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March 13, 2007

Voss Is A Hometown Hero In Neumünster

You might have been able to hear the cheers in Thomas Voss' house after he won the Euro Volksbanken und Raiffeisenbanken Grand Prix of Neumünster, since he lives just 10 minutes from the Holstenhalle in Neumünster, Germany. And after he and Leonardo B3 topped a thrilling jump-off to conclude the Neumünster CSI on Feb. 18, the standing-room-only crowd went crazy.

Voss, from the German state of Schleswig-Holstein, went last in a hugely competitive 10-horse jump-off in the Grand Prix of Neumünster. Before the first round, the 48-year-old local hero had said that for once in his life, he wanted to win this traditional grand prix class.

And between the first two fences of the jump-off, he left no doubt that he would take all the risks necessary to win this time, after several top placings in this class in previous years. At the end, the clock stopped just .25 seconds faster than for Albert Zoer and Lincoln, who had jumped a clear round over the course built by Germany's Hans-Werner Sattler in 34.79 seconds. The Dutch combination had already won the qualifier for Sunday's Grand Prix.

Before Zoer had laid down his jump-off round, it had already looked like there would be a Holstein victory by German veteran rider Tjark Nagel and the Holsteiner gelding Cash, but they ended up in third with a clear round in 35.71 seconds. Fourth place went to Ludger Beerbaum and Couleur Rubin (0-0/36.35), who is at the time his top mount.

Last year's winners of the class, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Checkmate, came to an unusual fate. A bad approach to a fence in the first round resulted in a refusal and Michaels-Beerbaum's fall and elimination. "It was totally my fault. He thought we were going next to the fence," said Michaels-Beerbaum, who just recently took over the top of the FEI/Gandini World Rankings. "Well that is sport. One day you are on top and the next day you are on the ground."

American Peter Wylde didn't have a horse in the starting field for the grand prix, but he scored a major win in final class of the Sprehe Feinkost Youngster Cup aboard Let's Fly.

It seems the name of the 8-year-old, bay gelding sired by Lordanos is perfectly suited to him. Light-footed, the gracefully built Hanoverian gelding jumps over the courses easily and has a remarkable turn of foot.

Wylde, who is living in the Dutch city of Maastricht and keeps the horses in a private barn in the German city of Elmpt, puts his hopes for the future on Let's Fly, who is owned by Edouard de Rothschild. He's had the ride for a year. "Let's Fly can jump just everything and has a super character," said Wylde. "Sometimes he is still a bit too eager, but he is still lacking experience."

Fein Cera, Wylde's mount for the individual bronze medal at the 2002 World Equestrian Games (Spain) is now 16. "I know that Fein Cera's career is coming to an end, though she has had several top grand prix performances recently, but I hope that Let's Fly will become her successor."

A glance at the pedigree of the gelding promises recently future top achievements: his dam Famm (Forrest--Gardestern I) is also the dam of Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum's WEG mount Shutterfly. Let's Fly distinguishes himself--like his half-brother--through his quickness and his will to perform.

While Wylde will not be qualified for the 2006 FEI World Cup Final in Las Vegas, Nev., in April, he's looking ahead. "My aim is to qualify for next year's final. Let's Fly will be still too young, so my aim for 2007 is to find a horse and build it up towards the World Cup Final and, of course, if possible for the Olympics," Wylde said.

Birgit Popp
 
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