Catherine Haddad and Maximus JSS Gear Up for s

Catherine Haddad and her World Cup hopeful mount, Maximus JSS, spent the weekend in Rosendahl, Germany, training with US Team Coach, Klaus Balkenhol. The 42 year old American rider hopes for good results at the Western European League Final in s’Hertogenbosch next weekend, March 23-25. She is currently ranked 11th in the WEL, after successfully competing in the maximum of 5 qualifiers across Europe this winter.

The WEL is allowed to nominate 8 riders of the total 18 to the World Cup Final in Las Vegas. These riders will be chosen from the top final rankings after the results from s’Hertogenbosch are added to the points. All 8 riders must come from European nations and a maximum of three riders are allowed from each nation in the WEL.

The only American candidate in the WEL, Catherine Haddad, is vying for a wildcard nomination since according to FEI rules, she cannot replace a European rider in the WEL’s nomination list. The FEI will decide which riders are granted wildcards.

Photo: Dirk Caremans

“The World Cup rules state that any rider domiciled in a foreign country must be allowed to qualify in that respective league. So last May, when I asked permission from the USEF to qualify in Europe, I knew I would be competing for a wildcard,” said Haddad.

The United States is allowed to nominate 2 riders to the World Cup Final while the Canadian, Australian and Central European Leagues may each send one rider, totaling 13 riders that will be nominated by their National Federations. The final 5 positions will then be filled as wildcards, to be named by the FEI.

The top two placed riders at the US League Final to be held in Burbank, California, March 30-April 1, will receive nominations from the USEF for the World Cup Final in Las Vegas. The USEF will then request wildcards for 1-2 more US riders, leaving the final nominations up to the FEI.

Haddad, who credits her “home” trainer, Rudolf Zeilinger, with her accelerated rise to success in international competition, spent two days with Klaus Balkenhol for some fine tuning before heading off to s’Hertogenbosch next week. “We had a very fruitful and seriously helpful training session. Klaus knows Maximus very well after the weeks we spent together with the US team last summer. He looked over my last Grand Prix ride at Gothenburg on video and really put some pressure on me to improve the whole canter tour.”

Gothenburg CDI-W last February was one of Haddad’s better results on the World Cup Tour with a 4th place in the Grand Prix and 6th in the Freestyle. That followed her results from Mechelen CDI-W last December with a 5th place in the Grand Prix and 3rd in the Freestyle.

“Maximus has shown steady improvement in his whole trot tour through the winter, including piaffe and passage, but Klaus picked up right away that I had not spent much time improving the canter tour. And he really pushed us for more points in the walk. I’m so relieved we got on top of those details! It was good preparation.”

Haddad has completely re-written the choreography for her “Gladiator Freestyle” and hopes to show the new version in s’Hertogenbosch next weekend. “The spectators in Holland are always appreciative of my music. We had a wonderful response from the crowd in Rotterdam last summer.” Her freestyle is choreographed to the film score from “Gladiator” written by Hans Zimmer.

Current Western League Standings, Top 12:

1. Imke Schellekens-Bartels NED 77
2. Isabell Werth GER 61
3. Kyra Kyrklund FIN 60
4. Edward Gal NED 59
5. Ellen Schulten-Baumer GER 56
6. Tinne Wilhemson SWE 55
7. Laurens Van Lieren NED 54
8. Andreas Helgstrand DEN 49
9. Louis Nathhorst SWE 48
10. Marlies Van Baalen NED 44
11. Catherine Haddad USA 41
12. Jan Brink SWE 40
12. Wayne Channon GBR 40