The sixth leg of the Rolex FEI World Cup in the Western European league was held in Geneva, Switzerland. The course – build by Rolf Ludi – was very demanding, and matched the extremely high level that is in the sport at the moment. Out of the forty riders over half of them faulted somewhere in the triple combination. Amongst those was Malin Baryard-Johnsson on H&M Tornesch, Denis Lynch on Lantinus and Friday’s winner of the top ten Steve Guerdat and Jalisca Solier. The last element of the 8a and b combination was another fence that claimed victims; ¼ of the riders faulted at the double with a water tray beneath, surrounded by a christmas trees and a deer. The class included veteran and legend Hugo Simon and young and promising Martin Fuchs, who rode Beat Mändli’s previous ride Ideo du Thot.
The first clear came from Luciana Diniz on Lennox, although her round included a breathtaking moment to the last fence. The stylish rider was at first given a time fault, but the time proved too tight and was changed – resulting in Diniz moving in to the jump-off. The next rider to go clear was Pilar Cordon Muro on Nuage Bleu, who rode a lovely round. Her team-mate Sergio Alvares Moya followed with another Spanish clear round aboard the fantastic Action-Breaker. WEG bronze medalist Eric Lamaze and Hickstead continued their consistent form with another clear. It looked like the winner from Verona Jeroen Dubbeldam on BMC Van Grunsveen Simon was to go clear as well, but a misunderstanding in the approach to the last fence resulted in Dubbeldam slamming the breaks and getting a total of six faults. Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Shutterfly yet again reached the jump-off, and the gelding looked nothing like his 17 years. Rolf-Göran Bengtsson added yet another excellent round to an already successful weekend aboard Quintero la Silla, who jumped amazing. Harrie Smolders and Regina Z were back on the European circuit, and Smolders rode as well as ever moving himself into the jump-off despite rattling the cows at fence number seven. World number one Kevin Staut proved his position by riding a great clear round on Silvana de Hus, although there was a little excitement to the last fence.
The jump-off course was reduced to eight jumps including a combination. Luciana Diniz opened with a fast clear, putting pressure on the other riders with a time of 34.39. Spanish rider Pilar Cordon Muro followed on Nuage Bleu, but had the back pole of the triple bar down. Muro was faster than Diniz though. Sergio Alvares Moya opted for a secure and steady clear round on Action-Breaker, and crossed the finish line on 37.48. Eric Lamaze and Hickstead wasted no time, and shaved off 1.74 seconds – taking the lead on 32.65. It looked so fast, and absolutely impossible to beat. When Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Shutterfly were behind Lamaze on 33.28, it looked like victory was his. Rolf-Göran Bengtsson did all he could though, and was just 0.23 seconds behind Lamaze – taking hold of the runner-up position. Dutch rider Harrie Smolders and Regina Z had the first element of the combination down, settling for four faults and a time of 35.86. Kevin Staut and Silvana de Hus were last to go, grabbed hold of the possibilities before them and raced towards the last fence. Staut had done the impossible – he was 0.15 seconds faster than Lamaze! A fantastic round, and a well deserved victory.
This brings Staut even further ahead of his fellow riders on the ranking in the western European league, and with his 63 points he is still in the lead. Kevin explained that Silvana had six weeks without competition after the WEG. In Thursday’s class she was spooky, and as the mare is so careful the round got very difficult for Kevin. “But today she was fantastic, and I am really proud to have the ride on this top mare”, the French rider said after his victory.
“There can always be a rider to go after you that will have the ability to go faster, and currently the horses are so good that jump-offs are getting faster and faster”, Lamaze said after the competition. The Canadian rider added “It was a very difficult course. From the triple bar you could choose between four or five strides to the next and very unusual fence. The triple combination was difficult and parallel – and with normal poles after so many spooky fences earlier on in the course, the horses can get a bit nonchalant. With spooky fences the horses pay more attention.”
For full results click here.
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