Sept. 7—Caen, France
Five days of competition, nine rounds of jumping, and in the end the individual championship at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games came down to the smallest of margins.
Just a single time fault separated gold from silver, with the Netherlands’ Jeroen Dubbeldam getting the top spot on the podium and hometown favorite Patrice Delaveau looking up at him. Beezie Madden helped the U.S. team win bronze earlier in the week, and she added another bronze from this year’s Games to her collection.
On final four day all the riders jumped an abbreviated course on their own horse, then swapped horses and jumped the same round on the other three mounts.
“The pressure was pretty much on,” said Dubbeldam who rode Zenith SFN for the occasion. “My own horse put me under this pressure when he jumped clear with Patrice. I was really happy he did that. He’s brought me so much this week. I think this horse really deserved to finish this tournament with a clear round. I was really proud of him.”
Delaveau took an extra second on Rolf-Göran Bengsston’s ride, Casall Ask, which cost him dearly.
“I’ve got that course in my head, and indeed it will probably be there for a while,” said Delaveau, who had a huge cheering squad in Caen as he’s from Normandy.
“It’s true that I’m a little disappointed today, especially because it was such a short part of a second, it’s a little hard to swallow,” he continued. “But it’s good for the horses that we didn’t have to have a jump-off. Jeroen was truly the best today.”
Sweden’s Bengsston started off on the wrong foot by faulting on his own Casall Ask in the triple combination. Madden put her saddle on that horse next, and she faulted on him there as well. She picked up a rail apiece on each of her other mounts in that same triple, which she described as her nemesis of the day.
“I think I overreacted to him having C of the triple with Rolf and took him too hard at B,” said Madden.
“I’m so happy to come away with another bronze medal,” continued Madden, who also won individual silver in the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games (Germany). “It’s been a fantastic week here for the U.S. team. I’m so proud of my horse. I’ve always believed he was a championship horse, and I think he proved that again.”
All the riders enjoyed the experience of getting to ride three other amazing horses that were all quite different, but they pointed out that they’d seen them go at previous competitions many times. Madden’s Cortes ‘C’ was the only horse to stay clean and clear for all four riders today. Dubbeldam’s Zenith just stepped up to the championship level this year, and he was by far the greenest horse at the competition.
“Orient Express [HDC, Delaveau’s horse] was a horse with a lot of blood, and he felt quite strong, especially to the left, but over the fence he gives you an amazing feeling,” said Dubbeldam. “I think I felt what I expected. Cortes was my second horse. I thought if you looked at the horse you’d say he’s not the most elastic horse, but to sit on him he feels like much more blood than to look at. That surprised me in there. The third horse, Casall, I was a little more afraid. I had the feeling he could be tired and empty. I know he’s a stallion so I modified my ride. He also gave me a fantastic feeling.”
Catch up on the entire show jumping competition from the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games with the Chronicle. And we have coverage from the entire Games too.
Be sure to read the Sept. 22 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse for full coverage from the show jumping competition, and then check the mail for your Oct. 13 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games Analysis issue.