Category Archives: Equestrian

Longines FEI Jumping World Cup 2018/2019 – Western European League: 13 Qualifiers In 10 Countries

For competitors all across Western Europe, the long and winding road to the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2019 Final, which will take place in Gothenburg, Sweden next April, begins in Oslo, Norway this weekend.

Horses and riders from 18 countries will do battle in Sunday afternoon’s first leg of the Western European League which once again takes place in the famous Telenor Arena where Germany’s Daniel Deusser got his campaign underway with victory last season. Collecting early qualifying points is a real bonus, and the competition can be expected to be fierce from the outset.

It’s going to be a busy start to the series, with Oslo immediately followed by legs in Helsinki (FIN) and Verona (ITA) later this month before the action moves on to Lyon (FRA), Stuttgart (GER) and Madrid (ESP) in November. La Coruña (ESP) will mark the half-way point in early December, and then, after the Christmas shows at London, Olympia (GBR) and Mechelen (BEL), there will be just four chances left to chase down those precious points.

Basel in Switzerland will be a welcome new addition in January when Leipzig (GER) and Amsterdam (NED) will also attract the best riders to the closing stages. And Bordeaux (FRA) will present the 13th and last qualifier in February.

Now in its 41st season, the FEI World Cup™ Jumping series has legendary status. It marks the mastery of indoor jumping which requires a unique level of understanding, trust, precision and team-work between horse and rider.

Unlike competing in the great outdoors there is relatively little space to adjust your stride or change your plan, so accuracy is essential from start to finish. And one of the things that keeps spectators on the edges of their seats is the speed of it all, especially when it comes down to a jump-off to decide the winner. No doubt the roofs of many of the venues will be lifted by roars of excitement as the best combinations battle it out for a chance to put their names on the trophy that has been such a badge of honour for so long.

Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat knows what it’s like to hold it in his hands. The London 2012 Olympic gold medallist grabbed it two years in a row, in Las Vegas (USA) in 2015 and again the following year in Gothenburg (SWE). He was also just pipped at the post at the Gothenburg Final in 2013 by Beezie Madden, the lady who won the title again this year in Paris (FRA) where her American compatriot, Devin Ryan, lined up second ahead of Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann in third.

Steve Guerdat (SUI) and Hannah in the LONGINES FEI World Cup™ Jumping Stuttgart, Germany, Nov 19th 2017
Photo FEI/Cara Grimshaw

Guerdat, currently No. 2 in the Longines World Rankings, will be setting out his stall in Oslo, just a week after competing at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final in Barcelona (ESP) and only three weeks after claiming individual bronze at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Tryon (USA). He has an extraordinary strike-rate, and he’s likely to be the man to beat this weekend.

But Australia’s Edwina Tops-Alexander will also be coming out with all guns blazing as will Belgium’s Pieter Devos, a member of the winning team at that Final in Barcelona just three days ago. And 2016 Olympic team champion Kevin Staut from France will be there along with Dutch stars, father-and-son Eric and Maikel Van der Vleuten, and the best that Norway has to offer including the highly-competitive Gulliksen family, sister-and-brother Victoria and Johan-Sebastian and their father Geir.

The road to Gothenburg, where the inaugural FEI World Cup™ Final was held way back in 1979 and where the new-season Final will take place from 3 to 7 April 2019, looks set to be paved with many more magical moments. And, for the Western European riders, it all begins this coming weekend….don’t miss a hoofbeat!

Louise Parkes

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FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ 2018: Belgium’s “Never Give Up Team” Beats Them All

French second and Ireland third in super-tight finish

Belgium won through on the tense and thrilling final afternoon of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final 2018 at the Real Club de Polo in Barcelona (ESP) today. With all eight nations that qualified from Friday night’s first round starting again on a zero scoreline, and just one more round of jumping to decide the new champions, it was a roller-coaster ride over a big, challenging track set by Spanish course designer Santiago Varela. And, in the best sporting tradition, it was impossible to guess the outcome until the very end.

Like so many of the other teams, the Belgians had mixed fortunes, Niels Bruynseels kicking off with a superb clear from Gancia de Muze but both Pieter Devos (Claire Z) and Jos Verlooy (Caracas) each leaving three fences on the floor. However last man in, Nicola Philippaerts, kept a cool head to bring H&M Harley v. Bisschop home with a foot-perfect run that would prove plenty good enough to clinch it.

“We call ourselves the “Never Give Up Team” because in the middle we had two with 12 faults already but still we were fighting to the last rider, so this victory means a lot to us!”

Peter Weinberg (Chef d’Equipe, Team Belgium)

It seemed to have fallen into the lap of the Italians in the closing stages, as a clear from their anchor rider and last man into the ring, Lorenzo de Luca (Ensor de Litrange), would see them complete on eight faults to win it. But Varela’s extraordinary track was one that had to be ridden with absolute precision, and when, like so many before him, it unravelled for the Italian on the final line, his team completed on a total of 16. And because their combined times were slower than the French and Irish this dropped them into fourth place ahead of the Dutch when all four teams finished on a 16-fault tally. Sweden and Austria slotted into sixth and seventh places when both posting 20-fault finishing scores and Switzerland lined up eighth and last when putting 32 on the scoreboard.

It’s no surprise that Varela has been selected as course designer for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Today’s track was a masterpiece that questioned control, balance, judgement and skill, every inch of the way. As Varela pointed out it wasn’t about the number of faults the riders collected. “A score of 8 or 12 didn’t mean they had a bad round, horses jumped unbelievably, but the course was difficult, tough and big….and everything was connected”, he explained. That was borne out by the number of riders who lost out over the last four fences where an oxer to a vertical could be tackled on a five long or six short strides, but where an error of judgement often led to mistakes at the penultimate double and final oxer.

In the end the Belgians were the only side that managed to produce two clear rounds – “and two clear rounds today was a super result!” Varela said.

Bruynseels was asked if he had a plan when setting off with Gancia de Muze to produce the first clear round of the competition. Bur apparently he doesn’t really “do” planning with his brilliant but quirky 12-year-old mare.

The Belgian equestrian jumping team Chef d’Equipw Peter Weinberg (2L) is soaked by the equestrian riders from Belgium as they spray Cava at one another as they react to winning the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup Final held in the Real Club de Polo in Barcelona, Spain, 07 October 2018.
Photo FEI/Jim Hollander

“I have a little bit of a special horse, so she’s not like all the others. She has really a lot of temperament so I have to do my course and my round. So I don’t mind going first and I don’t have to see the other horses, because we always have a different plan!”

Niels Bruynseels (Team Belgium)

Philippaerts said his team-mates told him “everything is still possible” when he was last to go. “I just tried to ride my own class and it worked out well – today it was me that could make the clear round that would make a difference, and another time it will be one of the others” he said. And he had even more reason to be pleased when sharing the €100,000 bonus for double-clear performances with team-mate Bruynseels, Sweden’s Peder Fredricson and Italy’s new star, Riccardo Pisani.

This was Belgium’s second time to claim the Longines FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping title in Barcelona, their last in 2015. As Chef d’Equipe Weinberg said “it was an interesting day, first ups and then in between downs, but in the end we won anyway so it was really great sport!”

Louise Parkes

US Olympians Laura Graves and Verdades First Americans To Top FEI Dressage World Rankings

Olympic bronze medallist duo and American sweethearts, Laura Graves and Verdades (aka diddy), have topped the FEI World Dressage rankings thanks to their double silver medal placings last month at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon.

The famous combination has become the first American partnership to be ranked world number 1, as they took home silver in the Grand Prix Special and the Grand Prix competitions, boosting their ranking points to 2714 points, and placing them one point ahead of Germany’s Isabel Werth and Weihegold Old.

Isabel Werth (GER) and Weihegold Old have held the number one position for almost two years, when they took over from fellow German Kristina Bröring-Sprehe in November 2016. This ground breaking change to the top spot has now pushed them back to second place with a total of 2713 points. Isabel Werth can be found in three more positions in the ranking list, at the third with Emilio 107 (2680 points, previously ranked 2nd), at the fourth with Bella Rose 2 (2586 points, previously ranked 51st) and at the 11th with Don Johnson FRH (2291 points, previously ranked 8).

The FEI World Equestrian Games™ were an opportunity for several combinations to move up in the rankings, with Charlotte Dujardin (GBR) and Mount St John Freestyle moving from 10th to 6th place (2416 points), whilst Kasey Perry-Glass (USA) and Goerklintgaards Dublet jumped from the 20th to the 14th position (2267 points).

Laura Graves of the United States on Verdades

A number of other well-known combinations have soared into higher ranking positions this month, with Jessica Von Bredow-Werndl (GER) and TSF Dalera BB moving from the 53rd to 22nd position (2148 points) and Great Britain’s Carl Hester and his mount Hawtins Delicato made an enormous leap from the 130th to 23rd spot (2145 points). Hans Peter Minderhoud (NED) with Glock’s Dream Boy N.O.P. previously ranked 211th managed to get to 41st place (1891 points), and Sönke Rothenberger (GER) with Cosmo 59 jumping to 43rd place from 256th (1884 points).

As the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Western European League starts on 17 October in Herning (DEN), we will no doubt see some dramatic changes throughout the season, as these top international Dressage riders give good chase and maintain their world ranking positions.

The FEI Dressage World Ranking list can be found here

FEI Athletes’ Committee Announces Winners Of Online Vote

Three Olympians and one Paralympian have been elected to join the FEI Athletes’ Committee, voted in by their peers through an online vote.

Jumping athlete Cian O’Connor (IRL), Dressage rider Beatriz Ferrer-Salat (ESP) and Eventing athlete William Fox-Pitt (GBR) join German Paralympian Angelika Trabert on the Athletes’ Committee, together with newly crowned FEI World Equestrian Games™ Vaulting champion Kristina Boe (GER), Endurance athlete Taker Taher (KSA) and Reining athlete Francesca Sternberg (GBR).

Voting for the Driving athlete representative has resulted in a tie between Marieke Harm (GER) and Jambor Vilmos (HUN). As a result, a second round of voting will be held online from 1-10 October. The Driving athlete representative will be announced on 12 October.

The newly elected Athletes’ Committee members, who take office from today, are:

Jumping: Cian O’Connor (IRL)
Dressage: Beatriz Ferrer-Salat (ESP)
Eventing: William Fox-Pitt (GBR)
Para-Dressage: Angelika Trabert (GER)
Endurance: Tarek Taher (KSA)
Vaulting: Kristina Boe (GER)
Reining: Francesca Sternberg (GBR)

The Athletes’ Committee members, who have been elected for a period of four years, also serve on the Technical Committees for each discipline governed by the FEI.

A total of 52 athletes from 26 countries on five continents stood for election, which was conducted via a secure online voting platform, where the CVs of all athlete candidates were made available.

This was the second time in the FEI’s history that athlete elections have been held, marking a 100% increase in participation in numbers of candidates and a 160% increase in terms of nations compared to 2014.

“The athletes’ viewpoint is central to the global decision making process”, FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez said. “This is a committee made up of athletes and voted for by athletes. The calibre and experience of the newly elected Athletes Committee is impressive and will ensure that the global athletes’ community has its say and actively contributes to the development of equestrian sport. I also want to take this opportunity to thank the outgoing Athletes’ Committee members for their tremendous work and support these past four years.”

Further information on the Athletes’ Committee and the elections is available click here:

FEI World Equestrian Games Vaulting Championships Come To An Epic Conclusion

In a breathtaking finale to Vaulting at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Tryon, USA today, Team Germany, their individual female star Kristina Boe and Lambert Leclezio from France all took gold under supreme pressure in the Christie’s International Real Estate arena.

Boe, a formidable competitor and ambassador for the sport, now holds the European, World Cup and World Championship titles.

Her innate story-telling and characterisation have been stand-out characteristics throughout her years of success in the sport. Her astonishing achievements have been aided by her incredible relationship with lunger Winnie Schlüter and the impressive horse Don de la Mar. Posting an unbeatable combined score of 8.388, she managed to halt the challenge launched by compatriot, Janika Derks.

“As a result of the new Nations Team Championships it is the first time that it is possible to win two medals for an individual. To come away from Tryon with two gold medals makes me speechless and more than grateful”, Boe said.

““Last night Winnie and I sat together and said all that we hope for this last freestyle, is to do one round in utter harmony, where I can enjoy my performance. I love my music, my whole programme and I didn’t even care what would come in the end. I just wanted to have that one goose-bump round.”

Kristina Boe (GER)

Derks, who took the bronze medal alongside Johannes Kay two days ago in the Pas de Deux competition, came out all guns blazing. With Carousso Hit and renowned lunger Jessica Lichtenberg, her final freestyle highlighted her impressive strength yet was beautifully contrasted with classical music. Finishing on 8.374, she kept the pressure on Boe right to the end. Bronze went Austria’s Lisa Wild for the second time this week.

The highest freestyle score of the day went to Germany’s Sarah Kay who posted 8.880 in the final test (8.308). However her assault on the medals came too late in the competition as she finished on a combined total of 8.308 to line up fourth.

Lambert Leclezio from France dominated the individual male category as his execution, artistic impression and utter control meant he was in a league of his own. “It is the accumulation of hard work over the past four years. Every day waking up with the end goal of the 2018 World Equestrian Games in mind. It is a real honour to win here for France” he said. He got a standing ovation from the Tryon spectators as he once again changed the face of the sport. It was his partnership with Poivre Vert and Francois Athimon that allowed him to perform with such confidence to finish on 8.744.

This lunger and horse partnered Jacques Ferarri to the gold medal four years ago in Normandy (FRA), so it was a very special moment when they did it all over again, but with a new vaulter this time around. Poivre Vert, who has done so much for the sport, will now retire.

“This was his last competition and I had the honour to finish his career. He is an amazing horse and by far the best I have competed with. I spent one year with him, it was short but really intense”, Leclezio said.

““I have had him for ten years and he is an absolute warrior! He is mentally very strong and the most incredible horse – unbelievably reliable.”

Francois Athimon (FRA)

The standard throughout the class was exceptionally high, but it was Germany that continued their impressive form to secure both second and third places on the podium. A second silver at these Games went to Jannik Heiland on Dark Beluga lunged by Barbara Rosiny, when they were consistent, fluid and harmonious to finish on 8.606. Fellow-countryman Thomas Brüsewitz claimed bronze supported by Danny Boy who was lunged by 2010 Individual Male gold medallist Patric Looser (8.533) and who managed to overtake yet another of the powerful German contingent, Jannis Drewell (8.509).

Chiara Congia of Germany

The squad championship was a perfect conclusion to an amazing week. With only 0.001 separating overnight leaders Team Germany and Team Switzerland it was always destined to be a nail-biting final and it was the Germans who really rose to the occasion, leaving no doubt that they would walk away double gold medallists from these Games.

With competitors taking to the arena in reverse order of merit it was the Swiss who were the first of the two big-hitters to stake their claim to the title. But with gold on the line they had some nervous moments and had to settle for silver together with their horse Rayo de la Luz and lunger Monika Winkler-Bischofberger (8.433). However their head-to-head battle with Team Germany will go down as one of the greatest of all time.

Last to go, the German squad produced a stunning performance of their captivating ‘Now You See Me’ freestyle. With their horse Danny Boy and Patric Looser on the lunge they looked at ease despite the immense pressure and their freestyle, laced with big lifts and eye-catching dismounts, delighted both the audience and judges alike. By the end of their routine gold was guaranteed (8.638).

It was Team Austria who rounded off the podium, taking bronze alongside Alessio L’Amabile

Tears of Triumph as USA Wins Bank of America Team Jumping Title on Home Turf in Tryon

Team USA won the Bank of America Team Jumping Championship at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 in Tryon, USA today, but they were chased all the way to the line by a brilliant Swedish side that took silver, while Germany claimed the bronze. It was an epic battle on this final day of the team event, and nothing came easy.

“It was unbelievable! First off, the odds were miniscule that there would be a jump-off for first place…it wasn’t what we were looking for, but the sport doesn’t get any better than this!”

Robert Ridland (Team USA Chef d’Equipe)

Out in front as the action began, the Swiss lost their grip when Werner Muff’s 13-fault round with Daimler was followed by elimination for Janika Sprunger when Bacardi VDL crashed through the first fence and then refused to tackle the second on the 14-obstacle course. With six Olympic qualifying places also up for grabs all eyes were also on the minor placings, and in the end the Swiss booked their ticket to Tokyo 2020 when finishing fourth ahead of The Netherlands in fifth and the astonishing Australians who pipped the reigning European champions from Ireland for that coveted sixth spot.

It was a roller-coaster ride from start to finish, and the Swedes, lying fourth as the action began, piled on the pressure when adding nothing to their previous day’s scoreline of 20.59 when Henrik von Eckermann (Toveks Mary Lou), Malin Baryard-Johnsson (H&M Indiana) and Fredrik Jonsson (Cold Play) posted three brilliant clears. This was enough to overtake the Germans whose total rose to 22.09 despite foot-perfect runs from Simone Blue (DSP Alice) and Marcus Ehning (Pret a Tout), four faults from Laura Klaphake (Catch Me If You Can) having to be taken into account when Maurice Tebbel (Don Diarado) picked up five.

And although American hopes were high, the result was hanging in the balance right to the very end. Devin Ryan opened the host nation account with a single mistake at the second-last fence and when Adrienne Sternlicht and Cristalline picked up five then the Swedes were out in front. But Laura Kraut rode to the rescue as only she can, steering Zeremonie home with a clean sheet to a great roar from the crowd. If McLain Ward could follow that with another clear the job was done and the gold would be in American hands. But the Olympic double-gold medallist faulted at fence seven and suddenly everything changed once again. The USA and Sweden were tied on 20.59 penalties and it would take a jump-off to separate them.

“McLain made us all work a little harder – he could have made it a whole lot easier!” joked his team manager this evening.

McLain Ward’s fabulous final ride with Clinta captured the Bank of America Team Jumping Championship for Team USA at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 in Tryon, USA today. (FEI/Martin Dokoupil)

But in the end it was Ward who won it for them too, with a scorching last-to-go run with the grey mare Clinta. Both teams produced three clear rounds against the clock but Ward’s gallop through the timers saw USA post an accumulated time of 100.67 while the Swedes were two seconds slower.

Youngest team member Adrienne Sternlicht (25) was overcome with emotion at the post-competition press conference, and she wasn’t the only one to shed a tear.

“My best friends and family are here and I’m just thinking – what just happened?! You really don’t want to be woken up from this dream!”

Adrienne Sternlicht (Team USA)

“I love my horse so much, McLain has been the most unbelievable mentor for me, such an important part of my life, for me it’s been a battle of overcoming my own mind and I’m so grateful that Robert trusted me and trusted McLain enough to put me on this team and to be with Laura and Devin and McLain, three riders I’ve honestly looked up to my entire life, I’m so grateful for this opportunity – it’s been a wonderful day!” she said.

Denmark’s Paralympian Stinna Tange Kaastrup Takes First World Equestrian Games Gold

Denmark’s Stinna Tange Kaastrup made her global breakthrough in the Para Dressage competition at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon, North Carolina (USA) today with her mount Horsebo Smarties, taking gold in the Grade II Individual competition.

Denmark’s Paralympian Stinna Tange Kaastrup takes her first world championship gold

Kaastrup was a double bronze medallist at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, and has medalled at four European championships, is celebrating her first world title. She rode Horsebo Smarties to score 72.735% ahead of Austria’s multi world, European and Paralympic champion Pepo Puch, who scored 72.676% on Sailor’s Blue. The Netherlands’ Nicole den Dulk came third, on Wallace N.O.P. with 70.735%.