s Jessica Kurten stood at the in-gate, watching Rolf-Goran Bengtsson cruise around the jump-off track for the third leg of the FEI World Cup Show Jumping Final, she had a sobering thought. “I thought, ‘Bugger. No-one’s going to beat him,’” she said.
“He had his horse so well-balanced, and he left strides out everywhere. We all chased him, but he was perfect.” Kurten was right, as Bengtsson rode Mac Kinley to win the second leg, putting him tied for fifth after two rounds. Kurten and Castle Forbes Libertina made a concerted effort to beat them, but only managed to place third in the class, putting them in third after the first two rounds.
But yesterday’s winner, Marcos Ehning, didn’t have to beat Bengtsson to keep the lead. He played his cards exactly right today, Apr. 28, in Kuala Lumpur. Last to go in the jump-off field of six for the second round, he smoothly guided the phenomenal jumper Sandro Boy to an efficient round. They placed fourth in the class, but that’s good enough to keep them ahead of the field.
Bengtsson knew he’d have to step up his performance to win, as the second to jump off. “With those kind of people behind you [Kurten, Ehning, and Beat Mandli], you know it will be close,” he said. “I took a big risk to the last fence [with a big gallop to a long distance] and tried very hard,” said Bengtsson.
After Rounds 1 and 2, Ehning and Sandro Boy are now tied for the lead with Beat Mandli and Ideo du Thot, who were second yesterday and today. Winning the World Cup is all about consistency, not brilliance on one day, and these two are models of consistent, precise riding. Mandli and Ehning share the lead with 0 faults now, after the World Cup system of converting placings in the first two rounds into faults. Kurten stalks them in third, with just 1 fault to her name. And defending champion Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum—tied for seventh today with a rail in the first round—lies in fourth, tied with today’s winner, Bengtsson.
While Ehning, Mandli and Kurten look poised to battle it out on Sunday, Apr. 31, for the Final title, most of the Americans now look to be out of the hunt for that honor. None of the Americans who jumped today could put together a round better than 8 faults.
Margie Engle, who stood in sixth before today, has the best shot at a top finish. But Quervo Gold came down on the back rail of an oxer early in today’s course, and then caught another rail at a vertical late on the course. The 13th-place finish today has dropped her to a tie with Michael Whitaker in 12th overall, with 10 faults to her name.
Almost every one of the five American riders who jumped today collected 8 faults, which tied them all for 13th in the class results. And now, other than Engle, they’re all right in the middle of the pack. Firestone’s two rails today put her into 15th place, with 14 faults to her name. After Anthem kicked out the back rail of the triple bar and then pulled another at a vertical, Laura Kraut lies in a tie for 16th, with 15 faults. Judgement came down on the back rails of two different oxers, putting Beezie Madden into a tie for 18th with 16 faults. Richard Spooner and Camaron Hill’s Shanroe had a very unlucky rail at the first fence, and then another vertical later—they’re now in that tie for 18th with 16 faults. Kent Farrington chose not to return for Round 2 today. Joie Gatlin and Sun Cal’s King picked up 16 faults today, and now is in 25th, below the cut-off for Sunday’s finale.
The World Cup horses and riders will rest tomorrow, while the KL Grand Prix takes center stage. But they’ll return on Sunday for two tough rounds to decide the title. The faults for those rounds are added to the faults they’ve been awarded according to their placings in Rounds 1 and 2. Check in tomorrow for a photo tour of the World Cup venue, and coverage of the grand prix. And extensive coverage of the final day will appear here on Sunday. Stay tuned!!
For complete results of today’s class, click here….
For a detailed chart of the standings after the two rounds, click here….