Looking Back
at Glorious
Gothenburg

22 March 2019

We go down memory lane to reflect on four decades of incredible FEI World Cup™ Finals in the Swedish city…

40 years after hosting the first-ever Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final in the spring of 1979, Gothenburg will again be the focus of the equestrian world when the planet’s biggest equestrian stars travel to Sweden next month.

 

Legends of the sport have been crowned champion at the Scandinavium arena over the last four decades from inaugural winner Hugo Simon to Steve Guerdat, the most recent in 2016. Stars such as John Whitaker, Ian Millar, Ludger Beerbaum, Rodrigo Pessoa and Beezie Madden have all come out on top in the 14 stagings in the Swedish city, which have attracted an incredible three million spectators!

 

Who will join the roll of honour next month?

Gothenburg has
become synonymous
with the FEI
World Cup™ Finals

The first final in 1979 was part of the Gothenburg Horse Show – as it will be this year – which had begun two years earlier in 1977.

Organisers at the Scandinavium had built a major show from scratch, overcoming fairly significant teething problems such as no mobile stables to rent and no fence equipment.

 

By 1979, Gothenburg was already renowned for the fantastic floral creations that decorate the Scandinavium to this day.

 

Back in 1979 it was Austria’s Hugo Simon who became the first World Cup winner on Gladstone. American Kate Monahan took second place after the jump off, while her compatriot Norman Dello Joio and Ireland’s Eddie Macken finished third. Incredibly, Simon also stood atop the podium in the Scandinavium 19 years later as a 55-year-old when he won the prestigious event for the third time in 1998. This time it was the great E.T that partnered him to victory as they led the pack from beginning to end, with John Whitaker and Franke Sloothaak also on the podium.

 

1979 was the start of something very special not just for equestrian sport but also for Gothenburg.

 

“We are all very proud of being part of the FEI World Cup," says Lotta Nibell, president of the Gothenburg Horse Show. "We have a long history of close co-operation.

 

"We are happy to see so many people returning year after year. It is not just a show or a competition, it’s a meeting place and a lifestyle for all with a passion for horses.”

 

Marvellous Melanie

After the thrills of 1979, Gothenburg hosted its second Jumping World Cup final in 1982 when American Melanie Smith became the first female winner of the event on Calypso. Another notable feat was achieved in the Swedish city two years later when 19-year-old Canadian Mario Deslauriers became the youngest ever winner – a record that stands to today.

 

In 1986 it was American Leslie Burr Lenehan who took top honours on McLain, with Ian Millar in second on Big Ben. The Canadian and his partner came out on top two years later as a string of legends dominated over the next decade.

 

In 1991 John Whitaker and Milton defended the title they had won in Dortmund a year earlier, securing the legendary grey gelding’s final major victory in front of an enthralled audience.

 

Ludger Beerbaum secured his only World Cup win to date in Gothenburg in 1993 when he and Almox Ratina Z finished just ahead of John Whitaker and Everest Grannusch and Everest Milton. Whitaker’s compatriot Nick Skelton and Everest Dollar Girl were the champions in 1995.

 

Baloubet's brilliance

The superstar pairing of Rodrigo Pessoa and Baloubet du Rouet took their second title in Gothenburg in 1999 and came within a whisker of making it an incredible four in a row in 2001. They ultimately finished second just behind Markus Fuchs and Tinka’s Boy – reversing the result from Las Vegas the year before.

 

There was then a seven-year hiatus before the Jumping World Cup final returned to Sweden in 2008 and Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum with Shutterfly took first place. Beezie Madden and Simon finished ahead of Steve Guerdat on the podium in 2013, with the Swiss and Corbinian winning the most recent staging in Gothenburg in 2016 on a course designed by Santiago Varela.

 

While the FEI World Cup™ Finals for Jumping and Dressage have been held at the same venue for most of the last decade the two competitions have different histories.

 

Dressage delights

The first FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final was not staged until 1986, with the first Gothenburg event taking place in 1989. The Swedish public immediately took to Dressage’s biggest annual competition with 11,000 fans packed in the Scandinavium to see Margit Otto-Crépin of France win on Corlandus.

 

Three years later Isabell Werth won the first of her four FEI Dressage World Cup™ titles aboard her chestnut mare Fabienne as the Germans dominated. Werth was joined on the podium by her compatriots Sven Rothenberger and Monica Theodorescu – with the latter the champion in Gothenburg alongside Ganimedes two years later.

 

Dutch legend Anky van Grunsven won the second of her three consecutive titles with Bonfire in 1996. While she won a total of nine World Cup titles between 1995 and 2008, it was her sole victory in Gothenburg.

 

The Gothenburg crowd celebrated a first – and only to-date - Swedish win at the Scandinavium two years later when Louise Nathhorst achieved first place with Walk On Top.

 

Debbie McDonald became the first American winner of the event in 2003 on mare Brentina, who was the supreme horse despite suffering a paralysed windpipe the previous year.

 

It was a decade until Gothenburg again staged the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final, and 2013 was the first time it had hosted both Jumping and Dressage at the same time. Helen Langehanenberg and the imperious Damon Hill won the German’s only title to date, making up for some of the disappointment of narrowly missing out on a medal at the previous year’s Olympic Games.

 

Hailing her star stallion’s performance she said it was “the best test we have ever done.”

"It was
always my
dream to win"

The most recent Gothenburg final came in 2016 when Dutch athlete Hans Peter Minderhoud and Glock's Flirt were victorious.

Their Mask of Zorro freestyle was enough to see them finish ahead of Swede Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfvén on Don Auriello in second.

 

Speaking afterwards Minderhoud said: “It was really special for me. This was my sixth final and I’ve never been on the podium, although I was twice really close. I started off as a groom and it was always my dream to win it so it’s very emotional.”

 

Minderhoud has been in good form again this season and will be hopeful of again making the podium in 2019. Werth will also be hoping to become the first multiple Gothenburg champion, with Langehanenberg also chasing that milestone.

 

 

Who will add their name to Gothenburg’s roll of honour in 2019? Tune into this year’s Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ and FEI Dressage World Cup™ on FEI TV from Thursday, April 4...

 

Words by Richard Mulligan

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