Germany’s Hans-Dieter Dreher produced the performance of a lifetime when winning the fourth leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2013/2014 series at Stuttgart on Nov. 17. His victory was all the more celebrated because he was competing in front of his local crowd.
The 41-year-old Swiss-based rider simply galloped the rest into the ground with a stunning run from Embassy ll in the nine-horse jump-off. And it was a field of champions he left in his wake, including reigning Olympic gold medalist Steve Guerdat from Switzerland, who had to settle for runner-up spot for the third time this season. The Olympic champion has, however, now risen to the very top of the Western European League leaderboard and can relax for the remainder of the winter months in the knowledge that he has earned his place at the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final which will take place at Lyon, France next April.
The jump-off line-up also included two FEI World Cup™ Jumping triple champions, Germany’s Marcus Ehning and Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, the reigning FEI European Champion, Roger Yves Bost from France, Billy Twomey who has been a linchpin of the Irish team for many years, Australian star Edwina Tops-Alexander and rising American star Lucy Davis. And it didn’t disappoint, with an almighty and thrilling battle deciding the final placings.
U.S. young rider Lucy Davis finished eighth in the class with her Barron, with a rail in a time a few seconds off the pace. Fellow U.S. rider Reed Kessler took 12th with a rail in the first round on Cylana.
Kessler had a good week in other classes. On Friday, she won a 1.45-meter speed class with Soroya de l’Obstination and a 1.50-meter speed class on Cylana. On Saturday, she was fifth in another competitive 1.45-meter speed class with Soroya de l’Obstination.
Just Plain Faster
Ireland’s Billy Twomey and the his long-time partner, the 16-year-old mare Tinka’s Serenade, set the jump-off target at 38.67 seconds when first to go, but Lucy Davis, 20, lost her chance with Barron when kicking out the first of the remaining two elements of the former triple combination, now the fourth obstacle on the new track.
Jung’s test was about turning skills, balance, speed and sharpness, and the German crowd went wild when Marcus Ehning reset the parameters with a great round from Cornado NRW that included a very tight angle at the white oxer at fence 15, just three from home, which helped them to stop the clock on 38.21 seconds.
However Guerdat and his Olympic ride, Nino des Buissonnets, immediately displaced them at the top of the order when cruising even further ahead to break the beam in 37.57 seconds, so when Dreher entered the arena it seemed that might be as fast as it could get.
But the German wasn’t intimidated. His horse had been showing form all week and he set off at a blistering pace, with Embassy ll showing a very clean pair of heels as he raced through the finish more than a full second faster than the Olympic gold medal winning duo.
Try as they would, the rest couldn’t catch him, with Australia’s Edwina Tops-Alexander and her hugely popular veteran partner Cevo Itot du Chateau crossing the line in 39.09 seconds, Roger Yves Bost losing out when his European Championship winning mare, Castle Forbes Myrtille Paulois, slipped on the turn after Fence 4 which resulted in a pole down at the following oxer, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum going clear but slow with Bella Donna and only 1993 FEI World Cup Jumping champion Ludger Beerbaum seriously putting on the pressure with a great round from Chaman that slotted him into third place in 37.74 seconds.
Beerbaum was one of the first to congratulate the winner. “Well done Hansy!” he said at the post-competition press conference. “I think he really deserved to win today, the jump-off was world-class. When you see the time he achieved, and that of the other competitors, it shows just how unbelievable his jump-off was. Today it was impossible to beat him!”
Runner-up Guerdat was gracious in defeat. “Congratulations to Hansy, I think he did an amazing job. He is a great rider and a great guy, he really deserved to win today. I think I had one of the only horses that could beat him. I have to try a bit harder next time and come back for a win!” he said.
The reigning Olympic champion, who was second in the 2012 Rolex FEI World Cup Final, can now rest on his laurels knowing that he’s qualified for the 2014 version.
The Right Tactic
Dreher meanwhile reflected on a fantastic day’s work. “I am very happy, especially with my jump-off—I chose the right tactic. My horse was really strong for the last few weeks, and in two classes here we had just one fence down, he was really good so I was hopeful we would go clear today. To win I was not so sure however!” he admitted.
“He’s a very fast horse—I made up on the first distance when I took one stride less and I think I won it there” he pointed out. Dreher has rocketed to prominence over the past three years thanks to a great bunch of horses which he rides from his base just outside Basel in Switzerland.
“If you don’t have good horses then you have no chance, and I’m very pleased for Embassy. This is our biggest win ever. He has been in great shape this year, he won a class in Aachen and we rode together on the team at the Nations Cup in Rotterdam,” he explained.
Originally from Adelausen in Baden-Wuerttemberg, close to Stuttgart, It was also particularly pleasing for Dreher to put on such a spectacular performance in front of his home crowd who went wild with delight at the success of their local hero.
Today’s result has boosted Dreher to sixth place on the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Western European League table. Great Britain’s Scott Brash lies second, German team-mate Marcus Ehning is in third, Portugal’s Luciana Diniz is in fifth place and Edwina Tops-Alexander lies fifth.
“I’d like to try to qualify for the Final, but for now all I know is that I plan to ride at Mechelen [Belgium] after Christmas,” Dreher said. “After that I have to talk to our trainer before I find out what other qualifiers I can go to,” he explained.
LONGINES FEI WORLD CUP GRAND PRIX OF STUTTGART
1. Embassy ll (Hans-Dieter Dreher) GER 0/0 36.27
2. Nino de Buissonnets (Steve Guerdat) SUI 0/0 37.37
3. Chaman (Ludger Beerbaum) GER 0/0 37.74
4. Cornado NRW (Marcus Ehning) GER 0/0 38.21
5. Tinka's Serenade (Billy Twomey) IRL 0/0 38.67
6. Cevo Itot du Chateau (Edwina Tops-Alexander) AUS 0/0 39.09
7. Bella Donna (Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum) GER 0/0 45.68
8. Barron (Lucy Davis) USA 0/4 40.71
9. Castle Forbes Myrtille Paulois (Roger Yves Bost) FRA 0/4 42.75.