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Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat and the flighty mare Hannah stormed to victory in Stuttgart in the latest leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2017-18 season, edging home favourites Philipp Weishaupt and Christian Ahlmann into second and third place in a thrilling 16-horse jump-off on Sunday.
Italy’s Emilio Bicocchi led the field with a clear first round. Carefully following suit, Francois Mathy Jr., aboard the giant Uno de la Roque, recovered from his down rail in Lyon and received boisterous applause, riding clear in both rounds, but could not finish in the top 10. Meanwhile Patrick Stuhlmeyer was ecstatic with his mount Chacgrano’s obedient and experienced execution.
Round after round, riders were dragged into the outside triple combination, pulling rails from aspects A and C. The giant screen in the warm-up ring did eventually enlighten the riders and their teams to the problem areas and we began to see course correction and proper placement leading into fence A. Douglas Lindelow and Zacramento nailed it. However, Chloe Reid, who was hoping to take even more points from her rewarding season in Europe, was unsuccessful.
This year’s reigning German champion Simone Blum and her incredible mare DSP Alice, who had been rolling over the competition, absolutely nailed the tricky triple combination and had an incredibly fast time, to finish fourth.
The clear rounds then came fast and steady as Weishaupt turned the tables on unlucky rides in Helsinki and Lyon. His mare, Asathir, uncoiled like a spring and barely took notice of the multiple strides Weishaupt left out, shaving microseconds off of their time.
Current world No.1 Ahlmann produced a flawless execution and missed top spot by one brutal second.
Max Kuhner's wife and pony-riding daughters must have been breathless as he and Chardonnay 79 found their way around one of the world’s most difficult courses with a brutal trip landing that set their time back to 56.54. Henrik Von Eckermann also found the course difficult, finishing in 16th place after Newton Abbot crashed over an oxer.
Riders tried to be creative with the route and a few tried to play it safe, hoping for faulty rounds to follow.
Germany held the top three for most of the jump-off, but after Weishaupt handed his chair over to Guerdat, the race was won. Guerdat is now sitting comfortably in 10th place in the overall rankings, boosting his hopes of making it to Paris next year.
Text by Brooklyn Morgans
Images by FEI/Cara Grimshaw