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Tables turn on the second day of competition at the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final 2023 in Omaha

Friday, 07 April 2023
Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final 2023

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ The tables turned in Omaha on Thursday night, as the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final 2023 moved on to its second day of competition with Germany's Richard Vogel and the impressive United Touch S taking the win after a jump-off of nine. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.


Text © World of Showjumping



The tables turned in Omaha on Thursday night as the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final 2023 moved on to its second day of competition. A starting field of 39 horse-and-rider-combinations were faced with a Table A class with a jump-off, with the fences set at a height of 1.50/1.60m. With some of the rising stars of the sport stealing the spotlight, Thursday’s round at the CHI Health Centre in Omaha gave the overnight standings a big shake-up. 

The track set by Portuguese Level 4 course designer Bernardo Costa Cabral counted 14 obstacles and 17 efforts, with the time allowed set to 76 seconds and though not overly big, it asked for accurate riding. Starting with a Longines vertical towards the in-gate, the course flowed over the diagonal with an orange Welcome to Omaha-oxer at fence two followed by four strides to a white vertical at fence three. Three strides between a green gate at fence four and an oxer at fence five were followed by a bending six or seven strides to a neon green oxer at fence six. A left-hand turn to a wall at fence seven and six strides to a vertical-oxer-oxer triple combination at fence eight were followed by a right-hand rollback to a liverpool vertical at fence number nine. With six strides to an oxer with a water tray underneath at fence ten and three strides to fence eleven before passing the in-gate towards an oxer-vertical double at 12ab, the course ended with five strides to fence 13 that had a black plank as a front rail, before finishing with a longish right-hand canter to a Longines oxer at fence 14. 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Andreas Schou and Darc de Lux finished third in Thursday's competition in Omaha. The Danish rider now shares the lead on the overnight standings with Pius Schwizer, both on a score of zero. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping

Starting in reverse order after Wednesday’s first round, it was Julien Epaillard (FRA) and Donatello d’Auge (Jarnac x Hello Pierville) that posted the first clear of the night, followed by Victoria Gulliksen (NOR) and Papa Roach (Perigueux x Zeus). At her first World Cup Final, the 31-year-old Norwegian rider delivered one of the most beautiful rounds of the evening. Devin Ryan (USA) and Eddie Blue (VDL Zirocco Blue x Marlon) cleared the first-round track as well, as did 24-year-old Harry Charles (GBR) and Balou du Reventon (Cornet Obolensky x Continue), the 26-year-old Richard Vogel (GER) and United Touch S (Untouched x Lux Z) and the 26-year-old Hunter Holloway (USA) aboard Pepita Con Spita (Dsp Con Spirit x Come On) – making it a night of the young guns. Yuri Mansur (BRA) and Vitiki (Valentino x For Expo), Andreas Schou (DEN) and Darc de Lux (Darco x Contender), as well as Pius Schwizer (SUI) and Vancouver de Lanlore (Toulon x Le Tot de Semilly) cleared the first-round track too, turning it into a jump-off of nine. 

Within Wednesday’s top three, there were surprises. Daniel Deusser (GER) and Scuderia 1981 Tobago Z (Otangelo x Mr Blue) – third after round one – made an unexpected exit in the triple combination. With one stride between the a and b-elements and two strides between b and c, many pairs struggled and as Deusser landed after the second oxer he realised that Tobago could not reach the last part of the combination – sensibly opting to pull out and retire instead of pushing for an impossible distance. Scott Brash (GBR) and Hello Jefferson (Cooper vd Heffinck x Irco Mena) – runners-up on Wednesday – had the oxer at fence six down, before also getting into trouble in the triple combination as both the a- and b-element hit the floor. To everyone’s surprise, even overnight leader Henrik von Eckermann (SWE) and King Edward (Edward x Feo) – that came in as last pair out – had a fault on the liverpool vertical at fence nine. However, the Swede immediately geared up, and his strategy paid off as he in the end finished tenth as the fastest four-faulter just outside the jump-off – not losing touch with the podium ahead of Saturday's deciding rounds.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Pius Schwizer and Vancouver de Lanlore finished fourth, and the Swiss rider moves on to Saturday's final rounds on a score of zero. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping

The jump-off over a shortened, seven-fence track started with the oxer at former fence number three, followed by a right-hand turn to the green gate, a canter to a yellow oxer, followed by a left-hand rollback to the wall and the double at 8ab, ending with another rollback to a liverpool vertical as the penultimate fence before finishing off with a Longines oxer. 

Julien Epaillard – current world number two – set Donatello d’Auge to his trademark turbo gear, but ended up risking too much, taking down the green gate as well the last fence. Gulliksen and Papa Roach played it safe, jumping a beautiful and steady clear, while Ryan and Eddie Blue had the last fence down. When Harry Charles and Balou du Reventon crossed the finish line in 35.25, they slotted into the lead ahead of Gulliksen, but it was short-lived as Vogel took advantage of United Touch S’ huge stride, stopping the clock at 35.11 – pushing Charles down to second. Mansur and Vitiki had the last fence down, while the liverpool fell for Holloway and Pepita Con Spita. 

Yet again showing their consistency, Schou and Darc de Lux delivered another clear, slotting into third with a time of 35.58. Schwizer and Vancouver de Lanlore – the last pair out – had to settle for fourth with their time of 36.18, leaving the win to Vogel, while Charles ended second and Schou third. Playing it safe paid off for Gulliksen, who finished fifth in 38.71. 

Schwizer and Schou – who were sitting 4th and 6th overnight coming into Thursday’s round – now share the lead on the overall standings with a total score of zero, followed by von Eckermann in 3rd with only one penalty, Vogel in 4th with two, then Mansur and Holloway in 5th with a score of five penalties. Harry Charles and Smolders sit 7th with five penalties, while Gulliksen, Brash and Ryan share the 9th spot on ten penalties.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Richard Vogel and United Touch S won Thursday's competition in Omaha, the second round of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final 2023. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping

“Everyone can see how amazing this horse is,” a delighted Richard Vogel said about United Touch S after their win. “He has such a big stride – which does not necessarily make it easy in such a small and delicate indoor, but he just gives his best and tries his heart out. I was lucky to be able to leave strides out in the jump-off, so that suited us. The first round was really technical with short lines, especially for my horse, so I was delighted with how well he handled it. It was a tough enough class; I think the course builder did a good job.”

“Already at fence one I wanted to start with a good rhythm to have enough speed to two,” Vogel said about his plan for the jump-off. “When I walked that line, I thought that if I get a good shot at two I can do eight strides and I got there very well – I could even wait a bit and try to turn tight enough to the wall, jump to the left so I get there with five and that was one less than the others. I tried to do one less here and there and it worked out – luckily. My horse gives me a lot of confidence. It is our first World Cup Final, so we are delighted with how it has gone and obviously we will try to do our best on the final day. I only jumped two qualifiers in Europe and luckily got in to the final as someone else scratched. It was actually Mclain who told me that if I had a chance of going here, I should. He told me just to make the best plan for my horse and go, so I saved United Touch. I was four months in Wellington, but I did not jump him in the last few weeks. So far, he is in very good shape.” 

Second placed Harry Charles was happy to come back strong after a hick-up in Wednesday’s first round. “I had some catching up to do,” he said. “We are only 50% through the championship, and I made a mistake yesterday and it is going to cost me dearly. Balou is for sure the best horse I have ever ridden and is still at 17 years old one of the best horses in the world,” he said. “Growing up, I have been watching him and it is a huge privilege to get to sit on him now – I love every minute of it. I think the course was fantastic today, not overly big but difficult and we got a great result. I am grateful to have a ride on Balou, he showed again what an amazing horse he is.” 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ “I had some catching up to do,” Harry Charles said after placing second with Balou du Reventon. “We are only 50% through the championship, and I made a mistake yesterday and it is going to cost me dearly."

Andreas Schou, who placed third and now shares the lead on the overnight standings alongside Pius Schwizer, was over the moon. “It feels fantastic, it is more than we dared to dream at home,” he said. “However, Darc came here in top shape and has been so consistent all winter. Now he comes here and proves that he is one of the best. I think I have to say yes to feeling surprised on being in the lead, but when you see his record all the indoor season, he jumped six World Cups, he is such a consistent and clever horse, so on the other hand no – he actually deserves to be on top because he is absolutely one of the best.” 

“I took the risk, and unfortunately I did not manage the last turn to perfection, but Darc was fighting unbelievable there,” Schou said about his jump-off. “That was all credit on him, I made a mistake in that turn. He is no speed horse, and seeing Richard’s round I knew I had to give it all and when I put so much pressure on his canter, he gets difficult to handle. When I turned up, the first distance was not there and I had to add one. Luckily, he is such a clever horse and he managed. I didn’t want to have a bad jump on the last, so I did eight strides there and that is where I lost it today but in the end I am happy anyway.” 

“We are going to take good care of Darc now, I have the best groom of them all – Hanna – and I know she will make sure he is top fit on Saturday evening,” Schou continued. “He is really special for me, we bought him when he was five and my wife took her time with him; he was so sharp and careful as a young horse that he really needed that. Just before he turned nine, I took him over and since then we have jumped almost everywhere; at the Olympics, World Championships, Europeans and now the World Cup Final. Naturally, when you have a horse for seven years and he keeps on delivering and giving us so many adventures, you feel very grateful.”

The 2023-title will be decided on Saturday evening, as the last part of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final 2023 kicks off at 18.15 local time.


7.4.2023 No reproduction of any of the content in this article will be accepted without a written permission, all rights reserved © World of If copyright violations occur, a penalty fee will apply. 

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