Bruno Broucqsault became the first Frenchman to claim the title of FEI World Cup Jumping Champion in Milan yesterday. Powered by the sheer brilliance of his 13-year-old gelding Dileme de Cephe, he snatched victory from under the nose of German Meredith Michael-Beerbaums (pictured) with Shutterfly.
The stage had been set for a particularly exciting conclusion to the competition, when Michael-Beerbaums and Broucqsault ended Friday’s second final competition sharing the top of the leader board.
Course-designer Uliano Vezzani had posed some tough questions over a course with difficult distances and big fences, and only seven clears in the first round of the second final produced a nail-biting atmosphere.
Yann Candele of France produced a big, bold clear on Mill Creek Sweet Dream, while America’s Laura Kraut, whose Anthem had put in an unexpected stop at the double water trays on Thursday, re-found her form.
Rolf-Goran Bengtsson ensured Sweden had a place in Friday’s final, while Meredith and Shutterfly put in a solid performance. Montender was elegance incarnate in the hands of Germany’s Marco Kutscher, and Ludo Philippaerts of Belgium on Parco made it all look very easy. Broucqsault, on the other hand, was less stylish, and almost parted company with Dileme de Cephe along the way.
In the jump-off, Laura Kraut and Rolf-Goran Bengtsson both had eight faults, and remarkable recorded exactly the same time of 38.26. Philippaerts and Parco failed to beat Yann Candele’s time of 36.58, and Montender knocked two down for eight faults.
Broucqsault kept Dileme de Cephe in a lovely rhythm to beat the winning time by 00.03, and Michael-Beerbaums, last to go, took no chances and decided to play it safe rather than risk all, finishing in third, to share the top of the leader table with Broucqsault.
Sunday’s final took its toll on horses and riders alike, with only four combinations completing the first track without penalty.
American Richard Spooner held on for a clear after his fellow American, Laura Kraut, suffered the indignity of coming unstuck at the first fence. Other first round clears were Michael-Beerbaums, Broucqsault and France’s Eugenie Angot on Cigale du Thallis.
In the second round, the pressure began to take its toll. Richard Spooner, now in seventh, collected 12 faults. Cigale du Thallis hopped his way round for Eugenie, moving up to a creditable fourth place and putting pressure on Markus Fuchs, who was in third but stood to lose all with the slightest error. He rode a weary Tinka’s Boy to a crafty and cautious clear, retaining his third place.
Broucqsault was second last to go. Dileme tapped the first, and looked as if he could have made a mess of the fifth, but gave it all he got to leave Michael-Beerbaums in the hot seat. She had had an immaculate weekend, but a huge jump over the previous oxer left Shutterfly out of synch for the first element of the double, which came rattling down.
“I have to say that the problem really occurred at the oxer before the planks that we hit — Shutterfly gave an unbelievable jump over the oxer and the crowd made a loud gasp — he is very sensitive to sound and pulled me past the correct distance to the planks,” Michael-Beerbaums explained.
This unfortunate mistake cost them the title, and Broucqsault and Dileme de Cephe’s unfaltering performance under immense pressure won them, most deservedly, the FEI World Cup Jumping final.
Broucqsault was understated in his response to his brilliant win: “I’m just still little Bruno, nothing changes. I am very happy. When I came here, I hoped to finish in the top five, but I never expected to win so I want to thank everyone who has helped and supported me here.”
Michael Whitaker and Handel II were sharing seventh place with Eugenie Angot going in to the final leg of the competition, but dropped Final results
1, Bruno Broucqsault (Dileme de Cephe) FRA 0;
2, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (Shutterfly) GER 4;
3, Markus Fuchs (Tinka’s Boy) SUI 8;
4, Eugenie Angot (Cigale du Tallis) FRA 9;
5, Marco Kutscher (Montender) GER 13;
=6, Juan Carlos Garcia (Albin) ITA;
=6, Malin Baryard (H&M Butterfly Flip) SWE 14.