Colombia’s Carlos Lopez galloped to victory with Admara in the seventh leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2016/2017 Western European League at La Coruña in Spain this evening. The Ortega family’s Casas Novas Equestrian Centre was making its debut as a venue for the series, and the seven-horse jump-off was a thriller, with last-to-go Jane Richard Philips from Switzerland slotting into runner-up spot with Pablo de Virton ahead of German legend Ludger Beerbaum and Casello in third.
Adding the maximum 20 points from today’s competition to the eight he collected at the fifth leg in Stuttgart, Germany last month, Lopez has moved into tenth place on the Western European leaderboard which continues to be headed by Frenchman Kevin Staut. However the 51-year-old Colombian who is based in Ratières, France is unlikely to make it to the Longines 2017 Final in Omaha, Nebraska (USA) next March. “We are still getting to know each other and it is not the main target for me and this horse” said the man who made history as part of the first-ever Colombian side to reach a team final at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Normandy.
Santiago Varela’s first-round course kept the numbers under control, and as the first of the 40 starters to find the key when twelfth to go, it was Lopez who led the way against the clock. A brilliant roll-back to the penultimate oxer paid off as he broke the beam in 37.84 seconds and really put it up to the rest of them. And they couldn’t catch him, 53-year-old Beerbaum initially coming closest when crossing the timers in 38.58 only to be overtaken by 33-year-old Richard Phliips who gave it everything she had, but who was still 0.37 seconds off the pace.
Lopez’s 11-year-old KWPN gelding was competed by Italy’s Emanuele Gaudiano until February this year, and the Colombian rider is determined not to ask too much too soon from the horse. “I’m really excited, he has improved a lot and I’ve been hoping for this victory for the last two or three shows. He’s brave and honest, a fighter and a winner. It has taken six or seven months for us to get to know each other and it’s starting to feel just right!” Lopez said tonight.
The next leg of the series takes place at London Olympia (GBR) on Sunday 18 December.
Photo: Hervé Bonnaud/FEI