ROLEX FEI WORLD CUPTM JUMPING 2009/2010
Verona (ITA), 8 November 2009
WHITAKER IS INVINCIBLE IN VERONA
Great Britain's Michael Whitaker stormed to victory at the fourth leg of the 2009/2010 Rolex FEI World CupTM Jumping series in Verona, Italy today where the world's top riders were faced with the toughest track of the season so far. Second to go in the five-horse jump-off the 49 year old veteran stamped his authority all over the result with a fantastic run from Insul Tech Amai. Germany's Gilbert Bockmann slotted into runner-up spot with another talented nine year old, No Father's Girl, and reigning European Champion, Kevin Staut from France, finished third with Silvana.
Whitaker was in flying form throughout the Italian fixture. He was second on Thursday with Portofino who belied her 15 years with a spring-heeled performance and second again yesterday evening with Amai. Left with the decision about which of the two to take in today's tough class he said he decided on Amai "because Portofino has shorter legs than Amai, so he can go faster!".
The course, created by Conrad Holmfeld and built by Frank Rothenberger, was hugely testing. Riders were asked to shorten and lengthen strides all the way around the 13-fence track which was big and wide and exceptionally demanding. So much so in fact that six retired in round one while Italy's Francesca Capponi was eliminated with Stallone. The water-tray under the oxer at fence three was framed by greenery and many horses gave spooky, suspicious jumps here which threw them off their much-needed concentration. There were plenty more problems further on the track but the trickiest of all was the short one-stride effort required on jumping into the triple combination and then the long reach for the second element. And, as if that wasn't enough, there was another difficult four-stride distance to the final oxer.
The most frustrated men of the day were World No. 1 Marcus Ehning from Germany and newly-crowed European team gold medallist Pius Schwizer of Switzerland who, riding Leconte and Carlina respectively, both cleared all the fences only to pick up a single time penalty.
AGAINST THE CLOCK
Just five survived to go against the clock and Bockmann was first to return to the arena with No Father's Girl. He might have been forgiven for being cautious with his relatively young mare but she has been consistently impressive this season, winning the Grand Prix at Munster in August and eighth in the Hannover Grand Prix last month and there was nothing shy about his fearless gallop round the shortened track to set the target with a clear round in 38.14 seconds. Whitaker however has been showing fantastic form since returning to action with a fourth-place finish in the World Cup at Syracuse just a week ago and as he set off with Amai it was clear he meant business. Storming around the track he was up on the clock coming to the last and raced through the finish in 37.49 seconds to take the lead.
The Italian crowd went wild with excitement as their own man, European team silver medallist Natale Chiaudani, was next into the ring with SNAI Seldana Di Campalto, but there were groans of dismay as the mare hit the vertical three from home and then both elements of the penultimate double for 12 faults. Staut's lovely grey mare Silvana was winner of the Grand Prix at Donaueschingen in September but she also clipped the same vertical as Chiaudani's ride and when last man into the ring, Holland's Eric Van der Vleuten, collected eight faults with VDL Groep Tomboy, then Whitaker secured his first-ever Rolex watch.
THAT ROLEX WATCH
"I won a couple of World Cup qualifiers in North America but I've never won a Rolex before so I'm very happy about this" Whitaker said, brandishing his new time-piece afterwards. "The course today was very difficult, a lot of tricky lines and big fences, in particular the combination at the end was asking a lot but it went well for us anyway!" he pointed out. Staut agreed "there were faults at a lot of fences but this was really good sport today. I would prefer to have won but I'm happy for Michael" he said.
Talking about Amai, Whitaker said the nine year old Belgian-bred has been with him for three years now. "I jumped him in the World Cup here last year and we had just one down, but yesterday he was second and today he gave me a great feeling - he is a really fast horse". Whitaker's next port of call is Toronto, Canada next week and he hopes to return to the Rolex FEI World CupTM Jumping Western European circuit at Stuttgart, Germany where the next leg of the 2009/2010 season takes place in two weeks' time.
Great Britain's Michael Whitaker, winner of today's Rolex FEI World CupTM Jumping qualifier at Verona, Italy is presented with his prize by Mr Gianricardo Marini, Managing Director of Rolex Italy. Picture: Fieracavalli/Stefano Grasso.
RESULT: 1, Insul Tech Amai (Michael Whitaker) GBR 0/0 37.49; 2, No Father's Son (Gilbert Bockmann) Ger 0/0 38.14; 3, Silvana (Kevin Staut) Fra 0/4 37.87; 4, VDL Groep Tomboy (Eric Van de Vleuten) Ned 0/8 38.34; 5, SNAI Seldana di Campalto (Natale Chiaudani) Ita 0/12 42.08; 6, Leconte (Markus Ehning) Ger 1/68.34; 7, Carlina (Pius Schwizer) Sui 1/69.00; 8, Melodie Ardente (Simon Delestre) Fra 4/65.01; 9, Lamm de Fetan (Timothee Anciaume) Fra 4/65.06; 10, Gotha (Ludger Beerbaum) Fra 4/65.80. FULL RESULTS AT www.jumpingverona.it
FACTS AND FIGURES:
5 of the top six riders in the Rolex World Rankings competed in today's competition
8 lady riders were included in the starting field of 39.
Italy was represented by 10 riders, just one, Natale Chiaudani, made it into the second-round jump-off
The oldest horse in the competition was Asti Spumante ridden by Thomas Muhlbauer for Germany - 15 year old Oldenburg stallion
The youngest horses were the 8 year olds Zorro (Edwina Alexander), Carlina (Pius Schwizer), Uruguay (Albert Zoer), Ultra Boy (Eric Lamaze), Gotha (Ludger Beerbaum).
6 riders retired in first round, one was eliminated (Franesca Capponi, Italy riding Stallone).
2 riders finished with just a single time fault - Pius Schwizer (Carlina),
6 finished with just four faults in the first round
11,000 spectators watched today's competition unfol
Despite the worldwide economic situation ticket sales for jumping rose 37% on previous years
Record attendance at Fieracavalli which stages Jumping Verona 09 - 153,000 people came to see this extraordinary annual festival of the horse
2,500 horses were on show during the week.
Gilbert Bockmann, Germany, talking about No Father's Girl - "there was no stallion name on her passport so that's how she got her name!"
Michael Whitaker, today's winner, talking about the recent successes in Italian show jumping "there is a lot of talent in Italian show jumping so their great results recently are not a big surprise".
Italy's Natale Chiaudani, the only Italian rider to qualify for today's jump-off, "something special happened when we won those beautiful medals this summer - everything has changed for us - we know now that we have the support of the people of Italy and it has been uplifting for all of us".
John Roche, FEI Jumping Director - "Verona is a show-case for equestrian sport and we are always grateful to Rolex because it is wonderful to be associated with such a prestigious company".
STANDINGS: After 4th leg in Verona:
1. Daniel Etter - 40
2. Eric van der Vleuten - 37
3. Rodrigo Pessoa - 33
4. Marco Kutscher - 33
5. Patrice Deleveau - 29
6. Marcus Ehning - 29
7. Pius Schwizer - 27
8. Natale Chiaudani - 27
9. Beat Mandli - 21
10. Michael Whitaker - 20
11. Albert Zoer - 18
12. Kevin Staut - 18
13. Daniel Deusser - 18
14. Philipp Weishaupt - 18
15. Gilbert Bockmann - 17
16. Ben Maher - 15
17. Luciana Diniz, Ludger Beerbaum - 14
19. Timothee Anciaume - 14
20. Svante Johansson - 13
CALENDAR OF EVENTS FOR WESTERN EUROPEAN LEAGUE: 1, Oslo (Norway) 9-11 October; 2, Helsinki (Finland) 15-18 October; 3, Lyon (FRA) 28 Oct-1 November; 4, Verona (Italy) 5-8 November; 5, Stuttgart (Germany) 15-21 November; 6, London-Olympia (Great Britain) 15-21 December; 7, Mechelen (Belgium) 26-30 December; 8, Leipzig (Germany) 21-24 January; 9, Zurich (SUI) 28-31 January; 10, Bordeaux (France) 5-7 February; 11, Vigo (Spain) 11-14 February; 12, Gothenburg (Sweden) 25-28 February; 13, s'Hertogenbosch (The Netherlands) 25-28 March; FINAL - Geneva (Switzerland) 14-18 April.
Broadcast Schedule can be downloaded from www.feiworldcup.org
Photo Catalogue - Photographs of winning riders in high/low resolution can be downloaded from FEI Photo Calalogue at www.fei.org>Media>Photo Catalogue - no reproution fee ut photographer must be credited (name appears under picture). Usage strictly for editorial purposes.
Media Guide - 2009/2010 Media Guide filled with useful facts, figures, statistics and contact details can be downloaded from www.feiworldcup.org - click on Jumping then Media. Hard copy available from FEI Communications - Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
FEI World CupTM Jumping has entered its 32nd season. The series, created in 1978, today comprises 14 leagues on all continents. The best riders from 121 preliminary competitions will qualify for the final in Geneva, Switzerland which takes place from 14-18 April 2008.
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