America had success in the first leg of the Rolex FEI World Cup jumping final in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands yesterday (19 April).
Rich Fellers (pictured) won the first round with the oldest horse in the competition – the 16-year-old Irish-bred Flexible.
He will now go into tonight’s second leg (20 April) with a two-point advantage at the top of the leaderboard.
“He’s a tough horse and so lucky for me,” said the American.
“He continues to learn and improve every year. He’s a better horse now than he was five years ago.”
Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat and Nino des Buissonnets were second and Rik Hemeryck finished third for Belgium with Quarco de Kerambars.
Thirty-seven competitors from 19 nations started in yesterday’s class but only 10 partnerships went clear over designer Louis Konickx’s course.
Guerdat said: “[The course was] very good for the start of the final, and not stupid – there was nothing to confuse the horses.”
The 2011/2012 Rolex champion will be crowned on Sunday afternoon (22 April).
No British riders are taking part in the competition because they are saving their horses for the Olympics.
1, Flexible (Rich Fellers) USA 60.26;
2, Nino des Buissonnets (Steve Guerdat) SUI 61.94;
3, Quarco de Kerambars (Rik Hemeryck) BEL 62.66;
4, Ulysse (Pius Schwizer) SUI 62.84;
5, Silvana HDC (Kevin Staut) FRA 63.07;
6, Casall la Silla (Rolf-Goran Bengtsson) SWE 63.60;
7, Regina Z (Harrie Smolders) NED 63.67;
8, Baronez (Kirsten Coe) USA 65.76;
9, Sabrina (Marcus Ehning) GER 65.87;
10, Coriana van Klapscheut (Eric Lamaze) can 65.97
21, Abbervail van het Dingeshof (Denis Lynch) IRL 71.98
34, Hallmark Elite (Dermott Lennon) IRL 94.00