Monday, Apr. 15, 2024

Vogel Wins The Day, But Holloway Is On The Hunt In Omaha

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Omaha, Neb.—April 6

The Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Final is known for being unpredictable, and Thursday’s second round was no exception. When the top combinations from Day 1 faltered, the door opened for a few strong riders to rocket up the standings.

One of those to benefit from the leaderboard shake-up was Germany’s Richard Vogel, who won the class with United Touch S. They moved from 13th after the speed round to fourth with a daring jump-off round that showed just how formidable the stallion can be.

Richard Vogel and United Touch S. Kimberly Loushin Photos

“He felt already great the first day [and] I have to say he was very focused again,” Vogel said. “It’s a very difficult course for him, because there’s a lot of short lines and he has such a big stride, so he really needs to kind of put himself together, which he did amazing. So, yeah, I’m just very, very happy how he jumped today.”

Watch their winning jump-off round, courtesy of FEI.tv:

Vogel is on a hot streak, coming to Omaha off a win last weekend in the $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI5* with Cepano Baloubet in Wellington, Florida. He’s spent the past four months in Florida and had only jumped two qualifiers in Europe earlier in the season. He wasn’t necessarily looking to compete in his first World Cup Final, he said. He only got a spot after another rider scratched.

“Actually McLain [Ward, who he worked with this winter,] was the one who said to me, ‘If you have the chance to go, you should do the best plan for your horse and go,’ and that’s why I saved him,” Vogel said. “I was four months with the horse in Wellington, so we’ve been here in the States, but I saved him the last weeks there. The last three weeks in Wellington, he didn’t jump, and I tried to make the best plan here for the finals, and luckily so far he’s in very good shape.”

Richard Vogel thanks United Touch S after their round.

Holding Onto The Top Spot

At the end of two rounds, Switzerland’s Pius Schwizer and Denmark’s Andreas Schou sit atop the overall standings.

Schou was sixth after the first round with Darc De Lux, and a third-place finish tonight boosted them to equal first.

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“Before coming here I was a little bit afraid from the speed class yesterday, because my horse is a big, slow horse from nature, but luckily the course designer built a very, very good course yesterday, and I managed to stay within the top,” he said. “Today he came out like he did all indoor season and fought for me all the way around and gave me that clear round that was needed today.”

Andreas Schou and Darc De Lux.

Schou purchased Darc De Lux, now 12, as a 5-year-old in Denmark, and his wife, Jannike West-Schou, handled the Holsteiner’s early development. When the stallion was 9, Schou took over the ride, and the pair now have done a European Championship, World Championship and World Cup Final.

“Of course, when you have a horse seven years and it keeps on delivering for you and giving us so many adventures, of course you’re really, really grateful, because not many riders will have a horse like that,” he said.

Schwizer was fourth on both days with Vancouver De Lanlore to earn their equal top placing. He took over the ride on the Selle Francais from France’s Pénélope Leprovost near the beginning of last year and jumped in the Agria FEI Show Jumping World Championship (Denmark) in August.

“He’s a stallion, and he has a lot of character, so strong guy,” he said of the horse. ”He’s happy when you go with him. … You have to be like he wants you to be with him, and if you do it like this, you have such results.”

Pius Schwizer and Vancouver De Lanlore.

The leaders after the speed round, Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann and King Edward, had a rail down in today’s class. They were still the fastest 4-faulter, finishing 10th and are now in third overall. They’ll head into Saturday a single fault behind the others—still well in the hunt.

Holloway Shines Bright At Home

Hunter Holloway retained her spot as the top-ranked U.S. rider by jumping clear in the first round with Pepita Con Spita. A late rail in the jump-off put them in seventh for the class, and they’re now tied for fifth overall with Brazil’s Yuri Mansur and Vitiki.

“I’m just thrilled. I’m thrilled with my horse,” she said. “She’s stronger than ever and has really come this week to play, and she’s definitely at the top of her game, and I’m just trying to keep up with her. Round 1 was super, and today she jumped great again and fought hard for me.

“She’s very clever and smart and just gives it her all every time,” she added.

Hunter Holloway and Pepita Con Spita.

This is Holloway’s second World Cup Final, having competed in Leipzig, Germany, last year. She hopes to improve upon her effort this year.

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“My goal was just to keep it consistent, obviously go for a clear round and make it to the jump-of,” she said. “I was really hoping to get into the top five. I had a kind of silly mistake: I got a little deep to the vertical on the rollback turn in the jump-off, but my horse feels great. She feels ready for Saturday, and hopefully we can get there.”

Devin Ryan and Eddie Blue also made it into the jump-off and finished eighth for the day. They’ll go into the final day tied for ninth overall.

“He felt great,” he said. “Yesterday I thought he was a little fresher, but I think he always rises to the occasion in these environments, the crowds and the atmosphere. He always wakes up a little bit.”

Devin Ryan and Eddie Blue.

The ring at the CHI Health Center Omaha is tight, but Ryan said while it’s a challenge, he feels like he can also use that to better his round.

“It is indoor show jumping. It’s smaller than some of the indoors we show in,” he said. “With my horse, it helped to organize him a little bit. I’m able to use the edges of the ring a little bit, hold him out, use the walls to slow him down. That helps me [in] not fighting with him, and when I’m not fighting with him, I’m relaxing a bit more, and he relaxes, and he always jumps better when he relaxes.”

After three rails, Aaron Vale and Prescott dropped down to 20th overall. McLain Ward picked up 13 faults with Callas to sit 21st. Nicholas Dello Joio enjoyed a move up the leaderboard with Cornet’s Cambridge after they turned in a 4-fault effort and are now in 22nd.  The remaining U.S. pairs—Elisa Broz (Kardenta Van’t Meerhof), Ailish Cunniffe (Vivaldi Du Theil), Natalie Dean (Acota M) and Simonne Berg (Cooper)—finished outside of the top 30 and will not advance to Saturday’s competition. 

For the top 30 overall who qualified for the final on Saturday, their points accrued over the first two days have been converted to faults, with the leaders starting on a score of 0. For all other athletes, the number of penalties are calculated by multiplying the difference between their number of points and those of the leading athlete by 0.5. All decimals are rounded down. (Hence why Schou and Schwizer are tied.)

The show jumpers have a rest day Friday. Saturday’s final will be a two-round competition beginning at 6:15 p.m. Central Time.

See complete Thursday class results here, and overall standings here.

Great Britain’s Harry Charles and Balou Du Reventon race into second in Thursday’s class to sit equal seventh overall.
Groom Georgia Elwood gives Balou Du Reventon a kiss.
United Touch S showed another gear in the victory gallop with Richard Vogel.
Richard Vogel and United Touch S.

The Chronicle has a reporter on the ground in Omaha, bringing you photo galleries and stories about each day’s competition at the FEI World Cup Finals on www.coth.com. Also make sure to follow along on the Chronicle’s social media outlets: FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

For useful links and more information on how to follow the competition, click here.

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