ph. Stefano Grasso/LGCT
There has been superb competition across the globe during the FEI World Cup Jumping 2014/2015 season, with action taking place in 15 different leagues, many of which have now concluded.
Now invitations and qualifications are being processed for the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final 2015 in Las Vegas, USA, which gets underway on 14 April. And although not all the winners from every league will be there, the series has once again provided the perfect platform for developing horse and rider partnerships.
Amongst the leagues that have drawn to a close, the most recent is the Arab League which concluded recently with victory for Saudi Arabia’s Abdullah Al Sharbatly. Starting out in Tetouan (MAR) last October there were 13 legs across Morocco, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, and Al Sharbatly recorded a double of victories on home turf in Riyadh in December and was runner-up on four other occasions to clinch it.
The 32-year-old rider, who trained early in his career with British Olympic team gold medallist Peter Charles, and who sprang to prominence when claiming individual silver at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2010 in Kentucky, USA finished a full 10 points ahead of Qatar’s Bassem Hassan Mohammed in second place and Sheikh Ali Bin Khalid Al Thani, also from Qatar, in third. A total of 81 riders took part in this series, with 63 collecting points.
Katie Laurie (previously Katie McVean) reigned supreme in the New Zealand League at the end of January, and it was an emotional roller-coaster for her throughout the series. At Mystery Creek horse show in Hamilton in November she steered Dunstan Kiwi Iron Mark to victory and was presented with the Gavin Pike Memorial trophy, donated by her parents Jeff and Vicki McVean, in honour of Vicki’s brother.
The last of the six legs took place at Waitemata at the end of January and it came down to a two-way tussle between Laurie and Helen McNaught-McFarlane. Laurie was last to go in the jump-off against the clock and could not afford a mistake if she was to win both the qualifier and the FEI World Cup™ New Zealand title.
And she did it with a great clear from the horse that was owned by her friend, Melanie Purcell, who died of cancer three years ago. Melanie had great hopes and dreams for Iron Mark, and Laurie couldn’t hold back the tears when she realised that her friend’s great ambitions will be realised with an appearance at the prestigious Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final 2015 in Las Vegas.
In all, 18 athletes participated in this league, with 15 obtaining points.
Tim Clarke won the Australian League, despite winding up the series with an elimination at the final leg at Boneo in January when running into trouble at the triple combination. A win at Adelaide, and top three finishes at Sydney, Melbourne and Shepparton gave him an unassailable advantage at the top of the leaderboard however, so his last-leg drama didn’t affect his overall result.
It was Tom McDermott who won the final competition with Airtime ZHP ahead of Jessica Brown and Casco. But Brown was series runner-up in the final analysis with McDermott having to settle for third.
Things may have unravelled for them at the final event, but 33-year-old Clarke had even more to celebrate at the end of the series when his brilliant 13-year-old grey mare, Caltango, claimed the prestigious Golden Grand Award for the best horse of the FEI World Cup™ Jumping Australian season for the third time in four years.
A total of 66 riders took part in the Australian series, with 58 collecting points.
China and Japan
The Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping China League consisted of three different competitions that took place in Chaoyang Park, the largest park in Beijing. Last year’s China League champion, Tongyan Liu, was joint-leader with Daniel Zhao after the first two legs, both having clinched a win and a second placing. But Liu didn’t line out at the final competition, leaving Zhao to claim the spoils with another good result.
There were 28 riders in action in this league, with 26 picking up points.
The Japan league took in six legs between April and November 2014, with two competitions staged in Osaka and one each at Chiba, Nasu, Fuji and Miki along the way. And it was a back-to-back victory for Tae Sato whose brothers, Eiken and Kenki, have both competed at Olympic level.
Tae is quite the horsewoman, contributing to Japan’s Eventing team silver medal-winning performance at the Asian Games 2014 in Incheon, Korea last September. The 26-year-old rider clinched the FEI World Cup™ Jumping Japan League title with a great win aboard Vrouwe Toltien at M
In all, 27 athletes competed in this league, with 22 collecting points.
Source: Louise Parkes/FEI