Peter Solovyov took individual gold for the host nation at the recent FEI Central Asian Open Jumping Championship staged in Astana, Kazakhstan where Russia won the team title. This was the third major fixture to take place in Kazakhstan this year, following the Endurance and Dressage Championships which were held in May and June. It is a measure of the development of, and enthusiasm for, the equestrian disciplines in the region that the 2011 calendar has been such a busy one. And Solovyov's victory is a major boost to the small National Federation which boasts a panel of just five riders in its senior Jumping squad this season.
Solovyov's march to individual glory was a gradual one, with his opening effort with It's Me du Mesnil leaving him 23rd in a field of 26 starters. It was Russia's Karin Ruslan and Migdolas who came out on top here, ahead of Kazakhstan's Talyat Islamov and Atom in second while another Russian, Sergey Shepelin, steered Amigo into third place.
Astana, which officially became the capital city of the newly-independent Kazakhstan in 1997, was only granted its name the following year. In Kazakh, the word Astana means "capital", but it also has Persian origins referring to a "threshold", and, located where it is, on the cross-roads between East and West, that threshold has been crossed by many of its neighbours this summer as they have pursued their equestrian hopes and dreams. Competitors from five nations - Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia and Urkraine - lined out in these championships.
Solovyov was runner-up in the second individual qualifier dominated by the host country which claimed all of the top three places. Nuraly Nuriev and Elastic stood on the top step of the podium ahead of Solovyov and It's Me du Mesnil, while Azemat Hasenov and Riconar Alkazar slotted into third. Konstantin Iaroshenko and Zarus were fourth here for The Ukraine. But the Kazakh rider's run of good form ground to a sudden halt in the team competition when Oleg Popelyaev and Lord were the only home-side partnership to complete as Solovyov (Liebestraum Z), Latif Aliev (Gromm), Alexander Tishkov (Aman) were all eliminated.
They were not the only ones however, as the three-strong side from Kyrgyzstan was crippled by the elimination of Myrza Toktobekov and Stamberlain, putting paid to the chances of team-mates Rinat Galimov (Arman) and Dmitry Gorbacheko (Alum). As the only finishers, the Russian team of Sergey Shepelin (Amigo), Alina Zakharova (Cassina), Olga Giss (Gledis) and Karin Ruslan (Migdolas) emerged the undisputed champions.
The Kazakhs got back into their stride when Tishkov and Hasenov took first and third respectively in the third individual qualifier in which Kyrgyzstan's Gorbacheko was runner-up. But on the final day it was Solovyov's turn to shine as he galloped to gold with Liebestraum Z. Shepelin (Amigo) slotted into second to claim silver ahead of Russian team-mate Zakharova (Cassina) who took bronze.
Team Championship: Gold - Russia 28 faults: Amigo (Sergey Shepelin), Cassina (Alina Zakharova), Gledis (Olga Giss), Migdolas (Karin Ruslan).
Individual Championship: Gold - Liebestraum Z (Peter Solovyov) KAZ; Silver - Amigo (Sergey Shepelin) RUS; Bronze - Cassina (Alina Zakharova) RUS.
Photo Caption: Kazakhstan's Peter Solovyov (Liebestraum Z) is awarded with his individual gold medal at the FEI Central Asian Open Jumping Championships 2011 at Astana (KAZ). Photo: FEI/Alexander Buikevich.