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Henrik von Eckermann and King Edward crown incredible year with victory in the 2022 Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final

Friday, 09 December 2022
CHI Geneva 2022

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Sweden's Henrik von Eckermann and King Edward won the 2022-edition of the prestigious Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

 

Text © World of Showjumping

 


 

It was a well-deserved victory for current world no. one, double world champion and Olympic team champion Henrik von Eckermann (SWE) and the unstoppable King Edward (Edward 28 x Feo) in the 21st edition of the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final that took place at CHI Geneva on Friday night. The pair was without a doubt the favourites to take the title in Geneva and did not disappoint. “Thank you, Switzerland,” Von Eckermann said to the crowds as the victory was a fact – crediting his Swiss wife Janika Sprunger as well as their Swiss owners Dufour Stables for making the success possible. 

The atmosphere was as usual electric at Palexpo as the very best in the world battled it out over two rounds set at 1.60m, with the courses designed by Gerard Lachat (SUI) and Louis Konickx (NED). 

In round one, four of the horse-and-rider combinations managed to answer all the questions asked by Lachat and Konickx. As first to go, Mclain Ward (USA) delivered a beautiful, clear round with the 13-year-old gelding Contagious (Contagio x For Keeps) – putting pressure on those to come behind him. After two poles down for Top 10-veteran Kevin Staut (FRA) aboard Visconti du Telman (Toulon x Dollar du Murier), and an agonizing time penalty for former world no. one Peder Fredricson (SWE) riding Catch Me Not S (Cardento x Ramiro’s Son), it was Marlon Modolo Zanotelli (BRA) and the 11-year-old mare Like A Diamond van het Schaeck (Diamant de Semilly x Bamako de Muze) that posted the next clear before Simon Delestre (FRA) and the truly unique Cayman Jolly Jumper (Hickstead x Quaprice Bois Margot) followed suit immediately after with a breath-taking round. 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Henrik von Eckermann lifts the coveted trophy as the winner of the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final 2022. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Ben Maher (GBR) returned to Geneva to defend his title from the 2021-final, but unfortunately it was not to be for the reigning Olympic Champion tonight who ended up with 31 penalties on Exit Remo (San Remo x Ferro). A short turn to the IJRC vertical at fence no. four proved expensive for Harrie Smolders (NED) and Monaco (Cassini II x Contender) who had to add four faults to their score, while Julien Epaillard (FRA) and Caracole de La Roque (Zandor Z x Kannan) had an uncharacteristic two poles down in their first Top 10 Final. The home crowds’ sole hope in the final was Martin Fuchs (SUI) and Conner Jei (Connor 48 x Cosimo), but much to their disappointment the top plank on the upright at fence eight fell to the ground – leaving the two on four faults going into the second round. 

As last to go, Henrik von Eckermann and the incredible King Edward looked absolutely untouchable, with the chestnut jumping at his very best – making it four clears in total. 

The second round was jumped over a shortened track, with the riders returning in reverse order of faults. With mostly long stretches, as well as two short rollbacks, it was all about opening up and letting the horses gallop – and naturally Lachat and Konickx invited the riders to take all the risk. 

Sixth out in round two, Peder Fredricson delivered a tactical clear – opting for a safe round and stopping the clock at 57.30 second, finishing on his one penalty which meant the four riders coming in on a clean sheet could feel his breath in their necks as there was no room for error. 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Runners-up: Simon Delestre and the extraordinary Cayman Jolly Jumper. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

First to go of those clear in round one, Mclain Ward showed he was willing to risk it all – but unfortunately it came on the expense of a rail down on the third last vertical, which dropped the American style-icon down behind Fredricson on the provisional standings. 

Henrik von Eckermann however made no mistakes, but nevertheless he left the door slightly open for Modolo Zanotelli and Delestre coming in as the last two riders. Starting off lightning fast, the Swedish rider looked dangerously quick aboard his flying partner but having to add a stride on the last line he lost valuable time – and crossing the finish line in 48.42 seconds, the Swedish rider could only hope that it would be enough and that he would better his runner-up position from 2021. 

“I looked at Mclain and he was really going,” Von Eckermann detailed about going into the second round. “I tried to do my plan, and it went all according to it until the last line where I wanted to do seven strides but got a bit close to the vertical at the second last and did not see the seven forwards so I had to wait and it felt like forever.”

But, Marlon Modolo Zanotelli got a bit over-motivated and his feisty mare quite strong towards the end of the course – and the turn to the penultimate upright did not go as planned, with four faults being added to their score – and the two slid down the result list. As last to go in the ring, it all came down to Simon Delestre and his fantastic little partner Cayman Jolly Jumper who is an extraordinary athlete. Cheered and whistled on by the crowds, the two gave it a great shot but crossing the finish line the clock had stopped at 49.35 seconds and the pair had to settle for the runner-up spot – pushing Fredricson down to third and Ward off the podium to fourth. “I thought I was going to be second again, but luck was on my side today and I am so happy,” Von Eckermann said. 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Peder Fredricson and Catch Me Not S finished third, making it a very good final indeed for the Swedes. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

“Even my son has a Swiss passport,” Von Eckermann smiled when asked about his connections to the host nation. “Without Switzerland I would not be here! As King Edward’s owner could not be here last year, it was so nice that he could be here today and see this. As Eleonora [Ottaviani, director of the IJRC] said, King Edward really deserved this, with all these good horses because he is absolutely one of them – I think he is going to be, or is, a historical horse and I am just very honoured to ride him.”

“This was one of the targets, absolutely,” Von Eckermann said about the importance of the Top 10 Final when mapping out his plan for 2022. “When we had the Top 10 Final in Stockholm in 2013, I walked the course and I said to Eleonora – which she may not remember – that ‘one day I would like to win this one’, so it’s a very special moment for me.”



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