Britain’s Robert Smith has won the FEI World Cup Qualifier at Olympia for the third time in a decade. Partnering the impressive grey Kalusha, Smith jumped two flawless rounds to finish first in the 37-strong line-up.
Last night’s Santa Stakes winner, Germany’s Alois Pollmann-Schweckhorst jumped a speedy round on Candy 195, to finish just 0.64 sec behind Smith with world number one Marcus Ehning and Sando Boy in third.
Olympia’s FEI World Cup Qualifier is the sixth out of 12 qualifiers in World Cup Jumping’s Western European League. Guilerme Jorge’s technical track caught out many top class combinations. Only eight riders made it into the jump-off, including Britain’s Robert Smith, John Whitaker and Ben Maher. Germany’s Marcus Ehning, Alois Pollmann- Schweckhorst and Markus Beerbaum were joined by Ireland’s Jessica Kurten and Switzerland’s Beat Mandli.
Ben Maher was trailblazer in the jump-off and produced a beautiful clear in 38.29 sec. But this was soon to be trumped by Beat Mandli, Marcus Ehning and Robert Smith. John Whitaker and Jessica Kurten each clocked up four penalties leaving Markus Beerbaum as the only threat to Smith’s crown. But the German notched up an unfortunate four penalties, proving Smith’s time was unbeatable.
Smith was delighted with Kalusha’s performance. “Today he jumped really well, he’s back on song. To win in front of the home crowd is great,” he said afterwards. But Kalusha is not always an amenable ride: “He is a bit of a funny horse,” Smith admitted, “Sometimes he doesn’t want to do it so he stops – and he’s old enough to know differently.” Runner-up Alois Pollmann-Schweckhorst was full of compliments for Candy; “The mare gave 100%,” he remarked.
Smith’s victory has propelled him into fourth place on the FEI Western European League rankings. Beat Mandli is the current leader with world number one Marcus Ehning in second and Gerco Schroder in third. But with another six competitions to go before the final in Kuala Lumpa, Malasia (26-30 April 2006) there is still everything to play for.
Alois Pollmann-Schweckhorst, currently sixth in the FEI rankings is well aware of the pressure: “I’ll be jumping in the Netherlands in 10 days time in order to lose no chance to get points,” he remarked.
For full results visit: www.olympiahorseshow.co.uk
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