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Von Eckermann electrifies Amsterdam in lightning fast Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™-leg

Sunday, 27 January 2019
CSI5*-W Jumping Amsterdam 2019

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson Henrik von Eckermann and Mary Lou won the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ of Amsterdam. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

It was a case of fast, faster and even faster in Sunday afternoon’s Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ presented by RAI Amsterdam as the world’s best riders took each other on in one of the speediest jump-offs of the 2018/2019 World Cup-season. 

The Dutch leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Western European League was the second-last chance for the competitors to pick up points towards the final in Gothenburg in April, and now only Bordeaux remains as the final qualifier. 

Eight of the 39 horse and rider combinations in the 1.60m class managed to clear the first-round track set by master-mind Louis Konickx. Faults spread throughout the thirteen-fence course, with seven of the riders opting to retire after seeing quite a few poles hit the ground. “It was great course design throughout the weekend,” said runner-up Pius Schwizer after the class with all the podium riders praising Konickx for his job. 

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson Pius Schwizer and Cortney Cox ended second. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

First back for the jump-off was Rodrigo Giesteira Almeida (POR) on GC Chopin’s Bushi (Contendro II x Nairobi), who opened with another lovely clear round in 35.31 seconds. Home hero Eric van der Vleuten (NED) – the veteran of the jump-off with his 55 years – was next in the ring on Wunschkind (Casall x Caletto I), and nearly lifted the roof in the jam-packed RAI with a clear round, although slightly slower than Rodrigo Giesteira Almeida. 

One of the fastest pairs in the world was next to go; Niels Bruynseels (BEL) and Gancia de Muze (Malito de Reve x Nimmerdor) did not disappoint when racing around the shortened track in 35.09 seconds to take over the lead. After one pole down on the first fence for Malin Baryard-Johnsson (SWE) and H&M Indiana (Kashmir van Schuttershof x Animo’s Hallo) it was Kevin Staut’s (FRA) turn to give it a go. The French rider got a fantastic turn into the combination but caught the next vertical at a near standstill with the crowds gasping for air – but somehow For Joy van’t Zorgvliet HDC (For Pleasure x Heartbreaker) managed to clear it. Staut put the gelding in to top gear and raced to the two final oxers, shaving the time down to 34.67 seconds – taking over the pole position. 

That was not to last though, as next in the ring was Daniel Deusser (GER) on Tobago Z (Tangelo van de Zuuthoeve x Mr Blue) – winners of the World Cup leg in Madrid back in November. Deusser rode the perfect jump-off, without a single hick-up and went flat out on the stretch to the last oxer to take off an incredible 1.13 seconds on Staut’s time. 

When most of RAI thought the winner had just walked out of the ring, Pius Schwizer (SUI) would prove them all wrong. Aboard Cortney Cox (Carlo x Espri), Schwizer did the seemingly impossible and took off 0.20 seconds on Deusser’s time with the 10-year-old gelding eating up ground with his huge gallop. 

It would be all down to Henrik von Eckermann (SWE) as last to go with his super quick mare Toveks Mary Lou (Montendro x Portland L). Opening up with a flat-out gallop from the first oxer to the second vertical, von Eckermann showed he meant business from the very beginning and kept it up the whole way while cheered on wildly by the audience to stop the clock at an incredible 33.01 seconds – receiving standing ovation from the Amsterdam-crowds. 

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson Daniel Deusser and Togabo Z finished third. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

“You have to believe that you will beat it, otherwise you will not,” von Eckermann said about entering the crazy-fast jump-off as last to go. “I saw the first rider in the ring, and I asked for Pius’ time before I went in – so I knew there was a big gap, and I said to myself that I would have to keep on going. I also knew that all of them did eleven strides between fence one and two in the jump-off, and that I there could take one stride away,” von Eckermann added about his strategy. 

“The crowd was fantastic, also cheering for a Swedish guy as well – so I was really delighted!” von Eckermann said about the incredible atmosphere in Amsterdam. 

Pius Schwizer and Daniel Deusser agreed that the Amsterdam-audience is something exceptional. “The crowd in Amsterdam is unbelievable. Every day it has been full here!” Schwizer says. “The crowd really motivates the riders here,” Deusser said. ”For the sport, I think this was really one of the best shows so far this season!”


Text and photos © World of Showjumping

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