Monthly Archives: August 2014

Top Jumping Horses and Riders Prepare for WEG

With just one week left till the opening of the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Normandy, France, the excitement has nearly reached its peak.

The d'Ornano Stadium in Caen is the venue for the Show Jumping at WEG photo (c) Kit Houghton

The d’Ornano Stadium in Caen is the venue for the Show Jumping at WEG  (c) Kit Houghton

WEG runs August 23 – September 7, with the Jumping competition beginning on September 1. A total of 54 National Federations have declared their nominated entries – 38 have entered teams, and another 16 are sending riders to compete as individuals. Although nominated entries were due at the end of July, the federations do not have to declare which riders and horses will ride until August 22 – just a day before opening ceremonies! 196 horse-and-rider combinations are expected and how they perform could give us a good idea of who we’re likely to see at next April’s World Cup Finals in Las Vegas.

With three consecutive FEI Nations’ Cup wins in early August (two with teams comprising WEG short-listed horses and riders), the U.S. has re-established itself as a leading medal contender, and there is good reason to believe that they will redeem themselves after medal-less performances at the 2010 WEG and 2012 Olympics. On Wednesday, the U.S. named a squad comprising veterans Beezie Madden with Cortes ‘C’ or Simon, McLain Ward with Rothchild and Kent Farrington with Voyeur together with the younger Lucy Davis and Barron; Margie Engle with Royce is the alternate.

At Aachen last month, the U.S. team was very impressive, finishing second in the Nations’ Cup behind Belgium. All the riders put in good performances with Davis and Barron producing a double-clear. Farrington won the Prize of Europe class and placed second in the Grand Prix aboard Voyeur, who won the show’s “Best Horse” award.

Beezie Madden and  Cortes C help the U.S. Team win the 2014 FEI Nations Cup at Hickstead (c)  Jon Stroud/FEI

Beezie Madden and Cortes C  at Hickstead (c) Jon Stroud/FEI

The U.S. then dominated at Hickstead, clinching the Nations’ Cup with a team of four Olympic veterans –Ward on Rothchild, Engle on Royce, Madden on Cortes C, and Reed Kessler on Cylana.  Madden, the 2013 World Cup champion who only recently returned to competition after breaking her collarbone in May, went on the make Hickstead history, winning the prestigious Longines King George V Gold Cup aboard Cortes C, becoming the first woman to win the class in its 108-year history.

The following weekend the U.S. claimed another Nations’ Cup victory at Dublin. Madden rode her World Cup winner Simon, while Katie Dinan rode Nougat du Vallet, Jessica Springsteen was on Vindicat W, and Charlie Jayne rode Chill RZ. The strong performances gave chef d’equipe Robert Ridland multiple options for assembling his team and he appears to have a WEG squad ready to return to the medal podium.

Scott Brash GBR on Hello Sanctos at Estoril 2014 photo (c) Stefano Grasso/LGCT

World number one Scott Brash (GBR) on Hello Sanctos at Estoril 2014 (c) Stefano Grasso/LGCT

Great Britain also has announced its WEG team with the exception of the reserve and it includes Olympic veterans Scott Brash, Ben Maher and Michael Whitaker, as well as Joe Clee and Spencer Roe. Brash, currently ranked number one in the world, will be riding his 2012 Olympic gold medal partner Hello Sanctos, while London Olympic teammate Ben Maher, ranked number three, will be riding Jane Clark’s Cella, with whom he won Team Gold at the 2013 European Championships. Clee is on Utamaro D’Ecaussines, while Roe will be aboard Wonder Why. Despite missing the Nations’ Cup classes at Hickstead and Dublin, Whitaker, a four-time Olympian, has also been named to the squad with his European Team Gold medal mount, Viking V.

As strong as the U.S. and Great Britain may be, Germany seems to be most people’s favorite to repeat their 2010 WEG gold. Christian Ahlmann and his Olympic mount Codex One is a more than likely team candidate, as the pair recently won the Grand Prix of Aachen and the Valkenswaard Grand Prix, although his Aragon Z and Cornado II are also on the list. Daniel Deusser has three nominated horses including his 2014 World Cup winner Cornet d’Amour, as well as First Class van Eeckelghem, and Fyloe V. Claeyssenhof.

Germany's Christian Ahlmann on Codex One on the Global Champions Tour 2014 (c) Stefano Grasso/ LGCT

Germany’s Christian Ahlmann on Codex One on the Global Champions Tour 2014 (c) Stefano Grasso/ LGCT

Olympic and WEG gold medalist Ludger Beerbaum, currently ranked number two in the world, has three nominated horses (Chiara 222, Chaman and Zinedine) and three-time World Cup champion Marcus Ehning is listed with his veteran partner Plot Blue, as well as Cornado NRW. Beerbaum, Ehning and Deusser are all ranked in the top 10 in the FEI World Rider rankings. Three-time World Cup champion Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum is also short-listed with Atlanta 541 and Fibonacci 17, while Katrin Eckermann is listed with her Aachen mount Firth of Lorne as well as Carlson 46.

Lucy Davis USA and Barron in Lausanne 2014 GCT (c) Stefano Grasso-Longines Global Champions Tour

Lucy Davis (USA) and Barron (c) Stefano Grasso/LGCT

The U.S., Germany and Great Britain seem to have the deepest talent, although other countries, notably Holland and Belgium, are also strong contenders for team and individual medals with talented horses and riders we’re likely to see at Vegas next spring. When WEG concludes, the World Cup qualifying season will kick into high gear and the countdown to Las Vegas will officially be underway. I hope you’ve ordered your tickets, because if you love equestrian sports, next April’s FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegas is one event you will not want to miss!

Best Riders Show What They Have at Aachen World Equestrian Festival

The World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany is arguably the world’s biggest equestrian event held each year. The world’s best come together to compete in five disciplines including jumping and dressage, the two disciplines whose World Cup Finals we will be hosting in Las Vegas next April.

Given that this year’s World Equestrian Festival at Aachen was just six weeks before the upcoming Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Normandy, France, the top riders in the world were on hand with their horses primed to perform their best. The results give us a hint of which horses and riders may be ready for medal-winning performances at Normandy and which ones we might be seeing next April in Las Vegas.

In dressage, most of the attention coming in was focused on Great Britain and its record holding duo of Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro, winners of double Gold at the 2012 London Olympic Games and also this year’s World Cup champions. The world was stunned to see Dujardin and Valegro turn in a sub-par performance in the team competition’s Grand Prix and receive a score of only 76.900%, their worst score since 2012. This was only good enough for a sixth place finish individually and left the British team in fourth place.

Germany's Matthias Alexander Rath and Totilas<br /> claim victory in the Dressage Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special at 2014 Aachen CHIO © Hippo Foto - Dirk Caremans/FEI

Germany’s Matthias Alexander Rath and Totilas
claim victory in the Dressage Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special at 2014 Aachen CHIO © Hippo Foto – Dirk Caremans/FEI

While there was disappointment, and maybe some concern, among the Brits, there was elation for the hometown German team as they saw not only a win by Germany, but also the long-awaited emergence of rider Matthias Rath with the former record-setting horse, Totilas, the 2010 World Cup champion and WEG triple Gold Medalist when ridden by Holland’s Edward Gal. Rath and Totilas scored a spectacular 82.300% in the Grand Prix, and also won the Grand Prix Special, showing that they may finally have found their groove.

After placing second to Rath and Totilas in the Special, Dujardin and Valegro redeemed themselves in the Grand Prix Freestyle where they rode to victory, although they did not have a chance to beat Rath and Totilas who withdrew from that competition. Finishing in second and third place in the Freestyle were German team members Helen Langehanenberg on Damon Hill NRW and Isabell Werth on Bella Rose 2 respectively.

Given that it is the Freestyle that determines the World Cup Champion, Valegro and Dujardin are probably still considered the favorites, at least until we see what happens at Normandy, but the performances of all the German riders, especially Rath and Totilas, shows that any one of them could be ready to challenge Valegro and Dujardin at Vegas next spring.

The U.S team of Laura Graves on Verdades, Adrienne Lyle on Wizard, Caroline Roffman on Her Highness O and Tina Konyot on Calecto V placed seventh in the Nations’ Cup with Graves placing 13th individually. Lyle and Graves were also impressive in tying for 10th in the Freestyle. One of the U.S.’s other top combinations, three-time Olympic veteran and 2009 World Cup champion Steffen Peters with Legolas 92, skipped Aachen as Peters was hospitalized with pneumonia. They remain strong candidates for the U.S. team for this year’s WEG and to make it to the World Cup in Las Vegas.

Christian Ahlmann and Codex One, winners of the CHIO Aachen Grand Prix (c) Rolex/Kit Houghton

CHIO Aachen Grand Prix winners Christian Ahlmann and Codex One (c) Rolex/Kit Houghton

In show jumping, Christian Ahlmann of Germany, aboard his Olympic mount Codex One, won the Grand Prix with second place going to American Kent Farrington on Voyeur. Farrington had a stellar week with several top performances including winning the Prize of Europe qualifier for the Grand Prix. After his performance in the Grand Prix, Farrington’s Voyeur was awarded the Halla Award, which is given to the “Best Horse of the Show.”

Germany’s Marcus Ehning on Plot Blue and Daniel Deusser on Cornet D’amour placed third and fourth respectively and are both strong candidates to win it all at Vegas next spring. Ehning is a three-time World Cup champion (2003, 2006, 2010) and Deusser is the reigning World Cup champion having won the title on Cornet D’amour in Lyon, France this past April.

Several other U.S. riders also qualified for the Grand Prix and held their own against the world’s best, including Lauren Hough on Ohlala and Lucy Davis on Barron, who finished fifth and sixth respectively. The U.S. also looked strong in the Nations’ Cup team competition, placing second to Belgium with Davis turning in a double clear on Barron and Reed Kessler and Cylana totaling just four faults for the two rounds.

Kent Farrington, leading  U.S. rider at Aachen CHIO

Kent Farrington, leading U.S. rider at World Equestrian Festival Aachen (c) Shawn McMillen

The results from Aachen could well be an indicator of what’s to come next April in Las Vegas and there is one thing that we know for sure – no matter who makes it to Vegas, next year’s FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegas will present the world’s greatest riders and horses in exciting competition in the “Entertainment Capital of the World!”

With the completion of the exclusive renewal and World Cup Club ticket periods, all-session tickets for the 2015 FEI World CupTM Finals in Las Vegas are now on sale to the general public. If you haven’t ordered yours yet, be sure to do so today at the World Cup’s website at www.WorldCupLasVegas.com.