Kent Farrington and Voyeur (Tolano Van't Riethof x Goodwill) showed no mercy to their competitors in Lyon today, taking the win against no less than 20 other competitors in the jump-off in the second competition of the Longines FEI World Cup Final. With over half of the 38 rider start field moving on to race against the clock, there was no doubt that the second round would be extremely fast – and with no less than six of the riders being from America the US riders stood a good chance of taking the win. And so they did.
The fact that Frank Rothenberger’s thirteen fence track – that counted a triple combination at 7abc (oxer-oxer-vertical) and a combination at 9ab (vertical-oxer) – saw so many go clear, spoke both for itself and for the quality on the field of horses and riders in it. A tighter time allowed – it was no problem to take a steady version in Lyon today without being punished – could maybe have reduced the number of clears by a few. But on the press conference that followed the class it was explained that the jury wanted to keep it as it was – much to the frustration of the course designer who early on understood that it should be shortened.
Many clears made for an exciting and fast jump-off with lots of the favourites in it though. Five Germans joined the six Americans, as well as two Swiss riders – that included yesterday’s winner Pius Schwizer and two-times vice-champion Steve Guerdat – two British and two French in addition to riders from the Netherlands, Latvia, Brazil and Australia.
The first clear in the jump-off came from America’s Charlie Jayne who was fourth to go against the clock. Riding Chill R Z (Chellano Z x A Lucky One) he definitely put pressure on the rest with a clear round in 42.52 seconds. One rider later Edwina Tops-Alexander produced a steady clear around the shortened eight fence track that included the previous combination at 9 and b – now set as the fourth challenge and then the choice between two different planks as the penultimate fence before a long race waited to the final oxer. The Australian rider stopped the clock on 51.51 on Ego van Orti (Vigo d'Arsouilles x Darco) – eventually good enough for eleventh.
Next in the ring was Kent Farrington on Voyeur. Kent took out strides on both the opening line and on the finishing one – doing both on nine – and got a fantastic turn to the third last vertical before he turned smoothly inside to the following plank, and when he stopped the clock it showed 39.61 seconds. It looked nearly impossible to beat him, and so it was.
Four riders later, Beezie Madden – current title holder – produced a great clear round on Simon (Mr. Blue x Polydox), also getting superb turns to the third last and the penultimate uprights to cross the finish line on 40.35 seconds and slotting into second behind Kent. Scott Brash went for a medium fast round on Ursula XII (Ahorn x Papageno) – eager to avoid a similar mistake than yesterday when he had the last fence down. Eventually it was good enough for sixth. Birthday boy Marcus Ehning – who turned 40 on Saturday – was again clear on Cornado NRW (Cornet Obolensky x Acobat), who keeps on jumping out of this world. The time of 43.66 placed them ninth at the end of the competition. His compatriot Christian Ahlmann ended just in front of him, also he clear on Aragon Z (Askari x Kolibri). Maikel van der Vleuten also followed up with a clear on VDL Groep Verdi (Quidam de Revel x Landgraf I) – who like Cornado NRW and Aragon has not touched a pole so far in the competition, but was slightly slower than the two and ended tenth.
On Friday Cornet D’Amour (Cornet Obolensky x Damiani) looked amazing under Daniel Deusser and today was no different as the couple made light work of the two tracks. Although Daniel kept away from taking all the risk, he was still fast in 40.61 and slotted into third behind Kent and Beezie proving he indeed is one of the favourites ahead of Monday’s remaining two rounds.
Next to go was Steve Guerdat on Nino des Buissonnets (Kannan x Narcos II) though, and nobody could feel safe of anything after the two jumped a tremendous first round with the Olympic gold winning horse seeming to have an eye or two in each hoof as he minded himself cleverly around the track set at 1.50-1.60. A hairy moment out of the combination in the jump-off could have sealed their faith, but they made it out with the oxer intact and when the clock stopped at 40.29 Steve pushed into second position.
Although the remaining two did their best, with Patrice Delaveau doing a super clear but choosing to add a stride on the final line on Lacrimoso HDC (Landjunge x Cascavelle) to stop the clock on 41.66 to the roars of the home crowds – and Pius as last to go with the a-element of the combination down on Toulago (Toulon x Carthago), there was nothing to do about Kent, Steve, Beezie and Daniel.
With two consistent days, Steve Guerdat and Patrice Delaveau jumped up to share the overall lead – and after their points over the two days have been converted they are both on a zero penalty score. Daniel Deusser has jumped up to rank three on two penalties, and in rank four on four penalties follows Ludger Beerbaum, Beezie Madden and Pius Schwizer.
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