In the first competition of the Longines FEI World Cup Final in Lyon on Friday, Switzerland's Pius Schwizer showed how to do it when he seemingly effortlessly took the win on Quidam de Vivier (Socrate de Chivre x Iris Landai). The victory might have seemed a little unfair from the home crowds' point of view though, as it was very close to a French win for Patrice Delaveau and Lacrimoso HDC (Landjunge x Cascavelle) who in the end had to settle for second.
It was Germany's Ludger Beerbaum who took an early lead though, riding a great round on Chaman (Baloubet du Rouet x I Love You) – taking out strides on the line with the vertical at five to the oxer at six and then to the vertical at seven, crossing the finish line on 65.54 in this Table C class. Beerbaum's compatriot Christian Ahlmann was next to show how to do it, and slotted into second after a great clear on Aragon Z (Askari x Kolibri) on the time of 67.65. In the end the class was so fast, that Ahlmann ended 9th.
A few more great clears followed; from Billy Twomey on the veteran Tinka's Serenade (Tinka's Boy x African Drum), Daniel Deusser on Cornet D'Amour (Cornet Obolensky x Damiani) and Steve Guerdat on Nino des Buissonnets (Kannan x Narcos II). The two latter's rounds really stood out; Deusser's being one of the most beautiful of the day and Guerdat's showing that Nino – twice vice-champion at the finals two years in a row – is in top shape. In the end Steve ended fourth and Daniel sixth – putting themselves in great positions for the remaining parts of the final.
Abdelkebir Ouaddar and the Diamant de Semilly-son Quickly de Kreisker were the next to do a big impression. As always the stallion threw in some sky-high bucks, but despite this the pair was superfast – and it was only the oxer out of the triple combination that stood in their way of a clear round and the fastest round of the day. With a total of 66.40 seconds, it was good enough for 5th in the end. Many riders suffered the same faith as Ouaddar, as the final element of the triple combination fell frequently around Frank Rothenberger's well build thirteen fence track that stood at 1.50 meters.
One rider later, Patrice Delaveau entered the ring on Lacrimoso HDC (Landjunge x Cascavelle). As the French rider raced around the track, taking out a stride on the line to the vertical at seven and then taking a breath taking turn to the following oxer to the gasps of the crowds he produced a round that was good enough for the lead. When he stopped the clock on 63.67 the roof lifted.
It was not to be a win though, as Pius Schwizer three riders later made it all look like a walk in the park on the ten year old chestnut gelding that he has only been riding for four months – stealing the win away by shaving the time down to 63.37 and pushing Patrice down to second and Ludger to third. None of the remaining competitors could do anything about these three riders, who after brilliant performances secured the top three places today.
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