As always this is an impossible question to answer, but WoSJ will try and 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 Den Bosch.
Kevin Staut was once again the overall winner of the Western European League - this year with 88 points. "It's nice to be on top, it shows consistency throughout the season. I have also been using three different horses in the different qualifiers; Zeta de Hus, Silvana HDC and Le Prestige St Lois* De Hus," Staut said to WoSJ after the last qualifier in Gothenburg were he ended up in third place. "I will bring Silvana to the final I think. She has been jumping really well and has experience enough to not go too many shows before the final. I will jump her in Paris and then go to the final," Kevin stated at the press conference in Gothenburg. With Silvana HDC and Kevin in form they are without a doubt candidates for a World Cup title.
Another French rider with great results and good horses is Patrice Delaveau. Patrice has collected points in seven out of the eight qualifiers he has ridden with Ornella Mail HDC and Orient Express HDC. It was recently known that one of Patrice's top horses Katchina Mail has been retired from the sport, but he still has some great and fast horses to choose from for the final.
Last year Marco Kutscher was in the lead all the way to the last and final round in Leipzig where he and Cash had three poles down and ended up in the unfortunate fourth place. This year Marco seems to be in great form once again as he won the qualifiers both in Zürich and Gothenburg. This year he has taken points with three different horses - Cash, Cornet Obolensky and Satisfaction FRH, the two latter have given him one win each. Marco kept up his good performances at the opening leg of the Global Champions Tour in Doha last weekend by taking a second place in the Grand Prix with Cornet Obolensky. Seems like Marco is on fire and ready for a revenge from last year?
Sweden has two riders for the final this year. Malin Baryard-Johnson joins in with number one in the world Rolf-Göran Bengtsson. Rolf ended second in the overall standing with 79 points after a win in Lyon and points in all eight qualifiers he has ridden. As number one in the world and the reigning European Champion - Rolf is of course a dangerous challenger for the title in Den Bosch. Malin has two good horses at the moment, H&M Tornesch and H&M Reveur de Hurtebise. She has used both horses in the qualifiers, but it is H&M Reveur de Hurtebise that has helped her making most points. The combination was third in Helsinki and took a great fifth place in Bordeaux. Malin is a brilliant rider and has proven a consistent form over the last year. Fingers crossed for some girl power in Den Bosch.
Another rider who can give us some girl power is Edwina Tops-Alexander. Edwina has a strong string of horses to choose from for the finals, and her recent win in Doha once again proves that she is dangerous and always someone to look out for. When we spoke to Edwina in Gothenburg her plan was to let Titus do the job in Den Bosch. After being placed in three out of three possible classes in Doha, the combination seems to have found their form just in time for the final.
Eric Lamaze has spent the last months preparing in Florida, and although his amazing Hickstead won't be his partner this year Eric has shown what a great rider he is and what other great horses he's got. He is still number two on the World Ranking, and most important - he is a fighter.
And never forget the Americans. This year they have nine riders present which include big names such as Beezie Madden, Richard Spooner and Margie Goldstein-Engle who all have the experience and horses to make it.
When talking about who to never forget - we have to point out that there are two other German riders present who are more than capable to take the title - Ludger Beerbaum and Marcus Ehning. For Marcus it will be his chance to take his fourth title as he was the winner in 2003, 2006 and 2010. Marcus has been in better form these last months, with better horses to choose from than in a long time. He has done it before and he can do it again. When it comes to Ludger - you can never underestimate him. He has all the experience you need as well as some amazing horses.
Last, but not the least - last years winner Christian Ahlmann and his winning horse Taloubet Z are as strong as ever. Christian is aiming for a double, and he certainly has one of the horses best fitted for the job. Taloubet is strong, and has proven that he can last an entire weekend without loosing his power. With a second place from the 5* Grand Prix in Paris in March there is a good chance that we once again will find this combination fighting amongst the top three.
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