Paris, France – April 13, 2018 – Although the second round of the 2018 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final fell on Friday the 13th, luck was on Beezie Madden’s side once again as she claimed back-to-back wins with Breitling LS in phase two of the championship.
Thirty-six athletes returned to the AccorHotels Arena to contest over Spain’s Santiago Varela’s first round course, which saw nine finish fault-free over the 14-obstacle serpentine. The time-allowed also proved to be a challenging factor in the first round as six fell short of qualifying for the jump-off with 1 time fault.
France’s own Kevin Staut and Haras des Coudrettes’ Silver Deux De Virton H D C were the early double-clear pathfinders of the jump-off, leading the way in 36.87 seconds. However, just two rounds later, the Netherlands’ Harrie Smolders and Emerald, owned by Axel Verlooy and Eurohorse BVBA, galloped around the short course to take over the lead by three seconds in 33.44 seconds.
Madden (USA), Thursday’s big winner during the first phase of competition, was last to go in the jump-off with Abigail Wexner’s 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion (Quintero–Armonia, Acord II). Despite the pressure of returning on Friday as the championship’s current leaders, the pair kept their cool and confidently completed all seven efforts to blaze through the timers in 33.22 seconds and steal the win from Smolders, who finished in second.
Henrik von Eckermann (SWE), who finished third in the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final in 2017, rounded out Friday’s top three with Toveks Mary Lou, owned by GT Elite Scandinavia AB. They jumped double-clear and finished the jump-off in 33.92 seconds.
The champion of the 2018 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final will be crowned on Sunday, April 15, following the third and final round of the competition, which will begin at 2 p.m. (8 a.m. EST). At the conclusion of Friday’s second round, points were awarded to athletes based on their finishes throughout the first two rounds, which were then converted into penalties that will be carried into Sunday’s final round. The third phase has two rounds, with the top 30 athletes returning for the first round. The 20 best-placed athletes following round one will move on to the second round and the athlete with the lowest number of penalties after all three competitions will determine the overall winner.
At the end of Friday’s second round, the overall standings remain with Madden in first place with 76 points and zero penalties. However, Eckermann is not far behind in second place with 68 points and 4 penalties. The USA’s Devin Ryan holds on to his third place position overall from phase one with 63 points and 6 penalties, while reigning World Cup Finals champion, McLain Ward, sits in the fourth place position, tied three ways, with 59 points and 8 penalties.
Fellow American Jamie Barge had a standout evening with a double-clear jumping effort aboard Luebbo, a 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Kylie Co.
To see the full list of the overall standings after phase two, click here.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Beezie Madden – Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final II winner
On winning the second round of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final:
“I am so happy it’s gone this well so far. I’m taking it in stride. I thought I had a shot to do well when I brought him here and so far he has gone beyond expectations. Hopefully he can hang on through Sunday!”
On Breitling LS’ performances on Friday:
“My horse feels amazing and he’s made my job easy. If it looks easy, it’s probably to his credit because every time I call on him he does exactly what I want. He’s careful, he’s clever and I couldn’t ask for more. He’s always been a good horse by nature — super temperament even though he’s a stallion. He’s figured out his front end and that’s been key for him. He’s always been careful and scopey.”
On being four points ahead after Friday’s second round:
“It’s always nice to have a rail in hand, but we’re really only halfway through. We’ve done two rounds and a jump-off and we might do that again on Sunday so a lot can change. I just hope my horse stays in good form and I stay in good form and keep jumping clear rounds.”
On her performances on Friday:
“It’s unbelievable! I have a great horse. I love him so much and he always tries so hard for me so I’m really proud. I feel like we were a little bit better prepared this year than we were in Omaha last year. We practiced indoors the week before and that helped a lot because the turns feel like they come up so much quicker. I thought I had a good jump-off plan and he jumped clear — maybe not super fast — but I’m confident going into Sunday.”