by Louise Parkes
On a day when a host nation win seemed all but a given, Swiss superman Steve Guerdat (35) and his flying machine Hannah galloped the opposition into total submission with a whirlwind jump-off round at the fifth leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2017/2018 Western European League at Stuttgart, Germany today. Never a man to flinch against the clock, the 2012 Olympic champion and winner of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping title in both 2015 and 2016 was third-last to go of the 16 that made the cut into the deciding second round. And, to the disbelief of almost everyone including long-time leader Philipp Weishaupt, he shaved more than a half-second off the German rider’s scorching-fast target time to clinch it.
“You have to really believe you have a chance, especially when you are going at the end of a jump-off. I’ve been five times second in the Grand Prix here in Stuttgart and I really wanted to win it one day. I would have preferred to have one down in the fastest time than not to be fast enough today, so I really went for it!” Guerdat said.
There were 11 German contenders on the 40-strong start-list so the result seemed heavily weighted in favour of a home victory. But in the end the best they could do was line up behind the speedy Swiss partnership, Weishaupt in runner-up spot with Asathir ahead of Christian Ahlmann with Epleaser van’t Heike in third and Simone Blum and DSP Alice in fourth.
Guerdat is delighted with his 10-year-old mare. “Hannah has been amazing all season. She never jumped indoors before we went to the first World Cup leg in Oslo last month and she wasn’t perfect there, but she was much better in the next round at Helsinki, and here in the big Stuttgart arena it’s more like jumping outdoors so she was very happy with that”, he explained.
“She feels like she really loves her job - as soon as she sees a fence she really wants to jump it and it’s lovely to compete with a horse that loves so much what they do. I think she has fantastic times ahead!” said the man who now tops the Western European League table and who, with 43 points, is already qualified for the Longines 2018 Final in Paris next April.
Next stop in this thrilling series is Madrid, Spain on Saturday 25 November.
Result: 1, Hannah (Steve Guerdat) SUI 0/0 48.19; 2, Asathir (Philipp Weishaupt) GER 0/0 48.76; 3, Epleaser van’t Heike (Christian Ahlmann) GER 0/0 49.13.
Full result here
Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2017/2018 Western European League - Standings after Round 5 in Stuttgart (GER):
1. Steve Guerdat SUI - 43
2. Kevin Staut FRA - 38
3. Henrik von Eckermann SWE - 35
4. Simon Delestre FRA - 31
5. Alberto Zorzi ITA - 31
6. Pieter Devos BEL - 28
7. Douglas Lindelow SWE - 24
8. Maikel van der Vleuten NED - 23
9. Mark McAuley IRL - 22
10. Philipp Weishaupt GER - 21
Full standings here
Watch jump-off highlights from Stuttgart here on YouTube