French riders reigned supreme in Vigo, Spain tonight where quintessential horse-master Michel Robert pipped fellow-countryman Kevin Staut to win the eleventh leg of the 2010/2011 Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping Western European League series. In a contest that challenged mental strength and strategy as well as jumping ability, it was Robert who kept the coolest head to capitalise on his late draw. And his delight in the success of his mare Kellemoi de Pepita was something he couldn't suppress. "She jumped fantastic in both rounds - I'm so very happy with her, she was super!" said the 62 year old veteran.
Staut, who continues to hold the No. 1 spot on the Rolex World Rankings list, steered his Geneva winner Silvana de Hus into runner-up spot while Sweden's Malin Baryard-Johnsson finished third with H&M Tornesch.
More Than He Bargained For
Spanish course designer, Avelino Rodriguez Mirvalles, got more than he bargained for when 17 of the 35 starters found the key to his first-round track. The 13 fences were big and scopey, but the distances in general were kind although the triple combination claimed a notable number of victims. And with four of the 11 Spanish representatives through to the jump-off, the home crowd had plenty of reason to stay glued to their seats.
First to return to the ring was Baryard-Johnsson who again kept a clean sheet with her 11 year old stallion to set the standard in 48.15 seconds. Spain's Jesus Garmendia Echevarria was next to go, but hit the vertical fence 15 - formerly fence 1, but now jumped in the opposite direction and the fifth obstacle on the new course. However team-mate Manual Anon Suarez was clear all the way with his mare Rackel Chavannaise as the clock showed 49.14 seconds while another Spanish contender, Cristina Toda, left just one on the floor with Cashmire.
Baryard-Johnsson's lead looked threatened when Marco Kutscher and Cornet Obolensky produced a super-tight rollback after fence 15, but the grey stallion threw in an objection en route to the following two elements of the triple combination and returned with 12 faults on the board so it was still all to play for.
In The Frame
Lars Nieberg and Lord Luis kept Germany in the frame when home without incident in the competitive time of 48.95 seconds but Kevin Staut then burst into the lead with a great run from Silvana de Hus that bettered the target-time by under a second. As Switzerland's Pius Schwizer (Ulysse) and Germany's Ludger Beerbaum (Chaman) left fences on the floor it seemed the Frenchman had possibly raised the game as far as it could go. But Sergio Alvarez Moya set the arena alight with a thrilling run from the Frenchbred Mme Pompadour who was well up on the clock coming to the last. The Spanish partnership angled the final oxer however and caught the right-hand wing which brought the fence down with a sickening thud. The Spanish fans were aghast as their last-chance hero left the ring despondently.
Switzerland's Steve Guerdat, Great Britain's Michael Whitaker, Ireland's Denis Lynch and last weekend's winner Germany's Philipp Weishaupt all left two fences on the floor while Frenchman Simon Delestre saw his chances slip away with three down. There would be no mistake as Robert set to work however, balancing his mare beautifully on the turn at 15 and racing through the finish in 45.88 seconds to throw down the gauntlet to last-man-in Jeroen Dubbeldam from The Netherlands whose mistake at the penultimate triple bar settled the matter.
Robert was delighted with his result. "That turn at fence 15 was very difficult but I felt a win today was a real possibility for my horse" he said afterwards. He analysed his jump-off round. "I tried to go quickly between the first two fences and then more carefully, I took two short turns and on the last part I was very fast. I had a good feeling about things today" he added.
For further information on the eleventh leg of the 2010/2011 Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping series at Vigo go to website www.csivigo.com or contact Press Officer Alejandra Mier Rodriguez at Email firstname.lastname@example.org/Tel +34 669 718 736. The next leg of the series takes place in Gothenburg, Sweden on Sunday 27 February 2011. For all information on the Swedish fixture go to website www.goteborghorseshow.com or contact Press Officer Mayvor Thorin at Email email@example.com / Tel: +46 705 828 420.
RESULT: 1, Kellemoi de Pepita (Michel Robert) FRA 0/0 45.88; 2, Silvana de Hus (Kevin Staut) FRA 0/0 47.22; 3, H&M Tornesch (Malin Baryard-Johnsson) SWE 0/0 48.15; 4, Lord Luis (Lars Nieberg) GER 0/0 48.95; 5, Rackel Chavannaise (Manuel Anon Suarez) ESP 49.14; 6, Mme Pompadour (Sergio Alvarez Moya) ESP 0/4 43.92; 7, BMC Van Grunsven Simon (Jeroen Dubbeldam) NED 0/4 46.29; 8, Chaman (Ludger Beerbaum) ger 0/4 46.36; 9, Lord du Mont Milon (Jesus Garmendia Echevarria) ESP 0/4 47.67; 10, Cashmire (Cristina Toda) esp 0/4 58.40; 11, Catoki (Philipp Weishaupt) GER 0/8 43.80; 12, Jalisca Solier (Steve Guerdat) SUI 0/8 45.86; 13, Ulysse X (Pius Schwizer) SUI 0/8 45.91; 14, Abbervail van het Dingeshof (Denis Lynch) IRL 0/8 46.26; 15, GIG Amai (Michael Whitaker) GBR 0/8 47.80; 16, Napoli du Ry (Simon Delestre) FRA 0/12 47.87; 17, Cornet Obolensky (Marco Kutscher) GER 0/12 56.39.
Facts and Figures:
17 into jump-off
10 picked up four faults in first round
11 riders from host nation of Spain and four of these qualified for the second-round jump-off
French riders took the top two places
This was the 11th of the 13 qualifying legs in the Western European League of the 2010/2011 Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping season
The triple combination at fence 7 was a bogey fence in round one
Course designer was Spain's Avelino Rodriguez Miravalles.
Michel Robert - "My horse finished third in a big class yesterday and I felt she was in good form and that we were working well together today"
Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2010/2011 Western European League - Standings After Round 11 at Vigo, Spain:
1. Kevin Staut FRA - 96
2. Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum GER - 73
3. Rolf-Goran Bengtsson SWE - 73
4. Billy Twomey IRL - 63
5. Sergio Alvarez Moya ESP - 61
6. Rodrigo Pessoa BRA - 56
7. Ludger Beerbaum GER - 51
8. Philipp Weishaupt GER - 50
9. Lars Nieberg GER - 47
10. Christian Ahlmann GER - 46
11. Malin Baryard-Johnsson SWE - 44
12. Harrie Smolders NED - 43
13. Simon Delestre FRA - 42
14. Marcus Ehning GER - 40
15. Michael Whitaker GBR - 37
16. Marco Kutscher GER - 34
17. Carsten-Otto Nagel GER - 33
18. Pilar Cordon ESP - 31
19. Pius Schwizer SUI - 31
ROLEX FEI WORLD CUP™ JUMPING 2010/2011CALENDAR OF EVENTS FOR WESTERN EUROPEAN LEAGUE: 1, Oslo (Norway) 14-17 October; 2, Helsinki (Finland) 21-24 October; 3, Lyon (FRA) 27 Oct-1 November; 4, Verona (Italy) 4-7 November; 5, Stuttgart (Germany) 17-21 November; 6, Geneva (Switzerland) 9-12 December; 7, London-Olympia (Great Britain) 14-20 December; 8, Mechelen (Belgium) 26-30 December; 9, Zurich (SUI) 28-30 January; 10, Bordeaux (France) 4-6 February; 11, Vigo (Spain) 10-13 February; 12, Gothenburg (Sweden) 24-27 February; 13, ‘s-Hertogenbosch (The Netherlands) 24-27 March; FINAL - Leipzig (Germany) 27 April-1 May.
Photo Caption: Winner of the 11th leg of the Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping series in Vigo, Spain, Michel Robert (FRA), receives his Rolex watch from Anthony Schaub, Rolex SA. Photo: Paco Rey/FEI.