Swedish magic in Mechelen

  • Sweden’s Rolf-Goran Bengtsson scorched to victory in the seventh leg of the FEI World Cup Jumping series in Mechelen, Belgium recently.

    Course designer Lucien Somers set a tough 13-fence test for the riders, including upright planks as the third element of the treble at fence 10, which proved influential.

    The first clear came from Belgium’s Maurice Van Roosbroeck and Le Coup C, who set the home audience alight from second slot. Clears then proved hard to come by until Hubert Bourdy followed suit for France, 11 horses later.

    The class looked like it might be a two-horse race until, with just four left to jump, Dirk Demeersman and Jos Lansink strengthened the home advantage with two more clear performances. A foot-perfect run from Rolf-Goran Bengtsson brought the total number into the jump-off to five.

    Rolf-Goran, who was riding the nine-year-old Dutch-bred Mac Kinley, formerly competed by Italy’s Gerry Smit, said about the course: “The oxers were big and wide with some tricky distances making it quite difficult in the first round”.

    First to go in the jump off, Maurice Van Roosbroeck completed with seven faults after lowering a fence and collecting three time penalties, while Hubert Bourdy also left the door open with his carefully executed performance from Eve des Etisses who broke the beam in 45.29sec.

    Dirk Demeersman steered Clinton home for Belgium in 42.74sec to take the lead and when Jos Lansink and AK Zandor Z shaved almost a full second off that target a home win looked very likely indeed, but Rolf-Goran had other ideas.

    “I knew Jos and Dirk were really fast and I didn’t know if I could be quicker but I decided to give it a try. I was a bit lucky when the horse stumbled but he always tries to give his best every time and we recovered and kept going on to win” said Rolf-Goran.

    Individual bronze medallist at the European Championships in Arnhem two years ago, Rolf-Goran’s sights are now set on Athens. “I have three good horses to ride right now so I am hopeful” he said.

    FEI World Cup leaderboard

    1, Jos Lansink (BEL) 57;
    2, Eric Van der Vleuten (NED) 51;
    3, Marco Kutscher (GER) 50;
    4, Helena Weinberg (GER) 47;
    5, Michael Whitaker (GBR) 45;
    6, Thomas Velin (DEN) 43;
    7, Ludo Philippaerts (BEL) 42;
    8, Peter Wylde (USA) 38;
    9, Bruno Broucqsault (FRA) 36;
    9, Malin Baryard (SWE) 36.

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