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Henrik von Eckermann and King Edward crowned World Champions on a day to remember in Herning

Sunday, 14 August 2022
ECCO FEI World Championships 2022

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ “It’s unbelievable,” Henrik von Eckermann said about his feelings after winning his second gold medal with King Edward at the Agria FEI Jumping World Championship in Herning, Denmark. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

 

Text © World of Showjumping

 


 

Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann and King Edward were crowned World Champions at the Agria FEI Jumping World Championship in Herning on Sunday afternoon, after completing the five rounds of competition without making a single mistake. After their team gold on Friday night, the pair returned to the Stutteri Ask Stadium on Sunday as clear favourites for the individual title and did not disappoint their many fans who had come to cheer them on. 

“It’s unbelievable,” the Swedish 41-year-old said about his feelings after winning his second gold medal at the Danish venue. “For the moment I am a little empty, because you try to keep all these emotions really pushed down to not get excited, and just focus on what you are doing. Now, when it’s done, it’s like pulling a plug out a bit. But, it’s just happiness – and one day to remember!”

Coming into Sunday’s individual final, two Swedes were sitting in the front: Henrik von Eckermann on King Edward (Edward x Feo) and Jens Fredricson on Markan Cosmopolit (Cohiba x Calido I) – with a score of 0.58 and 2.71 respectively. Breathing them in the neck were Belgium’s Jerome Guery and Quel Homme de Hus (Quidam de Revel x Calido I) with a score of 3.35, as well as Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs and Leone Jei (Baltic VDL x Corland) on 4.36 and Austria’s Max Kühner and Elektric Blue P (Eldorado vd Zeshoek x For Pleasure) on 4.49.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Henrik von Eckermann and King Edward completed the five rounds of competition without making a single mistake. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Louis Konickx’s first-round track was both delicate and technical, and it was especially the line from the open water at no. 8 on seven following or eight short strides to a tall upright at no. 9 and then five following or six short strides to an oxer-upright combination at no. 10ab that looked particularly challenging to ride. This part of the track caught out world-class combinations such as Scott Brash (GBR) and Hello Jefferson (Cooper vd Heffinck x Irco Mena) as well as Harrie Smolders (NED) and Monaco N.O.P. (Cassini II x Contender).

After the first round, the top three remained unchanged as overnight leaders Henrik von Eckermann, Jens Fredricson as well as Jerome Guery all delivered clear rounds to keep on their respective scores of 0.58, 2.71 and 3.35. Martin Fuchs, who was sitting fourth coming into today’s final, had to see Leone Jei lower the front pole on the oxer at no. 4 and added four faults to his score – finishing on 8.36. With a clear round from Max Kühner and Elektric Blue P, the two jumped themselves up to fourth place on a score of 4.49 – keeping it tight on the top. Kühner was followed by Ben Maher (GBR) and Faltic HB (Baltic VDL x Concorde) in fifth on 5.72, Maikel van der Vleuten (NED) and Beauville Z N.O.P. (Bustique x Jumpy Des Fontaines) in sixth on 5.96, as well as Simon Delestre (FRA) and Cayman Jolly Jumper (Hickstead x Quaprice Bois Margot) in seventh on 6.93 – all with clear rounds. 

A total of twelve horse-and-rider combinations returned for the second round. Joining the top seven pairs were Tiffany Foster (CAN) on Figor (VDL Zagreb x Indoctro), Nicola Philippaerts (BEL) on Katanga vh Dingeshof (Cardento x Tornedo FCS), Jana Wargers (GER) on Limbridge (Limbus x Cambridge) and Marcus Ehning (GER) on Stargold (Stakkato Gold x Lord Weingard) – all clear in round one. 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ The silver medal went to Belgium's Jerome Guery and Quel Homme de Hus, who also share an incredible partnership. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

With less than a pole separating Kühner in fourth and Von Eckermann in the lead, the second round was always going to be a thriller. Konickx had built another testing track for the horses and riders, counting thirteen fences – including an influential triple bar-plank-oxer triple combination at 5abc as well as a double of Liverpools on 10ab with an upright coming in and an oxer going out straight towards the tribune. 

It was Marcus Ehning who delivered the first clear round as pathfinder of round two, and when Wargers, Philippaerts, Foster, Fuchs and Delestre all made mistakes, the German ace climbed upwards on the result list to eventually finish fifth. Coming in as start number seven, Maikel van der Vleuten showed some serious fighting spirit to pilot Beauville Z N.O.P. to another clear – finishing on a score of 5.96 and now the pressure was on those in front. 

Luck was not on Ben Maher and Faltic HB’s side as a rail on the upright at fence no. 7 fell to the ground, leaving them on a score of 9.72 behind Van der Vleuten. Max Kühner had to see the front pole on 10b hit the sand, and added two time faults to his total score, which left him just behind Ehning on the final standings. 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Dutch rider Maikel van der Vleuten gave his everything with Beauville Z N.O.P. to claim the bronze medal. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Coming into the second round in bronze position, and with only 2.77 penalty points separating him from Von Eckermann, the arena fell silent for Jerome Guery on Quel Homme de Hus – who at 16 years of age looks super fresh and fit. The Belgian team bronze medallist from Tokyo did not let the pressure get to him and delivered another impressive clear round, and the crowds erupted in applause as the pair crossed the finish line to keep on their score of 3.35.

Now both Fredricson and Von Eckermann could feel the pressure pile on their shoulders, and there was absolutely no room for error for either as a rail down would drop them both below Guery. You could hear a pin drop as Fredricson got underway, but the silence turned into gasps of disappointment when Markan Cosmopolit lowered a rail on 5c and then took with him both 10ab as well, even adding a time fault to his total score, and dropping down the result list to eventually end tenth – leaving Maikel van der Vleuten to sit in bronze position. 

The crowds, and especially all the Swedes that had travelled to Denmark to support their heroes, held their breath as Von Eckermann got underway. With tremendous riding from the world no. one and some breathtaking jumping from his 12-year-old chestnut gelding, there was never a moment of doubt though and as the two crossed the finish line clear it exploded in the stadium – the two had lived up to all the expectations and become double world champions in Herning. Receiving a standing ovation from the crowds, and with Swedish flags waved all over the stadium, an emotional Von Eckermann threw his helmet in the air as he could celebrate double gold in Herning.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Double World Champion Henrik von Eckermann. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

“I knew I could not make any mistakes,” Von Eckermann told about going into the second round. “I was a little bit forwards and backwards with the two verticals [at 7 and 8], where it was four or five strides. Normally Jerome takes out a stride, so I thought ‘oh, what do we do?’ – but then I decided to stick to the plan from when I walked and that was four. And I am so happy I did because it was an easy four for me. I just tried to stay focused, I had a really good feeling from the first round and that made me very confident. King Edward felt fresh – like on the first day – all the way into the last round so that of course gives a lot of confidence. Before I went in, I felt that if I ride good and I have a fault, I could live with it, but if I went in and just didn’t ride good, or not according to my plan, which would then cause a fault, it would be harder to accept. So, I just stuck to my plan, and I am happy it worked."

Von Eckermann admitted to feeling nervous going into the final, but told that he still managed to turn the nerves into something positive. “It’s always the same with me; two hours before, I am really nervous; it’s difficult to eat and stuff like this. But then when I get up on my horse, that somehow turns to focus and concentration. I just try to really stay focused and do the best round for my horse."

“King Edward has done so many clear rounds, and so many good things – it’s just a privilege and unbelievable,” Von Eckermann said about his fantastic partnership with the chestnut gelding. 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Three happy medallists: Henrik von Eckermann, Jerome Guery and Maikel van der Vleuten. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Von Eckermann was not the only rider praising his horse, also Guery and Van der Vleuten got emotional when speaking about their special four-legged partners Quel Homme de Hus and Beauville Z N.O.P. “When you are here, it is not only because you are a good rider, it is because you have a really fantastic horse and all three of us have a good horse,” Guery said. “I am so lucky to ride a horse like Quel Homme. He has a lot of confidence in himself, he gives everything – always. When it gets really difficult for other horses, for him it is still easy, and he just gets more focused, that is why I really like it when the courses are tough and difficult. For me, the most difficult class was the first day, the speed class, as my horse is not really a fast horse. The rest of the week I just had to stay focused on riding well, because I knew that if I ride well, he will always do his job.”

“It is really a victory for all of us; not only for me but my whole team – my owners, my supporters, my horse, my country," Guery said. "My horse really deserves this medal, he has been so good the last three years – also in Tokyo he was amazing. I had pressure to ride him like he deserves, because when I ride him well, he does the job."

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Cheers to the medallists! Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

“Beauville really deserved this medal, he jumped his heart out, he gives everything,” Van der Vleuten said about the gelding – that also won the individual Olympic bronze in Tokyo last year. “I know the hardest part is to keep him in the middle, I work hard for that – for the rest, he really tries, he is extremely careful, and he really deserves this bronze medal.” 

“He has a fighter mentality without being overly sensitive,” Van der Vleuten continued. “You can make him even a bit more hot; he always wants to do with the rider. It is important that you are a good combination with your horse, it is not a guarantee if a good rider gets a good horse one month before a championship. Like with Henrik; you have to know how to support your horse to help them jump these classes.”

"King Edward is a horse that is unbeatable at the moment. He is on another level, all the credit to Henrik of course, he rode super and it is a fantastic horse," Van der Vleuten said of the freshly crowned World Champions – that once again wrote their names into the history book of equestrian sports.

 

No reproduction without written permission, copyright © World of Showjumping.com



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