Rodrigo Pessoa and the super-stallion Baloubet du Rouet netted 33,000 euro as winners of tonight's FEI World Cup Jumping qualifier at Paris-Bercy.
Going at the halfway stage in the tough 11-horse jump-off the Brazilian partnership raced into the lead when crossing the line clear in 37.08 seconds and Germany’s Ludger Beerbaum was a full second slower when slotting into runner-up spot with Couleur Rubin.
Beerbaum is finding form at just the right time and this result has put him in contention for one of those coveted qualifying spots for the Final which takes place in Las Vegas, USA next month.
Now carrying 37 points and lying just inside the top-20 on the leaderboard at this late stage Beerbaum could make the cut if he can add just a few more of those elusive points from the two remaining qualifying rounds which take place at s’Hertogenbosch in Holland next Sunday and at Gothenburg, Sweden the following weekend.
Belgium's Ludo Philippaerts has been thoroughly consistent throughout this indoor season and set a sharp pace in the jump-off with a second clear round from Parco in a good time of 38.81 seconds.
Holland's Gerco Schroder was next to take up the challenge and also left all the fences standing but was a little slower with Eurocommerce Monaco who broke the beam in 39.08 seconds.
Frenchman Florian Angot was quickest when galloping through the finish with First de Launay in 36.58 seconds but they left a pole on the floor while Switzerland's Markus Fuchs and Granie had two fences down, but Nick Skelton's stallion Arko showed that he has lost none of his buzz despite a short break at stud in recent weeks and the British duo jumped clear to stay well in the frame when stopping the clock in 39.52.
When he is on form however Baloubet is always a difficult horse to beat and Rodrigo knew he was in with a chance as he rode into the ring.
"The time was very fast but Baloubet was feeling good and was jumping really well tonight. I knew I had a good shot to try and win the class and I’m very happy with how he went" Rodrigo said.
Keeping up the pace the whole way around the track the triple World Cup champion cruised through the finish in 37.08 seconds to re-set the target time and simply could not be caught.
The home side's chances slipped away when Hubert Bourdy's VDL Groep Eve des Etisses collected four faults while Germany's Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Shutterfly, well-positioned when running fourth-last, failed to capitalise when picking up six faults.
When Germany's Marco Kutscher (Controe) and Denmark's Thomas Velin (Equest Carnute) each made a single error then only Ludger Beerbaum stood between Pessoa and his second victory in the 2004/2005 series and Beerbaum was happy to slot into second place with his talented young stallion Couleur Rubin who broke the beam in 38.07 seconds.
Philippaerts and Parco finished third ahead of Gerco Schroder and Eurocommerce Monaco in fourth while Skelton’s fifth placing with Arko saw him oust Lars Nieberg from the top of the leaderboard once again.
"I'm just going to run Baloubet in Gothenburg now and then he’ll be heading for Las Vegas" Rodrigo confirmed.
The Brazilian pair also won the fourth qualifying round in Geneva in December and, with just two further rounds of this series left to run, Pessoa currently lies third on the leaderboard with 58 points.
His record in the World Cup series is exceptional and his partnership with Baloubet is unique.
Together they won the FEI World Cup title over three consecutive years – at Helsinki in 1998, Gothenburg in 1999 and Las Vegas in 2000 – and over the following three years they finished second on two occasions and were third once.
Pessoa withdrew the stallion from last year's final in Milan as he felt the horse was just not quite right but the signs are looking very good once again and he says he’s really looking forward to his trip to the USA.
At 16 years of age Baloubet is still the ultimate showman and he should be feeling very much at home when he comes under the spotlight in the Thomas & Mack Centre in Las Vegas on April 20th.
1, Baloubet du Rouet (Rodrigo Pessoa) Bra 0/0 37.08; 2, Couleur Rubin (Ludger Beerbaum) Ger 0/0 38.07; 3, Parco (Ludo Philippaerts) Bel 0/0 38.81; 4, Eurocommerce Monaco (Gerco Schroder) Ned 0/0 39.08; 5, Arko (Nick Skelton) GBR 0/0 39.52; 6, First de Launay (Florian Angot) Fra 04 36.58; 7, VDL Groep Eve des Etisses (Hubert Bourdy) Fra 04 37.79; 8, Controe (Marco Kutscher) Ger 0/4 38.07; 9, Equest Carnute (Thomas Velin) Den 0/4 39.08; 10, Shutterfly (Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum) Ger 0/6 49.97; 11, Granie (Markus Fuchs) Sui 0/8 37.43; equal 12, Hofgut Liederbach’s Abrisca (Pia-Luise Aufrecht) Ger, Spender S (Maria Gretzer) Swe, Quibell (Jessica Kuerten) Irl, Diamonds Daylight (Alois Pollmann-Schweckhorst) Ger, Hooligan de Rosyl (Bruno Broucqsault) Fra, Cyrenaika FRH (Philippe Leoni) Fra, Crocus Graverie (Gilles Bertran de Balanda) Fra, Pinocchio (Peter Wylde) USA, Marius Claudius (Robert Smith) GBR, Dobel’s Cento (Otto Becker) Ger 4 faults; equal 22, S&L Bleeker & 11th (Gerfried Puck) Aut, VDL Groep Fleche Rouge (Leopold Van Asten) Ned, Sails Away (Sebastian Numminen) Fin, Sundance K (Franke Sloothaak) Ger, Ionesco de Brekka (Olivier Guillon) Fra, Campus (Steve Guerdat) Sui, Lohengrin di Villa Emilia (Roberto Christofoletti) Ita, Andante (Tina Lund) Den, Cigale du Taillis (Eugenie Angot) Fra 8 faults; 31, JPC Modesto Equifoam (Jean Marc Nicolas) Fra 12 faults; 32, Love Z (Geir Gulliksen) Nor 15 fautls; 33, Itot du Chateau (Michel Hecart) Fra 17 faults; 34, Diabolo du Parc (Ludovic Leygue) Elim; 35, Nicolette (Robert Whitaker) GBR Ret.
FEI WORLD CUP JUMPING 2004/2005 LEADERBOARD AFTER ROUND 11 IN PARIS:
1, Nick Skelton – 72
2, Lars Nieberg – 66
3, Rodrigo Pessoa – 58
4, Marco Kutscher, Marcus Ehning, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and
Rolf-Goran Bengtsson – 50
8, Gerco Schroder, Wim Schroder - 48
10, Alois Pollmann-Schweckhorst and Ludo Philippaerts - 47
12, Richard Davenport and Toni Hassmann - 44
14,Christophe Barbeau and Tina Lund – 42
16, Thomas Velin - 41
17, Eric Van der Vleuten - 40
18, Philippe Leoni - 39
19, Ludger Beerbaum and Michael Whitaker- 37
21, Hubert Bourdy – 34.
For further details on the FEI World Cup qualifying round at Paris-Bercy contact President and Show Director Jacinte Giscard d'Estaing, email firstname.lastname@example.org, Show Secretary Nathalie Desouches email email@example.com or Press Officer Olivia Payerne Tel. (mobile) ++33 61404 1095 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Website address is www.paris-horse-show.com.
The next leg of the series takes place in 'S-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands on Sunday 20 March. Show Director is Frank Kemperman and Show Secretary is Joyce Lebon, email email@example.com. Press Officer is Gerrit Jan Swinkels email firstname.lastname@example.org and the website is at www.indoorbrabant.nl.