Things couldn’t have got off to a more exciting start! For the first time ever, an international team competition, where teams comprising of one top European rider and two Chinese riders battle it out for victory, was staged at the Longines Equestrian Beijing Masters. And it was a nail-biting experience for the spectators until the very last rider entered the ring.
Ultimately, Marco Kutscher and his two Chinese team members Zhiwen Zhao and Zhenqiang Li beat their fellow competitors by just under a second. “It was an exciting class and we had a lot of fun,” is how Kutscher summed up the premiere. Jeroen Dubbeldam and his Chinese partners Ciren Bianba and Jirigala Erdeng claimed second place.
After the first round, Team Kutscher and Team Dubbeldam were both tied on one fault each, which meant the competition had to be decided by a jump-off. Both Marco Kutscher and Jeroen Dubbeldam – both of whom jumped clear in the first round incidentally – chose to send one of their Chinese team mates into the jump-off. Eagerly supported by their famous team leaders, who stood together at the entrance of the ring during the rides cheering their fellow riders on over every obstacle, Zhenqiang Li and Jirigala Erdeng fascinated the crowd with a neck and neck race in the jump-off too, whereby both of them picked up four faults. However, Zhenqiang Li reached the finish line almost a second faster to secure Team Kutscher the victory. “My team put in a fantastic performance this evening,” said a delighted Marco Kutscher. “I knew Zhenqiang Li can ride fast and since he was the last to ride in the first round, he was still warm for the jump-off. That is why he represented our team in the jump-off and our strategy certainly paid off.”
Maikel van der Vleuten’s team came third on a total score of seven faults.
Source: Press release from Longines Equestrian Beijing Masters
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