The second leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping, Western European league took place in Verona, Italy this weekend
There was some seriously tough competition with a total of six former world number one riders in the lineup for the day. Following on from the previous qualifier in Oslo, all eyes were on Daniel Deusser to see if he could pull off a double win. Historically, a qualifier in Verona has never been won by a woman before so the ladies of the sport were all vying to change that this weekend!
Janika Sprunger and Bacardi VDL for Switzerland posted the first clear of the day on a course which was entirely different to Oslo – a larger arena, with lots of forward, flowing distances, relaxed classical music playing in the background and a far less twisty course than the previous leg!
The Italian members of the crowd were given something to really cheer about when Luigi Polesello, Emilio Bicocchi, Lorenzo de Luca and Alberto Zorzi all went clear and qualified themselves for the jump off on home soil much to the delight of the audience in Verona.
After a good performance in Oslo, Edwina Tops-Alexander knocked one pole and was out of the running for a placing. Cian O’Connor on the other hand was absolutely determined to go clear when he cantered into the ring on the incredibly scopey ten-year-old gelding Skyhorse, despite losing his stirrup over the final fence.
A qualifier in Verona has never been won by a woman before
Daniel won the first qualifier in Oslo so would have had high hopes for this round, but sensibly retired when it quickly became clear that his relatively inexperienced horse was not quite ready for today’s course.
The jump-off course left plenty of room for riders to ride in a good forward rhythm, jump at tight angles, turn close to the fences and have a good gallop down to the final fence. Eleven riders through to the jump off, Janika Sprunger had the unenviable position of being first in.
She was already looking like her dreams had come true just by reaching this stage – after a long time off for Bacardi and only his second time jumping indoors – but that didn’t stop her going for Gold and laying down a clear round with a reasonably fast time of 39.21.