Spain’s Sergio Alvarez Moya and Carlo returned to top form to win the tenth leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2014/2015 Western European League series at Zurich in Switzerland.
The grey gelding had not been showing his usual sparkle over the winter months, but with his 30-year-old rider in determined mood, he out-galloped the Irish partnership of Bertram Allen and Molly Malone by one-tenth of a second for a convincing victory.
Just 7 qualified for the jump-off, and it was the Irish pair who were the ones to beat despite clears from both Sweden’s Rolf-Goran Bengtsson and Casall ASK who had to settle for third and Penelope Leprevost and Flora de Mariposa who lined up fourth. Host nation representatives, Martin Fuchs (PSG Future) and Romain Duguet (Quorida de Treho) filled fifth and sixth places, while team world champion, Maikel van der Vleuten from The Netherlands, finished seventh with VDL Groep Verdi.
Big and difficult
The first-round course presented by Swiss designer, Gerard Lachat, was big and difficult, requiring a lot of lengthening and shortening of strides and with tall verticals all the way. Duguet was first to leave all the timber intact, and Fuchs was next, despite a massive stand-off at the final oxer with PSG Future.
Ridden off an awkward bending line, and immediately following the testing triple combination (vertical, oxer, vertical) at fence 12 which took a huge toll, the last fence proved a bogey for many of the 40 starters who arrived on a bad distance only to make their sole error there. Among its victims were The Netherlands’ Gerco Schroder with Glock’s London and World No 2, Germany’s Ludger Beerbaum riding Chaman. Allen, however, ensured he was well within the 64-second time-frame so he could provide his brilliant little 11-year-old mare with a more generous approach, while Leprevost’s lively mare also bounced home cleanly.
Bengtsson and Casall ASK made it all look quite elementary, but Moya’s first run was considerably less smooth as he admitted himself afterwards. Having successfully negotiated the two big oxers down the long side of the arena at fences 7 and 8, Carlo arrived really deep to the 1.60m Longines vertical at fence 8. But he wriggled his way up and over, showing just how positive he was feeling. “He tried so hard for me!” his delighted rider later said.
Duguet’s stallion was another tryer, and in the jump-off he put in a monumental effort to clear the new oxer at fence 15 from a long way off when first to go. But despite negotiating the following double successfully, the pair finished on 4 faults when the penultimate oxer, formerly fence 6, hit the floor. And when Fuchs‘ gelding hit the first element of the double then the door was still wide open for the remaining five.
Allen and Molly set off with their usual gusto, making a supremely tight turn to the double and galloping home to record the first clear in 39.48 seconds, and that was always going to take some beating. Leprevost opted for caution, leaving all the fences in place but over 5 seconds slower, and Bengtsson gave it his best shot, falling short of the young Irishman’s target-time by more than a second however.
Then Moya set off, and from the outset he looked like he meant business as did Carlo who seemed to relish the challenge with an attitude he has not shown all season. Jumping and turning seamlessly, the pair cleared the penultimate oxer and, where Allen had taken 9 strides to the last, the Spanish rider urged his horse forward on 8 to land fractionally ahead and seal the deal by less than a tenth of a second. Last to go, Maikel van der Vleuten’s 8-fault effort with Verdi would prove no threat.
A reflective Sergio Moya said later “our poor results were not his (Carlo’s) fault for the last few months. My head was not focused on the sport as much as it should have been, but that’s changed now and we are riding together again with great confidence. When you don’t have good results you try to change things, and that isn’t always the right thing to do, so we went back to our old ways and now we are jumping really well together again!”
For further information on the tenth leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2014/2015 Western European League series in Zurich, Switzerland visit www.mercedes-csi.ch. The next leg will take place at Bordeaux, France on Saturday 7 February 2015. For details of the French fixture visit www.jumping-bordeaux.com.
For the full rankings, go to the FEI rankings.
Source: fei.org, Text: Louise Parkes, Photo: FEI/Karl-Heinz Freiler