The Irish rider just can’t be beaten in her quest for the World Cup Finals.
The jump-off for the Grand Prix of Leipzig CSI-W couldn’t have been much more exciting.
Jessica Kürten, who has been on a hot streak this winter, knew what she had to do when she cantered into the ring on Castle Forbes Libertina, the 11th to go in a 12-horse jump-off field. “Libertina is in top form at the moment, so I had to go for victory, no matter if we are in the lead of the Western European World Cup League or not,” she said.
The gamble paid off with the top check in the last class of the Leipzig CSI-W, Jan. 17-20 in Leipzig, Germany. Kürten will add this win to her World Cup-qualifying win at the London International Olympia Horse Show (England) and second place in the World Cup classes at Geneva (Switzerland) and Stuttgart (Germany). Kürten, an Irish rider who lives in Germany, now leads the Western European League standings by more than 30 points.
Kürten’s focus this year is clearly on the FEI World Cup Final, to be held in Gothenburg, Sweden, at the end of April, especially since Ireland is not qualified for the Olympic Games at Hong Kong.
“Through my top placing in the World Rankings we will certainly receive at least one starting place in the Olympic jumping competitions, but I do not know if the Irish federation will send a rider,” Kürten said. “I do not know if they would send me or another Irish rider. As everyone knows, my relationship with the Irish federation is not the best.”
She may have some difficulties with the Irish selection officials, but Kürten’s relationship with Libertina, a 12-year-old Westphalian mare, is solid. “When Libby is in this kind of form, then I just have to stay on board and let her make all the decisions!” she said.
That policy came in handy at the last fence of the jump-off. Marcus Ehning was leading the class aboard Sandro Boy, his 2006 FEI World Cup Final (Malaysia) winner. Kürten and Libertina placed second in that Final and were ready to show they’re looking to win this year.
Kürten stuck up a good gallop, then flew down the last line of fences. The distance to the last jump didn’t come up quite the way she’d planned, however. “I remembered what I was always preaching my students, so I wanted to just sit still and let Libertina decide what to do. She decided to add a step to the oxer. She is so intelligent, and it has been an example of perfect trust between the two of us.”
Though Ehning was just nominated with Sandro Boy for the A-list squad of the German Federation, he doesn’t see the Olympics as his main focus for the 2008 season. “My focus will be first on the World Cup Final and then on the Global Champions Tour,” Ehning said.
Germany’s Christian Ahlmann won the Championat of Leipzig on Saturday afternoon with his future hope, the just-9-year-old mare Coquet, by Cumano out of a Feinschnitt mare. Ehning finished second on Gitania, owned by the American Ellen Holtgers. Ehning revealed that Gitania, 16, will be retired to broodmare status after the Bordeaux CSI (France) Feb. 1-3. But Ehning said there will be no official farewell ceremony.
“I do not like these ceremonies. When they take off the saddle, I always start to cry,” he said.