An amazing round against the clock clinched victory for Switzerland’s Romain Duguet and Quorida de Treho at the second leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2015/2016 Western European League in Helsinki, Finland today.

It seemed young British star, 19-year-old Jessica Mendoza, had maximum points in the bag when setting a super-fast target-time with Spirit T early in the 13-horse jump-off. But the Swiss pair galloped home 0.11 seconds quicker to nudge them down to second place ahead of 2014 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping champions Daniel Deusser and Cornet d’Amour from Germany in third.

Duguet’s fellow-countryman, and winner of the 2015 Longines Final, Steve Guerdat, slotted into fourth with his Olympic gold medal winning ride Nino des Buissonnets, while Germany’s Hans-Dieter Dreher (Embassy ll) and Marcus Ehning (Comme Il Faut) lined up fifth and sixth in the world-class field.

Special challenge

Helsinki always presents a special challenge as the competition takes place in the tight confines of the Hartwall ice-hockey arena in the heart of the Finnish capital city. Quick thinking, and lightning-fast reaction from both horse and rider, are essential ingredients for success here, but the 12-fence track designed by The Netherlands’ Louis Konickx won high praise this afternoon.

“The course was brilliant! It’s not easy building in such a small indoor arena, but we never had really tight turns that were ‘against’ the horse” said Daniel Deusser this evening. “Even in the first round today, all was very smooth over the first five jumps - the tricky part was the triple followed by the double”, the German rider insisted.

The opening vertical proved a bit of a bogey, and the 76 seconds time-allowed kept plenty of pressure on the 38 starters, with the line from the triple bar at five to the following vertical racking up plenty of faults as did the oxer at eight which was the only fence bordering the edge of the arena. As Deusser pointed out however, the strongest test of the first round was the triple combination consisting of vertical, oxer, vertical, while the penultimate double of an oxer to a vertical of planks also took its toll.

With so many top riders amongst the 13 clear rounds however, a quality jump-off was guaranteed, and it more than lived up to expectations.

Led the way

Helena Persson led the way against the clock with the big-striding Bonzai H who lowered the first of the two remaining elements of the triple combination, but her Swedish counterpart, Malin Baryard-Johnsson, set the first real target when bringing H&M Tornesch home and clear in 41.26 seconds. Just how much that time could be improved upon however became very apparent when Guerdat and Nino set the arena alight when racing through the finish line in 37.61 seconds, leaving all the timber intact.

The jump-off course included a chicane that drew horses left-handed over an oxer before a sweeping right-handed bend to a vertical and another left-swing to the former fence eight which was now adjusted to a vertical. From there it was left again to the two elements of the former triple combination before circling back to the penultimate oxer followed by a good gallop to the final vertical. Guerdat’s advantage was short-lived when Mendoza followed him into the ring, the British rider who has enjoyed a fairytale season giving no indication that this was her World Cup debut as she blazed home in 36.96 seconds to reset the parameters with her brave and brilliant 14-year-old mare.

She was now the one they all had to beat, and although Ehning’s fun-loving stallion Comme Il Faut, and Dreher’s dramatic-jumping Embassy, each gave it a great shot, her lead wasn’t threatened until Duguet set off.

Spectacular season

The 35-year-old rider and his 11-year-old mare have enjoyed a spectacular season, crowned by their contribution to Switzerland’s bronze medal at the FEI European Championships in Aachen, Germany in August. They grabbed the headlines with their first 5-Star Grand Prix victory in Paris in April and quickly followed that with another on home turf in St Gallen in June  - “its been a great year!” Duguet said this evening.

Going into today’s jump-off he said “the plan was to try everything to win. I knew there was Martin (Fuchs) and Daniel (Deusser) behind me, and they are both very fast riders”. And his tour of the track was deceptively quick, his winning margin assisted by a colossal jump over the penultimate oxer that saw him break the beam in 36.85 seconds.

Asked afterwards if he was surprised at beating Mendoza’s target time, Duguet said “no, I was really confident that I could do it. I know Jessica is so fast and her horse is also so fast but I knew my mare could do better! She’s wonderful, she’s one of the best in the world, she’s fast, she’s scopey and she’s careful - she’s got everything you need for a very top horse. I have had her in my stables since she was 7 years old and now, four years later, she is performing at the highest level”, he said proudly.

Very happy

Mendoza said modestly, “I am very happy with second place. I didn’t expect to have such a great class. My horse keeps wanting to do well for me, she was fantastic!”, and Deusser was also quite content with his third spot in the final line-up. “I didn’t see Romain go, but I saw Jessica’s performance. You didn’t have many options, all the riders had to go the same way. In my opinion I did that, and in the end I just missed out by half a second - I am very happy!” he said.

The German rider is planning to get to the Longines 2016 Final next March. “I have quite a few points at the beginning of the season and I hope to have secured qualification for Gothenburg early this time around” he explained. Today’s winner is less certain of his plan.

“I will try to qualify until Mechelen (in December) and we will see by then. One way or another Quorida will have a break in January and February so, if we are qualified, we will go to the Final. Otherwise my main focus is on the Olympics Games next year”, Duguet said.

Result: 1, Quorida de Treho (Romain Duguet) SUI 0/0 36.85; 2, Spirit T (Jessica Mendoza) GBR 0/0 36.96; 3, Cornet d’Amour (Daniel Deusser) GER 0/0 37.13; 4, Nino des Buissonnets (Steve Guerdat) SUI 0/0 37.61; 5, Embassy ll (Hans-Dieter Dreher) GER 0/0 37.65; 6, Comme Il Faut (Marcus Ehning) GER 0/0 37.94; 7, Willink (Henk van de Pol) NED 0/0 38.27; 8, Brooklyn (Mario Stevens) GER 0/0 38.73; 9, H&M Tornesch (Malin Baryard-Johnsson) SWE 0/0 41.26; 10, Clooney 51 (Martin Fuchs) SUI 0/0 41.52; 11, Lacan (Patrick Stuhlmeyer) GER 0/4 40.11; 12, Rokfeller de Pleville Bois Margot (Eduardo Alvarez Aznar) ESP 0/4 41.45; 13, Bonzai H (Helena Persson) SWE 0/4 41.47.

Facts and Figures:

Helsinki in Finland staged the second leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2015/2016 Western European League.

The horse show celebrated its 31st anniversary this year.

38 horse-and-rider combinations started in today’s competition.

13 jumped clear in the first round and qualified for the jump-off against the clock.

10 jumped double-clear rounds.

Course designer was The Netherlands’ Louis Konickx.

The youngest horse in today’s competition was the 8-year-old grey Holsteiner stallion, Chardonnay (Clarimo/Corrado), ridden by Austria’s Max Kuhner who collected just a single time penalty in the first round.

The oldest horse in the competition was the 16-year-old KWPN mare Silvanad HDC, competed by French rider Kevin Staut. The pair had a single fence down in the first round.

Today’s winner was Switzerland’s Romain Duguet with the 11-year-old mare Quorida de Treho.

Today’s result has moved the Swiss rider into equal-third place on the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2015/2016 Western European League leaderboard at this early stage of the series.

Riders count their six best results towards qualification for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2016 Final which will take place in Gothenburg, Sweden from 23-28 March 2016.

There are 11 qualifying rounds in the Western European League, and the next leg will take place in Lyon, France next Sunday, 1 November 2015.


Tom Gordin (Event Director): “I am really grateful to the international riders for coming all the way here. The competition was brilliant, just such top sport. We had a full house today which is a dream for a show organiser. We had about 7,100 spectators to witness today’s class which is great!”

Romain Duguet SUI: “I find the warm-up arena (in Helsinki) to be big enough, the main arena is great as well and the stables are fantastic. It’s a great all round event.”

Jessica Mendoza GBR: “This year has been the main year for me in terms of stepping up to 5 star level. It was amazing being part of the GB team in Barcelona, they are great team-mates - I learned a lot from them and I’m very grateful for that.”

Louis Konickx (Course Designer): “I was very happy today with both the first round and the jump-off. I saw from the draw on Friday that we were going to have some very big riders competing. There was a lot of pressure on me in that respect. I was a bit worried about the time allowed, but in the end it all worked out beautifully. The triple combination was arguably the toughest part of the course. I think the rest was mixed in terms of difficulty; there wasn’t one jump that incurred all the riders’ faults.”

Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2015/2016 Western European League leaderboard - after Round 2 at Helsinki (FIN):

1.    Harrie Smolders NED                -    29

2.    Marcus Ehning GER                -    24

3.    Penelope Leprevost FRA                -    20

3.    Romain Duguet SUI                    -    20

5.    Hans-Dieter Dreher GER                -    19

6.    Steve Guerdat SUI                    -    18

7.    Jessica Mendoza GBR                -    17

7.    Simon Delestre FRA                -    17

9.    Martin Fuchs SUI                    -    17

10.    Daniel Deusser GER                -    15

10.    Nicola Philippaerts BEL                -    15

10.    Patrice Delaveau FRA                -    15

13.    Jos Verlooy BEL                    -    13

14.    Eduardo Alvarez Aznar ESP            -    13

15.    Kevin Staut FRA                    -    12

16.    Maikel van der Vleuten NED            -    11

17.    Henk van de Pol NED                -    10

18.    Mario Stevens GER                 -      9

19.    Malin Baryard-Johnsson SWE            -      8

20.    Jur Vrieling NED                    -      6

20.   Patrick Stuhlmeyer GER                -      6


source : fei.org

image: Switzerland’s Romain Duguet and Quorida de Treho galloped to victory at the second leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2015/2016 Western European League in Helsinki, Finland today. (FEI/Satu Pirinen)