Germany’s Daniel Deusser and Cornet d’Amour topped a field of 40 to take out the sixth leg of the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping in Mechelen, Belgium, on Monday.
From a starting field of 40, only four horse-and-rider combinations found the key to Lucien Somers’ tough first-round track. But the 32-year-old rider and his graceful grey gelding were smooth as silk when earning their spot in the jump-off, and they went on to clinch victory in the finest style with a thrilling run against the clock.
Runner-up was Sweden’s Jens Fredricson with his veteran partner, Lunatic, while Spain’s Pilar Cordon finished third with Nuage Bleu. Last to go against the clock, 2000 Olympic champion Jeroen Dubbeldam from The Netherlands retired after lowering a fence with Zenith, but this nine-year-old gelding is clearly one for the future. Australia’s Edwina Tops-Alexander did well to play the percentage game with Ego van Orti whose single first-round time penalty was good enough for fifth place ahead of the fastest of the four-faulters – Great Britain’s Joe Clee and Diablesse de Muze.
The competition was one in which every inch of the arena had to be ridden to perfection in order to be successful. “I expected more clears, but it was a long, tough course and the time was tight. It was the kind of course where you had to totally concentrate from the first fence to the very last,” said the winning rider this evening.
The arena at the Nekkerhalle in Mechelen is long and narrow, thus presenting a particular challenge to both course designers and horse-and-rider combinations alike.
It took quite a while for the first clear to be recorded by Fredricson and his 15-year-old gelding whose success, when eleventh to go, was greeted by a great cheer from the big crowd. And then, as so often happens, another followed just two horses later when Spain’s Pilar Cordon and Nuage Bleu also got it all just right. However there was a long wait for the final two to join them on the jump-off start-list, Deusser and Cornet d’Amour looking in a class of their own with their foot-perfect round when fourth-last into the ring, and Dubbeldam most impressively steering Zenith home without incident when second-last to go.
The 72-seconds time-allowed was all that denied Australia’s Edwina Tops-Alexander and Ego van Orti the opportunity to contest for maximum points, but her fifth place finish has boosted her points tally to 47 and she is now comfortably qualified for the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final in April. She lies third on the Western European League table after this result, four points behind Olympic champion Steve Guerdat from Switzerland in runner-up spot and just five points behind Longines No. 1 rider Britain’s Scott Brash who remains at the head of affairs going into the next leg in Leipzig, Germany in three weeks’ time.
The German winner talked about his eye-catching gelding son of the great Cornet Obolensky who, at 10 years of age, is still only coming into his prime. “I’ve been riding Cornet d’Amour since June 2012, I took a couple of months to get to know him before we went to our first big show together in Calgary where he jumped double-clear in the Nations Cup. But then he got an injury in November so we had to stop for two months, and in the end the break was maybe good for him because he came back out in February to win the Grand Prix at Wellington in Florida. We’ve had a great year in 2013 including finishing fourth in the Grand Prix of Aachen!” he said. The elegant pair also claimed the German Championship title at Balve this year before taking team silver and fifth place individually at the PSI FEI European Jumping Championships in Herning, Denmark in August.
Describing Cornet d’Amour, Deusser said, “he likes to present himself in front of the crowd. In the warm-up he is totally relaxed, but he loves to know that people are watching him and when he comes into the arena he always grows a little – he likes to show off!” He was particularly pleased about today’s win because it was on home ground. He lives in Mechelen with his girlfriend, Caroline Wauters who is part of the organising team for the Belgian fixture and a daughter of the late Belgian jumping star Eric Wauters in whose memory the hugely popular annual fixture is staged.
Deusser recognised thevictory as an important watershed in his career and said it has influenced his plans for 2014. “At the beginning it was not my goal to go to every World Cup show and try to qualify for the Final, but my other horse has grown so well in the last few months and this horse is in great form. So now I must consider whether I should try to get to the Final. I’m planning to go to the US in February – this has always been part of my plan. We went last year and it worked out really well,” he explained.
And he commented on how lucky he is to have the horse with which he won today.“Cornet d’Amour is jointly owned by Stephan Conter of Stephex Stables and Hunter Harrison from America. Stephex Stables is a very big sales centre for horses so it is great that, thanks to these two people, I now have two great horses for myself to ride so I can really make a plan and get to the good shows. It costs a lot to have horses on the road, and grooms and show expenses so, once in a while, it is great to get to keep some good ones!” he said appreciatively.
This latest result has moved Deusser into ninth place on the Western European League leaderboard from which the top-18 will qualify for the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping 2013/2014 in April. The next leg of the series takes place in Leipzig, Germany on January 19.
Result: 1, Cornet d’Amour (Daniel Deusser) GER 0/0 35.66; 2, Lunatic (Jens Fredricson) SWE 0/0 36.43; 3, Nuage Bleu (Pilar Cordon) ESP 0/0 37.94; 4, Zenith (Jeroen Dubbeldam) NED 0/Ret; 5, Ego van Orti (Edwina Tops-Alexander) AUS 1/73.87; 6, Diablesse de Muze (Joe Clee) GBR 4/67.76; 7, Silvana HDC (K Staut) FRA 4/68.07; 8, Louis IV (Beat Mandli) SUI 4/68.19; 9, Castlefield Eclipse (Paul Estermann) SUI 4/69.17; 10, Bufero van het Panishof (Dirk Demeersman) BEL 4/69.20.
Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Western European League – Standings after Round 6:
1. Scott Brash GBR – 52
2. Steve Guerdat SUI – 51
3. Edwina Tops-Alexander AUS – 47
4. Maikel van der Vleuten NED – 40
5. Tim Gredley GBR – 36
6. Marcus Ehning GER – 36
7. Francois Mathy Jr BEL – 34
8. Luciana Diniz POR – 32
9. Daniel Deusser GER – 27
10. Kevin Staut FRA – 27
11. Hans-Dieter Dreher GER – 26
12. Simon Delestre FRA – 25
13. Patrice Delaveau FRA – 23
14. Harrie Smolders NED – 23
15. Jeroen Dubbeldam NED – 21
16. Christian Ahlmann GER – 20
17. Michael Whitaker GBR – 20
18. Pius Schwizer SUI – 19
19. Athina Onassis de Miranda GRE – 19
20. Nicola Philippaerts BEL – 18
21. Beat Mandli SUI – 18