The coming weekend sees the Western European World Cup season for 2013/2014 kick off in Oslo – true to tradition. With another World Cup season around the corner, WoSJ takes a look at this year's qualifiers, last year's season – and some historic winners.
This year’s qualifiers
After the first round in Norway the World Cup circus moves to Helsinki (FIN), then on to Verona (ITA) and Stuttgart (GER) during the month of November. The Christmas shows at London (GBR) and Mechelen (BEL) lead into the new year. In January, there are events at Leipzig (GER) and Zurich (SUI), while Bordeaux (FRA) and Gothenburg (SWE) will be hosts in February. The final qualifier in ‘s-Hertogenbosch (NED) takes place in March, before the final will be held in Lyon (FRA) from 16 to 20 April 2014.
Last year's season
Last year's World Cup season was as always extremely exciting. In the end it was Sergio Alvarez Moya who was the overall winner of the Western European league with his 75 points collected on Carlo 273 (by Contender), Zipper (by Apple Juice) and Action-Breaker (by Heartbreaker) – whereas 20 of these came from his surprise win on the then only 8 year old Zipper in Verona.
The Oslo-Helsinki-spell was broken last year, as the winner from the opening leg in Norway – Jeroen Dubbeldam on Utascha SFN (by Lux Z) – did not manage to make it a double as Daniel Etter and Peu a Peu (by Polydor), Christian Ahlmann on Taloubet Z (by Galoubet) and Pius Schwizer on Carlina (by Carvallo) did before him in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Instead the notoriously fast Roger Yves Bost won on Castle Forbes Myrtille Paulois (by Dollar du Murier) was crowned the winner in Finland. The two seem to like it well in Scandinavia, as they were the pair that ended on top of the podium in Herning, Denmark at the Europeans this summer.
There were some wins that really stood out last year; Moya’s win in Verona on Zipper was one of the most surprising of the season – as second last to go in the twelve horse jump-off Sergio got a great rhythm from the start to finish on Zipper, not ever having to touch the breaks. The tightest win came in Stuttgart as French rider Kevin Staut and the super mare Silvana HDC (by Corland) beat another great couple – Marcus Ehning and Noltes Küchengirl (by Lord Z) by 0.01 second in the jump-off; it was as close as it gets! "It was unbelievable sport," Kevin said after his win. Another fabulous win came in Mechelen – the last World Cup show of 2012 – as the then relatively new partnership of Henrik von Eckermann and Gotha FRH (by Goldfever) proved to be a winning one! "I hope I don't have to give her back," Henrik said afterwards. And he didn’t.
There is such a thing as a lucky venue. For Christian Ahlmann it must be Leipzig. In 2013’s World Cup qualifier the German rider ruled supreme in the jump-off, and won. Christian also won the World Cup qualifier in Leipzig in 2012, as well as the World Cup final there in 2011. Another fantastic win was the one made by Hans Dieter Dreher and Magnus Romeo in Bordeaux – it was the first one for Hansi, and also and extremely deserved one - the German rider has done a tremendous job with the stallion that has turned out to be the horse of a lifetime for him. The last win of the season belonged to the one who also was the youngest winner; the super talented David Will riding Colorit (by Corian) at the amazing event in Den Bosch.
The 2012 final in Gothenburg was one to remember; on the last day of the final Beezie Madden on Simon (by Mr. Blue) regained her lead, and after being tied with Olympic Champions Steve Guerdat and Nino des Buissonnets (by Kannan) following round two – she came in as last to go in a heart-racing jump-off to land the win for America – making sure to follow up on compatriot Rich Fellers’ win last year.
Historic World Cup-winners
The first winner of the World Cup jumping title was Austria's Hugo Simon on the legendary Gladstone (by Goetz), who in 1979 won the trophy in Gothenburg. Seventeen years later in Geneva Simon would yet again take the title home – this time on another legend of a horse; the special chestnut gelding E.T. FRH (by Espri). The following year – 1997 – Hugo Simon was back in Gothenburg to claim the title again. These three wins have made Hugo Simon historical; he is one of four riders who have recorded a hat-trick of victories.
One of the other hat-trick riders is Rodrigo Pessoa, who at only 25 years old won his first World Cup Jumping title in Helsinki in 1998 on one of the greatest horses of our time; Baloubet du Rouet (by Galoubet). As the only pair in history, Pessoa and his chestnut stallion came back the two following years to take the title home to Brazil three years in a row; in 1999 they won in Gothenburg and in 2000 they were victorious in Las Vegas. Before Rodrigo reached thirty he had achieved things other riders could only dream about.
In 2003 Marcus Ehning started his climb into the history books. Aboard the Oldenburger mare Anka (by Argentinus) the German rider took his first World Cup Jumping title in Las Vegas. In 2006 Marcus was back; this time he won the prestigious title on the wonderful stallion Sandro Boy (by Sandro) – who was officially retired during the final in Leipzig last year – in exotic Kuala Lumpur. In 2010 it was Noltes Küchengirl (by Lord Z) and Plot Blue (by Mr. Blue) that brought the honors home for Marcus; during an exciting final in Geneva Ehning bounced back on the last day to take his third title – each title came on different horses unlike the other four hat-trick riders.
Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum – the only woman in this historical foursome – took her first World Cup Jumping title in Las Vegas in 2005 on the legend Shutterfly (by Silvio I). In 2008 and 2009 Meredith was yet again unbeatable; Shutterfly was her partner on both occasions in Gothenburg and Las Vegas – at the latter event the gelding was the only horse left with a clean sheet after all rounds were ridden. No wonder this horse was thanked off with a wheelbarrow of carrots, tears and standing ovation in Aachen this summer – he has truly been the horse of a lifetime for Meredith, helping her to become one of the four famous hat-trick winners.
Two double winners of the World Cup jumping title cannot be forgot in this context. The lovely white gelding Milton (by Marius) will forever be burned into many minds and hearts after jumping to victory with John Whitaker in 1990 and 1991 – in Dortmund and Gothenburg respectively. Milton became one of those true legends – posted on the wall in every little showjumping fan's bedroom – and still is twelve years after he took his last breath. Big Ben (by Etretat), the chestnut gelding ridden by Canada's legendary Ian Millar, was also one of the biggest stars of his time and won the title twice; in 1988 in Gothenburg and in 1989 in Tampa. Big Ben stepped out of time the same year as Milton, but no doubt is very alive in many hearts after his great achievements.
League winners with an impressive record
Three riders have managed to take home the overall win in the Western European league three times; John Whitaker was league winner in 1982/83, 1988/89 and 1989/90. Nick Skelton did the same in 1983/84, 1985/86 and later in 2004/05. Ludger Beerbaum has also claimed the top spot as league winner three times; in 1991/92, 1994/95 and 1997/98. Kevin Staut won the 2010/2011 and the 2011/2012 league; will he join Whitaker, Skelton and Beerbaum by another league win this season?
New title sponsor
For this year’s World Cup season, Longines will replace Rolex as title sponsor. Talking about Longines’ partnership with the FEI, President of Longines, Walter von Känel, says “Longines is very proud to be the Title Partner of the Longines FEI World Cup, which is the biggest and the most prestigious indoor jumping series in the world. This partnership underlines Longines’ passion and support for equestrian sports which dates back to 1878 when it produced a chronograph engraved with a jockey and his mount. Since 1912, the brand has been partnered with equestrian competitions and is today involved in the most famous events in jumping, racing and endurance. Elegance, tradition and performance - these are the values which unite Longines and equestrian sports.”
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