Swedish hearts were bursting with pride as a bright young super-star was born in the Scandinavium Arena at Gothenburg, Sweden this afternoon where local girl Angelica Augustsson galloped to victory in the penultimate qualifying round of the 2010/2011 Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping seres. There was an outpouring of emotion in the aftermath, and even hardened veteran Ludger Beerbaum, who slotted into third behind runner-up Edwina Alexander from Australia, expressed his amazement at having taken part in one of the most thrilling competitions seen on the international circuit in recent history.
"For any sport it is fantastic to see very talented up-and-coming young people, and what we saw today was the cream - it doesn't come better than this, and we will remember today for a very long time" said the German legend.
Dutch course designer Louis Konickx earned high praise from riders all weekend and produced another master-piece for today's test which saw 12 through to the second-round jump-off. With three home runners amongst them, the Swedish interest was always going to be strong, but pathfinders 21 year old Douglas Lindelow and the mare Talina left the door open when hitting the penultimate oxer while fellow-countryman, Peder Fredricson, was eliminated with H&M Arctic Aurora Borealis when they fell at the fifth fence on the new track. This rustic oxer had been the last in the opening round and as the 38 year old rider galloped down to it, the distance just refused to come up right - Fredricson asked for a long stand-off, the grey gelding tried to chip in an extra stride and the result was a crashing fall that left a muted atmosphere around the ring despite no apparent damage to either horse or rider.
Third to go, Augustsson immediately lifted Swedish spirits however with a stunning run with Midtown du Tillard. This 11 year old Crusing mare looked a handful to ride in Friday's feature class but, as her 24 year old rider explained, "she's not very organised on the flat but she really wants to clear the fences" and as they weaved their way home in 33.69 seconds it was clear they had really put it up to the rest of them.
None Could Catch Them
And, try as they would, none could catch them, Switzerland's Hansueli Sprunger and Kepi de Valse producing the next clear round two horses later but more than two seconds off the pace, while Beerbaum gave it his best shot with Gotha but was still more than a second slower. Portugal's Luciana Diniz had a cut at it with Winningmood but, having already lowered the first element of the triple which was now reduced to just two efforts, she was very nearly dislodged from the saddle when tackling the oxer two from home. Approaching at an angle, she caught the upright on her way up and found herself sitting in front of the saddle on the landing side of the fence. Typically determined however she wriggled back into position and continued on to complete with an eight-fault score.
And the excitement still wasn't over. Four-fault rounds from both Ireland's Denis Lynch (Abbervail van het Dingeshof) and Switzerland's Pius Schwizer (Carlina) were followed by a determined effort from Germany's Marco Kutscher, but his chances slipped away when Cornet Obolensky, mirroring a similar incident in Bordeaux, France two weeks ago, threw his head in the air in front of the penultimate fence and had to be re-presented thus bringing their tally to ten faults. Two fences down for The Netherlands' Jeroen Dubbeldam (BMC Van Grunsven Simon) kept them out of the frame but last to go, Australia's Edwina Alexander, set off like the wind with Ciske van Overis who jumped awkwardly in the first round but who seemed to thrive when the hand-brake was removed and sailed home with the closest time to Augustsson's winning target to snatch second spot as the clock showed 34.08 seconds.
Augustsson couldn't hold back the tears during the prize-giving ceremony. "I didn't expect this at all" she said afterwards. But after steering her black gelding, Walter, into runner-up spot behind Frenchman Philippe Rozier in Saturday's Grand Prix, third-placed Ludger Beerbaum predicted that it wouldn't be long before this young Swedish talent would enjoy her first Grand Prix success. He didn't expect it would be so soon however. "This was a really fantastic day for our sport" he said today, "it was the way Angelica did it, winning in front of her home crowd, it was very special and I am very happy to be part of it" he pointed out.
Alexander quipped - "I think Sweden likes me a lot more for finishing second rather than first! - but I'm very happy too, Angelica deserves this and its great to see new people coming through in the sport, I'm delighted to have been part of this today" she agreed. Beerbaum admitted that when he watched Augustsson's jump-off round "I thought it would be impossible to beat her. Yesterday in the Grand Prix I wasn't happy with the way I rode in the jump-off but today I was really pleased with how it went with Gotha. But Angelica was really perfect all the way today, spot on - if you didn't have a super, extremely fast horse today it just wasn't possible to beat her!" he added.
Augustsson has been working for horse agent Dietmar Gugler in Germany for the last four years, and her story is an inspiration to young people hoping to make their way in this tough sport. As a child she helped in the local riding school to earn riding lessons and when she was "maybe 9 or 10" she started riding with the Zetterman family and joined Alexander and Daniel on the pony circuit. "My family isn't wealthy, so I never had a horse of my own but we rented stables and I rode horses for different people, including some for the Zettermans" she explained. It was while trying out horses at Gugler's yard four years ago that he spotted the intuitive talent she is now displaying, so he offered her a job and she has made her way up the levels of the sport with help from trainers Ted Netterkvist and Gerry Mullins.
Asked today about her ambitions for the future she could hardly find the words to reply. "This is my first 5-star show, my first World Cup, my second time to ride Midtown over a 1.60m track and my second time to ask her to gallop against the clock - I don't know what to say!" she replied. It seems the Rolex FEI World Cup™ has unearthed another star.
For further information on the 12th leg of the 2010/2011 Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping series at Gothenburg, Sweden go to website www.goteborghorseshow.com or contact Press Officer Mayvor Thorin at Email email@example.com / Tel: +46 705 828 420. The next leg takes place in 's-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands 25-27 March. For all information on the Dutch fixture go to website www.indoorbrabant.com or contact Press Officer Denise van der Net at Email firstname.lastname@example.org or Tel: T: +31 (0)499.391687
RESULT: 1, Midtown du Tillard (Angelica Augustsson) SWE 0/0 33.69; 2, Ciske van Overis (Edwina Alexander) AUS 0/0 34.08; 3, Gotha (Ludger Berbaum) GER 0/0 34.72; 4, Kepi de Valse (Hansueli Sprunger) SUI 0/0 35.93; 5, Carlina (Pius Schwizer) SUI 0/4 34.97; 6, Abbervail van het Dingeshof (Denis Lynch) IRL 0/4 35.00; 7, Jarnac (Julio Arias) ESP 0/4 36.05; 8, Talina (Douglas Lindelow) SWE 0/4 37.98; 9, BMC Van Grunsven Simon (Jeroen Dubbeldam) NED 0/8 34.42; 10, Winningmood (Luciana Diniz) POR 0/8 36.46; 11, Cornet Obolensky (Marco Kutscher) GER 0/10 47.28; 12, H&M Arctic Aurora Borealis (Peder Fredricson) SWE 0/Elim. Full result at www.goteborghorseshow.com
Facts and Figures:
1 retirement - Sweden's Svante Johansson and Saint Amour who crashed through the wall at fence three in the first round.
7 completed the first round with 4 faults
1 rider completed round one with just a single time fault - Italy's Fabio Brotto who produced a lovely round with the 11 year old bay mare New Zealand Delle Roane.
12 qualified for the second-round jump-off including three from the host nation of Sweden.
1 horse and rider were eliminated for a fall in the jump-off - Sweden's Peder Fredricsson and H&M Arctic Aurora Borealis.
This was the first-ever Grand Prix win and a debut in the Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping series for today's winner Angelica Augustsson.
This was only the second time for Augustsson's winning mare, Midtown du Tillard, to jump a course at 1.60m and only the second time the partnership have jumped at speed against the clock.
Just one qualifier remains, at 's-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands 24-27 March, before the final of the Rolex FEI World Cup™ series takes place in Leipzig, Germany from 27 April to 1 May.
Angelica Augustsson, describing her ride in the jump-off with Midtown du Tillard - "she is normally a bit wild and gets stressed in the ring so I've been concentrating on trying to get her settled. She is difficult in the mouth and doesn't like me to use too much hand so I just picked up her speed and went with her all the way".
Ludger Beerbaum - "I'd want to thank the Gothenburg show organisers - this is one of the best, if not the best show in the world - we had not just exciting sport but great stabling and facilities and support, everyone is looked after and its a privilege to go in the ring and perform in this terrific atmosphere. I don't say this every Sunday you know! It's nice to be part of it and we always enjoy coming here".
Edwina Alexander, asked about her jump-off ride - "I was just happy to be clear in the first round - my horse is big, and only 9, and only jumped her on the first day here. She's quick - a lot faster than I thought actually! I could have turned tighter to the last but I'm delighted with the result. Until today I had a very bad show, so this is making up for it!".
Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2010/2011 Western European League - Standings After Round 12 at Gothenburg, Sweden:
1. Kevin Staut FRA - 96
2. Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum GER - 88
3. Rolf-Goran Bengtsson SWE - 73
4. Ludger Beerbaum GER - 66
5. Rodrigo Pessoa BRA - 65
6. Billy Twomey IRL - 63
7. Sergio Alvarez Moya ESP - 61
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. Edwina Alexander AUS - 43
14. Pius Schwizer SUI - 43
15. Simon Delestre FRA - 42
16. Marcus Ehning GER - 41
17. Marco Kutscher GER - 40
18. Jeroen Dubbeldam NED - 38
19. Michael Whitaker GBR - 37
20. Luciana Diniz POR - 37
ROLEX FEI WORLD CUP™ JUMPING 2010/2011 CALENDAR 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.
Broadcast Schedule can be downloaded from www.feiworldcup.org
Photo Caption: Sweden's Angelica Augustsson, winner of the 12th leg of the 2010/2011 Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping series at Gothenburg, Sweden today is presented with her prize by Magali Dubois Vaucher, Rolex. Photo: Roland Thunholm/FEI.