Steve Guerdat won tonight’s second leg of the Longines FEI World Cup jumping final in Las Vegas. He sits joint first in the overall classification ahead of Sunday’s closing round.
Six riders reached the jump-off, as predicted by course-designer Anthony d’Ambrosio, and the USA’s Beezie Madden jumped the first clear on Simon, recording a time of 33.31sec. Dutch rider Steve managed to shave fractions off her target, finishing in 32.87sec on Albfuehren’s Paille.
Only the USA’s Rich Fellers could go ahead of Steve on the 19-year-old Flexible, but he had the first fence down, to gasps from the crowd. He finished fourth tonight, but sits equal first in the overall classification with Steve.
“My plan was to make up as many points as possible tonight — I wasn’t really focused on winning today but on the overall picture,” said Steve. “I knew Rich would be faster than me so my plan was just to catch Beezie. If I go a bit faster my mare doesn’t get hot for the next day and she responded very well, so I’m pleased.”
The Americans fielded four of the top six riders tonight and Lucy Davis took third. As the second rider to start the jump-off she made a bold bid for glory, including taking the inside turn to the final fence, but it didn’t quite come off and the fence fell.
“I planned to go for it a bit,” she said. “I was in 16th place going into today, so there was no room to be conservative. I tried to go as fast as I could without totally unravelling my horse for Sunday and I’m pleased as I think I’m now in a good place for Sunday [equal eighth].”
Bertram Allen still in the hunt
Young Irishman Bertram Allen, who won yesterday’s speed class, remains very much in the hunt, sitting third overall. He had the final element of the troublesome treble down in the first round today with Molly Malone V, so missed out on the jump-off, but as the fastest four-faulter he took seventh place.
The legendarily complicated World Cup final scoring system converts the riders’ points from yesterday’s speed leg and today’s jump-off class into faults, which are carried forward into Sunday. Steve and Rich start on zero faults, with Bertram on one.
French rider Penelope Leprovost is fourth on five faults, with the USA’s Beezie Madden, Belgium’s Jos Verlooy and Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs tied for fifth on six.
On Sunday, the top 30 riders jump in the first round, then the top 20 after that take on the second course. A jump-off can follow if there is equality after these two performances.
“It comes down to clear round jumping now, unless there is a jump-off,” said Beezie. “A lot can happen on Sunday and there is usually a lot of movement. I’ll try to think of it as a seperate class and jump a couple of clear rounds.”
Check back on www.horseandhound.co.uk for more updates from the World Cup final. Full reports in H&H out next Thursday (23 April).