The French came strong in force to Gothenburg, and dominated the first round of the Longines FEI World Cup Final with the world’s leading lady rider Penelope Leprevost finishing on top after an incredible performance and world no. one Simon Delestre following behind as runner-up. In the top twelve were also two of the other French riders, with Patrice Delaveau ending 6th and Kevin Staut 12th.
The 38th edition of the World Cup Finals saw 35 riders competing over Santiago Varela’s very well built track consisting of thirteen fences, that included a triple combination at 5abc (vertical-vertical-oxer) and a combination at 8ab (oxer-vertical). Faults spread out all over the course, although the golden oxer with a water tray at fence ten claimed quite a few victims set at a distance of five forward or six supporting strides. Also, many riders got in trouble simply by being a bit over-motivated rushing their horses into making mistakes.
The first clear round in the table C-competition, where faults are converted into additional time, came from France’s Patrice Delaveau and Lacrimoso HDC (Landjunge x Cascavelle) – both masters of speed over heights. The two set the target time at 66.96 seconds, and the pressure was on – although it looked like the time was definitely possible to beat.
Both German young gun Niklas Krieg and Swiss rider Romain Duguet delivered clear and fast rounds in Scandinavium, and got company from home hero Henrik von Eckermann – but it was not until Germany’s Daniel Deusser entered the ring that Delaveau’s time seemed to be under threat. Aboard his 2014 World Cup Champion Cornet D’Amour (Cornet Obolensky x Damiani), Deusser produced one of the most classical rounds of the competition to go clear and stop the clock at 66.54 seconds after both opting to go inside to the third last oxer as well as the final Longines oxer. Five more clears followed, from USA’s Callan Solem, Ireland’s Denis Lynch, Germany’s Marco Kutscher and Marcus Ehning – the latter posting a picture-perfect round on an extremely well jumping Cornado NRW (Cornet Obolensky x Acobat) and then followed Belgium’s 22-year-old Nicola Philippaerts who slotted into second on H&M Forever D'Arco Ter Linden (Darco x Tenor Manciais) with a time of 66.94 seconds and a round that rode much faster than it looked.
Two riders later, world no. one Simon Delestre smashed the leading time after a calculated performance on Qlassic Bois Margot (L'Arc de Triomphe x Galoubet A) – his team silver medal winning partner at the 2014 World Championships. Going inside to the last, the French rider caught up with Deusser to take over the lead in 66.04 seconds – but was quite lucky as the back pole of the Longines oxer jumped out of the cups but then back in again. His compatriot Kevin Staut was also blistering fast, but For Joy van't Zorgvliet HDC (For Pleasure x Heartbreaker) simply did not jump the oxer at fence seven well, and had one down putting him on 69.38 after four seconds were added.
While some riders showed what they were made of, such as Harrie Smolders on Emerald N.O.P. (Diamant De Semilly x Carthago) – that made it look easy for the Netherlands with a clear in 68.04 seconds – others struggled. It must have been quite a disappointing day seen with American eyes, as only one of their riders went clear and quite a large group ended far down on the leader board after disappointing performances.
For one of the favorites, Christian Ahlmann from Germany, it did not go as planned either. With two down on Colorit (Coriano x Capitol) the 2011 World Cup Champion finished 25th today.
One that did not disappoint though, was Australia’s Chris Chugg that put the Scandinavium on fire with a great round on the only 8-year-old Cristalline (Cristallo 1 x Caretello B). Using his 55 years of experience to his advantage, Chugg posted a cracker of a clear round in 71.55 seconds.
The world’s leading lady rider and Vice Champion at last year's World Cup Finals, Penelope Leprevost was next in the ring on the 11-year-old stallion Vagabond de la Pomme (Vigo d'Arsouilles x For Pleasure). Leprevost is well known for her speed and accuracy, and once again she showed why she is feared by her competitors. Setting off in a high pace, Leprevost kept on going after every single fence – not once pulling back. Taking five forward strides on the line from nine to ten, and then going inside to the final Longines oxer Leprevost took over the lead with an incredible time: 63.78 seconds – over two seconds quicker than Delestre.
Reigning World Cup Champion Steve Guerdat put in a good bid on Corbinian ( Cornet Obolensky x Pilot), that perhaps lacks the last experience at the highest level of the sport, and did an incredible turn to the third last oxer as well as to the final fence to slot into fourth after Penelope, Simon and Daniel – making it tight and exciting on top with some of the world’s very best and most consistent riders leading the way on day one in Gothenburg.
Text © World of Showjumping // Pictures © Jenny Abrahamsson
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