The crowd in the sold-out stadium were enthusiastic for all the performances from the 32 competitors but especially those from the three Swedish riders.
The allowed time of 79 seconds didn’t pose a problem for the field, but the fragile verticals and wide oxers were another story.
It took 15 riders before anyone rode clear, and early on it looked like there might not even be a jump off.
However, after Max Kühner crossed the beam with zero penalties, followed immediately by Ludger Beerbaum of Germany, the jump-off was on!
Six more horse and rider teams joined Kühner and Beerbaum for the final round. But it was not before four other riders were eliminated or elected to retire: Irma Karlsson of Sweden, Abdullah Humaid Al Humairi of the UAE, Lorenzo De Luca of Italy, and Pieter Devos of Belgium, who finished second on Day 1 but whose horse Apart misread jump number 10 twice forcing them to be rung out.
On an abbreviated but no less difficult course, the eight jump off candidates knew from the start they would need to be both clean and daring, a tough combination in the Jumping world.
Up first, Max Kühner on Chardonnay set the pace, riding clear and finishing in a fast 39.44 seconds. With the first rail down, Ludger Beerbaum on Cool Feeling wasn’t going to be a threat with 4 penalty points and a time of 39.72 seconds.
French rider Olivier Robert made it through the course spectacularly in 38.33 seconds aboard Tempo de Paban but saw a rail on the final Longines oxer tumble for 4 points of his own.
Jarowslaw Skrzyczynski of Poland has been having a stellar week with Chacclana, finishing clear on Thursday and managing two clears on Day 2. But his time of 39.68 seconds wasn’t quite enough to overtake Kühner, so he had to put his motto of “Patience pays off” to use and wait until the end to see where he landed in the rankings.
When Peder Fredricson entered the arena next, the Swedish crowd went wild for their home hero. By the time he cleared the last oxer, they were on their feet, applauding in unison his courage to go deep on the turns heading to the finish, which saved seconds off his clear time of 37.94 seconds for the lead.
Would it hold?
Reigning FEI Jumping World Cup™ champion Beezie Madden was up next, aboard her gold medal partner from last year, stallion Breitling LS. Madden cut the turns even tighter than Fredricson and was lightning fast coming to the finish. But the duo got just a hair too close to the final oxer, and when a rail came down, her time of 34.75 seconds was marred by 4 penalty points.
Niels Bruynseels of Belgium had the same problem with Delux van T & L, finishing in 38.01 seconds and 4 penalty points for the final obstacle.
Last to ride, Eduardo Alvarez Aznar of Spain looked like he might be in trouble when Rokfeller de Pleville Bois Margot rubbed a rail on the very first obstacle, but it held, and the pair moved with precision to finish clear. As fast as they were, however, the time clocked was 37.97 seconds, three one-hundredths of a second slower than Fredricson, giving the Swedish legend the home win.
“To do this in front of the home crowd is an unbelievable feeling,” Fredricson said, all smiles after the final results were in. “I tried to go on five strides to the second last, and he made it easy,” he added, referring to his Belgian Warmblood gelding H&M All In.