Switzerland's Pius Schwizer swept to victory in the opening leg of the Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2011/2012 series at Oslo in Norway today with a thrilling last-to-go run from Carlina. With 14 into the jump-off it was never going to be an easy one to take, but the 49 year old rider raced home to pin Germany's Philipp Weishaupt and Souvenir into second, while Portugal's Luciana Diniz and Winningmood slotted into third.
"This is my very first success in a World Cup qualifier, so I'm super-pleased with the result!" Schwizer said after collecting the winner's prize of a Rolex watch. "I've been second and third a few times, but it feels really great to be first - and Carlina was brilliant today!" he added.
The compact Telenor Arena in Oslo measures just 35 metres by 75 metres, but course-designers Terje Olsen-Nalum and Anders Hafskjold didn't compromise on height and width, giving the 40 starters plenty to think about. The triple combination at fence six - oxer, vertical, oxer - proved influential, but it was the 1.70m-wide oxer at fence nine that hit the floor most often in the first round as nine horse-and-rider combinations faulted there.
Belgium's Gregory Wathalet and Copin van de Broy opened the class with three mistakes, including one at this fence. But for the home-side spectators the biggest surprise was the elimination of their own Tony Andre Hansen who, second into the ring, suffered a major miscommunication with his 10 year old gelding Frodo at the vertical at fence seven which resulted in a fall. Third to go however was Italy's Natale Chiaudani who has found a fine new horse in the shape of the 12 year old chestnut gelding Almero which eased around the 13-fence track for the first clear of the afternoon. And 13 more would join him in the second-round decider which started out over the wide triple-bar.
Against the Clock
There were eight jumping efforts second time out, and the oxer at fence nine fell as Chiaudani led the way against the clock. But, second to go, Angelica Augustsson and Mic Mac du Tillard left everything intact to take the early lead. The Swedish 24 year old, who became an overnight star following her thrilling victory on home turf in Gothenburg last season, stopped the clock on 37.67 seconds, but she clearly wasn't taking too many chances with her talented but fiery Cruising mare at this stage of the season, and the door still looked wide open as the exciting partnership galloped through the finish.
Great Britain's William Funnell shaved 0.43 seconds off the target time with a great round from his promising home-bred eight year old, Billy Angelo, and stayed out in front when Norway's Nina Braaten and Loyd 12 hit the second element of the double, three from home. Three-time Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping champion, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum from Germany, followed with a foot-perfect run from her eight year old mare Bella Donna, but with 39.51 seconds on the board they failed to threaten for top spot and it was likewise for The Netherlands' Maikel van der Vleuten and VDL Groep Verdi even though they were almost a second quicker.
Wasn't Hanging About
Philipp Weishaupt wasn't hanging about however. This German rider set off at full tilt with Madeleine Winter-Schulze's 11 year old mare Souvenir and, having taken a risky turn to the penultimate Rolex oxer, cleared the line in 35.87 seconds to reset the parameters. And he stayed out in front despite the best efforts of the next six contenders including Ireland's Denis Lynch (Lantinus), and Frenchman Kevin Staut (Zeta de Hus) who were both both clear but not quick enough, Staut's fellow-countryman Patrice Delaveau (Ornella Mail) who collected eight faults, Australia's Edwina Tops-Alexander (Cevo Itot du Chateau) who left the bogey oxer at nine on the floor and Portugal's Luciana Diniz (Winningmood) whose copybook tour of the track in 36.64 seconds was good enough to slot, temporarily, into runner-up spot.
Second-last to go, all eyes were on the man who claimed the individual FEI European Jumping Championship title in Madrid, Spain last month, but when Casall La Silla hit the penultimate fence, then Sweden's Rolf-Goran Bengtsson would finish well down the line. Now only Schwizer stood between Weishaupt and victory, and the Swiss man was filled with determination. "Carlina is fast, so I always know I can try to win with her no matter what anyone else might do" Schwizer said afterwards. And fast she was, the 10 year old mare finding every fence in exactly the right spot as she wound her way home in 34.63 seconds to put the result beyond any doubt.
This leaves Schwizer at the head of the Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping Western European League table at this very early stage of the season and with the comfort of knowing that one more really good performance will be almost enough to guarantee him a place at the series final in 's-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands next April. He was delighted with the way Carlina went today - "I have been riding her for three years, and she is super-careful and has plenty of scope - I'm so happy with her right now" he said.
Defending champion, Germany's Christian Ahlmann, was one of 12 four-faulters in today's opening round with Lorenzo, but he, like many of his counterparts, is heading for the second leg which will take place in Helsinki, Finland next Sunday and he will be hoping for better luck as the race to earn one of the coveted places at the seasonal finale moves up another gear.
For further information on the first leg of the Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2011/2012 Western European League at Oslo, Norway, check out website www.oslohorseshow.com or contact Press Officer Ingjerd Skreien Eriksen at Email firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel +47 951 68 797. The next leg of the series takes place in Helsinki, Finland on Sunday 23 October 2011. Details of the Finnish fixture are available at www.helsinkihorseshow.fi or from Press Officer Kati Hume-Leikkonen, Email email@example.com, Tel +358 40 514 47 53.
1, Carlina (Pius Schwizer) SUI 0/0 34.63; 2, Souvenir (Philipp Weishaupt) GER 0/0 35.87; 3, Winningmood (Luciana Diniz) POR 0/0 36.64; 4, Billy Angelo (William Funnell) GBR 0/0 37.34; 5, Lantinus (D Lynch) IRL 0/0 37.45; 6, Mic Mac du Tillard (Angelica Augustsson) SWE 0/0 37.67; 7, Zeta de Hus (Kevin Staut) FRA 0/0 38.16; 8, VDL Groep Verdi (Maikel van der Vleuten) NED 0/0 38.75; 9, Bella Donna (Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum0 GER 0/0 39.51; 10, Casall La Silla (Rolf-Goran Bengtsson) SWE 0/4 36.54; 11, Cevo Itot du Chateau (Edwina Tops-Alexander) AUS 0/4 36.54; 12, Loyd 12 (Nina Braaten) NOR 0/4 40.17; 13, Almero (Natale Chiaudani) ITA 0/4 41.32; 14, Ornella Mail (Patrice Delaveau) FRA 0/8 38.85. Full results at http://results.scgvisual.com/2011/oslo/s
Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2011/2012 Western European League - Standings After Round 1 at Oslo (NOR):
1. Pius Schwizer SUI - 20
2. Philipp Weishaupt GER - 17
3. Luciana Diniz POR - 15
4. William Funnell GBR - 13
5. Denis Lynch IRL - 12
6. Angelica Augustsson SWE - 11
7. Kevin Staut FRA - 10
8. Maikel van der Vleuten NED - 9
9. Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum GER - 8
10. Rolf-Goran Bengtsson SWE - 7
11. Edwina Tops-Alexander AUS - 6
12. Nina Braaten NOR - 5
13. Natale Chiaudani ITA - 4
14. Patrice Delaveau FRA - 3
15. Eugenie Angot FRA - 2
16. Marco Kutscher GER - 1
Facts and Figures:
This is the 34th season of FEI World Cup™ Jumping.
Riders from 13 leagues on all continents will take part in qualifying competitions before the 2011/2012 Final which takes place at 's-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands next April.
The defending FEI World Cup™ Jumping champion is Germany's Christian Ahlmann who steered Taloubet to victory at the 2010/2011 Final in Leipzig, Germany in April 2011.
40 starters in today's competition.
14 first-round clears.
2 retired - Switzerland's Steve Guerdat (Jalisca Solier) and Ireland's Billy Twomey (Romanov).
1 elimination - Norway's Tony Andre Hansen who fell when making a mistake with Frodo at the vertical at fence 7.
In the first round, the biggest number of faults were recorded at the 1.70m-wide oxer at fence 9, which fell on nine occasions, and the triple combination at fence six which fell seven times.
This was Pius Schwizer's first time to win a qualifying leg of the Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping series.
Philipp Weishaupt (GER) who finished second - "Last year here at Oslo I was third, this year I am second, so I hope to come back next year and win!"
Pius Schwizer (SUI) today's winning rider - "The course was difficult but fair. Before the class I thought it would not be so difficult but in the jump-off the fences were big and wide. There was a time when it was considered easy to pick up World Cup points by coming to Oslo - but not anymore because so many of the top riders come here now!"
FEI TV - Re-live the excitement of today's competition and enjoy highlights, interviews and archive footage at www.feitv.org
Photo Caption: Switzerland's Pius Schwizer, winner of the opening leg of the Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2011/2012 series at Oslo, Norway today riding Carlina, is presented with a Rolex watch by Magali Dubois Vaucher from Rolex. Photo: FEI/Roger Svalsrod.