

This was GB’s first win in Pony Four-in-Hand for a number of years, but sadly Campbell, who is based in Germany, is unlikely to compete on home turf for the rest of the season, planning to attend events in Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia.

Double clear rounds eluded all Horse Pair competitors, with Germany claiming first and second place. Overnight leader, Sandro Koalick, competing here for the first time, retained his top spot with his young Dutch Warmbloods. At seven and eight years old, it is the first international season for one of them and the second for the other. His fellow countryman, 2017 winner here, Lars Schwitte, moved up to second place ahead of France’s Franck Grimonprez.

In the Nations competition, the Netherlands increased their lead to retain first place well clear of France, who moved ahead of third placed Belgium. Just three penalty points separated these two.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / rEvolution / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com / +44 (0)203 176 0355

Henrik von Eckermann Becomes New Rolex Grand Slam Live Contender at Dutch Masters

Henrik von Eckermann (Photo: Ashley Neuhof / Rolex Grand Slam)

It was an afternoon of electrifying sporting drama at The Dutch Masters, with the world’s best horse and rider combinations taking to the arena in the Brabanthallen for the first Major of the year. Course Designer Louis Koninckx laid a tough course, which saw only five reach the jump-off to battle it out for the Rolex Grand Prix title.

Rolex Testimonee, Steve Guerdat (SUI), secured the first double clear, after producing a series of thrilling turns to shave seconds off the clock. Many thought he could not be caught but it was clear from the outset that Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann only had winning on his mind. Together with his 13-year-old bay mare, Toveks Mary Lou, the pair crossed the finish just 0.63 seconds faster than Guerdat to clinch the prestigious Rolex Grand Prix title and become the new Rolex Grand Slam live contender.

It was so close between you and Steve Guerdat; how did the jump-off feel for you?

It was great! I knew that Steve was very fast; he knocked three-seconds off Daniel (Deusser)’s time, so I thought to myself, I need to hurry up! There were only five in the jump-off, and it is nice when there are so few because then you don’t have so much competition to worry about. I just tried really hard. I wanted to win it; I gave my best effort to win it and here we are!

Toveks Mary Lou performed so well. What is she like to ride?

She always performs so well. She is so special. It’s like she knows what is going on; she thinks, ‘OK, it’s Sunday today; it’s the big day; I need to be the best I can be.’ She always tries that little bit extra for me and it makes her a fantastic horse.

You’re the new Rolex Grand Slam live contender. Is CHIO Aachen in your calendar?

Yes, it is absolutely. I really would like to go there. I am just so happy with what has happened today, and we will take it from here.

How are you going to celebrate?

I have to drive the lorry home with Mary Lou in the back and I am happy for that. My girlfriend Janika, the groom. and I will head home together smiling! But the feeling I have now is amazing and that is enough. I don’t think we have to do anything special.

Lastly, is The Dutch Masters a special show for you now?

Absolutely! I have ridden here quite a few times now and it is a fantastic event. Every year it gets better and better; they always try to make it more and more special. The atmosphere is always electric, and the crowd is always behind you.

© 2019 Rolex – Rolex Grand Slam

Sensational Victory for von Eckermann in Amsterdam

Henrik von Eckermann with Toveks Mary Lou. (FEI/Arnd Bronkhorst)

Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann (37) worked the Dutch crowd into a frenzy and booked his ticket to the series Final with a sensational victory partnering the brilliant mare, Toveks Mary Lou, at the twelfth leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2018/2019 Western European League in Amsterdam (NED).

Last to go in a breathtaking eight-way jump-off, the rider ranked No. 8 in the world did what seemed all but impossible when pinning Switzerland’s Pius Schwizer (56) into runner-up spot by more than half a second, and pushing Germany’s Daniel Deusser (37) down to third.

“I knew it was all or nothing! When you’re last into the ring you have to believe you can do it – if you have any doubt in your mind then it will never work!” — Henrik von Eckermann (SWE)

This marked the most perfect return for the FEI Jumping World Cup™ series to the Dutch capital city after several years of a break. And amongst those celebrating the Diamond (60th) anniversary of Jumping Amsterdam was The Netherlands’ King Willem-Alexander who, like all the spectators packed into the RAI arena, was treated to an unforgettable afternoon of superb sport.

Only one of the eight Dutch contenders made it into the jump-off which began with a superb second clear for the exciting Portuguese pair, Rodrigo Giesteria Almeida and GC Chopins Bushi. That sole Dutchman, Eric van der Vleuten, was more than a half-second slower with Wunschkind when next into the ring but, as expected, Belgium’s Niels Bruynseels and the ever-ready Gancia de Muze roared into the lead in 35.09 seconds when third to go.

Two rides later, however, Frenchman Kevin Staut and For Joy van’t Zorgvliet HDC out-paced them, only to be immediately overtaken by Germany’s Daniel Deusser with his Madrid winner Tobago Z, who broke the beam in 34.67 seconds. Dutch course designer, Louis Konickx, had set them a superb final test, and both Staut and Deusser risked super-tight roll-backs to the vertical three from home.

But penultimate competitor and former world no. 1, Schwizer, who has been rocketing back up the rankings in recent months, found an even tighter line with his 10-year-old gelding Cortney Cox, and galloped through the timers in 33.34 seconds which looked to have surely settled the matter.

However, when it comes to the will to win, there’s no man quite like von Eckermann. Setting his jaw, he started out like his tail was on fire, and the great 13-year-old mare who has carried him to the third step of the podium at the last two Longines Finals gave him her all. Konickx had ensured that courage on the long run to the final fence would be rewarded, and with the Dutch spectators screaming them on, the Swedish pair threw everything they had at it to break the beam in the astonishing winning time of 33.01.

“I could hear the crowd coming down to the last, so I had to tell myself to stay calm! Mary Lou was lacking a bit of power at that stage so I needed to hold her and not go too much, but she is amazing!” he said.

“She has made me in this sport – I’ve had many good ones along the way, including Gotha, but she is the one that has won the most for me and I’m so very grateful to her owner, Mr Tovek, who has given me the opportunities by keeping a horse like her!” — Henrik von Eckermann (SWE)

With Mary Lou he also helped secure team silver for Sweden at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 last September.

As competition began, von Eckermann was lying 19th on the Western European League table, but he has now rocketed up to seventh ahead of the last qualifier in Bordeaux (FRA) in two weeks’ time. He’s missed out on the glorious Longines title by the smallest of margins over the last two seasons, and he’s hungry to try for it again when the 2019 Final kicks off in Gothenburg on 3 April.

“The way to the Final this year has been very stoney, but getting there was my biggest goal for the year. I’ve had two great Finals with Mary Lou before, and I’m so happy to be coming home to my own country to fight for it once again!” the Swedish star said.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Henrik von Eckermann Clinched the Turkish Airlines-Preis von Europa Title at CHIO Aachen

Henrik von Eckermann riding Castello (Photo: Rolex/Kit Houhgton)

After a highly competitive jump-off, Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann clinched the Turkish Airlines-Preis von Europa title with his grey gelding, Castello 194. He spoke after his victory:

How did the course feel today?

The course was very long; it had three combinations, one triple, one double, and of course the double plank which caused a few problems. The time was hard to keep inside of and with it being such a long course the horses were tiring at the end. I was happy with my horse’s performance and was excited to reach the jump-off.

What were your tactics going into the jump-off?

My tactics were to watch McLain’s round and work out where I could shave time off, as he is normally the one to beat in a jump-off like this. I saw a little hole where I could take him: it was the second last; he was little bit out to the oxer and I have a very scopey horse, so I thought if I stayed a little tighter to the jump, I could catch him, which we did.

How will you prepare for the Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday?

The horse will need to stay fresh and happy in the mind ahead of Sunday. It is a big wish to win the Rolex Grand Prix, but we all know how difficult the competition is. Of course, I want to chase the Rolex Grand Slam; I was second in the Geneva Grand Prix, so hopefully I can go one better this weekend.

© 2018 Rolex – Rolex Grand Slam

Henrik Leads Western European Cavalry-Charge to Paris

Photo: Henrik von Eckermann. (FEI/Lotta Brundin Gyllensten)

The top riders weren’t hanging about in the aftermath of the last Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2018 Western European League qualifier in Gothenburg (SWE). By last Friday, just five days after Henrik von Eckermann galloped to victory for the second year running at his home event, all 18 qualified for next month’s Longines 2018 Final had already confirmed their intention to compete in Paris (FRA), along with extra athletes Edwina Tops-Alexander from Australia and Colombia’s Carlos Lopez.

The City of Lights is calling, and the world’s top contenders for the most coveted prize in indoor Jumping are answering with a great big “YES!”

Von Eckermann’s last-leg success saw him leap-frog world number four and long-time league leader Kevin Staut who enjoyed another fantastic season, competing at 12 of the 13 Western European qualifiers and booking his spot without question. The Frenchman will be joined at the Final in the AccorHotels Arena from 11 to 15 April by compatriots Simon Delestre and Roger-Yves Bost.

Only one French rider has ever held the coveted FEI World Cup™ trophy in his hands: Bruno Brouqsault sprang a big surprise when winning through in Milan (ITA) in 2004, so there is a major incentive for the host-nation representatives to bring it home once again in this 40th season.

Britain’s Michael Whitaker said in Gothenburg, “It’s about time I won it!” and he’s right about that, having come so very close on many occasions. He’s hoping to make it happen at his 23rd attempt, but Germany’s Marcus Ehning will be bidding to become the first-ever four-time champion. The wizard of warp-speed very nearly leaped to the top of the league leaderboard with by far the fastest jump-off round at the Swedish fixture, only to be denied by a late-falling pole, and is likely to put all the pressure on the rest when the Final gets underway in five weeks’ time.

Ehning’s German counterpart and the 2011 champion, Christian Ahlmann, has also easily made the cut, and a total of 10 Western European nations will be represented at this year’s Final.

America’s McLain Ward is defending champion, and there’s still a way to go before the full line-up for Paris is announced, but it’s shaping up for a mighty battle.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Von Eckermann Sets Swedish Hearts Racing, Whitaker Qualifies for Another Final in Gothenburg

Photo: Michael Whitaker with JB’s Hot Stuff. (FEI/Arnd Bronkhorst)

It was freezing cold outside but the temperature in the Scandinavium Arena was near boiling point when, for the second year in a row, Swedish superstar Henrik von Eckermann (36) and his brilliant mare, Mary Lou, galloped to victory in front of their home crowd at the last leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2017/2017 Western European League in Gothenburg (SWE). Runner-up was Olivier Phillipaerts (24), the young Belgian whose previous visit to this Swedish city didn’t end so happily, while British veteran Michael Whitaker (57) finished third.

“When I saw the jump-off course I knew it would suit Mary Lou. You can totally trust her; you don’t need to take a pull anywhere, just let her run and use her pace and her long stride, and she was fantastic again today!” — Henrik von Eckermann SWE (1st)

From 36 starters, 11 found the key to Peter Lundstrom’s enormous first-round track, and it was the time of 41.59 seconds set by Frenchman Aldrick Cheronnet (Tanael des Bonnes) that von Eckermann was chasing when fourth to go against the clock. He blew that target right out of the water when scorching through the timers in 36.89 seconds, piling the pressure on the rest of the field. Whitaker and JB’s Hot Stuff came close when breaking the beam in 37.52 – “I thought I’d done it. She’s not big but she has a big heart and she’s fast – today she wasn’t fast enough but she always tries her best,” he said of his exciting new ride. However, the last man in would push him down to third.

Olivier Philippaerts made an early departure from last summer’s Longines FEI European Championships in Gothenburg when badly dislocating his shoulder in a fall from H&M Legend of Love during training. “My horses had three months off and this was probably good for my mare, but it takes time to get fit again and I was late starting in the World Cup series, so this is great!” he said when realising that this result means he is qualified for the 39th annual Final which will take place from 11 to 15 April.

Paris last hosted the series finale back in 1987, and Michael Whitaker competed there that year. “I think I’ve done about 25 Finals so it’s about time I won it!” he said. Von Eckermann also has the most coveted trophy of indoor showjumping clearly in his sights. “I finished third in Omaha (USA) last year and I don’t want to finish lower than that this time,” he said.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Von Eckermann Victorious in Last-Chance Thriller at Gothenburg

Henrik von Eckermann and Mary Lou. (Stefan Lafrentz/FEI)

Gothenburg (SWE), 26 February 2017 – Henrik von Eckermann brought the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2017 Western European League to a fairytale finish on home ground in Gothenburg (SWE) when snatching victory with a breath-taking performance from the 11-year-old mare, Mary Lou. With so many top riders chasing last-minute qualifying points for the Longines Final in Omaha, Nebraska (USA) in four weeks’ time, it was always going to be a mighty battle, and the long trip north proved worthwhile for Dutchmen Maikel van der Vleuten (28) and Leopold Van Asten (40) whose second and third-place finishes have booked their tickets.

Von Eckermann’s chances were possibly obvious, because he had already earned the Leading Rider of the Show award before competition began at the famous Scandinavium Arena.

“It’s been a crazy week; my worst placing was third and I had three second places and three wins – will I ever have a show like this again?!” said the delighted 35-year-old.

From 33 starters there were 12 into the jump-off over Peter Lundstrom’s track, and it was Frenchman, Olivier Robert, who set the standard with Quenelle du Py when clear in 38.52 seconds. Britain’s Robert Smith and Bavi came close to that when breaking the beam in 38.60 for eventual fifth place, but Van der Vleuten really raised the stakes when posting 36.83 with his veteran campaigner VDL Groep Verdi before Van Asten and VDL Groep Zidane crossed the line in 38.06 to slot in behind.

Second-last to go, von Eckermann knew he had to take all the chances, and the crowd nearly raised the roof when he took a risky gallop to the last to cross the line in 36.76 seconds and take the lead. He wasn’t quite sure he’d done enough because French speed ace, Simon Delestre, was last to go, but when the fourth fence fell it was Swedish party-time.

“This is a very emotional win!” said von Eckermann, who worked with German legend, Ludger Beerbaum, for many years before going it alone in a new yard in Bonn (GER) last September. He wasn’t certain that his mare was ready, but when he put her under pressure for the very first time she willingly gave it her all. “She’s still quite green and I can’t take risks on turns with her yet, but however impossible it seems, she always does her best to get across the fences and I’m very grateful to her owner, Karl Schneider, who has kept her for me because she’s something special!” he said.

Full result here

Quotes:

Tomas Torgersen, Show Director Gothenburg: “It has been a great week with a variety of disciplines, and I’d like to thank Henrik for reminding us why we do this every year!”

John Roche, FEI Jumping Director: “Congratulations to Henrik for his great win and to the horse’s owner Karl Schneider. Our thanks also go to the Organising Committee, to the presenting sponsors ATG and of course to Longines without whom none of this would happen.”

Henrik von Eckermann SWE (1st): “I’m new at running my own business. I have 12 horses in my yard now, and the girls at home have been working extremely hard and the great results I’ve had this week are thanks to them. I’m very happy with fourth position in the final standings; this will be good for my draw at the Final.”

Henrik von Eckermann SWE (1st), when asked about his chances of taking the Longines FEI World Cup™ title in Omaha next month: “No, I don’t think it will be this year; my horse is still very inexperienced. With this horse the first time I jumped her clear and then I rode to win and it all went wrong. So I slowed down again and took time to give her experience; for once in my life I am using my head!”

Henrik von Eckermann SWE (1st), talking about plans for his horses over the coming months: “I’m going to Doha on Wednesday, then to Herning in Denmark with other horses. Mary Lou will go to Paris and then Omaha.”

Peter Lundstrom, course designer: “At first I was worried about so many early clear rounds but I was quite satisfied at the end.”

Don’t miss a hoofbeat! Watch it all LIVE on www.feitv.org.

Social media: #FEIWorldCupWEL #RidetoOmaha #FEIWorldCupFinals #TwoHearts

Rider biographies: view online and download from www.fei.org/bios.

By Louise Parkes

Media contacts:

At Gothenburg:

Mayvor Thorin
Press Officer
mayvorthorin@gotevent.se
+46 705 82 8420

At FEI:

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