Australia's Edwina Alexander scooped maximum points at the eleventh leg of the 2009/2010 Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping series in Vigo, Spain tonight with a brilliant performance from Cevo Socrates. In the 11-horse jump-off the 15 year old gelding showed the wisdom of his years when producing a classy, clean and confident round that was simply too good for the rest. And this latest result has rocketed Alexander up to fourth place on the series table with just two more qualifying legs remaining.
But Edwina also used her head today. "I woke up at 7 o'clock this morning and turned on YouTube to watch my round with Socrates in Zurich Grand Prix where we won two years ago. He's very different from my other horse Itot, and I don't always find him so easy to ride, but it reminded me just what I needed to do - and I think it worked!" said the delighted rider tonight. Runner-up was Switzerland's Beat Mandli, winner of the third leg at Lyon in France last November, while, after four previous attempts, Belgium's Judy-Ann Melchior picked up her first points of the season when third with the bay mare Cha Cha Z.
This leg of the series attracted five riders from both the home nation and from Germany, but Pilar Cordon and the Holsteiner stallion Herald were the sole Spanish representatives in the jump-off. Some notable names missed the closing stages including Germany's Lars Nieberg whose 11 year old gelding Levito threw in a surprise refusal at the second element of the triple combination at fence six, and Sweden's Malin Baryard-Johnsson whose mare, H&M Actrice, clipped the final element here also to join the seven-strong contingent who put just four faults on the board. Unluckiest of all was possibly Portugal's Luciana Diniz who was put in a copybook tour of the track with Winningmood only to fault at the final oxer.
It was a top-class line-up against the clock however, and it was never going to be an easy one to win.
Frenchman Patrice Deleveau was pathfinder with Katchina Mail, but a mistake at the FEI Vertical, now fourth fence on the track, left the door open for those coming after him and it widened even further when Pilar Cordon followed with a disappointing three fences down with the super-handsome Herald. It was Judy-Ann Melchior who set the first real target as she brought the 10 year old Cha Cha Z through the finish clear, and although her time of 51.61 seconds looked beatable she still held the lead after Germany's Marco Kutscher and Cash returned more than six seconds quicker, but leaving the penultimate vertical on the floor.
Kutscher showed that the turn to the FEI vertical was the key to a fast time, but while Mandli snatched the advantage he didn't test Louis to the limit when stopping the clock at 50.29. The 2009 individual European Champion, Kevin Staut from France, lost his chance at the very first fence when Le Prestige St Louis inexplicably jammed on the brakes. The 11 year old stallion looked sharp and fresh in the first round but it seemed like his cheeky nature got the better of him this time out as he went on to buck his way around the course and return with 17 faults for that one refusal and a lot of time penalities.
The Netherlands Harrie Smolders and Exquis Oliver Q collected four faults, but Alexander and Cevo Socrates were foot-perfect all the way. They were already up on time at the vital vertical and as they galloped through the finish in 48.75 seconds it was clear that this would now take some beating. Switzerland's Steve Guerdat, winner at Zurich two weeks ago, was giving it a shot riding down to the last but that fell to leave him in fifth spot, although he would have been more than pleased with Jalisca Solier who has returned to the ring with all of her enthusiasm intact after a layoff following a leg operation last September. When the final two runners - Holland's Leon Thijssen with Tinky Winky and Switzerland's Pius Schwizer with Ulysse - both returned with two fences down then Alexander was assured of top marks.
"The last few World Cups were not good for me" the winner said afterwards, as she praised her 15 year old winning ride. "Socrates has had a great career but he's been out for eight months and this was his first show back so I didn't know what to expect. He won the Zurich Grand Prix in 2008, and the Gothenburg Grand Prix in 2009 and was also third in Valkenswaard - he's is an incredible horse, not a championship ride but incredibly clever and brave - I'm really thrilled with him tonight!" she said, aware that she is more than comfortably qualified for the Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping final in Geneva in April.
The next leg of the 2009/2010 Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping series will take place at Gothenburg, Sweden from 25-28 February. For all information on the Swedish fixture check out website www.goteborghorseshow.com or contact Press Officer Mayvor Thorin, (mobile) +46 705 82 84 20, (email) email@example.com
RESULT: 1, Cevo Socrates (Edwina Alexander) Aus 0/0 46.75; 2, Louis (Beat Mandli) Sui 0/0 50.29; 3. Cha Cha Z (Judy-Ann Melchior) Bel 0/0 51.61; 4, Cash (Marco Kutscher) Ger 0/4 44.92; 5, Jalisca Solier (Steve Guerdat) Sui /4 46.09; 6, Katchina Mail (Patrice Deleveau) Fra 0/4 46.93; 7, Exquis Oliver Q (Harrie Smolders) Ned 0/4 50.34; 8, Ulysse X (Pius Schwizer) Sui 0/8 46.95; 9, Tinky Winky (Leon Thijssen) Ned 0/8 51.95; 10, Herald (Pilar Lucrecia Cordon Muro) Esp 0/12 49.06; 11, Le Prestige St Lois (Kevin Staut) Fra 0/17 63.25; 12, Napoli du Ry (Simon Delestre) Fra 4/68.30; 13, Cabreado (Daniel Deusser) Ger 4/69.80; 14, Taloubet Z (Christian Ahlmann) Ger 4/70.73; 15, AD Picolein Zeldenrust (Alvaro Miranda) Bra 4/70.78; 16, Winningmood (Luciana Diniz) Por 4/72.50; 17, L'Espoir (Geir Gulliksen) Nor 4/73.40; 18, H&M Actrice (Malin Baryard-Johnsson) Swe 4/73.50; 19, Isaac du Jonquet (Mikael Forsten) Fin 8/70.97; 20, Kellemoi de Pepita (Michel Robert) Fra 8/71.75. Full results at: www.scg-nl.nl
ROLEX FEI WORLD CUP™ JUMPING - Standings after Round 11 at Vigo, Spain:
1. Pius Schwizer - 66
2. Marco Kutscher - 65
3. Marcus Ehning - 64
4. Edwina Alexander - 60
5. Kevin Staut - 59
6. Beat Mandli - 57
7. Eric Van der Vleuten - 57
8. Philipp Weishaupt - 57
9. Patrice Deleveau - 55
10. Jessica Kuerten - 53
11. Penelope Leprevost - 47
12. Ludger Beerbaum - 46
13. Natale Chiaudani - 43
14. Rodrigo Pessoa - 41
15. Daniel Etter - 40
16. Steve Guerdat - 39
17. Michael Whitaker - 39
18. Svante Johansson - 39
19. Albert Zoer - 34
20. Luciana Diniz - 33
Complete standings at www.feiworldcup.org
Facts and Figures:
-11 into jump-off
-5 riders from both Spain and Germany started in the first round
-Pilar Cordon was the only Spanish rider to qualify for the jump-off
-Riders from a total of 15 nations took part in this evening's competition
-The oldest horse in this leg of the series was the 16 year old Aboyeur, ridden by Italy's Gianni Govoni
-The youngest horses were the two 9 year old geldings, Cabreado ridden by Germany's Daniel Deuser and Napoli du Ry ridden by Simon Delestre for France.
There was one elimination in the first round - Spain's Sergio Alvarez Moya with What's Next
-Two riders retired in round one - The Netherlands' Leopold Van Asten (VDL Groep Santana) and French rider Julien Epaillard (Kanthaka de Petra)
-The youngest rider in today's competition was 17 year old Manuel Anon Suarez from Spain riding Fantasia.
Edwina Alexander, talking about her winning ride Cevo Socrates - "Sometimes he's almost too careful and that's why I decided to check out my ride on YouTube. I have to use a lot more leg on him than I do on Itot but he is so brilliant - he jumps from his heart, he wants to do it for you and if he ever makes a mistake it is my fault. He doesn't know how to put a foot wrong!".
Photo Caption: Australia's Edwina Alexander receives her Rolex watch as winner of today's eleventh leg of the 2009/2010 Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping series in Vigo, Spain. Photo: Kit Houghton.