Three new faces sat in the top spots of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final II. World Cup™ Final newcomer Richard Vogel (GER) won the competition with United Touch S. Harry Charles (GBR) and Balou du Reventon captured second. And Andreas Schou (DEN) and Darc de Lux claimed third.
In the race for the overall World Cup™ title, the leaderboard saw a mix-up in placings as well. Schou sits in the lead tied with Pius Schwizer (SUI) and Vancouver de Laniore. Henrik von Eckermann (SWE) and King Edward had a rail down in Final II to drop in the overall standings from first to third.
The Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final is part of the 2023 FEI World Cup™ Finals, held at the CHI Health Center in Omaha, Nebraska, April 4-8. The Finals include the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final. This is also the first time the Burlington Capital FEI Vaulting World Cup™ Final is being held in North America.
The Course by the Numbers
The three-leg jumping final is a cumulative effort. Thursday night’s Final II consisted of a first round of 17 fences. Nine of the 40 starters in round one moved on to the eight-fence jump-off.
Riders commented that the lines in the Final II’s first round tested them to make sure their horses could move forward and back. The course, designed by Bernardo Costa Cabral, included a triple combination, a one-stride line, two liverpool fences and tight turns. The highest fences were 1.60 meters.
In the jump-off, five of the nine horse and rider combinations jumped clean. Three had four faults, and one had eight faults.
Vogel’s 11-year-old Westphalian United Touch S was one of four stallions who took the top spots in Final II. The pair left out strides in the first and last lines in the jump-off to the stop the clock in 35.11 seconds. Charles and Balou du Reventon, a 17-year-old OS stallion, jumped a clear round in 35.25 seconds. And Schou and Darc de Lux, a 12-year-old Holsteiner stallion, rode their clear round in 35.58 seconds.
Vogel: “Lost a Bit of Concentration”
Vogel said United Touch S was focused in Final II. “It’s a very difficult course for him because there’s a lot of short lines, and he has such a big stride. So he really needs to kind of put himself together, which he did,” Vogel said about Final II’s first round. He added that the stallion has “an enormous stride and an unbelievable scope.”
To help adjust United Touch’s stride, at home, Vogel explained one of his go-to exercises: “I like to do some canter poles or cavalletti and really try to leave a stride out and then add a stride and try to get the frequency of the stride higher. [I] try to get him as much as possible on his hind legs so it’s easier for him to shorten his stride and to balance.”
Though it’s Vogel’s first World Cup™ Final experience, he said that he is lucky because he does not usually get nervous. But he did lose focus in Final II’s first round. “I should have kept my concentration a bit more toward the end because on the second-to-last fence, I really let him shift to the right, and I touched even the standard with my right leg. I have to keep him more straight there. And I was a bit deep on the last fence, too. … I was so happy how he jumped and handled all the difficult parts so well—and then I kind of felt we were at home already.”
Harry Charles: “An Honor and a Privilege”
Harry Charles said he was pleased at improving his Final II performance over Final I’s. In that competition, he had one rail down. “I had a little malfunction yesterday. I lost my stirrup and caused us to lose a bit of balance and focus. So I made sure it wasn’t going to happen today, and I was 110% on it,” Charles said after Final II’s first round. However, he laughed at himself and admitted during the press conference that he lost his stirrup in the jump-off.
Of Final II’s ride, Charles said, “It felt pretty special. I’d say 90% of that is down to the horse himself. He’s just absolutely incredible and made that course feel like it was 1.20 meters to 1.40 meters, which it’s definitely not. I was really happy I could correct my mistakes from yesterday and give him the round he deserves.”
What did Charles do to inspire the change in his performance from Final I to Final II? “I just gave myself a kick up the ass last night and a talking to, to be honest. That was all it was.”
The partnership between Charles and Balou du Reventon is new. He started riding the stallion this year, and the World Cup™ Final is only their third five-star competition together. “Already, he’s definitely the best horse I’ve ever ridden,” Charles said. “He’s incredible. I believe one of the best horses in the world. It’s just an honor and a privilege to be able to have the opportunity to ride him in the first place.”
Though Balou is 17, Charles said he is more in the shape of a 10-year-old. “He’s really the easiest horse for us to have in the stable to work with. It’s the case in the morning, just get out and stretch his neck, stretch his legs, and he’ll take care of the rest. This one’s pretty special like that. Not all of them are like him.”
Andreas Schou: “Gave Me a Clear Round”
Andreas Schou and Darc de Lux’s third-place finish in Final II helped propel them to the tie for the overall lead in the Final. The Danish rider gave the stallion all the credit for their placing in Final II, especially in the jump-off. Schou said after he saw Vogel’s jump-off ride, he knew he was going to need to give it his all because Darc de Lux is not a speed horse. But that ended up in a too-tight distance to the second-to-last fence.
“He was entirely honest, wasn’t he?” Schou said. “When I put so much pressure on him the canter, it gets difficult to handle. And when I turned, the first distance wasn’t there, and I had to add one. Luckily, he’s such a sharp and clever horse. … He was fighting us out of that and gave me the clear round.”
After Final I’s class, Schou described what Darc de Lux’s is like to ride. “He gives you so much confidence because he wants to do the best for you every time. He’s very kind.”
As far as what he’s like in the stables: “He’s, as a stallion, very, very sweet. But he’s too spoiled from my groom, Hannah. He loves to bite and be a little bit after you all the time, but it’s only because he gets so many sugars and apples all day.”
Pius Schwizer and Vancouver de Laniore, a 14-year-old Selle Français stallion, are tied with Schou and Darc de Lu for first in the overall race for the World Cup™ after Finals I and II. Schwizer finished both in fourth place.
How U.S. Riders Fared
Two U.S. riders qualified for Final II’s jump-off. Hunter Holloway (USA) and Pepita Con Spita, a 12-year-old Westphalian mare, had four faults in the jump-off to finish in seventh. Devin Ryan and Eddie Blue, a 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, also had four faults and a slower time to finish in eighth place.
Holloway is now tied for fifth place in the overall standings after two competitions. Devin is in a three-way tie for ninth place.
McLain Ward and the 15-year-old Holsteiner mare Callas incurred 13 penalties in Final II, which dropped them to 21st place in the overall standings. Ward said he thought the mare was tired. Aaron Vale and the 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding Prescott, had 12 faults.
Nicholas Dello Joio and the 11-year-old OS gelding Cornet’s Cambridge had a four-fault round in Final II. The remaining U.S. riders had 12 faults or more in that class.
Since the top 30 riders move on to the third leg of competition, for the U.S. riders, that will include: Holloway (5th), Ryan, (9th), Dello Joio (17th), Elisa Broz (25th), Aaron Vale (29th) and Ward (30th).
Brash and Deusser
Scott Brash (GBR) and Hello Jefferson, who were in second place in the overall standings coming into Final II, had 12 faults. The placing dropped them into a tie with Ryan for ninth place in the overall standings, along with Victoria Gulliksen (Norway) and Equine America Papa Roach, who finished in fifth place in Final II and a fault-free jump-off round. Daniel Deusser (GER) and Scuderia 1918 Tobago Z retired on course after a refusal.
The Competition Continues
The jumping competition resumes with Final III, which will crown the overall winner, at 7:15 p.m. CDT, Saturday, April 8, 2023.
For a full schedule, click here.
To read about the:
Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final I, click here.
Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ warm-up, click here.
First Horse Inspection, click here.
Thanks to Absorbine for our coverage of the 2023 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final, including rider interviews, competition reports, photos, videos and more!