Switzerland’s Pius Schwizer took a very popular win on home soil in the Longines FEI World Cup qualifier in Zürich today. Riding the nine year old Toulago (Toulon x Carthago), the Swiss rider had one of only three double clears in the class which saw British rider Joe Clee with the talented Diablesse de Muze (Baloubet du Rouet x Nabab de Reve) ending second while Christian Ahlmann was third on Aragon Z (Askari x Kolibri).
Nine riders went through to the jump-off after producing clear rounds over Gerard Lachat and Rolf Ludi’s track that consisted of thirteen fences with the triple combination as the fifth challenge and some huge oxers along the way towards the finish line. It was especially the triple combination that caused problems, and several riders had poles down here.
Home rider Paul Estermann opened the jump-off on Castlefield Eclipse (Obos Quality) as one of three Swiss riders chasing the win, unfortunately a pole fell – as was the case for South Africa’s Oliver Lazarus who did a fast round on Pour le Poussage (Polytraum x Ladalco ) to eventually finish fourth.
Great Britain’s Joe Clee grabbed the opportunity as next to go, and posted the first clear of the jump-off at the time 34.79 seconds. It looked like it would be hard to beat the Belgium based rider, who put serious pressure on those to come. Switzerland’s Jane Richard Philips followed, but took down the penultimate vertical in the chase to in the end settle for fifth. Christian Ahlmann opted for a slightly more steady version, and went clear – although being a little slower than Clee in 35.56 seconds to slot into second. When last week’s winners in Leipzig - Patrice Delaveau and Lacrimoso HDC – had two down, the chances for Clee kept growing.
As third-last to go, Schwizer wanted it differently though and did a flawless round on Toulago – storming home to cross the finish line in 34.65 seconds – taking the lead. And when Germany’s Marcus Ehning had the first fence and last to go Kevin Staut lowered the third vertical it was time for a big Swiss celebration in Zürich.
“I’m really pleased and I will definitely be going to be final!” Pius said after his win. Talking about his winning ride, Toulago, he said - “we bought the horse at the PSI Auction as a six-year-old. Karin Haber, who owns the horse, rode it for a while before I noticed it had a lot of potential. I tried the horse for the first time on the Saturday morning of CSIO St Gallen last year and it has been a success ever since. We finished second in the Grand Prix at Humlikon, and 10th in the Global Champions Tour legs at Valkenswaard and Lausanne, so 2013 was a great year for us!” the 51-year-old Swiss rider explained.
Second-placed Clee was also more than happy with his result. The 36-year-old Yorkshireman moved to Belgium ten years ago where he met his Dutch wife. “I worked in the South of England for a while and rode at national Grand Prix level there, but I came to Belgium ten years ago to try to make my way in the sport because it wasn’t easy to get the chances at home,” Clee explained today. “It’s not easy in Europe either but I’m very fortunate to have the support of Ludwig and Jasmin Criel now for the last six years,” he added.
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