Leipzig, Germany - The Rolex/FEI World Cup Final came to a close Sunday afternoon in Leipzig, Germany, with two final rounds of jumping. The U.S. had strong representation in this competition as they sent seven of the 27 riders into the ring. In the third and final competition, riders jumped two rounds over Frank Rothenberger's demanding 1.60m courses. The entire field would contest the first round, with 19 riders returning to the arena one last time to determine who would be crowned champion.
Beezie Madden (Cazenovia, NY) and Coral Reef Via Volo jumped two impressive clear rounds to tie for the win of the class as well as tie for fourth place in the overall World Cup Final ranking on a score of 12. Coral Reef Ranch's exciting Belgian Warmblood mare made easy work of the 12-obstacle course. In the second round, Madden made an incredible save heading to the double combination, fence 11, after Coral Reef Via Volo spooked at the crowd heading to the double combination after fence 10.
"She went amazing," Madden said. "There's probably nothing she can't jump, and I had a lot of confidence in that when I went out there."
Madden was the highest-placing female rider in the 2011 Rolex/FEI World Cup Final and she and Coral Reef Via Volo were one of only two combinations to jump two clear rounds.
McLain Ward and Grant Road Partners' Antares F were poised to duplicate Madden's clean sheet for the day, until rolling the final rail in second round. In their first round of the day, the combination jumped a brilliant clear round to finish well within the time allowed.
The Brewster, NY, native was extremely impressed with the gelding's performance throughout the competition.
"I'm thrilled with Antares, I couldn't have been happier, he was amazing all week," Ward said. "First time doing the championships with him certainly couldn't have been happier with the horse. Today, I thought we jumped the jump."
Ward finished the 2011 World Cup Final in 10th place on a score of 14. In the last two competitions of these championships, he rode Antares F after utilizing Sagamore Farms' Rothchild for the speed leg on the first day. Rothchild added to Ward's successful weekend by collecting third-place honors in Saturday's Sparkassen Cup-Grand Prix of Leipzig.
Margie Engle of Wellington, FL, finished the Rolex/FEI World Cup Final on a score of 18 to collect 12th place. Like Ward and Madden, Engle and Gladewind Farm, Garber, Griese and Hidden Creek Farm's Indigo produced a fault-free performance in the first round. In the following round, the big striding gelding got a little too close to the first element of 11A rolling the pole out of its cups.
Engle was extremely pleased with Indigo's performance and the maturity he demonstrated.
"He's a good boy, he wanted to be good all the way through," Engle said. "Its been a great learning experience for him as a young horse, its a lot for him. One thing nice to see is that I still have plenty of horse left. He could go another round."
The fourth U.S. combination to take part in rounds one and two on Sunday was Richard Spooner and his own Cristallo. In both rounds the talented pair collected four faults in otherwise classy performances. The Californian finished on a score of 19 and tied for 13th place.
Rich Fellers, Michelle Spadone and Ashlee Bond all competed in today's final round of the World Cup Final for the U.S. Fellers and Spadone found the large track difficult on the their third day of World Cup jumping, collecting 12 and 20 faults, respectively. Bond and Little Valley Farm's Cadett 7 elected to retire midway through the course after having a difficult trip at the beginning of the course.
U.S. Chef d'Equipe George Morris was very happy with this year's Finals and veteran riders.
"Great horse show, great horse show," Morris said. "Great horses, great competition. I think our top group, which are older people with great horses and great experience are world-class."
Germany's Christian Ahlmann was crowned the 2011 Rolex/FEI World Cup champion after finishing on a score of four. Eric Lamaze and Hickstead finished second and Jeroen Dubbeldam and BMC van Grunsven Simon finish third.
Watch live action from the Rolex/FEI World Cup Final on http://www.feitv.com/.
Details about the Finals are available at http://www.engarde.de/events/index.php?eventID=65.
Photos: Beezie Madden and Coral Reef Via Volo. Photo by Rebecca Walton/Phelps Media Group.