Colombia's Santiago Diaz Ortega claimed gold at the 2010 FEI World Jumping Challenge Final staged in Guatemala City, Guatemala last weekend. Kenya's Karen Mousley took silver while the host nation's Wylder Rodriguez took bronze.
A total of 17 riders from 11 countries - Venezuela, Kenya, Colombia, Guatemala, Bermuda, Ecuador, Chile, Republic of South Africa, Algeria, Malaysia and Indonesia - were selected to compete in this event which is open to 20 Category "A" riders from 10 regional zones.
Competitors ride borrowed horses in this Challenge which was created in 2001, and there is a "change-horse" format in the Final Four competition which decides the medals on the last day.
Out On Top
Riding Teconcord PB, Ortega finished third in the opening Warm-Up class in which the Republic of South Africa's Angelique Lessing and Persino came out on top ahead of Guatemala's Augusto Diaz-Duran and Nopiloma. But it was Ortega who topped the podium in the following day's First Qualifier and he always looked like being in the shake-up after finishing third in the Second Qualifier won by Venezuela's Daniel Ettedgui and Lavendel. Mousley was runner-up here, and after slotting into fourth in Saturday's Semi-Final she joined Ortega, Wylder Rodriguez (Durgango) and Chile's Albert Schwalm (Vlinder CG) in Sunday's Final Four from which the Colombian rider emerged with the ultimate prize.
"I am very glad to have participated in this important show and to get such a great result" Ortega said afterwards. "This achievement is the result of a lot of hard work on a daily basis. I would like to congratulate the Organising Committee, the FEI and also the horse breeder Palo Blanco for providing me with the magnificent horse Teconcord" he added.
Silver medallist Mousley described the competition as "a once in a lifetime experience", while bronze medallist Rodriguez pointed out - "I reached the final with great expectations but sadly I had a little bad luck with a couple of rails so finished third - however it was a great event!"
Significance and Success
Jacqueline Braissant, Director Coaching Department of the FEI commented today on the significance of the FEI World Challenge Final and the success of this year's fixture.
"The feedback I received was great praise for the professional organisation provided by the Club El Cortijo and the Asociacion Nacional de Ecuestres de Guatemala! The quality of the horses provided for the competition was especially mentioned as being the best ever.
For most of the riders attending this Final, it is a unique opportunity to compete outside their country against competitors from all over the world - some of whom are amongst the best on their own national circuit. The staging of this Final in emerging regions such as South and Central America in recent years has dramatically helped to improve the visibility of our sport. The Final has the value of an FEI Championship, and when the athletes return with an FEI medal, their National Federations and National Olympic Committees are more inclined to support them" she pointed out.
"I would like to sincerely thank the Club El Cortijo and Asociacion Nacional de Ecuestres de Guatemala for the huge effort they put into this excellent event" she concluded.
Results: 1 (Gold), Santiago Diaz Ortega COL 0 faults; 2 (Silver), Karen Mousley KEN 9 faults; 3 (Bronze), 16 faults.
Facts and Figures:
17 riders were selected to compete - The 11 countries represented were Venezuela, Kenya, Colombia, Guatemala, Bermuda, Ecuador, Chile, Republic of South Africa, Algeria, Malaysia and Indonesia.
6 competitions took place, including a first-day warm-up class and Consolation competition.
The FEI World Jumping Challenge Final is open to 20 Category A riders from 10 regional zones.
Riders compete on borrowed horses and there is a change-horse format in the Final Four competition which decides the medals on the last day.
The FEI World Jumping Challenge Final was created in 2001 under the sponsorship of PSI. It was organised together with Dressage for five years at the Kasselman Stables in Hagen, Germany and then moved to Santiago de Chile in South America for two years - 2008 and 2009 - under the stewardship of the Chilean Equestrian Federation.
This year's event was organised by the Guatemalan Equestrian Federation and was sponsored by the Guatemalan Olympic Committee, National Sport Confederation, National Federation of Guatemala and El Cortijo Equestrian Club.
The venue, El Cortijo Club, boasts four arenas, three outdoors and one indoor including one grass arena. The Club facilities offer stabling for 100 horses.
Fence heights ranged from 1.15m to 1.25m
Photo Caption: Santiago Diaz Ortega from Colombia claimed gold at the 2010 FEI World Jumping Challenge Final in Guatemala last weekend.