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Guerdat gets the Belgian boys to take the lead after round one of the Longines FEI World Cup Final

Thursday, 04 April 2019
Longines FEI World Cup Final 2019

Photo © World of Showjumping by Jenny Abrahamsson. Best of all on day one of the Longines FEI World Cup Final was world no. one Steve Guerdat and Alamo. Photo © World of Showjumping by Jenny Abrahamsson.

 

Text by World of Showjumping

 


 

 

For a long time, it looked like it would be an all-Belgian podium in round one of the Longines FEI World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden. However, world no. one Steve Guerdat (SUI) came in as third-last to go – snatching the victory from the Belgian boys, who finished up in second, third and fourth place. 

Today’s first round of the Longines FEI World Cup Final was set at 1.60m, as a Table C against the clock with three seconds added for a rail down. Santiago Varela’s (ESP) course counted thirteen fences, and included a triple combination midway as well as a combination as the penultimate challenge. Both caused faults, either when the riders took too much risk turning inside to the triple combination or coming too far off the wide oxer jumping into the double at no. 12ab. The final oxer at no. 13 also claimed its victims, and favourites such as Henrik von Eckermann (SWE) and Beezie Madden (USA) both had to add three seconds due to this jump – sending them down on the result list despite very fast rounds. 

It was Olivier Philippaerts (BEL) and the super-quick mare H&M Legend of Love (Landzauber x Corgraf) that took the lead as third to go. Despite losing his stirrup after fence no. 10, Philippaerts managed to keep his balance and guided his feisty mare home to a clear round in 61.43 seconds. 

“As I had to go as third, it was a bit all or nothing for me. I thought I would give it a go and do my own round,” Philippaerts said – adding that it was hard to keep his focus on the four last jumps after losing his stirrup. “But actually, it worked out very well and I was very happy with the round,” he said. 

Photo © World of Showjumping by Jenny Abrahamsson Runner-up: Pieter Devos with Apart. Photo © World of Showjumping by Jenny Abrahamsson.

Three riders later Philippaerts’s compatriot Francois Mathy Jr. (BEL) followed up with the second clear of the competition, slotting into runner-up position with Casanova de L’Herse (Ugano Sitte x Kashmir van Schuttershof) in 61.62 seconds. Martin Fuchs (SUI) and Clooney 51 (Cornet Obolensky x Ferragamo) also gave it a good shot, crossing the finish line clear in 62.04 seconds – not too far behind the two Belgian boys. 

With only six to go, it was time for another Belgian rider. Motivated by his compatriots’ performances, Pieter Devos put the 14-year-old gelding Apart (Larino x Burggraaf) in top gear and rode a masterful round – pushing the time down to 61.31 seconds to take over the lead. 

“I was very happy today with my horse, he jumped really good. I did not really know what to expect, because I have not really gone fast with him on the first day before – so I was happy that he was really with me and into the game. That gives a lot of confidence for the coming days,” Devos said. 

Hot on Devos' heels followed reigning champions Beezie Madden (USA) and Breitling LS (Quintero x Acord II), but the front pole on last oxer stopped them from taking over the lead and a Belgian trio on top seemed more and more likely.  

Photo © World of Showjumping by Jenny Abrahamsson Third place went to Olivier Philippaerts and H&M Legend of Love. Photo © World of Showjumping by Jenny Abrahamsson.

However, as third last in the ring Steve Guerdat wanted to script the end of the first round of the Longines FEI World Cup Final different. Riding the 11-year-old gelding Alamo (Ukato x Equador), his partner when winning the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final back in December last year, Guerdat illustrated how small the margins are in showjumping when crossing the finish line 0.03 seconds faster than Devos to go into the lead. 

With neither of the two remaining riders being able to catch him, Guerdat now goes into Friday’s second round with a two-point lead over Pieter Devos and three points down to Olivier Philippaerts. 

“I’m very happy, because my horse jumped good. I thought that I could have a fast round without taking too much out of my horse,” Guerdat said. “I don’t know that horse (Alamo) going fast as well as some of my other horses, but I know he is quite quick so I just tried to stay focused on my plan and what I wanted to do. I did not look too much to what the others were doing because there were a few options that I could not do with him and for my strides I knew what I wanted to do. It worked out quite well, so I’m very happy,” Guerdat said. 

On his choice of jumping Alamo rather than his famous partner Albführen’s Bianca at the Longines FEI World Cup Final, Guerdat revealed that both horses had been prepared for Gothenburg but that the final choice fell on Alamo: “Bianca is my no. one choice for the Olympic Games next year, so I thought that on the way there she does not have to do every single championship. I felt that if I would have a small chance with Alamo I would take him. As he felt so good through the whole preparation –  especially in Paris – I thought I would go for him.”

“I think the mistakes will be more expensive tomorrow than today,” concluded the double World Cup Champion that now is in the run for his third title. “While everything looks good today, it can look a lot different tomorrow.”

 

 

 


 

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