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Christian Heineking takes a thrilling Longines FEI World Cup win in Las Vegas

Sunday, 20 November 2016
CSI4*-W Las Vegas 2016

Photo (c) McCool Photos. Christian Heineking with Aje Cluny. Photo (c) McCool Photos.

All the right decisions, and perhaps a good dose of Las Vegas luck, led Germany’s Christian Heineking to victory in the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Las Vegas.

“It was a great course that was challenging enough,” Heineking said. “I’m very happy. The time was really close and luck was on my side today.”

Seven riders ultimately advanced into the jump-off in the fifth leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2016/2017 North American League (Western Sub-League) with Mexico’s Enrique Gonzalez setting the time to beat midway through the order. Gonzalez and the 9-year-old mare Chacna (Chacco-Blue x Narew XX) won the third leg of the Western Sub-League in October and looked to be on form to repeat victory.

Immediately following the class favorites, Egypt’s Nayel Nassar piloted Lordan (Lordanos x Landor) to a blistering fast time of 36.86 seconds, shaving nearly a second off Gonzalez’s time. But the tighter turn to the short course’s double combination cost Nassar a rail, and he finished in sixth. Earlier in the order, Tina Yates (USA) and 12-year-old stallion Zelote VDL (Chin Chin x Libero H) delivered an efficient double clear to finish in third.

As the dust settled in the Thomas and Mack Center, it was clear the night belonged to the penultimate pair to test the track designed by Guilherme Jorge (BRA): Heineking and 12-year-old gelding Aje Cluny (Cash and Carry x Starlight) made all the right decisions by angling into the double combination—without repeating Nassar’s mistake of cutting the turn too short—and by opening up to a big gallop to the final fence to clock in at 37.82 seconds, 1/100th of a second faster than Gonzalez.

“On the way from the combination to the wall, my horse was bucking a little bit, so that can be 1/100th of a second right there,” said Heineking about his track. “Cluny has been with us for the past two-and-a-half years, and he developed from a nice prospect to a really competitive grand prix horse. He just got more experience over the time and tonight was his night. He keeps going better and better and is more comfortable with the height. I’m very excited about the win and very proud of him.”

In the first round, 33 starters attempted the fair, yet technical, course. Time didn’t appear to be a factor for the first few riders before it was shortened, which then caused a handful of time faults to accrue. Large oxers flowed to careful verticals, testing the rideability of the horses. A triple combination of a tight one stride from a vertical to vertical to a longer two strides to an oxer forced faults from over one-third of the field.

Guilherme Jorge, course designer, said: “The conditions here in Vegas are really good. The arena is a good size with good footing. The jumps, the atmosphere are very good. I had a really good group of horses and riders here. They jumped really well in the qualifying [class] on Thursday, and the idea is to prepare them to go to the Finals in Omaha, so I tried to put up a course that was tough enough, but also we had a good crowd here so I wanted to have a nice jump off. I tried to spread the difficulties on the course. I was really happy with it.”

Following tonight’s event, Enrique Gonzalez (MEX) now holds the top position in the Western Sub-League standings.




Source: Press release from FEI / Picture © McCool Photos 

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