Yesterday Simon’s former rider Jeroen Dubbeldam showed up in Scandinavium and stated; ”I’ve come to Gothenburg to see Simon win” – well, he got what he came for as Beezie Madden rode the 14 year old Dutch gelding all the way to the top in today’s Rolex FEI World Cup Final. Beezie and Simon have been extremely consistent throughout the final; they were in the lead after Thursday’s first round, and in runner-up position after Friday’s second part of the competition. Today Beezie took the lead after the first round, and after being tied with Olympic Champions Steve Guerdat and Nino des Buissonnets (Kannan x Narcos II) following round two she came in as last to go in a heart-racing jump-off to land the win for America – making sure to follow up on compatriot Rich Fellers’ win last year.
Today’s competition kicked off with an extremely tough first round track set by Uliano Vezzani. Not one of the riders – the world’s best – managed to go clear around the twelve fence track, which gave the horses and riders very little chance to take the smallest of breaths. The vertical at fence three to the oxer at four which was followed by a line on four, or in some cases five short, strides to a vertical-vertical combination with red planks especially caused trouble. Some also struggled with the oxer at six that came close out of the corner.
Luciana Diniz and Lennox (Lifestyle x Grannus) – that came in as last to go in the first round, leading the competition, was punished by this very oxer and also fell down the ranks as the two last fences fell. Right before her Beezie had been in the ring on Simon (Mr. Blue x Polydox), and she had to see the plank at 5b giving her a hard time – although with a total score of five penalties it was still enough to take back the lead before the second round. Kevin Staut has showed off some great riding this week on Silvana HDC (Corland x Widor), and continued to do so today. The French rider had one unlucky rail down as the back pole on the oxer at two fell, but still climbed up in the overall standings to go into the second round as runner-up with a score of six penalties.
Beezie and Kevin were closely followed by McLain Ward on Super Trooper de Ness (Vigo d’Arsouilles x Polydor) and Steve Guerdat on Nino des Buissonnets – both were breathing the top two riders in the neck at nine penalties apiece after round one. Steve was incredibly unlucky to come too close to the final vertical that counted three strides on a line from the penultimate vertical, while McLain had the back pole on the giant oxer at six down on Grand Road Partners’ 11 year old stallion. With four riders following at twelve penalties – Sergio Alvarez Moya, Marc Houtzager, Rolf-Göran Bengtsson and Luciana Diniz – it was all set for an exciting second round that was set with a new tough twelve fence track.
Nine riders had to leave the ring before the first clear of the round came. It was delivered by Spanish super star Sergio Alvarez Moya and the lovely Carlo 273 (Contender x Cascavelle). With their performance the pair went into the lead on a total score of twelve penalties, with seven riders left to go. Marc Houtzager did not have luck on his side though, and had to see the back pole on the last oxer fall to the ground aboard a very well jumping Sterrefhof’s Tamino (Numero Uno x Farmer). Luck did not favor home-crowd favorite Rolf-Göran Bengtsson either who got a single time penalty after fighting for a clear round all way round the track on Quintero La Silla (Quantum x Chamonix) – a horse that loves to twist and turn in the air. Rolf was still happy though, and Scandinavium arena exploded with the super star slotting into a temporary overall rank two. Luciana could not keep it together in round two either, and unfortunately had two down.
Steve Guerdat is an amazing rider, and Nino an extraordinary horse – and the two benefit from a tremendous partnership and from a lot of trust in each other. Coming a little from behind, Steve used this as his advantage – guiding Urs Schwarzenbach’s athletic 12 year old gelding to the second and last clear round of the day. With such a performance the Swiss rider remained on a score of nine penalties, and slotted into the lead.
All three remaining riders had one pole down. First McLain Ward, who had the c-element in the triple combination down – then poor, poor Kevin who saw the back pole on the final oxer fall after a tremendous round on Haras des Coudrettes’ grey mare. With a total score of 10 penalties, Kevin was still in podium position though – slotting into second with only Beezie to go. The American rider sits on an experienced horse – Simon was third in the World Cup Final in Leipzig in 2011 under Dubbeldam, and is a true championship horse. The line from fence ten to the combination at 11a and b got the better of Beezie and Abigail Wexner’s Simon though, who had the back pole of the first element down and thus another four faults – tying her with Steve as number one a score of nine penalties and securing a jump-off.
Just as in last year’s final in Den Bosch, Steve had the disadvantage of going first in against the clock. Putting Nino into top gear as he landed after the first vertical, Steve did ten strides to the oxer at two before he got a great turn to the combination and then to the oxer at four. Unfortunately, it went wrong on the last line though as Steve took a really short turn to the penultimate vertical taking it down with him – and then trying to save up even more time raced to the last, seeing that fall as well. The time was for sure good though at 30.33 seconds.
The door was wide open for Beezie and Simon, who could go for a steady clear round – and that was exactly what they did. Beezie kept all nerves under control, rode a steady and calculated round – leaving all fences intact at 41.66 seconds. Not only could Beezie celebrate being crowned World Cup winner, she also secured America the World Cup title and trophy for a second year in a row!
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