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Beezie Madden and Breitling LS lead the way at the Longines FEI World Cup Final after back-to-back victories in Paris

Friday, 13 April 2018
Longines FEI World Cup Final Paris 2018

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
The winners: Beezie Madden and Breitling LS. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

Just like on Thursday, it was Beezie Madden and Breitling LS (Quintero x Acord II) that took the top honours at the Longines FEI World Cup Final in Paris. It was another masterpiece of riding delivered by the American 54-year-old Olympic gold medallist, as she beat Harrie Smolders by 0.22 seconds in the jump-off.

Tonight’s course set by Santiago Varela counted fourteen fences, and asked plenty of questions of the horses and riders. Although faults spread out, mistakes were repeatedly made coming out over the wide oxer in the combination set as fence five, and in the triple combination at 9abc that consisted of an oxer, an upright with a plank on top and a vertical where the two latter fell to the ground again and again. Also the last line claimed its victims, as some of the horses ran out of power – and the time allowed played a part too as six of the riders in the competition jumped clear on the fences but had to add a penalty for exceeding the time limit.

The first clear was set by home hero Kevin Staut on Silver Deux De Virton HDC (Kashmir van Schuttershof x Heartbreaker), the fourth rider in the ring, who redeemed himself after a disappointing round yesterday. Eight riders later, USA’s Jamie Barge impressed with a round full of fighting spirit to go clear on Luebbo (Lord Pezi x Stakkato).

A few riders later, Simon Delestre made it two for the French in the jump-off after a fault-free performance on Chesall Zimequest (Casall x Concerto) while straight after a very fresh and bucking Emerald (Diamant de Semilly x Carthago Z)  joined in too with Dutch rider Harrie Smolders skilfully piloting him to a clear round. Belgium’s Olivier Philippaerts was the next to secure a spot in the jump-off after keeping all the fences intact on the clever H&M Legend of Love (Landzauber x Corgraf), before it was time to start with the riders sitting in the top ten on the overall standing. 

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
Second place went to Harrie Smolders with Emerald. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

Reigning Champions McLain Ward and the incredible HH Azur (Thunder van de Zuuthoeve x Sir Lui) did not disappoint, delivering a picture-perfect round setting them up for round two against the clock. Right after two Swedes joined in too: Douglas Lindelöw on Zacramento (Cardento x Cortus) and Henrik von Eckermann on Toveks Mary Lou (Montendro x Portland L). The last to go clear was the final rider in the ring, as yesterday’s winners Beezie Madden and Breitling LS again put on a fabulous performance to join the jump-off.

The first round of Friday’s competition was not short on surprises. Former World Cup Champions Steve Guerdat and Daniel Deusser – two of the favourites for the title – both had unexpected faults. Guerdat’s Bianca (Balou du Rouet x Cardento) jumped through the b-element of the triple combination to almost unseat her rider ahead of the next upright, while Deusser’s Cornet d’Amour (Cornet Obolensky x Damiani) seemed to misjudge the colourful vertical coming into the combination at 5ab with his rider wisely steering the gelding away from the b-element. After placing second yesterday, it was no doubt a disappointment for Deusser who ended up on a score of 14 faults today. Another unexpected round came from Marcus Ehning and Cornado NRW (Cornet Obolensky x Acobat), fourth yesterday, that in tonight’s round saw three poles fall to the ground and dropping down deep on the overall standings as a consequence.

With nine of the 36 horse-and-rider combinations moving on to the jump-off, it was no room for error – especially for Madden, Von Eckermann, Lindelöw and Ward who all found themselves in the top ten after Thursday’s round. And with clears from the two first in the jump-off – Kevin Staut and Jamie Barge – the pressure was on those to come. Simon Delestre definitely felt the heat, and went all in around the shortened track but paid the expense for his risks when having the front pole on the last oxer down – to the disbelief of the home crowds that were hoping for a win. 

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
Henrik von Eckermann and Mary Lou finished third. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

Harrie Smolders and the amazing Emerald were next out. The Dutch rider opted to take a stride out on the first stretch, doing seven and then went inside to the following oxer as well as getting a really good turn into the double of uprights. On the last line Smolders took a last little check, before clearing the final oxer and taking over the lead in 33.44 seconds. Olivier Philippaerts gave it a good go, but in 35.19 the Belgian rider had to settle in behind Smolders.

The tension grew as McLain Ward and HH Azur entered the ring. Just like Smolders, Ward opted for the seven strides on the first line and an inside turn to the next oxer but fell victim to the first part of the combination after a really short turn that saw Azur take the top pole down with her hind legs – their time however was the fastest of the day. This was also the outcome for Douglas Lindelow, who like Ward had to see the a-element hit the ground. Henrik von Eckermann on the other hand kept all the fences intact, and with a time of 33.92 seconds he slotted in between Smolders and Philippaerts.

As last to go, Madden had the chance to hold on to her overall lead from the first round – the question was if it would be possible to shave down anything on Smolders’s blistering fast round? Madden proved that it was in fact so when again riding a beautiful, yet effective round on Breitling LS to cross the finish line 0.22 seconds ahead of Smolders to take the win for the second night in a row in Paris – leading the way when entering Sunday’s final rounds on a zero-penalty score with a rail in hand to Henrik von Eckermann who sits second. 


Text and pictures © World of Showjumping

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