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French veteran Michel Robert finishes first in World Cup in Vigo

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Michel Robert and Kellemoi de Pepita. Photo by Paco Rey/FEI.French riders reigned supreme in Vigo Saturday night where horse-maste Michel Robert and Kellemoi de Pepita. Michel Robert finished first ahead of fellow-countryman Kevin Staut to win the eleventh leg of the 2010/2011 Rolex FEI World Cup Jumping Western European league series.  In a contest that challenged mental strength and strategy as well as jumping ability, it was Robert who kept the coolest head to capitalize on his late draw.  And his delight in the success of his mare Kellemoi de Pepita was something he couldn't suppress.  "She jumped fantastic in both rounds - I'm so very happy with her, she was super!" said the 62 year old veteran.

Staut, who continues to hold the No. 1 spot on the Rolex World Rankings list, steered his Geneva winner Silvana de Hus into runner-up spot, while Sweden's Malin Baryard-Johnsson finished third with H&M Tornesch.  Spanish course designer, Avelino Rodriguez Mirvalles, got more than he bargained for when 17 of the 35 starters found the key to his first-round track.  The 13 fences were big and scopey, but the distances in general were kind although the triple combination claimed a notable number of victims.  And with four of the 11 Spanish representatives through to the jump-off, the home crowd had plenty of reason to stay glued to their seats.

First to return to the ring was Baryard-Johnsson who again kept a clean sheet with her 11 year old stallion to set the standard in 48.15 seconds. Baryard-Johnsson's lead looked threatened when Marco Kutscher and Cornet Obolensky produced a super-tight rollback after fence 15, but the grey stallion threw in an objection en route to the following two elements of the triple combination and returned with 12 faults.

Lars Nieberg and Lord Luis kept Germany in the frame when he crossed the finish line without incident in the competitive time of 48.95 seconds. Kevin Staut then burst into the lead with a great run from Silvana de Hus that bettered the target-time by under a second.  As Pius Schwizer and Ulysse and Ludger Beerbaum and Chaman left fences on the floor it seemed the Frenchman had possibly raised the game as far as it could go. But Sergio Alvarez Moya set the arena alight with a thrilling run from Mme Pompadour who was well up on the clock coming to the last.  The Spanish partnership angled the final oxer however and caught the right-hand wing which brought the fence down.Kevin Staut and Silvana de Hus - second in Vigo. Photo by Paco Rey/FEI. 

Steve Guerdat, Michael Whitaker, Denis Lynch and last weekend's winner Philipp Weishaupt all left two fences on the floor while Frenchman Simon Delestre saw his chances slip away with three down. 

There would be no mistake as Michel Robert set to work however, balancing his mare beautifully on the turn at 15 and racing through the finish in 45.88 seconds. Robert was delighted with his result.  "That turn at fence 15 was very difficult but I felt a win today was a real possibility for my horse"he said afterwards.  He analyzed his jump-off round.  "I tried to go quickly between the first two fences and then more carefully, I took two short turns and on the last part I was very fast.  I had a good feeling about things today" he added.

For full results click here

Standings in the Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2010/2011 Western European League -After Round 11 at Vigo, Spain:

1.    Kevin Staut FRA, 96 points
2.    Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum GER, 73 points
3.    Rolf-Goran Bengtsson SWE, 73 points
4.    Billy Twomey IRL, 63 points
5.    Sergio Alvarez Moya ESP, 61 points
6.    Rodrigo Pessoa BRA, 56 points
7.    Ludger Beerbaum GER, 51 points
8.    Philipp Weishaupt GER, 50 points
9.    Lars Nieberg GER, 47 points
10.    Christian Ahlmann GER, 46 points
11.    Malin Baryard-Johnsson SWE, 44 points
12.    Harrie Smolders NED, 43 points
13.    Simon Delestre FRA, 42 points
14.    Marcus Ehning GER, 40 points
15.    Michael Whitaker GBR, 37 points
16.    Marco Kutscher GER, 34 points
17.    Carsten-Otto Nagel GER, 33 points
18.    Pilar Cordon ESP, 31 points
19.    Pius Schwizer SUI, 31 points

Source: FEI

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