ROLEX FEI WORLD CUP™ JUMPING 2009/2010
Gothenburg (Swe), 28 February 2010 - Ireland's Jessica Kuerten nearly brought the roof down at the Scandinavium arena in Gothenburg, Sweden today with a rip-roaring ride from Castle Forbes Libertina that scooped their second victory of the 2009/2010 Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping season. It's getting down to the wire now with only one qualifying leg remaining and every precious point counting towards a place at the series final in Geneva, but Kuerten has cruised into a qualifying spot with the greatest of ease and today's victory suggests she will be one of the favourites when the final kicks off at the Swiss venue next month.
ROLEX FEI WORLD CUP™ JUMPING 2009/2010
Germany's Marco Kutscher galloped into second place with the deceptively fast Cash while former World Champion Dermott Lennon slotted into third with the gelding Hallmark Elite which, he says "has the makings of another Libertina". If he is right about that then Irish show jumping is in very good shape indeed.
Course designer Rolf Ludi set them a tough task in the tight confines of the Gothenburg ring, but nine of the 39 starters found the key to go into the decider against the clock. The unluckiest ones included Holland's Gerco Schroder with Eurocommerce New Orleans and Germany's Lars Nieberg with Levito who both missed out when picking up just a single time fault, while four other riders opted to retire when things simply weren't going their way.
The bogey fence on the track was the triple combination at fence five which penalised 14 horse and rider combinations, while the plank on top of the first element of the double of verticals at fence seven also proved influential. And amongst the nine four-faulters were reigning European Champion Kevin Staut, German star Marcus Ehning with his exciting bay mare Sabrina, Great Britain's Ben Maher with Robin Hood and Vigo winner Australia's Edwina Alexander this time riding Cevo Itot du Chateau.
Set the Target
It was Portugal's Luciana Diniz who led the way against the clock with Winningmood who set the target with a clear in 39.78 seconds. The jump-off course gave riders some simple but daring options however and Lennon had them well-measured when making a hand-brake turn after the vertical three from home which gave him a short but super-fast line to the penultimate new vertical before making the long run down to the last. As he broke the beam in 38.52 seconds things were really hotting up. But although the Irishman's round was strong and bold it paled in comparison to the drama of Jens Fredricsson's run which followed.
The only Swede to make it through to the closing stages, Fredricsson was feeling the heavy weight of home expectations on his shoulders and was giving it everything he had as he raced down to the two remaining elements of the triple combination which were now third on the track. He got his distance all wrong however and tried to chip in an extra stride, and there was a huge intake of breath around the ring as his aptly-named gelding Lunatic still tried to make the apparently impossible very possible indeed as he helicoptered his way upwards, landed without hitting the first element and somehow also managed to scramble over the next without touching a pole. Remarkably unnerved, they crossed the line 38.76 seconds to slot into second place.
A Shot at the Time
Great Britain's Michael Whitaker had a good shot at the time when bringing his Verona winner, GIG Amai, home in 39.98 seconds and when World No. 1 Puis Schwizer of Switzerland and the lovely mare Carlina could only manage a time of 39.44 seconds it seemed that Lennon had left no room for improvement. But that didn't take Kuerten and Castle Forbes Libertina into account. Even though things didn't work out exactly right on the tight turn to the penultimate vertical the 40 year old Irish rider and her flying machine were well up on time as they made one of their trademark heart-stopping runs down to the last to stop the clock on 37.42 seconds for the lead.
Marco Kutscher's time of 38.23 seconds with Cash pushed Lennon out of second place but that was where the challenge would end when fellow-German Ludger Beerbaum went out of the reckoning with a stop from his mare Gotha and seasonal double-winner Daniel Etter of Switzerland collected four faults with Peu a Peu despite the quickest round of the competition.
"Libby is outstanding, amazing, a tiger, a diva, she's incredible - I can't say enough great things about her" said Kuerten afterwards. "She's such a fighter, she knows exactly what to do in the ring - if she was a person she would be a highly successful businesswoman or a human athlete with a load of Olympic medals - when I get into a jump-off it's Libertina that wins, not me, I just sit there and let her do her thing!" she added.
Asked if his appearance on the podium was a bit of a surprise, Lennon said no - "my horse is very inexperienced and has learned everything he knows in just the last two years - he's been amazing so far". Hallmark Elite jumped clear in the nations cup at the Spruce Meadows Master last September and over the winter months was fourth in the World Cup qualifier at Syracuse in the USA and third in the qualifier at Toronto. So for the first time in many years Ireland may have three riders qualified for this year's Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping final as 21 year US-based Darragh Kenny has also made the cut.
Jens Fredricsson talked about his dramatic round which was good enough to leave him in fourth place in the final analysis. "My horse helped me out" he said in what could well be the understatement of the century. However he is a long way off the top-18 qualifying places on the Western European League leaderboard which will be contested for the last time at 's-Hertogenbosch in Holland in two weeks time and which does not yet include any Swedish contenders. As it stands after today's competition Svante Johansson is closest in 20th place - there is still plenty of battling to do before the final line-up is decided.
The next leg of the 2009/2010 Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping series, and the last qualifying event, will take place at 's-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands from 25-28 March. For all information on the Dutch fixture check out website www.indoorbrabant.nl or contact Press Officer Denise van der Net at email denisene@xs4all or mobile +31 627 03 16 74.
RESULT: 1, Castle Forbes Libertina (Jessica Kuerten) Irl 0/0 37.42; 2, Cash (Marco Kutscher) Ger 0/0 38.23; 3, Hallmark Elite (Dermott Lennon) Irl 0/0 38.52; 4, Lunatic (Jens Fredricson) Swe 0/0 38.76; 5, GIG Amai (Michael Whitaker) GBR 0/0 38.98; 6, Carlina (Pius Schwizer) Sui 0/0 39.44; 7, Winningmood (Luciana diniz) Por 0/0 39.78; 8, Peu a Peu (Daniel Etter) Sui 0/4 36.97; 9, Gotha (Ludger Beerbaum) Ger 0/10 55.63; 10, Eurocommerce New Orleans (Gerco Schroder) Ned 1 fault; 11, Levito (Lars Nieberg) Ger 1 fault. Full results at: www.scg-nl.nl
ROLEX FEI WORLD CUP™ JUMPING - Standings after Round 12 at Gothenburg, Sweden:
1. Marco Kutscher - 81
2. Pius Schwizer - 77
3. Jessica Kuerten - 73
4. Marcus Ehning - 68
5. Edwina Alexander - 62
6. Kevin Staut - 59
7. Beat Mandli - 57
8. Eric Van der Vleuten - 57
9. Philipp Weishaupt - 57
10. Patrice Deleveau - 55
11. Ludger Beerbaum - 54
12. Rodrigo Pessoa - 52
13. Michael Whitaker - 51
14. Daniel Etter - 49
15. Penelope Leprevost - 47
16. Dermott Lennon - 43
17. Luciana Diniz - 43
18. Natale Chaiaudani - 43
19. Steve Guerdat - 39
20. Svante Johansson - 39
Complete standings at www.feiworldcup.org
Facts and Figures:39 starters, 9 through to the jump-off, 4 horses retired, 2 riders completed round one with just a single fault, 9 riders finished round one with just four faults.
- The bogey fence in the first round was the triple combination at fence five - 14 horse and rider combinations were penalised at this fence
- Jessica Kuerten and Castle Forbes Libertina previously won the eighth leg of the series at Leipzig, Germany in January.
Jessica Kuerten - "I was second at the World Cup final in Kuala Lumpur and the last time I was here I finished fourth and in Las Vegas 14th - I'm not sure if I will be riding Libertina in Geneva - I might need to bring another horse to give her some help, we will see".
Dermott Lennon - "My horse jumps just as good outdoors - I think he has great potential and you'll be seeing a lot more of him"
Jens Fredricsson - "I really wanted to do well in front of the home crowd"
Photo Caption: Ireland's Jessica Kuerten and Castle Forbes Libertina with Magali Dubois-Vaucher of Rolex after their victory in the twelfth leg of the Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping series in Gothenburg, Sweden today. Photo: Kit Houghton.