19 Apr 2014
By Louise Parkes
Switzerland’s Pius Schwizer clinched a sensational victory in tonight’s opening round of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2013/2014 Final at Lyon in France riding a horse that had never previously won an international competition.
Going 32nd in the field of 40 starters, the man who has come so very close to claiming the prestigious FEI World Cup™ Jumping trophy on several previous occasions steered the 10-year-old gelding Quidam du Vivier to pip the host nation’s Patrice Delaveau and Lacrimoso HDC by just 0.3 seconds, while German veteran Ludger Beerbaum lined up third with Chaman.
Defending champion, America’s Beezie Madden, had to settle for 12th place when penalised for a single error at one of the most influential fences on the course, the oxer at fence eight. As a result she is lying outside the top-eight zone which, yesterday, she said was the place to be at the end of the first of the three tough days of competition at this annual test of the best.
Next in line
Olympic individual gold medallist, Steve Guerdat from Switzerland, is lying fourth going into Saturday night’s two-round class, while Morocco’s Abdelkebir Quaddar is next in line following an exciting performance from the explosive stallion Quickly de Kreisker who kept the spectators entertained with his lively antics. Germany’s Daniel Deusser (Cornet d’Amour), Dutchman Maikel van der Vleuten (VDL Groep Verdi NOP), and Ireland’s Billy Twomey (Tinka’s Serenade) fill the next three places followed by two more of the strong German contingent, Christian Ahlmann (Aragon Z) in ninth and Marcus Ehning (Cornado NRW) in tenth place.
It seemed more than possible that the very much on-form Olympic and European team gold medallist and Longines World No. 1 rider Scott Brash from Great Britain would edge into the lead in tonight’s closing stages when third-last to go, and he did indeed threaten to do just that. But the final fence put paid to his chances, and, lying just ahead of Madden going into Saturday’s class, he faces a tough battle to get back into contention. America’s Kent Farrington (Blue Angel) and McLain Ward (HH Carlos Z) were the final two to take on the first-leg Speed challenge in which four seconds were added for each fence on the floor, but both faulted once to leave them down the order.
Frank Rothenberger’s 13-fence track produced the leading bunch without over-taxing the less experienced combinations. Sending them out over an oxer and on to a vertical of wavy planks, they turned right-handed to the vertical at three and on to the double at four before the big questions began. The vertical at five was followed on a right-hand bending line to the water-tray oxer at six, and for many of the top contenders their line from here to the next vertical at seven saw them shave off valuable fractions of seconds.
The turn-back to the oxer at eight proved crucial, and only the boldest took a tight line here including the eventual winner. As Rothenberger later explained he made the oxers very wide indeed and the four strides to the following white planks proved difficult for those who were in any way off-balance after their previous effort. And following a right-hand bending line to another oxer at 10, a super-tight roll-back to the triple combination at 11 was required if riders wanted to stay in touch. The penultimate oxer at 12 hit the floor many times while the final vertical only fell twice, the first time for America’s Lucy Davis and Barron and the second time for Brash who just got too deep here at the end of an otherwise foot-perfect run.
As always there were moments of drama, Latvia’s Andrius Petrovas parting company with his gelding, Complemento, when losing power on the approach to the oxer at eight despite a great run over the early part of the track. But there were also some memorable clears including the one produced by Leslie Burr-Howard and Tic Tac who are lying 14th at the end of the first day.
The 57-year-old American rode in exactly the same style as she did when winning the FEI World Cup™ title way back in 1986 at Gothenburg, Sweden. And the exceptional nature of the sport of Jumping was underlined by the fact that the youngest rider in today’s competition, 18-year-old Hamad Ali Mohamed A Al Attiyah from Qatar, was born ten years after Burr-Howard recorded that great victory with McLain 28 years ago.
Beerbaum set the early target when fifth in to the ring, breaking the beam in 65.54 seconds, and another 21 horses tackled the course before Delaveau went out in front when clearing the line in 63.67. But Schwizer and his chestnut gelding carved an even sharper line to take the lead in 63.37 seconds, and none of the remaining eight runners could better that.
Lot of experience
Talking about Quidam du Vivier afterwards, Schwizer said “I have a lot of experience and the horse relied on that tonight. He has a lot of talent and I knew Quidam for four years before I began to ride him - that was about four months ago. Previously he was ridden by Markus Hauri, son of Max Hauri. He was a very spooky horse so he was brought on slowly in smaller classes to give him confidence and he never won an international class before, but he has had some good placings in 3 and 4-Stars over the last few months including at Gothenburg (SWE). He is a naturally fast horse, and in the end today was just my day!” the Swiss rider said.
Second-placed Delaveau said he was pleased to get the host country off to a good start, but he is not predicting the result just yet - “there are still another two days of competition so we must wait and see” he said wisely.
Beerbaum meanwhile talked about Chaman, the horse of which he said, after winning at the Grand Palais in Paris (FRA) last year, “this is a horse to win a battle, but not a war”. The first German rider ever to win the FEI World Cup™ Jumping title back in 1993, Beerbaum intends to compete over the remainder of the event with his second ride, Chiara.
Fantastic field of play
He talked about tonight’s course and conditions - “it’s not just because I finished third that I think it was a good, it is because of the facilities here - a fantastic big field of play, one of the biggest arenas in which we ride, a lot of outdoor arenas are smaller than this. It is a perfect set-up”. He said the course “was not a typical Table C track, it had a Table A character and there were not too many clear rounds, it was still delicate enough to jump, and in my opinion it was a great course”.
Delaveau agreed. “There was a bit of everything, nothing too difficult, it was designed with the horses in mind which is good as this is the first of three tough days”.
Rothenberger will be handing them out even bigger questions tomorrow night and again on Monday before the fate of the 2014 title is decided.
The second leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final 2013/2014 begins at 20.00 local time on Saturday 19 April, and all the action is LIVE on FEI TV at www.feitv.org Don’t miss a hoofbeat!
Result - Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final 1: 1, Quidam du Vivier (Pius Schwizer) SUI 63.67; 2, Lacrimoso HDC (Patrice Delaveau) FRA 63.67; 3, Chaman (Ludger Beerbaum) GER 65.54; 4, Nino des Buissonnets (Steve Guerdat) SUI 66.06; 5, Quickly de Kreisker (Abdelkabir Quaddar) MAR 66.40; 6, Cornet d'Amour (Daniel Deusser) GER 66.69; 7, VDL Groep Verdi NOP (Maikel van der Vleuten) NED 66.92; 8, Tinka's Serenade (Billy Twomey) IRL 67.25; 9, Aragon Z (Christian Ahlmann) GER 67.65; 10, Cornado NRW (Marcus Ehning) GER 68.13; 11, Ursula Xll (Scott Brash) GBR 68.14; 12, Simon (Beezie Madden) USA 68.55.
Facts and Figures:
Lyon in France is hosting the 36th FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final this weekend - 17-21 April.
Tonight's competition was the first of three rounds of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final.
A total of 40 riders competed in the class which was won by Switzerland’s Pius Schwizer riding Quidam du Vivier.
First to go tonight was Great Britain's Michael Whitaker who was competing in his 22nd FEI World Cup Jumping Final. He made a single mistake at fence 9 and is lying 16th with Viking going into the Saturday’s second Final competition.
Course designer is Germany's Frank Rothenberger.
The oldest horse in tonight's competition was the 17-year-old chestnut mare Tinka's Serenade ridden by Ireland's sole representative, Billy Twomey. They finished in eighth place.
The youngest horses were both nine-year-olds - the bay stallion Caramsin competed by Latvia's Kristaps Neretnieks and the bay gelding Amor ridden by Brazil's Yuri Mansur Guerios.
The USA's Beezie Madden has returned to defend her title with the horse with which she won the FEI World Cup™ Jumping title in Gothenburg, Sweden last year, the 15-year-old bay gelding Simon. After tonight’s competition, Madden is lying 12th.
Course designer Frank Rothenberger - “I said before the competition we should get 12 to 15 clear rounds and we got 14. I gave them two or three little options, tight turns, but it was more of a classical course. There were 31 faults at the oxers and 12 faults at the verticals”.
Patrice Delaveau FRA when asked if, as a French rider, he feels extra pressure competing on home ground at Lyon - “Yes but the crowd carries you and spurs you on, so it works both ways!”
Ludger Beerbaum GER, when asked if he was happy with his round today - “there is nothing I would have changed - even after the triple, I could have gone one stride less but these guys were two seconds ahead in the end so it wouldn’t have made any difference. I am absolutely happy with my round and my horse - he couldn’t have done better today”.
Patrice Delaveau FRA - “I will ride Lacrimoso again tomorrow. For this Final you need a horse that can go for three days and Lacrimoso is capable”.
Pius Schwizer German Version
Patrice Delaveau French Version
Patrice Delaveau English Version
Ludger Beerbaum English Version
Ludger Beerbaum German Version
Photo Caption: Switzerland’s Pius Schwizer steered Quidam du Vivier to victory in tonight’s opening round of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2013/2014 Final at Lyon, France. Photo: FEI/Dirk Caremans.