Lexington, KY - The Jumping World Championships presented by Rolex at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games kicked off today with the speed competition. More than 120 horses would jump through Conrad Homfeld's beautifully designed course before the day was done. This first round of the jumping was the speed competition, so all the riders were aiming to have fast and clear rounds.
Coming off a brilliant Team Gold medal win at the 2008 Olympics, the American team picked up where they left off.
Mario Deslauriers and Urico had a brilliantly fast and clean round to claim the Gold Medal position after the day of jumping on a score of 71.25. Deslauriers was thrilled after his ride, and credits his top score to his mount's natural speed and agility. Urico is a 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Zandor Z. He is owned by Jane Clark.
"Urico has a big step and he's a quick horse naturally," he said. "I just let him use his natural step and it turned out our way. I didn't take many chances, but I used his rhythm well. A great speed round is when everything works out smoothly and in the rhythm. I was lucky enough that it happened today. I'm very happy about that."
Sitting just behind Deslauriers in the Silver Medal position is McLain Ward aboard his longtime partner Sapphire, his 15-year-old Belgain Warmblood mare who is owned by Ward, Tom Grossman, and Blue Chip Bloodstock.
"The mare was phenomenal," Ward said after his ride. "It was a long day of sitting around and the pressure building, but she did everything I asked of her. Mario had a brilliant round. My goal coming in was top three and I was trying to win, but Mario's horse is very fast and I couldn't get him."
Lauren Hough and her own and Meredith Mateo's Quick Study were the first Americans to jump the course this morning. Quick Study, an 11-year-old Selle Francais gelding by Quick Star, was fast around the course, but unfortunately put a foot in the water and had the very last rail down. The pair's total score was 82.09.
"I thought in general he jumped really well," Hough said. "I opened my horse up quite early in the beginning, and he cut right over the wall, which he does. It left me with a kind of dead distance to the water. Then it was really going quite well. I really thought the last one was kind of cheap. I saw it on the playback...he went so high and just barely put down on it."
Laura Kraut and the always-entertaining Cedric blazed around the course, but unfortunately took two rails down to give them a score of 83.33. Kraut is optimistic, though, that Cedric, Happy Hill Farm's 12-year-old KWPN gelding by Chambertin, will be back to his normal form for tomorrow's section of the competition.
"It was a bit disappointing," she said. "I started my warm up [in the upper ring] and about four carriages came by at once. That just completely undid him. Once he's lit up, it's hard to bring him back down. He usually would never run into a fence like he did. Hopefully tomorrow we can keep him calm. When his brain is organized and he's calm, he can jump any course they build."
With the United States occupying the top two positions, only one was left for an international rider to claim. Currently sitting in the Bronze Medal position is Sándor Szász of Hungary with his lovely stallion Moosbachhofs Goldwing, a 1999 Hannoverian by Ludgar Beerbaum's famous partner Goldfever. Goldwing, owned by Stefan Wiesenberger, had a clean and fast round to land them with a score of 73.24.
"I came with the goal of helping my team," Szász said through a translator. "But in order to help my team, I had to try to win. I had an advantage because my horse is very fast, so I feel very fortunate to be able to do what I did."
After day one, the United States leads the team competition with comfortable margin and a score of 5.69.
Sitting in second is the team from Germany with a score of 9.80. The German team is made up of Janne Friederike Meyer and Cellagon Lambrasco, Carsten-Otto Nagel and Corradina, American-born Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Checkmate, and Marcus Ehning and Plot Blue.
France holds the Bronze Medal position with a score of 11.32 after the first round. Patrice Delaveau and Katchina Mail, Pénélope Leprevost and Mylord Carthago*HN, Olivier Guillon and Lord de Theize, and Kevin Start and Silvana de Hus make up the French team.
The Jumping World Championships presented by Rolex resume tomorrow morning at 10:00 with the second round in the team competition.
Photos: Mario Deslauriers and Urico. Photo by Shannon Brinkman for USEF.
McLain Ward and Sapphire. Photo by Shannon Brinkman for USEF.