|Caption: Reigning Olympic champion Eric Lamaze (CAN) riding the great stallion Hickstead reigned supreme in the Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final second qualifier in Leipzig today. Photo: Kit Houghton/FEI|
Leipzig (GER), 29 April 2011
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Germany's Christian Ahlmann and Marco Kutscher share the lead going into Sunday's third and deciding competition at the Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final 2010/2011 on their home ground at Leipzig. But it was reigning Olympic champion, Canada's Eric Lamaze, who reigned supreme in today's second qualifier riding the great stallion Hickstead. The win has bounced Lamaze up to fifth spot, just six points behind the leading pair as the thrilling series draws to a close.
The startlist for today's class was reduced to 40 following the withdrawal of Saudi Arabia's Abdullah Al Sharbatly, and course designer Frank Rothenberger lived up to his promise to present a considerably stronger track. A total of seven made it through to the second-round jump-off which Frenchman Simon Delestre (Couletto) and New Zealand's Katie McVean (Delphi) missed out on when picking up just a single time fault. McVean has created quite a sensation this week however as the 24-year-old daughter of Australian legend Jeff McVean has ridden her home-bred 10-year-old mare with extraordinary confidence and panache. Despite not making the cut into the timed round, she is lying in fourth place, just behind The Netherlands' Gerco Schroder, going into Sunday's decider after the result of the first two competitions have been calculated into points.
BIG AND BOLD
Rothenberger's course was big and bold, with the triple combination at fence four creating some of the earliest problems. The opening vertical consistently hit the floor as horses did a double-take at the following oxer and the third-element vertical which were decorated in the colours of the German flag. And the line that included the double at eight and the following vertical at fence nine proved another big test. It was here that Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum's chances slipped away. She arrived on a fairly long stride to the triple-bar opener at 8a, and although the 16-year-old Checkmate cleared the second-element oxer, he found himself a distance off the following vertical and ducked left. The partnership completed without any further ado but their seven penalties put paid to the chances of the three-time Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping champion claiming a fourth title.
Luck of course plays a major role in competition, just as in life, and Marco Kutscher had more than his fair share of it when his first-day winner Cash rubbed the top poles on each of the first two fences before completing clear and joining six others in the race against the clock.
First to go in the jump-off was Venezuela's Pablo Barrios, but his 11-year-old mare G&C Quick Star lowered both the Rolex planks, now third on the track, and the following first element of the treble which was now reduced to just two jumping efforts. A good roll-back here would prove crucial to a strong finishing result.
Spain's Sergio Alvarez Moya opted for a cautious clear with his elegant stallion Action-Breaker to set the first real target at 48.79 seconds. But America's McLain Ward came out with all guns blazing to produce a stunning run from the big-jumping grey Antares F that looked set to really put it up to the remaining four, only to clip the flimsy white planks at the very end of the track as they broke the beam in 39.37 seconds.
Lamaze set off with equal determination, and with Hickstead in full flight they took the lead with a fabulous clear in 40.68. But while Gerco Schroder and Eurocommerce New Orleans never looked like ousting them from pole position as they crossed the line without incident in 44.77 seconds, Christian Ahlmann's seemingly unhurried round brought Taloubet Z home just fractionally slower than the Canadian in 40.86 seconds.
The only question now remaining was whether first-day winners Kutscher and Cash could edge the Olympic champion down the order, but a pole off the second element of the former triple combination settled the matter and he had to make do with sixth spot this time out.
SHARING THE LEAD
It was still good enough to leave him sharing the top of the leaderboard with his team-mate Ahlmann and well within sight of the coveted Rolex trophy that all the riders want to take home. There is no room for error however, as Schroder is just one point behind going into Sunday's last test, while McVean is only a single fence further in arrears with four points on the board while Lamaze carries six.
"This is Hickstead's first World Cup final - I always wanted him to be part of one before the end of his career", said Lamaze this evening. "Yesterday I was cautious and we had one down, and today we had a few rubs in the first round but he was great in the jump-off. He has had a great career and to add this day to it is wonderful, especially in front of Rolex, my new sponsors - it's a special moment for me!" he added.
Ahlmann and Kutscher said they are happy to share the lead going into Sunday's finale. "We know each other now for at least 15 years and we are good friends", said Kutscher. "I'm happy to be in the lead in the World Cup for the first time in my life and I'm also happy that, after taking a lot of risks yesterday, my horse jumped so well today."
RESULT 2nd Qualifier: 1, Hickstead (Eric Lamaze) CAN 0/0 40.68; 2, Taloubet Z (Christian Ahlmann) GER 0/0 40.86; 3, Eurocommerce New Orleans (Gerco Schroder) NED 0/0 44.77; 4, Action-Breaker (Sergio Alvarez-Moya) ESP 0/0 48.79; 5, Antares F (McLain Ward) USA 0/4 39.37; 6, Cash (Marco Kutscher) GER 0/4 40.89; 7, G&C Quick Star (Pablo Barrios) VEN 0/8 42.02; 8, Delphi (Katie McVean) NZL 1/76.72; 9, Couletto (Simon Delestre) FRA 1/76.78; 10, Carlina (Pius Schwizer) SUI 4/71.87; 11, H&M Tornesch (Malin Baryard-Johnsson) SWE 4/72.81; 12, Coral Reef Vie Volo (Beezie Madden) USA 4/73.33; 13, Gotha (Ludger Beerbaum) GER 4/74.13; 14, Quintero la Silla (Rolf-Goran Bengtsson) SWE 4/74.16; 15, Silvana de Hus (Kevin Staut) FRA 4/74.54; 16, Cristallo (Richard Spooner) USA 4/74.69; 17, Melissimo (Michelle Spadone) USA 4/75.56; 18, Lord Luis (Lars Nieberg) 5/76.28; 19, Checkmate (Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum) GER 7/87.72; 20, BMC van Grunsven Simon (Jeroen Dubbeldam) NED 8/70.18; 21, Sabrina (Marcus Ehning) GER 8/73.59; 22, Regina Z (Harrie Smolders) NED 74.10; 23, Catoki (Philipp Weishaupt) GER 8/74.57; 24, Tinka's Serenade (Billy Twomey) IRL 9/76.81; 25, Wonderboy lll (Ahmad Saber Hamcho) SYR 9/78.35; 26, Vip vd Keersod (Yuri Mansur Guerios) BRA 9/79.01; 27, Tristan (Kirsten Coe) USA 9/79.45; 28, Indigo (Margie Engle) USA 10/80.47; 29, Cadett 7 (Ashlee Bond) USA 12/71.62; 30, Flexible (Rich Fellers) USA 12/72.70; 31, Rocketman 2 (Vladimir Beletsky) RUS 12/75.89; 32, Winningmood (Luciana Diniz) POR 12/89.47; 33, Athena (Charlie Jayne) USA 16/71.73; 34, Tomba (Eduardo Menezes) BRA 16/73.07; 35, Ballade van het Indihof (Brianne Goutal) USA 16/74.24; 36, Utopia (John Perez) COL 17/78.60; 37, Leonard (Jose Alberto Martinez Vazquez) MEX 17/79.13; 38, Ulrike R (Gunnar Klettenberg) EST 20/74.69; 39, Snowyriver ll (Daisuke Kawaguchi) JPN 36/73.68; 40, Cinnamon (Tilt Kivisild) EST Ret.
STANDINGS after Second Round of Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final 2010/2011 (results of first two competitions calculated into points):
Equal 1. Christian Ahlmann (GER), Marco Kutscher (GER) 0; 3, Gerco Schroder (NED) 1; 4, Katie McVean (NZL) 4; 5, Eric Lamaze (CAN) 6; 6, Malin Baryard-Johnsson (SWE) 8; Equal 7, Kevin Staut (FRA), Pius Schwizer (SUI), Marcus Ehning (GER) 9; 10, McLain Ward (USA) 10; Equal 11, Sergio Alvarez Moya (ESP), Rolf-Goran Bengtsson (SWE), Richard Spooner (USA), Jeroen Dubbeldam (NED) 11; Equal 15, Simon Delestre (FRA), Beezie Madden (USA) 12; Equal 17, Pablo Barrios (VEN), Philipp Weishaupt (GER), Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (GER), Margie Engle (USA) 14; 21, Ashlee Bond (USA) 16; 22, Billy Twomey (IRL) 17; 23, Michelle Spadone (USA) 18; 24, Ludger Beerbaum (GER) 19; 25, Lars Nieberg (GER) 21; 26, Harrie Smolders (NED) 22; Equal 27, Luciana Diniz (POR), Rich Fellers (USA) 23; 29, Vladimir Beletsky (RUS) 25; 30, Yuri Mansur Guerios (BRA) 27; Equal 31, Eduardo Menezes (BRA), Ahmad Saber Hamcho (SYR) 28; 33, Kirsten Coe (USA) 29; 34, John Perez (COL) 31; 35, Brianne Goutal (USA) 32; 36, Charlie Jayne (USA) 33; 37, Abdullah Al Sharbatly (KSA) 35; Equal 38, Jose Alberto Martinez Vazquez (MEX), Gunnar Klettenberg (EST) 36; Equal 40, Daisuke Kawaguchi (JPN), Tilt Kivisild (EST) 37; Equal 42, Denis Lynch (IRL), Edwina Alexander (AUS) 0.
Listen to interviews with the stars of the Rolex FEI World Cup™ Final Jumping:
Marco Kutscher in German:
Marco Kutscher in English:
Marcus Ehning in German:
Marcus Ehning in English:
Malin Baryard Johnsson in Swedish:
Malin Baryard Johnsson in English:
FACTS AND FIGURES:
The withdrawal of Saudi Arabia's Abdullah Al Sharbatly reduced the field to 40 starters in today's competition.
7 qualified for the second-round jump-off.
29 qualified from Sunday's third and final competition which will decide the Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping champion for the 2010/2011 season.
1 rider - Estonia's Tilt Kivisild (Cinnamon) - retired in the first round.
2 finished with just one first-round time penalty - New Zealand's Katie McVean (Delphi) and Simon Delestre (Couletto) from France.
McVean is the 24-year-old daughter of famous Australian rider Jeff McVean who is now retired.
8 finished with just four faults in the first round.
The time allowed in round one, originally set at 79 seconds, was reduced to 76 seconds after the first three riders completed the course.
The doubles at fences 4 and 8 proved influential, as did the vertical at 9 and the Rolex planks at 11.
German riders Christian Ahlmann and Marco Kutscher share the lead going into Sunday's final competition, each carrying a zero score.
Defending champion Marcus Ehning (GER) is lying equal-7th.
8 nations are represented in the top 10 going into Sunday's final leg.
Eric Lamaze - "Riding Hickstead is a privilege - he is such a clever horse, everything with him is about speed and rhythm and he never takes his eye off the top pole of a fence, he has it all measured up."
Gerco Schroder - "I'm very happy with my horse today and yesterday he also jumped very well. I saw Eric go in the jump-off and I thought it’s not possible to catch him so I decided to just do my own ride and it worked out well."
Marco Kutscher, talking about his jump-off round - "I turned too sharp to the double and he hit it but I'm very happy with my horse."
Katie McVean - "I'm very excited to be here amongst these riders. I came to Europe specially for the World Cup final and I am based near Eindhoven in Holland with a friend. My father is with me this week - he rode the dam of my horse Delphi. Delphi had five weeks quarantine after the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky but we won two World Cup qualifiers and so I decided we should come here - it's been great so far!"
For the first time in the history of equestrian sport, the Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping, Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage, FEI World Cup™ Driving and the inaugural FEI World Cup™ Vaulting takes place under one roof in Leipzig this week, bringing together four world-class disciplines for a fabulous festival of sport.