World Cup Finals Go Ahead After Two Years of Absence

In Leipzig, the Finals of the World Cup took place allowing the top riders to compete against one another for 2022 World Cup glory after two years of absence. Putting on the event in itself was quite an achievement considering how many of the early rounds of the World Cup qualifiers succumbed to the Omicron Covid outbreak late in 2021.

Dressage

Cathrine Dufour takes Reserve Champion

In the dressage at Leipzig, the competition was divided into two sections for the riders. The first was the ‘short’ Grand Prix and two days later; the seventeen riders competed for the Grand Prix Freestyle.  There is no Grand Prix Special in this series of championships. As with the Olympic Games and WEG, there were seven judges with Isabelle Judet from France as chairman judging from C. Anna Buffini riding Davinia la Douche for the United States set the ball rolling. She left with a score of 69.309% which was almost certainly going to be quickly overhauled as the likes of Isabel Werth, Jessica Von Bredow-Werndl and Cathrine Dufour to name just a few were due in the arena later in the class.

Of the first eight to compete before the break, Nanna Skodberg Merrald for Denmark took the lead with 75.752%. She rode Atterupgaard Orthilia. In the second half, the big guns were out; the first of which was Isabell Werth riding Weihegold in his final completive appearance at 17 years of age, was the twelfth rider in, and she took the lead with 79.756%. Three riders later saw the appearance of Cathrine Dufour for Denmark riding Vamos Amigos, a 10 year old Westphalian gelding, and with 80.019% took the lead. The world number one, Jessica von Bredow-Werndl, riding her 15 year old mare, Delara BB was in last and probably, rather as expected, won the class with 84.793%; a personal best score for her in Grand Prix.

Jessica Brewdow-Werdl shows her class again winning the World Cup Champion’s Crown

In the Grand Prix Freestyle, the same seventeen riders took to the stage once again and despite some entertaining performances, the top three in the Grand Prix were in the driving seat and the podium positions were unaltered. Jessica von Bredow-Werndl, riding in her fifth World Cup finals, took the title and World Cup Dressage Champion for the first time and with a score of 90.835%, a score just shy of her Olympic score last year. Afterwards, Jessica was elated and “was just amazed that her horse just gets better and better”  Jessica, no doubt much to the relief of others is now stopping riding for a while as she is due to have her second child later in the year. She will not be competing at WEG in the late summer. Cathrine Dufour, who has also had a phenomenal last twelve months took silver/reserve champion with 86.164%.

Isabell Werth retires Weihegold at 17 years of age. image courtesy Tomas Holcbecker

In her last competition on the great Weihegold, Isabell Werth ended with a bronze medal with 85.921%., thus relinquishing her World Cup crown. As we all knew, the great horse was acting his last hurrah and was immediately retired with all the pomp and ceremony after the prize giving for the class. It was an emotional occasion with Isabell saying “she owed a huge amount to the horse and she was so pleased that he was retiring in such good form”

It was great to see the riders supporting the Ukrainians in that many wore the Ukrainian lapel badge, but Cathrine Dufour went one better and carried a full flag in the prize giving ceremony.

Showjumping

In the Showjumping part of the World Cup Finals, there were three jumping rounds competed for with all the scores added up to produce a final champion. In each of the three rounds, there were thirty five riders. In the first of the three rounds, there were 13 obstacles with 16 jumping efforts required in each. The course was designed by Frank Rothenberger from Germany and assisted by fellow German, Christian Wiegand. There were eighteen nationalities represented. The first round was a speed test and was single round class.

Martin Fuchs

This was taken by Martin Fuchs for Switzerland riding Chaplin in 65.11 seconds. The second place was filled by Max Kuhner for Austria in 66.19 seconds riding Elektric Blue P and the third was Connor Swall from Ireland riding Count Me In with 67.06 seconds. The only other rider to get a clear round was David Will from Germany. This left the top three head of the table with two further rounds to come.

In the second round, the class was two rounds, – the first to decide who would go through to the jump off. The top height for this competition was 1.55m and the time allowed for round one was 72 seconds and like the first, there were 13 obstacles with 16 jumping efforts required. Only seven riders managed a clear in the first round and only three of those went on to get a double clear. The usual suspects for the top positions were nowhere to be seen in this class.

McLain Ward

The winner was McLain Ward from the United States riding Contagious. He took the top podium place in 44.03 seconds. Second and third places were taken by two British riders – in second was Harry Charles riding Romeo 88 in 47.14 seconds and in third was another young British rider, Jack Whitaker riding Equine America Valmy de la Lande in 48.66 seconds. None of the top three however managed the quickest time in the jump off, that went to fourth place Harrie Smolders from the Netherlands in 41.37 seconds. Had he left the pole up, he would have easily been the class winner. This left the table for the World Cup riders after the first two rounds of the competition with McLain Ward at the top of the table by 8 points (67 points) ahead of Harrie Smolders in second and Harry Charles in third, just two points behind Smolders. These scores were shown after the first two classes were added together.

In the third and final round of this World Cup Final, there were two different classes incorporated into the final. In the first, there was no jump off and the  fences were back up to the maximum allowed in world cup competition of 1.60m. The time allowed for this round was 63 seconds and there were 12 obstacles with 15 jumping efforts required. Martin Fuchs from Switzerland came to the fore again in the first round of this two round festival riding Chaplin and winning the round with a clear and in 60.83 seconds. The second place was taken by Harrie Smolders once again, but this time on a different horse – Monaco. The third spot went to Sweden; Jens Fredricson riding Markan Cosmipolit. The final class of the World Cup was again with all the riders going for one last time, but the top twelve going again in a jump off. David Will took the class with Jens Fredricson in second and Martin Fuchs in third.

World Champion – Martin Fuchs

So the final results with all the points from the different rounds added together made Martin Fuchs crowned the Champion. The reserve was Harrie Smolders with the bronze position taken by Jens Fredricson. Both fourth and fifth final placing’s were won by two British riders, Harry Charles and Jack Whitaker. David Will was sixth, and winner of round one, McLain Ward was finally finished in seventh.

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