A typically thrilling jump-off ride gave German maestro, Marcus Ehning, maximum points at today’s sixth leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2016/2017 Western European League in Madrid, Spain. Partnering the 11-year-old stallion Comme Il Faut, the 42-year-old three-time FEI World Cup™ champion put the result beyond doubt with one of his trademark super-tight turns in the nine-horse jump-off against the clock.
He was chasing the target set by Rio 2016 Olympic team gold medallist Kevin Staut and the 11-year-old Dutch-bred gelding Aran, and runner-up finishing spot was no great disappointment for the 36-year-old Frenchman, as it launched him to the top of the League leaderboard ahead of the next round of the series in La Coruna (ESP) next month. Third place went to 30-year-old Briton, Scott Brash with Hello M’Lady, while German legend and 1993 FEI World Cup™ champion, 53-year-old Ludger Beerbaum, slotted into fourth with Casello.
In contrast to some of the previous legs this season, Spanish course designer Javier Trenor managed to keep the jump-off numbers under control, with the very narrow top plank on the final element of the triple combination proving the undoing of many in the first round.
Against the clock however it was the penultimate FEI World Cup™ branded vertical that was the real influencer, Henrik von Eckermann (SWE) and Mary Lou demolishing it before Tobias Meyer’s (GER) mare, Cathleen, ducked out at it. Fourth to go, Beerbaum was clear but when Staut shaved almost four seconds off his time then Ehning knew what he had to do, even if it didn’t quite go to plan. “I didn’t have a good shot to the vertical (second-last) so I knew I had to make that turn if I wanted to win!” he explained, after taking what seemed like an impossible line inside fence three on his way to the last, to stop the clock in the winning time of 43.56 seconds.
Thrilled with the performance of Comme Il Faut whose cat-like jumping technique drew gasps of delight from the crowd in both rounds today, Ehning said “he has famous parents (Cornet Obolensky/Ratina Z) and he’s an incredible horse, you can see he is clever and careful and he did a super job in the jump-off – I’m really proud of him!”
Photo: FEI/1clicphoto.com I Herve Bonnaud