eusser Daniel (GER) – Cornet D Amour winner of the Longines FEI World Cup Photo: Dirk Caremans/FEI
After, what can only be described as an incredible season for Daniel Deusser and Cornet d’Amour, it seems that this incredible team, who won the 2013 German Championships as well as the 2013 IJRC Top Ten Final, just to name a few, can add the 2013 FEI Longines World Cup Grand Prix of Mechelen to their long list of accomplishments. Finishing off the 2013 season in the best possible way, this combination is without a doubt, one of the most exciting ones to watch for the 2014 season.
From a starting field of forty horse-and-riders, only four combinations had what it took to jump Lucien Somers’ tough first-round track clear. Today’s runner-up was Sweden’s Jens Fredricson with his veteran partner, Lunatic, while Spain’s Pilar Cordon finished third with Nuage Bleu. Last to go against the clock, 2000 Olympic champion Jeroen Dubbeldam from The Netherlands retired after lowering a fence with Zenith, but this nine-year-old gelding is clearly one for the future. Australia’s Edwina Tops-Alexander did well to play the percentage game with Ego van Orti whose single first-round time penalty was good enough for fifth place ahead of the fastest of the four-faulters – Great Britain’s Joe Clee and Diablesse de Muze.
Today’s competition was one in which every inch of the arena had to be ridden to perfection in order to be successful. “I expected more clears, but it was a long, tough course and the time was tight. It was the kind of course where you had to totally concentrate from the first fence to the very last” said the winning rider this evening.
The arena at the Nekkerhalle in Mechelen, Belgium is long and narrow, thus presenting a particular challenge to both course designers and riders alike, not to mention the horses.
The first two fences caught out some combinations early on in the course. The triple-bar at eleven put many horses on the forehand, thus creating somewhat of a struggle for control leading to the penultimate oxer along the edge of the arena. And with five short strides to the final planks, control of pace and balance was critical at the very end.
Jens Fredricson earns first clear round…
The crowd at Mechelen had to wait patiently for the first rider to jump the initial track clean. Sweden’s Jens Fredricson and his 15-year-old gelding Lunatic were greeted by a great cheer from the big crowd. The lovely Pilar Cordon and Nuage Bleu followed suit shortly after, delivering a clear round for Spain. However there was a long wait for the final two to join them on the jump-off start-list, Deusser and Cornet d’Amour looking in a class of their own with their usual picture-perfect round. The much-liked combination were close to the end of the class, with only three combinations remaining. Olympic gold medallist Jeroen Dubbeldam steered Zenith to a clear round, second-last to go.
The 72-seconds time-allowed was all that denied Australia’s Edwina Tops-Alexander and Ego van Orti the opportunity to contest for maximum points, but her fifth place finish has boosted her overall standings on the Western European League. The top-ranked lady rider is now comfortably qualified for the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final next April. She lies third on the Western European League table after today’s result, four points behind Olympic champion Steve Guerdat from Switzerland in runner-up spot and just five points behind Longines No. 1 rider Britain’s Scott Brash who remains at the head of affairs going into the next leg in Leipzig, Germany in three weeks’ time.
Jens Fredricson led the way against the clock today, galloping through the finish line, clear in a time of 36.43 seconds. Daniel Deusser admitted afterwards that he wasn’t sure he could better the time set by the long-standing Swedish partnership.
“When you have only four clear you think – well that’s not so bad. I had a good feeling about just four, but Jens was very fast and clear. I saw him on the screen and my alarm button was already on. I thought, Oh no! now it’s going to be really hard work to beat that! But I know my horse and he can do fantastic things. I was lucky on the double vertical and I knew my horse could jump the combination very fast. There was a long run to the double of verticals and I knew he could do one stride less to that, so I think that’s where we picked up the time” he later explained.
But alas, Deusser and Cornet d’Amour shaved more than a second off the time posted by Jens Fredricson as he crossed the finish line in 35.66 seconds. Once Jeroen Dubbeldam and his up-and-coming prospect knocked a single rail to the floor, the Dutch rider sensibly retired to finish in fourth.
Daniel Deusser talks about Cornet d’Amour and his plans for 2014…
The German winner talked about his stunning gelding, who is in fact the son of the great Cornet Obolensky. “I’ve been riding Cornet d’Amour since June 2012, I took a couple of months to get to know him before we went to our first big show together in Calgary (CAN) where he jumped double-clear in the Nations Cup.”
“But then he got an injury in November so we had to stop for two months, and in the end the break was maybe good for him because he came back out in February to win the Grand Prix at Wellington in Florida. We’ve had a great year in 2013 including finishing fourth in the Grand Prix of Aachen!” the rider happily pointed out. The elegant pair also claimed the German Championship title at Balve this year before taking team silver and fifth place individually at the PSI FEI European Jumping Championships in Herning, Denmark in August.
Describing Cornet d’Amour, Deusser said, “he likes to present himself in front of the crowd. In the warm-up he is totally relaxed, but he loves to know that people are watching him and when he comes into the arena he always grows a little – he likes to show off!”
Daniel was particularly pleased about today’s win because it is essentially on home ground. He lives in Mechelen with his girlfriend, Caroline Wauters; the eldest daughter of the late Belgian jumping star Eric Wauters in whose memory the hugely popular annual fixture is staged.
Deusser recognised today’s victory as an important watershed in his career and said it has influenced his plans for 2014. “At the beginning it was not my goal to go to every World Cup show and try to qualify for the Final, but my other horse has grown so well in the last few months and this horse is in great form. So now I must consider whether I should try to get to the Final. I’m planning to go to the US in February – this has always been part of my plan. We went last year and it worked out really well” he explained.
“Cornet d’Amour is jointly owned by Stephan Conter of Stephex Stables and Hunter Harrison from America. Stephex Stables is a very big sales centre for horses so it is great that, thanks to these two people, I now have two great horses for myself to ride so I can really make a plan and get to the good shows. It costs a lot to have horses on the road, and grooms and show expenses so, once in a while, it is great to get to keep some good ones!” he said appreciatively.