Calling together the world's finest show jumping horses and riders alike, the 36th annual FEI World Cup Show Jumping Final is a crown in the sport's jewel.
This weekend, Lyon plays host to the elite of the equestrian world, where competitors from all corners of the globe will face off across three rounds before this particular part of the calendar comes to a close on Monday, April 21.
Final Day Recap
Germany took the double in the FEI World Cup Jumping final on Monday, as Daniel Deusser and Cornet D'Amour held on for the overall win here in Lyon. Compatriot Ludger Beerbaum and Chiara kept things exciting until the very end, recording a faster time in the day's final run, but Deusser was able to fend off Beerbaum's challenge by only committing a remarkable two penalties during the entire event.
A total of 70.97 seconds was the result, beating Beerbaum's 69.23 with four penalties. Britain's Scott Brash would complete the podium with Ursula XII, finishing with 5 penalties and a time of 69.21.
|FEI World Cup Jumping: Final Stadings|
|Position||Horse||Rider||Rider nationality||Final result||Round|
|1.||Cornet D'Amour||Deusser,Daniel||Germany||2 penalties 70.97 sec||Round B|
|2.||Chiara||Beerbaum,Ludger||Germany||4 penalties 69.23 sec||Round B|
|3.||Ursula XII||Brash,Scott||GBR||5 penalties 69.21 sec||Round B|
|4.||Cornado NRW||Ehning,Marcus||Germany||6 penalties 68.34 sec||Round B|
|5.||Nino des Buissonnets||Guerdat,Steve||Switzerland||8 penalties 69.28 sec||Round B|
|6.||VDL Groep Verdi NOP||Vleuten,Maikel van der||The Netherlands||10 penalties 69.63 sec||Round B|
|7.||Simon||Madden,Elizabeth||USA||12 penalties 68.42 sec||Round B|
|8.||Toulago||Schwizer,Pius||Switzerland||12 penalties 69.97 sec||Round B|
|9.||Rothchild||Ward,McLain||USA||17 penalties 71.92 sec||Round B|
|10.||Chill R Z||Jayne,Charlie||USA||23 penalties 72.33 sec||Round B|
Local hero and favourite Patrice Delaveau decided not to start as his horse, Lacrimoso seemed to struggle on the jumps' setups, and the rider didn't wish to jeopardize his horse's health.
This left Olympic champion Steve Guerdat and Nino des Buissonnets as the last pair without faults and the leaders going into the final day, but a disastrous first run with four faults saw the favourites drop to shared second with Beerbaum.
Their second run didn't go any better, and a disappointing fifth-placed finish would be the pair's end result.
Marcus Ehning would end with the fastest overall time, ducking under the 69-second barrier for 68.34 seconds with five penalties, good enough for fourth.
But there was simply no answer for Deusser on the final day, as the German cleared anything the organisation threw in his path on his way to victory. Indeed, the rider and his horse Cornet D'Amour rode clean runs throughout the event, proving speed isn't the only thing that matters in the jumping competitions.
Pius Schwizer and Toulago took the overall win in the first leg and looked to be in great shape to do some damage, but a miss on the very first fence set the tone for a run filled with four faults to put their end total on eight points, and an eventual finish in eight place.
For Deusser, this is the very first FEI Show Jumping World Cup Finals win of his career, and the fact he was able to beat out heavy favourites as Beerbaum and Guerdat makes the feat all the more remarkable.
The German previously won the League meeting in Mechelen and should now feel confident going into next year's FEI World Cup Leagues, as the pack of riders slowly starts to prepare for the qualifying tournaments for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.
While Guerdat was wasteful with his chances on Monday and will have no one but himself to blame for the disappointing result, Desseur still beat the mercurial Beerbaum head-to-head, a sign of bigger and better things to come for the young German.
Day 3 Recap
Sunday's Reem Acra FEI World Cup Final in the dressage category brought very little surprises, as Britain's Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro built on Saturday's excellent performance to become the very first British pair to win the dressage category in Lyon.
|FEI World Cup Show Dressage Final Day 3: Final Standings|
|Place||Rider||Horse||Rider Nationality||Total points|
|2||Helen Langehanenberg||Damon Hill||Germany||87.339%|
|3||Edward Gal||Glock's Undercover||Netherlands||83.696%|
|4||Tinne Vilhelmson Silvfen||Don Auriello||Sweden||80.946%|
|5||Isabell Werth||El Santo||Germany||79.089%|
|6||Danielle Heijkoop||Kingsley Sirro||Nertherlands||77.946%|
|7||Jessica Von Bredow-Werndl||Unee BB||Germany||77.768%|
|8||Hans Peter Minderhoud||Glock's Johnson||Netherlands||77.625%|
|9||Marc Boblet||Noble Dream Concept||France||74.875%7|
|10||Inessa Merkulova||Mister X||Russia||73.786%|
The duo set a standard of 92.179 percent, easily holding off Germany's Helen Langehanenberg and Damon Hill NRW, whose performance replicated Saturday's uneasy and conservative ride, while the Netherland's Edward Gal and Glock’s Undercover didn't disappoint following Saturday's excellent performance to complete the podium.
Unsurprisingly, Dujardin was ecstatic following the win, as she was quoted by Louise Parkes of FEI.org:
I’m over the moon, coming here to my very first World Cup Final - it’s so fantastic! This was my first time with my new Freestyle and it was so much fun, this music is great and it was so emotional - it’s all you can ask for...a dream come true really!
Dujardin and her steed Valegro have dominated the competition since the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, but the Reem Acra Trophy was one the duo had yet to claim. Dressagechap couldn't hide his admiration:
The Netherlands rode even better than Day 2, and Gal deservedly found his way to a top-three finish, a result few would have expected ahead of Saturday's event. But two great sessions ensured it would be Gal, and not the likes of Hans Peter Minderhoud or Danielle Heijkoop who would hold the Dutch honour highest.
Gal still thinks he could do a lot better though, per Parkes:
Undercover was still a little too excited, it was difficult warming up in this environment, he was too over-active and in end I lost my rein. I know I can do much better so I’m now looking forward to the next time!
Monday will see the conclusion of the jumping event, and as reported by the people of FEI, local favourite and main contender Patrice Delaveau will not be starting:
His horse, Lacrimoso, hasn't appeared to be riding at 100 percent, and not wanting to jeopardize the health of his prized horse, the decision to withdraw is perhaps an understandable one.
Steve Guerdat is now the only remaining rider with no penalties going into Monday's final, but the differences in the top eight are minimal, as the jumping final figures to be one of the most exciting we've seen in recent memory.
Day 2 Recap
|FEI World Cup Show Dressage Final Day 2 Top 10 Finishers|
|Place||Rider||Horse||Rider Nationality||Total points|
|2||Helen Langehanenberg||Damon Hill||Germany||83.343%|
|3||Edward Gal||Glock's Undercover||Netherlands||80.029%|
|4||Tinne Vilhelmson Silvfen||Don Auriello||Sweden||75.068%|
|5||Isabell Werth||El Santo||Germany||74.168%|
|6||Hans Peter Minderhoud||Glock's Johnson||Netherlands||73.771%|
|7||Danielle Heijkoop||Kingsley Sirro||Nertherlands||72.857%|
|8||Jessica Von Bredow-Werndl||Unee BB||Germany||72.686%|
|9||Marc Boblet||Noble Dream Concept||France||71.814%|
|10||Inessa Merkulova||Mister X||Russia||71.057%|
Day Two of the 2014 Reem Acra FEI World Cup in Lyon, France saw British duo Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro set a new Grand Prix world record in the dressage, scoring a phenomenal 87.129% to record a runaway victory in Saturday.
Dujardin and Valegro have won contests all over the world in the last few years and won the Gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, so Saturday's result shouldn't come as a great surprise as they are now set to add the 2014 Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage trophy to their cabinet following Sunday's Freestyle event.
Speaking with FEI.org, Dujardin gave all the credit to her steed:
I’m so lucky to have such a horse, wherever I go he wants to perform although I was worried about this big arena. The first day here he was very, very hot and I thought he might be on edge today, but when he goes down the centre line he does his job so I can ride to near-maximum. I wanted to enjoy it, Carl (Hester, her trainer and mentor) gave me my instructions and I had just one blip in the piaffe so I was very happy with him (Valegro).
The Netherlands' riders rode a strong overall session today, with several placing in the top 10 of the final standings heading into the Freestyle session. Edward Gal rode Glock Undercover over 80% to set an excellent target score earlier in the day. But it was clear that score wouldn't hold up, as the former winner was simply no match for the dynamic duo from Britain.
Glock told the Fei:
Today was quite difficult, my horse was already excited in the warm-up, and in the arena he went a little better but he was still very tense. Today though he was a little better than yesterday, so hopefully we will be better again tomorrow!
Last year's winners, Germany's Helen Langehanenberg and Damon Hill NRW improved on that mark with a superb (if somewhat conservative) 83.353% before Dujardin and Valegro took to the floor as the second-to-last duo.
Horse & Hound's Lucy Higginson can't get enough of the steed:
All eyes will once again be on Dujardin and Valegro during Sunday's Freestyle session, and with a comfortable lead on the leaderboards, there's no reason not to think the duo won't make a run at another world record.
With the kind of form the dancing horse and his rider are in, another otherworldly performance seems almost inevitable.
Friday's opening round action saw Swiss sensation Pius Schwizer assume an early lead aboard a horse which, prior to this competition, has never won an international event.
Follow along for day-by-day details of how the World Cup Jumping Final is progressing in east-central France.
|FEI World Cup Show Jumping Final Day 1 Top 10 Finishers|
|Place||Rider||Horse||Rider Nationality||Time (Seconds)|
|1||Pius Schwizer||Quidam du Vivier||Switzerland||63.37|
|2||Patrice Delaveau||Lacrimoso HDC||France||63.67|
|4||Steve Guerdat||Nino des Buissonnets||Switzerland||66.06|
|5||Abdelkebir Ouaddar||Quickly de Kreisker||Morocco||66.40 (62.40 + pen)|
|6||Daniel Deusser||Cornet D'Amour||Germany||66.69|
|7||Maikel dan der Vleuten||VDL Groep Verdi NOP||Holland||66.92|
|8||Billy Twomey||Tinka's Serenade||Ireland||67.25|
|9||Christian Ahlmann||Aragon Z||Germany||67.65|
|10||Marcus Ehning||Cornado NRW||Germany||68.13|
Day 1 Recap
Those on hand in the French audience will have held high hopes of seeing home favourite Patrice Delaveau take an early lead in this year's FEI jumping final.
However, the Frenchman's time of 63.37 seconds was ultimately proven insufficient as the aforementioned Schwizer trotted home 0.3 seconds faster to finish Friday evening with top honours.
Saut Hermes posted an image of both horse and rider following their triumph:
German Ludger Beerbaum led out the pack fifth in the order, setting a strong pace with a time of 65.54 seconds and another 21 horses would try and fail in beating that pace before Delaveau took to the course, with Beerbaum eventually finishing the day third.
Beerbaum rode Chaman on Day One, but as reported by the official FEI website, fans will see the veteran compete with second ride Chiara from here on out.
Opening-round victor Schwizer will also have a change of ride on Saturday despite the good luck that Quidam du Vivier has brought him thus far, with the official World of Show Jumping website quoting the Swiss as saying:
I have known the horse for four years, but have only ridden him for the past four months. He was previously ridden by Chantal Müller, and his previous owner Max Hauri's son. The horse was quite spooky and not so easy, and was supposed not to go so quickly up in the classes – I soon knew he had a lot of quality though.
Germany were prolific on Day One, managing to get four of their riders into the top 10 places, while Steve Guerdat joined fellow Swiss Schwizer in the higher rankings, finishing fourth.
It wasn't such a good start for the Britons as Scott Brash and Michael Whitaker finished 11th and 16th, respectively, but the main portion of this weekend's proceedings now gets underway, where the duo will be hopeful of enforcing a turnaround in fortune.