It was Marco Kutscher who took the lead after the first round of the Rolex FEI World Cup final. Kutscher was not a lone German in the top though, as Marcus Ehning and Christian Ahlmann took second and third on homeground in Leipzig.
The track consisted of thirteen fences, and a special line with two combinations with four strides between them – which demanded some serious riding. It was also an option at fence three, where the riders could choose between a regular vertical and a plank, the latter giving them a tighter turn to fence four. Most faults came towards the last part of the course though, when plenty of the horses ran out of petrol at the three last fences.
Gerco Schröder kicked off the show as first to go. The Dutch rider and his 12 year old gelding Eurocommerce New Orleans (Colbert x Carthago) set the standard with a clear round; New Orleans jumped really well around the track – not tapping a single fence. It would eventually be good enough for fourth place. The next clear came from Marco and his faithful partner Cash (Carthago x Lavall II), and although it didn’t look fast it definitely rode fast. With a time of 63.55 the German rider took the lead, and stayed there throughout the class. Christian Ahlmann and Taloubet Z (Galoubet A x Polydor) followed, and proved their form from Paris is still around – with a clear round and a time of 64.03 they slotted into second place at this stage.
A few starts later, Denis Lynch ended his world cup-adventure when Abervail van het Dingeshof jumped to high – but not far enough – on the b-element in the first combination. The gelding hit the fence, and Denis lost his balance – ending up on the surface of Leipzig Messehalle.
And Lynch was not alone. Edwina Alexander had a breathtaking moment at the last fence when Sevo Socrates couldn’t reach over the oxer and jumped straight through it, leaving Edwina totally out of balance and ultimately on the ground. At first Edwina was not disqualified, as it seemed the clock was stopped before the fall – but she was later eliminated, and the Australian rider had to share faith with Lynch.
Richard Spooner and Cristallo also had a very good round, and the 13 year old Caretino-gelding jumped amazing – crossing the finish line on 68.56 seconds. Spooner’s compatriot, Ashlee Bond and Cadett 7 (Cord de la Bryere x Capitol I) also had a good day at the office with a clear round on 66.44 seconds.
Malin Baryard-Johnsson also secured a clear round for Scandinavia aboard the Lux Z-stallion H&M Tornesch, as did Jeroen Dubbeldam for Holland on a very scopey BMC Van Grunsven Simon (Mr. Blue x Polydox). Jeroen’s time would eventually give him seventh place, and a good position for the rest of the competition.
Kevin Staut’s Silvana de Hus (Corland x Widor) also showed great form, although Kevin had to work hard in the turn to the vertical at fence eleven. Katie McVean from New Zealand also continued her good riding, and aboard Delphi she ended up as number six after a clear and fast round.
Two of the favorites, and the two also fighting for a fourth title, Meredith Michaels Beerbaum and Shutterfly and Marcus Ehning and Sabrina also gave it their best. It was Marcus who succeeded the best; with a clear round and a time of 63.79, he sneaked in before Ahlmann and took second place – pushing Ahlmann down to third. Shutterfly had fence eleven down, but Meredith nevertheless seemed very pleased with her 18 year old gelding.
Several of the favorites are thus in a very good position before tomorrow, and in the top 20 it is all open at this stage.
For full results go to http://eventcontent.hippoonline.de/546/sta_erg/01_ergENG.htm?style=engarde_leipzig
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