Friday, May. 24, 2024

Germans Lead, But Lamaze Bests The World Cup Field In Round 2

Leipzig, Germany—April 29 

There’s still quite a bit of red, yellow and black at the top of the leaderboard after two rounds of Rolex FEI Show Jumping World Cup action, but today’s individual winners ride under Canada’s crimson and white.

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Leipzig, Germany—April 29 

There’s still quite a bit of red, yellow and black at the top of the leaderboard after two rounds of Rolex FEI Show Jumping World Cup action, but today’s individual winners ride under Canada’s crimson and white.

Reigning Olympic champions Eric Lamaze and Hickstead topped the grand prix format second leg today in their maiden World Cup Final. They advanced to the jump-off along with six other pairs, including U.S. rider McLain Ward and Antares F and U.S.-based Venezuelan rider Pablo Barrios, and notched the fastest clear in 40.68 seconds.

“Well, it’s always great to do very well!” Lamaze joked afterward. “Hickstead’s had a great career, and to add this day to his career in front of Rolex [his personal sponsor] is very important to me. I wanted to be part of a World Cup Final before the end of his career, and this is certainly the season for him. 

“Yesterday I was a bit cautious,” added Lamaze, who placed 17th in the initial speed round with one rail down. “I was very lucky today—we had a few rubs, but the rails stayed up.” Listen to Lamaze discuss his round.

Germany’s Christian Ahlmann placed second behind Lamaze today with his clean jump-off round in 40.86 seconds about Taloubet Z. Click here for Ahlmann’s reaction to his round. That performance boosted him to a tie for the overall lead with his fellow countryman, Marco Kutcher, who won Round 1 on Cash and pulled one rail in the jump-off today to place sixth (40.89 seconds).

“I was very happy with my horse again today,” Kutscher said. “He was very good again. I knew Hickstead would be a threat, so I thought this time I had to just do my own round. I hoped to stay a little bit in front. We were very fast to the first four fences [in the jump-off], then I turned a bit too sharp in the turn to the double, and we had a rail. But I took a risk yesterday, and for the first time in my life I’m leading after two days!”

Warding Off A So-So Start

Ward replaced his speed leg mount Rothchild with Antares F today, and the handsome gray jumped out of his skin until the last fence of the jump-off. Ward, third to go in the jump-off, pushed for the long stride, and his horse flattened out and clipped the jump, eliciting groans from the rapt audience.

“I went early [in the order], and we knew that [going long] was a risky option but had to try,” he said. “Unfortunately the distance was a bit too difficult in the end really for that big of a jump. But the horse made a big effort, and that’s what happens sometimes when you try to win. I’m disappointed, but not unhappy. He jumped amazingly in the first round and in the jump-off.”

Ward’s fifth place today boosted them to 10th in the overall standings. He was 21st in the speed leg yesterday, but he said he didn’t regret riding Rothchild in that round, despite the two rails he pulled.

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“I think the plan was right,” he said. “A little mistake or a little bad luck—a millimeter one way or the other, and that’s sport.”

Up And Down

Today was rough for most of the other U.S. riders, including yesterday’s top-placed. Margie Engle and Indigo were fifth in the speed round but pulled one rail and had a refusal on today’s course.

The line from Fence 3 to 4, which could be ridden in five or six strides, tripped up many riders and horses, and Engle admitted she focused a little too hard on trying to get the six. Indigo came down on the back rail of 3 and then ground to a halt at the next, sending all the rails and standards cascading to the ground.

“I think after yesterday’s speed maybe I overcompensated and slowed down a little too much,” she said. “When I jumped Fence 3, I knew the six strides were going to be steady, and I took a little leg off him in the air over that oxer. And when he came down in the air and hit it, it just startled him a little bit. Then when I went to balance him for the six he was just a little confused. Once I went forward again he was fine. I think I was maybe just a little bit under the pace to start.”

The disappointing round dropped Engle to a four-way tie for 17th. After Ward, the next best-placed U.S. rider is Richard Spooner, who posted a one-rail round aboard Cristallo.

Beezie Madden moved up to a tie for 15th after lowering one pole—the last element of the triple combination—with Coral Reef Via Volo.

“I thought my horse jumped great,” Madden said. “She’s just a little green about places like this—she hasn’t been to many of them. So she wasn’t sure she wanted to go up into that end of the ring up to where the triple was. Though actually that made the six strides to the triple ride really well, but then at the C element she was just thinking of cutting the turn and not going into the corner.”

Michelle Spadone and her veteran mount Melisimo were the other U.S. pair to finish with 4 faults today. They gave Fence 1 a hard rattle and then knocked down 3, the oxer before the triple, but Spadone cleaned up her act for the remainder of the course. They’re now 23rd in the overall standings.

“My horse was great—the rail was my fault,” she said. “I just got a little bit anxious for the five strides to the triple. Everybody else was doing six, so I think I got a little anxious with my body early on, but she was a perfect horse. After I got over the first three jumps I felt like we were OK. It’s definitely nerve-wracking in there, because everything comes up so quickly and there’s so much action and atmosphere, so you’ve got to keep yourself focused and the horse focused.”

Ashlee Bond and Cadett 7, who’d been eighth in the speed leg, fought one another for control throughout today’s course and pulled three rails, dropping to 21st overall. Charlie Jayne (Athena) had a great round going until Fence 8AB, the double, where he pulled both rails, and then did the same at 11, the finicky Rolex planks. Brianne Goutal also racked up 16 penalties on Ballade van het Indihof.

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Rich Fellers and Flexible notched 12 jumping faults, and Kirsten Coe and Tristan incurred 8 and 1 time fault.

Difficult In Every Way

In this afternoon’s press conference, course designer Frank Rothenburger said he wasn’t at all surprised that many of the less experienced pairs in the field struggled with his Round 2 course. He said he’d hoped for less than 10 riders in the jump-off, having seven make it in reality was right on his target.

“Today was really, really hard,” Ward said. “In the second leg, there were so many good horses that you normally see 10 or 12 clear. But there were only seven clear today, and I think that shows the difficulty of the course. It was difficult in every way.”

Estonia’s Tiit Kivisild retired Cinnamon, and three-time World Cup champion Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum of Germany stunned the crowd when her mount Checkmate, who stepped in to take over for yesterday’s mount Shutterfly, slid to a nasty stop at the Liverpool.

The five- or six-stride line to the double proved influential, and the Rolex planks that tripped up several U.S. riders served as the bogey fence for the whole field.

Madden called the course tough enough, yet fair—a common theme among Rothenburger’s courses. “There were a lot of big verticals, and a little bit of scope here away from the in-gate, but not so much to get people in trouble,” she said. “It was a good course.”

Riders choosing to jump the final rounds will face two even bigger courses on Sunday, while many of those who don’t make the top 25 or choose to give up their spot will jump in tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Leipzig.

2011 Rolex FEI Show Jumping World Cup

Round 2 Placings

Provisional Overall Standings

 

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