Jumping, Vaulting Continue at WEG

Jeroen Dubbeldam and Zenith SFN produced one of the three clears that promoted the Dutch team to pole position ahead of tomorrow’s final round of the team jumping championship today.

Photo: Dirk Caremans/FEI

The Alltech Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) World Equestrian Games continued today in Normandy, France, as the jumpers and vaulters returned to their respective arenas.

Jumping: Dutch take Team Lead as Frenchman Delaveau Heads Individual Standings

The Netherlands lie top of the team standings while French star, Patrice Delaveau, heads the individual leaderboard after the first round of the team jumping competition which concluded today.

On Day 2 of the jumping championships Frederic Cottier’s course design again played a significant role. From a start-list of 144 horse-and-rider combinations only 20 managed to return without penalty, while just two teams managed to add nothing to their score lines.

One of those that held onto a clean sheet was the Dutch side which, in overnight fifth, soared up to pole position, while three clear rounds from Brazil saw them rocket up from overnight 12th to fifth place. This earned them a spot in tomorrow’s team finale in which only the top 10 nations will compete. And it’s going to be a nail-biting fight to the finish, with less than one fence separating the Dutch leaders from Team USA who are currently holding second place, while Germany and France are less than one fence further adrift in third and fourth spots.

Describing the technical difficulty of the two most influential lines on the track, America’s Beezie Madden said, “The water really opened you up, because you had to ride at it a bit, and the six (strides) to the wall was only a little bit steady, and then the distance to the oxer (Fence 8) afterwards was a steadier seven than it walked. There was quite a bit of width on the oxer (at Fence 8) so if you lost your power or your rhythm when you went to fit the seven (strides) in it was difficult to cover the oxer. In the last line, the oxer (Fence 11) rode a little big off the turn, and the distance to the double (Fence 12) was a little bit flatter than you would have liked and it was difficult to get to the “in” perfectly. The liverpool on the back side of the vertical (Fence 12a) made it more difficult. And then you had a wide oxer coming out (12b), so you had to take your time coming in and stretch coming out.”

As the long day progressed, there was some juggling of positions amongst the leading teams, and in many cases the pressure was placed on the final rider to decide their side’s finishing spot. This was the situation for the Dutch who were relying on a foot-perfect run from Gerco Schroder and Glock’s London following clears from both Jeroen Dubbeldam (Zenith SFN) and Maikel van der Vleuten (VDL Groep Verdi), but a nine-fault total for Jur Vrieling (VDL Bubalu). Schroder obliged however, and with nothing to add to their first-day total of 4.83 they settled comfortably at the top of the leaderboard at the end of the day.

The host nation lost their first-day lead when Delaveau was the only one of his side to keep a clean sheet. Penelope Leprevost (Flora de Mairposa), Simon Delestre (Qlassic Bois Margot), and Kevin Staut (Reveue de Hurtebise HDC) all left just one fence on the floor which saw them slip down the order to fourth. Sweden lay second as the action began, but only their anchor partnership of Rolf-Goran Bengtsson and Casall ASK could manage to leave the entire course intact, and with 12 faults to add the team dropped all the way to seventh.

This opened the door for the Americans, and Madden’s last-to-go clear with Cortes C sealed their rise from overnight third to a hold on the silver medal position when they only had four to add after a foot-perfect run from McLain Ward and Rothchild at the start of the day. Meanwhile clears from both Marcus Ehning (Cornado NRW) and Daniel Deusser (Cornet D’Amour) saw Germany take over bronze medal spot.

Some of the gutsiest performances of the day came from Brazil and Colombia, the former showing the absolute determination instilled into the side representing the country that will host the 2016 Olympic Games. Guided by former French Chef d’Equipe, Jean-Maurice Bonneau, the Brazilians have formulated a clear plan on the road to Rio de Janeiro in two years’ time where they fully intend to be seriously competitive. And the clear posted by Doda de Miranda today was indicative of their determination, as the rider who took a nasty fall from AD Rahmannshof’s Bogeno in yesterday’s competition cruised around today’s much tougher track to put them well on the way to an improved position.

Pedro Veniss (Quabri de L’Isle) collected four faults, but Marlon Zanotelli’s clear with AD Clouwni was followed by a brilliant anchor performance from Rodrigo Pessoa and Status. Another three clear rounds from this side tomorrow may leave those ahead of them under serious pressure.

As it stands, when the action begins in the morning the team leaderboard is topped by The Netherlands, who will be joined by the United States, Germany, France, Brazil, Canada, Sweden, Ireland, Colombia, and Ukraine to decide the five teams that will be heading to Rio for the Olympic Games.

Sadly the Chilean team was eliminated following a nasty fall for Tomas Couve Correa, who parted company with his horse Underwraps at Fence 8. He was fully conscious when he left the stadium by ambulance en route to hospital for evaluation.

Ireland’s teenage sensation, Bertram Allen, lost his grip on the individual lead with a single mistake at the second element of the bogey penultimate double. The fence down cost him dearly, dropping him to 14th place, so second-placed Delaveau stepped up to take the lead following his flawless performance.

The Frenchman’s lead in the individual standings is only a hair’s breadth however. He carries forward 0.08 , but second-placed Madden has only 0.16 while third-placed Bengtsson has 0.34. Lining up in quick succession behind these three are Germany’s Daniel Deusser, Dutch riders Jeroen Dubbeldam and Gerco Schroder, Denmark’s Soren Pedersen, America’s McLain Ward, and Qatar’s Sheikh Ali bin Khalid Al Thani, while The Netherlands Maikel van der Vleuten is currently in 10th spot. Ireland’s Allen, in 14th spot, is only a fence behind them all.

With faults from tomorrow’s second and final round of the team event to add, there is still a whole lot to play for, but by tomorrow night we will know the winners of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 team jumping title.

Vaulting: Germany Leads Squad, Eccles and Ferrari Lead Individuals after Freestyle

The South African vaulting squad are a big hit with spectators.

Photo: Jon Stroud/FEI

Day 2 of the vaulting championships saw Germany take the lead in the squad by a margin of 0.47 marks ahead of Switzerland, while the first-day winners from Austria are now lying third. Freestyle scores for both teams and individuals are combined with compulsory scores to create an average qualification score for the next round in each category.

Meanwhile Great Britain’s Joanne Eccles heads yesterday’s winner, Rikke Laumann from Denmark, in the female individual freestyle while Frenchman Jacques Ferrari continues to dominate the male individual leaderboard, and the stage looks set for really hot competition throughout the remainder of the week.

The Zenith Arena again provided a superb backdrop to the creativity and talent of the world’s best vaulters today, and competitors and supporters from around the globe enjoyed a great day of sport.

The all-female Swiss team won this morning’s freestyle with their grey horse Will be Good longed by Monica Winkler-Bischofberger but the second-placed German squad maintained the overall lead with a total of 8.390. However some of the show-stealers finished much further down the line.

The South African squad produced an inspiring and emotional performance based on the principle of equality in both sport and life, and the voice of the late and much-loved South African statesman, Nelson Mandela, added an extra poignancy to their programme. Many spectators and officials were seen brushing tears from their eyes as an essay on tolerance and reconciliation was played out, and although the relatively inexperienced squad had to settle for ninth place, on a mark of 6.901 at the end of the day, they left a deep impression on all who saw them perform.

Further down the line there was drama of a different kind when 10-year-old Dorottya Gönczi took a long fall during a routine with the Hungarian squad that finished in 11th place. Undeterred however, and demonstrating the precise nature of the best athletes in every sport, the brave young lady just picked herself up, dusted herself off and then got back to work right away.

Jacques Ferrari has now scored back-to-back wins following Tuesday’s opening success in the male individual compulsory. World champion and fellow-Frenchman, Nicolas Andreani however has been right on his heels each time and today challenged strongly again.

World vice-champion Erik Oese moved into third. The 26-year-old pipped Andreani for the Male title at Aachen, Germany, last summer and was runner-up behind the Frenchman at Ebreichsdorf. With his horse, Calvador, and his longer Andreas Bassler, Oese lies 0.276 off the lead.

Meanwhile Lambert Leclezio from Mauritius has been attracting a lot of attention for his empathy with his horse, Timothy van de Wilhelminah, and for his natural athleticism. The vaulter who has arrived at WEG through support from the FEI Solidarity program has put in a lot of work to get here, including travelling all the way to Australia in order to compete at a level that would earn qualification for the games.

Performing to “I Dreamed a Dream” from the musical “Les Miserables,” Great Britain’s Joanne Eccles won today’s freestyle competition partnering her family’s horse WH Bentley who was longed by her father, John.

Her score of 8.619 leaves here with a lead of just 0.075 ahead of yesterday’s winner, Denmark’s Rikke Laumann, who finished second today. Switzerland’s Simone Jaiser lined up fourth behind Italy’s Anna Cavallaro, but Jaiser goes into tomorrow’s competition in bronze medal spot ahead of Cavallaro when the two days of results are taken into account.

Laumann realized a dream when winning the FEI European Vaulting Championship Female Individual title at Magna Racino in Austria last year and won’t be easily pinned back this week. Her horse is Ghost Alfarvad Z and her longer is Lasse Kristensen.

The top 15 male and female Individuals go through to tomorrow’s technical test which begins at 14.00, and there is great anticipation ahead of the pas-de-deux which will take place later in the evening. The top 12 teams go forward to Friday’s final.

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