Saturday, April 30, 2011

Jumping: Leipzig: USEF: Ward Stands Tenth as US Sends Seven to the Final Round of the Rolex/FEI World Cup Final - By Helen Murray

McLain Ward and Antares F
Rebecca Walton/Phelps Media Group
Leipzig, Germany - The Rolex/FEI World Cup Final saw a shuffle throughout the standings after the conclusion of the second round this afternoon. With forty-four World Cup points up for grabs and the chance to head into the final round on zero faults, clear rounds were at a premium. Forty horse/rider combinations jumped Frank Rothenberger's impressive track, with seven riders representing six different nations returning for the jump-off.

In Sunday's final only the top twenty-nine riders from the first two rounds will have the opportunity to jump in the championship. The US will be represented by seven riders in this round and McLain Ward (Brewster, NY) will lead the charge as the top placed American.

Ward rebounded from Thursday's first round, which saw him lower two rails despite posting a competitive time. Today Ward riding Antares F and the pair jumped a stylish clear round to be the third horse to qualify for the jump-off. The Wurttemberger gelding owned by Grant Road Partners, LLC demonstrated immaculate jumping to make light work of Friday's initial course.

In the jump-off, Ward executed tight smooth turns and utilized Antares F's huge stride to post the quickest trip of the day, however a rail at the final vertical kept them from claiming top honors.

"I went early and was going to try to win the class, I'm not hanging on to any great lead to protect." Ward said "I wanted to try to win and there was definitely an option there, but it was a very hard option and it just got a little too far away from me. He made a good effort but that happens sometimes when you try to win."

Ward stands in tenth place in the standings on ten faults.

Breathing down his neck is Richard Spooner, who is in equal eleventh place on eleven faults. Spooner and the Holsteiner gelding, Cristallo, had a polished performance in the second round, just lowering the second element of the double at fence eight.

Beezie Madden brought her winning partner from Wednesday's Opening Competition, Coral Reef Via Volo, to Hall One of the Leipzig Exhibition Center for today's World Cup class. Madden guided Coral Reef Ranch's mare to the third fastest four-fault round of the day, after having the B element of the triple down at fence four.

The Cazenovia, New York native heads to the last round of competition tied for fifteenth place on twelve faults.

Margie Engle and Ashlee Bond were the top placing Americans after the first round but each found Rothenberger's course tricky this afternoon. Engle and Gladewinds Farm, Garber, Griese and Hidden Creek Farm's Indigo faulted at the large oxer at fence three and then had difficulties with fence four the triple combination when Indigo and Engle miscommunicated resulting in a stop. Bond and Little Valley Farm's Cadett 7 faulted in the triple as well as having a rail at the middle element, later in the course they also lowered fences eleven and thirteen.

Engle currently stands tied for seventeenth place with fourteen faults, while Bond heads into Sunday in twenty-first with sixteen faults.

The remaining two combinations to advance to the final round for the US are Michelle Spadone, twenty-third place on eighteen faults, and Rich Fellers with twenty-three faults in twenty-seventh place.

Up-and-coming US riders Charlie Jayne, Kirsten Coe and Brianne Goutal will jump in Saturday's Sparkassen Cup- Grand Prix of Leipzig after having competed in the first two rounds of the 2011 Rolex/FEI World Cup Final.

Canada's Eric Lamaze and Hickstead won today's class after besting the field in the jump-off and heads into to the final round in fifth place on six faults. While Germany's Marco Kutscher and Christian Ahlmann share the lead heading into Sunday both on zero faults.

The 2011 Rolex/FEI World Cup Final champion will be crowned in Hall One of the Leipzig Exhibition Center Sunday afternoon.

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