Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final Begins This Week!



Another Hectic Qualifying Season


It's been a long and winding road to the 2009/2010 Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping final in Geneva, with riders qualifying from 13 leagues around the globe. The battle for precious points has been hard-fought by a total of 814 men and women hoping to take their place amongst the stars who will jump for the coveted title in the Palexpo Arena next week, and for each of those who earned a spot, that alone is a considerable achievement.

The smallest qualifying league in terms of participant numbers was the South East Asian series which attracted just seven riders to its four events and which was won by Malaysia's Qabil Ambak Dato Mahamad Fatil.  In stark contrast, the North American leagues jointly attracted a massive 184 starters to 28 competitions, and with 12 representatives at next week's fixture seem likely to prove highly influential.  

Great Win
The Arab League concluded at Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates on 23 January with a great win for Abdullah Sharbatly and Goldex from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia who then came out to top an early class during the last Western European League fixture at 's-Hertogenbosch in The Netherlands two weeks ago.  When Abdullah showed his absolute delight at finding himself in the winner's enclosure at the Dutch venue he won his way into the hearts of the spectators who subsequently greeted him with roars of support every time he re-entered the ring.

There were 11 rounds staged in the Australian league which ended in Sydney in December with a runaway victory for three-time Australian champion Chris Chugg, while Kyrgyzstan's Andrey Shalohin headed up the three-leg Central Asian series which drew to a close at Astana in Kazakhstan last August.  There were also only three legs in the Caucasian league in which Rashod Samadov from Azerbaijan reigned supreme, but there were 17 legs for the Central European countries before the final at Tallinn in Estonia last month which was a highly-successful and competitive event.  The sport of jumping has grown immeasurably in terms of participation and rider expertise in this region in recent years, and Estonia will be well-represented in Geneva by Belgian-based 27 year old Tilt Kivisild and the considerably more experienced 49 year old Rein Pill.



Final Leg Victory


Toshiki Masui came out on top of the eight-round Japanese League series when producing a final-leg victory at Osaka last October, and there were also eight competitions in New Zealand where Katie McVean pipped Anna Trent for the regional title. Over the five legs of the South African series a total of 29 riders lined out, and it was Shaun Neill who headed the leaderboard following the last leg in Cape Town in November.  The seven-round South American series attracted a strong entry of 69 riders, but this has already provided one of the hard-luck stories of the season as Brazil's Yuri Mansur Guerios, who earned his ticket to Geneva with a win in the final leg at Rio de Janeiro last November, suffered a bitter blow when his top horse, the 14 year old French gelding Ideal de Balia, was struck down by a colic attack last Friday.  The chestnut horse remains in intensive care following an operation on Tuesday of this week.

It has been a long climb to the top for 30 year old Yuri who hails from Sao Paolo and who broke into the show jumping scene after spending three years working as a groom at Ludo Philippaert's yard in Belgium.  He achieved his long-held dream when he qualified for the 2009/2010 Rolex FEI World Cup™ Final, but fate has ensured he will only get to compete in the minor competitions at the Palexpo Arena next week.  "I'm not just disappointed for myself, I'm sorry for my horse because we worked hard together to qualify - I just hope he will be OK and that we get the chance to try again" Yuri said yesterday.

Intriguing
The USA East Coast League result is particularly intriguing because the international line-up is led by Olympic gold medallist Mclain Ward from New York followed by young Irish rookie Darragh Kenny in second place with Russia's Ljubov Kochetova in third ahead of Canada's Karen Cudmore in fourth, while over in the USA West Coast it was World Cup specialist Rich Fellers who came out on top.  The 13-leg Western European League meanwhile produced some spectacular jumping over the winter months at the end of which Ireland's Jessica Kuerten led the leaderboard with Germany's Marco Kutscher in second ahead of Switzerland's Pius Schwizer in third.

It has been another great season, and with the sport continuing to develop rapidly world-wide, the 2009/2010 Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final promises plenty of quality performances along with, no doubt, a few new suprises.

The 2009/2010 Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final begins next Wednesday, 14th April.  For further information check out website http://www.worldcupgeneva.com/



Facts and Figures


Thirteen leagues world-wide
814 riders participated
609 riders earned qualifying points
The Central Asian League was the first to finish - on 5th August 2009
The last league to conclude was the North American series which drew to a close on 4th April 2010.

CALENDAR OF EVENTS FOR WESTERN EUROPEAN LEAGUE: 1, Oslo (Norway) 9-11 October; 2, Helsinki (Finland) 15-18 October; 3, Lyon (FRA) 28 Oct-1 November; 4, Verona (Italy) 5-8 November; 5, Stuttgart (Germany) 15-22 November; 6, London-Olympia (Great Britain) 15-21 December; 7, Mechelen (Belgium) 26-30 December; 8, Leipzig (Germany) 21-24 January; 9, Zurich (SUI) 28-31 January; 10, Bordeaux (France) 5-7 February; 11, Vigo (Spain) 11-14 February; 12, Gothenburg (Sweden) 25-28 February; 13, s'Hertogenbosch (The Netherlands) 25-28 March; FINAL - Geneva (Switzerland) 14-18 April.

Broadcast Schedule can be downloaded from www.feiworldcup.org

Photo Credit: Lauren Hough and Quick Study, Mario Deslauriers and Urico, Richard Spooner and Cristallo all by © 2010 Randi Muster/Mustphoto, Inc., Official Sport Photographer of the 2010 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival.




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