Beezie Madden strengthened her position in the Longines FEI World Cup Final by winning tonight’s jump-off class in Paris (Friday, 13 April).
The US rider was one of nine to jump clear in the first round and then finished 0.22sec ahead of her nearest rival in the jump-off.
Competitors can swap horses in the World Cup final but Beezie stuck with her winning mount from yesterday’s speed leg, Abigail S Wexner’s Breitling LS.
“My horse feels amazing and if it looks easy, that’s really to his credit,” said Beezie. “Every time I call on him he does exactly what I want — he’s careful and clever. I couldn’t ask for more.”
Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann now holds second in the overall standings after claiming third tonight on Toveks Mary Lou.
The Netherlands’ Harrie Smolders took second tonight on Emerald and holds equal seventh overall.
The USA’s Devin Ryan, third yesterday, was unlucky to have a time-fault in the first round today on the nine-year-old Eddie Blue. He retains third in the overall listing.
The top 30 competitors progress to leg three of the final on Sunday. Their placings in the first two legs are translated into penalties which they carry forward to leg three. Beezie starts on zero penalties and has a fence in hand over Henrik, who starts on four, with Devin on six. Sunday’s contest involves two rounds and potentially a jump-off.
“It’s always nice to have a rail in hand, but we’re really only halfway through,” said Beezie. “I hope my horse and I stay on form and keep jumping clear, but a lot can change.”
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Britain’s riders both had an unlucky fence down in the first round tonight but move forward to Sunday, with Michael Whitaker in 15th (17 penalties) and Robert in 21st (20 penalties).
Michael and Jayne Bean’s JB’s Hot Stuff took down the front rail of the oxer at fence 13, which followed a three-stride distance from another spread.
“The mare jumped unbelievably but you need a bit of luck — she just touched one fence and it came down,” said Michael.
Robert rode his mother Clare and Mandy Hall’s Catwalk IV, who lowered the front bar off the spread fence at 12.
“It’s just a shame, one of those things. She was jumping good really,” said Robert.
Check back over the weekend for more World Cup final news and don’t forget to pick up next week’s magazine for a full report from Paris.
For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.