Bruno Broucqsault became the first Frenchman to claim the title when, thanks to sheer genius of his 13 year old gelding Dileme de Cephe, he snatched victory in a thrilling finish to the Sony Ericsson FEI World Cup Jumping Final in Milan last Sunday. (see complete World Cup News 25 April also available from FEI website).
Germany's Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum was second, denied a two-way jump off with the 45 year old French rider by what seemed like nothing short of massive injustice when, after a first-round effort that was nothing short of perfection, a slight second-round error cost her dearly.
Markus Fuchs picked up just four faults on this final day with Tinka's Boy to place third ahead of Eugenie Angot and the brilliant Cigale du Tallis from France who were the only partnership to match the winner's double-clear performance.
Just four horse-and-rider combinations completed the first track without penalty as big fences and tricky distances took their toll.
Second-last into the ring came Bruno with Dileme de Cephe and this extraordinary partnership was nothing if not determined. A father of two who runs a big riding centre near Lille in France, Bruno is a shy, private man but his relationship with his 13 year old gelding is something special. Helped by Eric Navet in recent years the rider has risen to the top of the sport in France, last year winning the Grand Prix classes at both Rome and Barcelona but it is the depth of understanding between himself and Dileme de Cephe which has brought him to the top.
Delighted but perhaps somewhat shell-shocked at finding himself the newly-crowned FEI World Cup Jumping Champion, Bruno is clearly not going to let this success go to his head. When asked how he felt about his historic victory he commented "I'm just still little Bruno, nothing changes. I am very happy. When I came here I hoped to finish in the top five but I never expected to win so I want to thank everyone who has helped and supported me here".
Under the most extreme pressure Bruno and Dileme de Cephe never faltered in their absolute faith in one another and France has now found another super-hero to further boost the incredible run of French form on the international stage.
The Sony Ericsson FEI World Cup Jumping Final was a great success, particularly taking into account the fact that the Milan organisers agreed to stage it only eight months ago. I
John Roche, FEI Technical Manager for the World Cup series, is now Co-Ordinator for all matters in relation to the World Cup said "what Max has done for equestrian sport in developing the World Cup series is immeasurable. He gave the indoor season a focus - a sense of purpose - and he directed and consolidated the sport in a way that was badly needed. He invested a wealth of creativity, dedication and enthusiasm and we are now reaping the benefits of that - we are greatly in his debt".
RESULT OF 26th WORLD CUP FINAL 2004 (after third final competition):
1, Bruno Broucqsault (Dileme de Cephe) Fra 0;
2, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (Shutterfly) Ger 4;
3, Markus Fuchs (Tinka's Boy) Sui 8;
4, Eugenie Angot (Cigale du Tallis) Fra 9;
5, Marco Kutscher (Montender) Ger 13;
equal 6, Juan Carlos Garcia (Albin) Ita, Malin Baryard (H&M Butterfly Flip) Swe 14;
8, Wim Schroder (Eurocommerce Montreal) Ned 16;
9, Rolf-Goran Bengtsson (MacKinley) Swe 18;
10, Thomas Velin (Equest Carnute) Den 19;
11, Ludo Philippaerts (Parco) Bel 23;
12, Richard Spooner (Hilton Flight) USA 25;
13, Marcus Ehning (Anka) Ger 26;
14, Eric Van der Vleuten (Audi's Jikke) Ned 27;
15, Michael Whitaker (Portofino/Handel) GB 29;
FACTS AND FIGURES
Of the riders competing in Milan this weekend, Britain's Michael Whitaker has the greatest number of starts in World Cup Finals - 15. Next in line are Lars Nieberg and Ludo Philippaerts who have started on 10 occasions while Rodrigo Pessoa, who withdrew after the first competition, has had nine starts.
The winners of the 12 FEI World Cup 2003/2004 leagues were as follows:
Western Europe - Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (Ger); Central Europe - Gunnar Klettenberg (Est); USA East Coast - Molly Ashe (USA); USA West Coast - Richard Spooner (USA); Canada - Ainsley Vince (Can); South America - Marcelo Lemes de Souza (Bra); Australia (Chris Chugg); New Zealand - Sally Steiner; Japan - Takamichi Mashiyama; South Africa - Dominey Alexander; South East Asia - Qabil Ambak (Mas); Central Asia - Alexander Tishkov (Kaz).
Riders from 12 different leagues qualify for the Final - Central Europe, Western Europe, USA West Coast, USA East Coast, Canada, South America, South Africa, Central Asia, South East Asia, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
Only one rider has ever won the series three years in succession - Rodrigo Pessoa winner in 1998/99/2000 - even more remarkably the Brazilian rider achieved that distinction partnering the same horse on each occasion - Baloubet du Rouet.
Rodrigo was just 25 years old when he recorded his first success but the youngest rider ever to win the World Cup title was Canada's Mario Deslauriers who was 19 years of age when steering Aramis to victory in 1984.
In 2003, a total of 41 riders competed and Pessoa and Baloubet finished in the top three for the sixth consecutive time.
Gothenburg (Gteborg) has been the most visited venue for the final which has been staged there on 10 occasions. The finals alternate between Europe and the United States of America. Las Vegas, venue in 2000 and again in 2003, will host the 2004/2005 final next April.
In 2003 the winner was Markus Ehning (Anka), second was Rodrigo Pessoa (Baloubet du Rouet) and third was Malin Baryard (H&M Butterfly Flip).