The Scandinavium Arena was sold out on the final day of the 2019 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Finals Gothenburg. That’s 12,000 seats filled with nervous excitement and anticipation. The atmosphere was electric. Each spectator dared to not move, whisper, or blink as each competitor contested two jump rounds at 1.60m designed by Spanish course designer Santiago Varela. No stranger to pressure, the current FEI World Rank No. 1 show jumper, Steve Guerdat, soared over the final 12-obstacle course to win his third Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ title.
This was lucky trip number 13 to the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Finals for Guerdat. Winning his first World Cup in Las Vegas in 2015 and again in 2016 in Gothenburg, Switzerland’s Olympic veteran Steve Guerdat and Alamo, the black 11-year-old KWPN gelding owned by Patricio Pasquel Quintana held onto a podium finish throughout the entire competition. The last to go in the final round, Guerdat and Alamo raced the clock with 68 seconds allowed and no rails in hand. As the last fence combination marked the downfall of so many, Guerdat and Alamo cleared them with ease ending their time in Gothenburg as champion with just two penalty points.
“I was a bit unsure going to the Final today as this is his (Alamo’s) first championship and I was a little nervous on Friday after the speed class, but in the end, he has been amazing all week”, said Guerdat.
A reminiscent Guerdat recalls his World Cup journey. “When I was young I used to dream of winning the World Cup, and when I finished second twice I wondered if it would ever happen. So when I won in 2015 (Las Vegas) it was very special, and to win here in Gothenburg the next year was even better, because this is such a great show, the crowd is like nowhere else and the atmosphere is unbelievable. To win three times, and to do it in Gothenburg again today, this makes me very proud!”
Fellow Swiss rider and Olympic veteran Martin Fuchs piloted Clooney 51, the sure-footed 13-year-old Westphalian gelding, in a tense second round. Fuchs only had one point separating him from the leader, Guerdat. The momentum of Fuchs and Clooney 51 never waned as they came barreling down to the last few fences, an imposing Longines wall to a large oxer combination to the final vertical. Fuchs completed the 2019 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Finals Gothenburg with three penalties securing his spot on the podium behind is mentor for second place.
Fuchs now has finished second in two major events, last year’s World Championship and the 2019 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Final, Fuchs noted “If I have to be beaten it’s great if Steve wins, he is my friend and training partner. Clooney was amazing, he jumped both rounds easy, he is one of the best horses in the world. Two times second place is already a great achievement, and I am already looking forward to the European Championships this summer!”
The reigning European champion and hometown hero, Sweden’s Olympic veteran Peder Fredricson and Catch Me Not S, the striking grey 13-year-old Swedish Warmblood owned by Ebba Berglöf, were foot-perfect. Consistently ranked in the top three, there was not enough of a gap to relax between fourth place finisher Germany’s Daniel Duesser who posted a double clear round. Strategic speed and stride management cemented Fredricson’s final round going double clear with a final score of five penalty points for third place.
The defending World Cup champion from the U.S., Olympic veteran Beezie Madden and her 13-year-old stallion Breitling LS, were efficient throughout the entire competition. It was, however, not their week for a back-to-back World Cup victory as a bogie fence in each round cost them a spot in the top three. Beezie and Breitling LS concluded the competition with a total of 11 penalty points for sixth place. They were the highest placed U.S. combination.