Marcus Ehning showed his quality this evening when he won the ninth leg of the Rolex FEI World Cup in the Western European league.Course builder Frank Rothenberger explained that the course started off quite easily, but that it progressed into several challenges – including some difficult distances. “The first distance is set on six short strides, the next on five long strides,” Rothenberger said before the class started. The most difficult part of the course proved to be the line from fence seven – a vertical – on three strides down to the triple combination. Rothenberger explained this line by the fact that the arena is short, and a short distance from the vertical was thus the solution that was needed. Another unusual factor was the combination on 9a and b, that came directly after the triple combination. “I’m guessing five to seven clears, with most faults halfway into the course” Rothenberger said.
Well, Mr. Rothenberger couldn’t have been more right. Of the 39 riders in the class, there were six clears. The triple combination at 8a, b and c – which followed the short and tricky line from the vertical – caused the most problems for the riders. World number one Kevin Staut, Simon Delestre on the wonderful Couletto, Denis Lynch, Steve Guerdat and Marco Kutscher were all among the riders who were victims to this part of the course.
It was Janika Sprunger on Uptown Boy – a ten year old gelding by Odermus R – who set the first clear, much to the appreciation of the home crowd. After Janika, the problem started for the riders – and Hugo Simon ended up leaving his horse involuntarily. Simon was not alone as Norway’s Nina Braaten later ended up with the same destiny. Pilar Lucrecia Cordon followed on her chestnut Nuage Bleu as the next rider to go clear. Although Shutterfly and Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum had a touch on one of the verticals, the veteran jumped crazy good and stayed clear with a great and fluent clear round. Sergio Alvares Moya rattled the vertical at number seven, but steered the amazing Heartbreaker-stallion Action-Breaker clear around the course. Marcus Ehning made the difficult course look easy, and rode a text book clear on the Lord Z-mare Noltes Küchengirl – leaving no doubt about his form of the day. Australia’s Edwina Alexander seemed so determined that something else than a clear round was not an option, and aboard the tiny and brave Cevo Itot du Chateau she crossed the finish line on a clean sheet. Birthday boy Ben Maher – who is currently traveling between Florida and Europe to compete – had the wonderful Robin Hood W back in action on the world cup-scene. The Animo-gelding has had a long break as he has not been up to his usual form, but those problems seemed long gone in Zürich – the pair were the last combination to go clear.
Janika Sprunger – daughter of famous showjumper Hansueli Sprunger - opened the jump-off, but took two fences down on her way on the time of 46.49. Pilar Lucrecia Cordon and Nuage Bleu put the pressure on the other riders with their fast and accurate clear round on 42.81. The Spanish rider didn’t take it all out on the last stretch to the Rolex vertical though, and left some room here for the remaining riders. Surprisingly, Michaels-Beerbaum and Shutterfly had the plank down and crossed the finish line on four faults and a time of 41.00. Unfortunately for Sergio he left a stride out when approaching the combination, causing Action-Breaker to jump straight through the a)-element – an oxer. As a result the stallion could not reach the back pole of the oxer going out of the combination, resulting in eight faults for the pair. Marcus Ehning was the next to go, and followed his fantastic first round with a class-act jump-off. Noltes Küchengirl looked like she could have jumped to the roof of the arena, leaving no doubt why she and Marcus are feared by their competitors. A clear round on 40.03 secured the German rider the lead and eventually the win as neither Edwina nor Ben could catch him. Edwina tried her best though, and although Itot jumped his heart out with a clear round it was not enough with the time of 42.41. Ben and Robin Hood W jumped an absolutely superb round – and getting some last minute advice from in-form Billy Twomey might have helped – as the two finished as runners-up on 42.10, 2.07 seconds behind Ehning.
“Robin is not the fastest horse, but we did our best – and there was no way I could catch Marcus. I am very happy with the class, and Robin is now back and feels very good,” Ben said after the jump-off.
“My mare has jumped great throughout the weekend. She was sovereign in the first round. It was a good jump-off for us as there were a lot of open stretches were we could canter, and she could show how fast she is,” Marcus said of Noltes Küchengirl. “I didn’t know if I had done enough in the jump-off, but I knew the other would have to go fast,” Ehning continued.
“The course was very well build; difficult and demanding careful horses. My horse is in super shape, and he really wanted to win today. It didn’t feel fast when I crossed the finish line, as I had some trouble with some of the distances in the jump-off,” Edwina Alexander said. “I’m planning to do the rest of the world cup qualifiers as I’m just halfway to the final,” Edwina continued.
The win secured a valuable 20 points for Ehning, who is now in number seven with 40 points in the world cup standings. The world cup standings after the ninth leg in Zürich – and four legs to go – looks like this:
1. Kevin Staut, 87 points.
2. Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, 62 points.
3. Rolf-Göran Bengtsson, 58 points.
4. Billy Twomey, 50 points.
5. Christian Ahlmann, 46 points.
6. Harrie Smolders, 43 points.
7. Marcus Ehning, 40 points.
8. Sergio Alvarez Moya, 40 points.
9. Rodrigo Pessoa, 36 points.
10. Michael Whitaker, 35 points.
11. Carsten-Otto Nagel, 33 points.
12. Ludger Beerbaum, 31 points.
13. Pilar Lucrecia Cordon, 31 points.
14. Jessica Kürten, 30 points.
15. Malin Baryard-Johnsson, 29 points.
16. Gerco Schroder, 28 points.
17. Robert Whitaker, 28 points.
18. Leon Thijssen, 27 points.
19. Lars Nieberg, 27 points.
20. Edwina Alexander, 26 points.
For full standings click here.
For full results from Zürich click here.
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