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July 3, 2012

European Show Jumping Scene Review: June

The German team looks hard to beat in London after two Top League wins this spring. (From left) Phillip Weishaupt, Marco Kutscher, chef d'equipe Otto Becker, Marcus Ehning and Ludger Beerbaum took the lead at Rotterdam. Photo by Arnd Bronkhorst/FEI.

The German team started the year strong and should be the team to watch at the London Olympic Games. They currently lead the Top League after yet another strong win in the Nations Cup series in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, on June 8 after they won at Rome in May.

The winning team in Rotterdam looked dangerously strong, with Marcus Ehning with Copin van de Broy, Ludger Beerbaum with Gotha FRH, Philipp Weishaupt with Monte Bellini and Marco Kutscher with Cornet Obolensky taking command. Germany’s biggest strength heading into the Olympic Games is certainly that they have plenty more riders and horses to choose from—they all hold the top level quality needed to compete in London.

One German pair that won’t be in London is Carsten-Otto Nagel and his fantastic mare Corradina. The mare isn’t back in the needed shape after her tooth problems earlier this year and will not be able to participate at the CHIO Aachen (Germany) in early July. This event was the last chance for the pair to prove they belonged on the Olympic team. “Of course I am sad, but with Corradina in mind it is the right decision,” said Nagel.

Nagel and Corradina have a great championship record with team gold from the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (Ky.) in 2010, European Championship team gold from Madrid in 2011, European team bronze at Windsor (England) in 2009 and European individual silvers from both Madrid in 2011 and Windsor in 2009.

Controversy Flames

In June, Saudi Arabian riders Khaled Abdulaziz Al Eid and Abdullah Waleed Sharbatly appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport over the suspension a Federation Equestre International tribunal had given them for a medication violation. The FEI Tribunal’s original eight-month ban, which would have prevented Al Eid and Sharbatly from competing at the London Olympic Games, was reduced to two months by CAS, and this has not gone unnoticed.

The reduced bans meant that both riders could compete again with immediate effect and that Olympic participation was no longer in danger. Al Eid was already qualified for the Games, and a few days after the CAS decisions a special qualifier was held for Sharbatly in Hoofddorp, the Netherlands. Sharbatly also qualified for London.

After the decision, the International Jumping Riders Club issued a statement regarding the issue, expressing surprise at the speed of the decision and noting that the CAS procedure for Sharbatly and Al Eid had differed from procedures in previous equestrian cases. “Following these decisions, we hope that in the future CAS will make sure to use an equitable and uniform measure, ensuring the principle of equal treatment for all riders,” the IJRC statement said.

Top show jumper Rodrigo Pessoa has also spoken out and raised a number of questions regarding the case. In an interview with the Swiss website Le Cavalier Romand, Pessoa pointed out that there are many questions that need an answer on how this particular case has been dealt with. (The article is in French, but you can read it here.)

One of Pessoa’s main concerns is the fact that only one CAS arbitrator made the decision, while these cases normally have three judges involved. Further, it took CAS three weeks to make their decision while other athletes normally have had to wait several months. The fact that the two riders have been judged equally when their former histories are totally different is also a point that Pessoa made; Sharbatly has been suspended before, and he also had several yellow cards and warnings over the last two years. Al Eid on the other hand has no such record.

The decisions are seen in the light of the announcement from the FEI that the Saudi Equestrian Fund will finance the revitalization of the FEI Nations Cup series. The Saudi Equestrian Fund will provide full financial support for the 2012 series and has also agreed to a five-year title sponsorship commencing in 2013, once a remodeling process for the series has been finalized. 

The French Are Building

Over the last year the French stud Haras des Coudrettes has purchased several horses for top French riders such as Patrice Delaveau, Kevin Staut and Olivier Guillon. Now they have all decided to join forces and create a high level stable: HDC Competition. With a location in Normandy, the stable will open its doors this autumn, and the three top riders will convene there to compete as a team.

In June, Haras des Coudrettes purchased Estoy Aqui de Muze for Kevin Staut to keep riding. Staut was already competing the 8-year-old chestnut mare since the beginning of May, but their future partnership is now secured.

They also acquired Cheyenne 111 Z, a 9-year-old mare. Last year, Cheyenne 111 Z was competed by Marlon Modolo Zanotelli from Brazil, and together they won a class at the Toscana Tour in Arezzo. Kevin Staut will now compete the mare.

Kevin Staut’s former sponsor Haras de Hus has provided French rider Michel Robert and Belgian riders Gregory Wathelet and Philippe Le Jeune with new horses. Charles de Gaulle, Vivaldi du Seigneur and the promising Holsteiner Conrad will all be seen under Robert in the future. The 7-year-old Bazooka and the 8-year-old Levisto Z-son Levistan will both join the reigning World Champion Le Jeune, while the 7-year-old Balthazar will join Wathelet.

On Top Of Their Game 

British show jumping star Nick Skelton was awarded an Order of the British Empire in the Queen’s Birthday Honors List for services to equestrian sport. “It is a great honor. I am really chuffed with it and very happy to receive this award. It was a shock, and I am really pleased,” Skelton said.

The 54-year-old rider, who has won more than 2,000 classes and more than $5 million in prize money, continued, “It has been an honor riding for Great Britain over the years, and the announcement of the Queen’s Honor today is great.”

For the sixth month in a row, Swedish rider Rolf-Göran Bengtsson was listed as No. 1 on the Rolex Ranking. Among the rest of the top 10, there were a lot of changes. Pius Schwizer took over the second spot, and Ludger Beerbaum, who was second last month, fell down to fourth place. Skelton climbed all the way from seventh place to rank third after fantastic results this spring.

After six legs of the Global Champions Tour, Edwina Tops-Alexander still heads the overall ranking. Tops-Alexander has 161 points and has collected these at five of the six GCT events. In June, she was third in the Global Champions Tour in Cannes, France, and seventh in Monte Carlo, Monaco; she rode her famous partner Cevo Itot du Chateau in those legs of the tour.

In Cannes, it was Dutch rider Gerco Schröder who won the GCT Grand Prix on Eurocommerce London. Rolf-Göran Bengtsson was the runner-up on Casall La Silla while Tops-Alexander was third after a fantastic jump-off under the floodlights. This was Schröder and Eurocommerce London’s second GCT win; their last one came in Rio de Janeiro in 2011. After his Cannes win Gerco said, “I had a feeling he could win. For me he is a very special horse. From when he was young I had a feeling about him.”

Staut and Reveur de Hurtebise *HDC won the GCT in Monte Carlo, ahead of the up-and-coming German rider Hans-Dieter Dreher aboard Embassy II and the big surprise of the competition, Moroccan rider Abdelkebir Ouaddar on Porche du Fruitier. “It was a great result. I have been riding Reveur de Hurtebise for about two months. I have had some good rounds and some bad rounds but I am happy about the result today,” Staut commented after his win.

Farewell

Chacco-Blue (Chambertin—Contara, Contender) passed away on June 5. The stallion, owned by Paul Schockemöhle, was 14. Chacco Blue was educated by Alois Pollmann-Schweckhorst, and from the beginning of 2011 he was competed by Andreas Kreuzer. Together the two were third in last year’s Aachen Grand Prix, and this year they won the Grand Prix in Neumünster, Germany. More recently, Kreuzer and Chacco-Blue finished 10th in the Global Champions Tour Grand Prix in Hamburg, Germany.

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