FEI World Cup Jumping in s-Hertogenbosch 

28 Mar 2004

Ludger Supreme in 's-Hertogenbosch 

On his sixth start in the 2003/2004 FEI World Cup Jumping series Ludger Beerbaum at last made his mark when victorious today with Goldfever at the penultimate qualifier in s'Hertogenbosch, Holland.
It has been a strange season for the German ace who had only picked up eight points on his previous outings at Berlin, Geneva, Leipzig, Vigo and Paris but it came together for him at the Dutch fixture at which spectators enjoyed a thrilling seven-horse jump-off.

Ludger was first to jump against the clock and he said afterwards "I had to set the pace but I feel I had luck on my side today because I only won by 100th of a second and one other rider was faster than me".

He threw down a strong challenge when steering Goldfever home and clear in 31.81 seconds and fellow-countryman Otto Becker presented no real danger when following with two mistakes from Dobel's Fiala.
However Rolf-Goran Bengtsson, winner at Mechelen in December, had the hand-brake off as he galloped through the finish more than a second faster with Mackinley but a single error cost the Swede dearly.
Dutch riders had been extremely dominant throughout the show and Leopold Van Asten, representing competition-sponsors VDL Groep with Think Twice 11, had the crowd behind him as he galloped across the line clear but almost one second off the target-time in 32.67 seconds while Germany's Franke Sloothaak also left all the timber intact but could not match Ludger's time when breaking the beam in 32.55 seconds.

Markus Fuchs was second-last to go but the Swiss rider is clearly still suffering considerable pain from the leg-problem that has been dogging him for some time now. Due to the difficulties he has been experiencing, the FEI agreed to give him a wild-card qualifying spot for the final in Milan next month if he could earn his place in an FEI World Cup competition jump-off and, having done that today, he decided to retire with Tinka's Boy leaving only Bruno Broucqsault to challenge Ludger for pole position.

And the Frenchman proved well up to the challenge, keeping the crowd on the edges of their seats as he produced a superb round from the 14 year old mare Dileme de Cephe who stopped the clock just a frustrating 100th of a second off the German rider's time in 31.82.

Commenting on the length of time it has taken him to make any real impression on this year's series Ludger said "it's difficult to know why it has been like this but you know life is a bit like that sometimes don't you think? You can't explain it, it just happens, but things are better now and I will travel to Goeteborg to see if I can qualify for the final - that's my goal".
He must feature prominently in the line-up again at the final qualifying leg if he is to make the cut as, despite today's success, he still only has 28 points on the board and approximately 40 will be required to firmly secure his place.

Ludo Philippaerts remains at the head of the FEI World Cup leaderboard but Otto Becker has improved from seventh position to runner-up spot while Rolf-Goran Bengtsson joins Rodrigo Pessoa in fourth behind Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum in third after today's competition.

It's still all to play for at the final qualifier in fourteen day's time and, with luck now back on his side, Ludger Beerbaum will have all guns blazing when he lines out in Goeteborg for what promises to be a tense and exciting battle for those precious last-minute qualifying points.