Who will win the Rolex FEI World Cup final in Leipzig that is just one week ahead? Well, we won’t attempt to answer that question – simply because it is an impossible task and pure guesswork. What we will do though, is to bring you some of the hottest candidates for the title as we take a look forward to the final and a look backwards at the world cup season that will conclude in Leipzig.
Meredith Michaels Beerbaum has the chance to win the title for a fourth time; the German rider won the final in 2005, 2008 and 2009. Meredith has showed smashing form this world cup season and ended up as runner-up in the Western European league; she won the qualifier in Lyon aboard Checkmate, and in the following qualifier in Verona the American turned German was second on Shutterfly. In December Meredith and Shutterfly was fourth in Geneva, followed by a fifth in Zürich. Michaels Beerbaum then went over the Atlantic to ride in California, and also gained points there. Meredith’s latest shows in Doha, s’Hertogenbosch and Paris have also been good – in Doha she was third with Shutterfly. In other words Meredith and her two top horses have been in dangerously good form over the season, and stand a good chance in the final.
Marcus Ehning is another rider who has three titles under his belt with his wins in 2003, 2006 and 2010, and as last year’s title holder he is automatically qualified for this year’s final in Leipzig. Aboard Nolte’s Küchengirl Marcus was second in the qualifier in Stuttgart in November, and in January the pair won the qualifier in Zürich. In Paris the past weekend both Plot Blue and Sabrina, who Marcus will ride in the final, showed good form; Plot was clear in the pair competition and Sabrina had a fence down in the GP – the latter jumped fantastic according to the reports. You may think it has been a bit quiet around Marcus the last few months, but that might just mean that it’s quiet before the “big storm” and the German rider for sure knows how to top the form on his horses for the big occasions.
Christian Ahlmann is another German rider who stands a fair chance of winning the final in Leipzig. Ahlmann and his partner Taloubet Z were unbeatable in the two first legs in Oslo and Helsinki, and collected 40 points within a week. The two have formed a true partnership, and in Paris they showed that their form in back at top when they won the Grand Prix Hermés. Are they back on their great track for the final?
Eric Lamaze is one rider that you never should underestimate; especially when riding Hickstead. The pair is reining Olympic champions and bronze-medalists from the WEG last autumn. Hickstead jumped great in the pair competition in Paris; looking super careful.
Kevin Staut – the rider who is ranked as the world number one and who was the overall winner of the Western European League with his 96 points – for sure wants to prove himself in the final in Leipzig. The French rider has had a tremendous world cup season; he started off with a fourth place in the qualifier in Oslo, and has taken points in eight of the twelve qualifiers he has ridden. Aboard Silvana de Hus Kevin won the qualifier in Geneva in December, and in February the pair was second in Vigo. In Paris – the last 5* before the final in Leipzig – Silvana jumped great, finishing fourth in the Grand Prix. Kevin and Silvana might just have hit the form needed for the final.
Dutch rider Jeroen Dubbeldam missed out on taking home two qualifiers by a tiny margin; Jeroen and BMC Van Grunsveen Simon won in Verona, and almost did it again in Den Bosch – they were just 0.30 seconds away from a second Rolex this season. Jeroen and Simon have been consistent throughout the world cup season; they have picked up points in four out of the five qualifiers they have participated in. In Paris Simon jumped great again – don’t be faced by the poles that fell to the ground in the jump-off; Jeroen and Simon seem to be in top form. Could the Olympic champion from 2000 claim the title?
Don’t forget the Americans; Rich Fellers won the North American West Coast league this season and back in 2008 he was runner-up in the final in Gothenburg aboard Flexible – who yet again will be Feller’s partner in the final. Richard Spooner ended up in third position in the same league, and his horse Cristallo looked amazing in Paris!
Then there is the Irish rider Denis Lynch who snatched the last qualifier in ‘s-Hertogenbosch just when he needed it the most; proving that he can produce great results under big pressure. Aboard Abbervail van het Dingeshof, Denis also collected points in Lyon, Vigo and Gothenburg. Denis also showed good form in Doha, where he was fifth in the Global champions Tour Grand Prix with All Inclusive. The Irish rider has a strong string of horses to choose from for the final, and will be a dangerous competitor aboard Abbervail and All Inclusive.
Scandinavia’s biggest hope will for sure be Rolf-Göran Bengtsson, who ended up as number four in the Western European league. Rolf has collected points in seven out of the eight qualifiers he has ridden, and has three thirds from Verona, Geneva and Bordeaux – on three different horses; Casall, Quintero and Ninja. Casall looked spot on in Paris, and will be dangerous in Leipzig!
For full list of participants in the final – and to find your favorite – go to http://www.engarde.de/events/teilnehmer.php?hippobaseID=754&eventID=65
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