Gothenburg, Sweden – April 4, 2019 – World No. 1 athlete Steve Guerdat proved his top rank on Thursday at the 2019 Gothenburg Horse Show by claiming the first leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final aboard Alamo. The decorated Swiss show jumper bested a field of 33 combinations to win the speed leg of the competition.
An Olympic, World Equestrian Games and FEI Jumping European Championship medalist, Guerdat has stood on Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final podium a total of five times and has won the championship twice, including back-to-back victories in 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada, and in 2016 in Gothenburg, the last time the event was held in the Nordic city.
The Santiago Varela-designed course, set at 1.60m in height, challenged horses and athletes throughout a series of 13 obstacles around the small, indoor main arena of the Scandinavium. Thursday’s faults-converted speed phase is designed to give an athlete who is quick a chance to stay in the running, even with a rail down, heading into Friday’s second round of competition.
Guerdat and the 11-year-old KWPN gelding, owned by Patricio Pasquel Quintana, were 31st in the order-of-go and blazed around Thursday’s technical track to one of the few clear rounds of the evening in a speedy 61.28 seconds to slide into the first place position, overtaking Pieter Devos (BEL) and Apart’s lead by just fractions of a second in 61.31 seconds.
The pair have been competing in international competition together since October 2017 and, since then, have gone on to collect a number of top results. Most recently, they represented Switzerland in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final in Barcelona, Spain, in October 2018 and captured the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final at CHI Geneva in December 2018.
Guerdat chose to compete Alamo over his other top mount, Bianca, in this year’s Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final as he is planning to save Bianca for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Athletes from Belgium dominated the other top spots on the leaderboard on Thursday, with Devos finishing in second place, Olivier Philippaerts and H&M Legend Of Love taking home third place honors in 61.43 seconds and François Mathy Jr. rounding out the top four with Casanova De L’Herse in 61.62 seconds.
The second round of the 2019 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final will take place on Friday at 6 p.m. (12 p.m. EST) and involves one round with a jump-off against the clock. After Thursday’s first phase of competition, 32 combinations from the original field will return to the main arena, with the exception of Swiss athlete Beat Mändli who was eliminated due to an unfortunate fall from Dsarie in the first round, to participate in Friday’s next phase. Points are awarded to each athlete based on their results from each of the first two rounds. Those points are then converted into penalties that athletes carry into the third and final competition on Sunday. To see the full standings following round one of the 2019 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final, click here.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Steve Guerdat (SUI) – Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final I winner (34 points)
On winning the first round of the 2019 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final:
“Well, of course, I am very happy with the way we started the championship. My horse jumped very well, I thought. There’s still a long way to go so we’ll just stay focused. I love this place and I love this show. We’ll see how far we can go until the end.”
On his performance on Thursday:
“I am very happy because the horse jumped good, and I thought I had a fast round without taking too much out of the horse. I don’t know that horse too well going fast as I do my other horses, but I know he is quite quick so I just focused on my plan and what I wanted to do and I didn’t look too much at what the others were doing. There were a few options and strides I could just not do with him and I knew what I wanted to do so I just stayed on my plan and it worked out quite well. I did think about [the turn to fence 11.] It was really bad luck for Beat [Mändli]; he is a very good friend and I have learned a lot from him. It is painful when you are the first one and lose everything. For sure if he had made the turn a lot of others would have tried, but it just killed the option after that. In the end, I didn’t need to try [the turn].”
“He wasn’t such an easy decision [to bring here]. After Geneva last year, where my two horses, Alamo and Bianca, jumped very good, I gave them a long break — eight weeks of no jumping at all, just having an easy time. Then I thought, ‘I am going to make the two horses ready for the final.’ They had the same preparation. Bianca is my number one choice for the games next year, so I thought maybe on the way to the games she doesn’t need to do everything and every championship. Since [Alamo] felt so good in the preparation and especially in Paris at [Saut Hermès] I thought I would go with him.”
On his past wins:
“I think one time I was fourth and one time I was fifth [on the first day of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final]. We will know a little more tomorrow night. I think the mistake tomorrow is much more expensive than today, but I have no intention of making any mistakes tomorrow.”
Pieter Devos (BEL) – Second place (32 points)
On his round:
“I was very happy with my horse today, he jumped really well. For me, it was the first day and I didn’t know what to expect as I haven’t jumped a lot of fast rounds with him, but he was really with me and into the game and that gives me a lot of confidence for the next few days.”
On the competition format of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final:
“Normally with these horses on the first day, we do a small round and we build up to the grand prix. Here, it is completely the other way around. With [Apart], I was a little bit unsure how he would react but it worked out really well so I am very happy.”
On his plan for the rest of the week:
“I need to try to leave the fences up. Apart is not normally my championship horse. To be honest, he gave me a lot of confidence today so I am quite happy. Of course tomorrow it starts again and in this competition, you cannot have any little mistake. We have to be focused every time, but I have a good feeling.”
Olivier Philippaerts (BEL) – Third place (31 points)
On his round:
“I had to go third, so it was all or nothing for me. I thought, ‘I am just going to give it a go and do my own round,’ and it actually worked out very well. I was very happy with the round. I lost my stirrup and the last four jumps were not as focused as the others were, but I have to say I was very pleased and am looking forward to tomorrow.”
On his plan for the rest of the week:
“It is hard to say now. I know from last year that the second day can change it a lot so I think it is important to jump tomorrow and try to do that the right way and then we will see from there. I want to make sure that tomorrow goes well because, like I said, it can change a lot.”
Santiago Varela (ESP) – Course designer
On Thursday’s results:
“In this competition, you need to build for everybody. The top riders are always a reference but everyone here tries to do their best. I am absolutely happy with the class today because they were really fast. It was fair for the horses and they jumped really, really well. I do not know what I will do tomorrow because they were so good today!”
Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final I:
Place / Horse / Athlete / Country / Owner / Time (Faults-Converted)
1. Alamo / Steve Guerdat / SUI / Patricio Pasquel Quintana / 61.28
2. Apart / Pieter Devos / BEL / Devos Stables / 61.31
3. H&M Legend of Love / Olivier Philippaerts / BEL / Team Philippaerts / 61.43
4. Casanova de L’ Herse / François Mathy Jr. / BEL / Ingrid Norman / 61.61
5. Clooney 51 / Martin Fuchs / SUI / Luigi Baleri / 62.04
6. Rokfeller de Pleville Bois Margot / Eduardo Alvarez Aznar / ESP / Kaliyuga S.L / 62.17
7. Clintrexo Z / Christian Ahlmann / GER / Stoeterij Zangersheide / 62.77
8. Scuderia 1918 Tobago Z / Daniel Deusser / GER / Stephex Stables, Scuderia 1918 / 62.85
9. Delux van T & L / Niels Bruynseels / BEL / Global One Horse Ltd. / 63.49
10. Breitling LS / Elizabeth Madden / USA / Abigail S Wexner / 63.74
11. H&M All In / Peder Fredricson / SWE / Stuteri Arch / 63.97
12. Edesa’s Cannary / Kevin Staut / FRA / Edesa Promotion Equestre SPRL / 64.40