Equestre Internationale News
Final Promises To Be A Thriller.........
becomes the centre of the show jumping universe this weekend when,
after a season full of surprises, the 2003/2004 FEI World Cup
Jumping series reaches its climax but there are three tough
days of jumping to be completed before the new champion is crowned.
from 12 leagues around the world assemble in the Forum of Assago
for a five-day jumping festival which begins tomorrow (Wednesday
21 April) but, although there is a training session included in
the first-day programme, the final stage of the FEI World Cup
does not begin until Thursday when the first of the three deciding
jumping tests takes place.
begins with a zero score going into Thursdays competition
which is a one-round speed event and there is already much speculation
about who will take the early lead.
is, of course, an open book but relatively unknown riders have
been known to make a big impression in this class it is
a real opportunity for up-and-coming talent to make their mark
and is so important in ensuring a good position for the latter
stages of the weekend that it tends to be a fast and furious battle
against the clock. This is a slightly unusual competition, described
in the rules as "Table C over a Table A course" which,
in effect, is a more-technical speed event over a bigger-than-usual
Fridays Table A class which includes a jump-off, points
are converted into penalties to decide the line-up for Sundays
Grand Prix in which horses and riders will have to dig deep into
their reserves of energy and ingenuity to stay on top.
FEI World Cup series celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2003 and,
historically, the Western European, American and Canadian league
riders have dominated so far.
from the USA have recorded the biggest number of wins 7
in all while Austria is next in line with four victories,
three achieved by Hugo Simon who was first crowned champion in
the inaugural year of 1979 riding the enormous gelding Gladstone
and the fourth by Thomas Fruhmann who headed the line-up in 1992
with the aptly-named Genius.
Great Britain, Brazil and Canada have notched up three successes
each while Switzerland and Holland had cause to celebrate on one
occasion but it is the legendary partnerships which are best remembered
when looking back over the years. Combinations like Americas
Conrad Homfeld and the handsome grey stallion Abdullah who floated
over his fences to take pole position in 1985, the remarkable
Ian Millar who was subsequently nick-named Captain Canada after
heading the field with the colossal Big Ben in 1988 and 1989 and
the much-loved partnership of John Whitaker and that king-of-all-show-horses
Milton who sparkled for Great Britain in 1990 and again in 1991.
all their star qualities however none has ever matched the superiority
of Rodrigo Pessoa who recorded all three of those Brazilian victories
in consecutive years between 1998 and 2000 with the brilliant
Baloubet du Rouet. And, incredibly, the 15 year old stallion has
put Rodrigo back on course to make it a record fourth win when
catapulting his rider into a comfortable qualifying spot in this
seasons series with convincing victories at the qualifying
legs in both Bordeaux and Paris this Spring.
can Rodrigo re-write the history books yet again? At 32 years
of age he is already following in the footsteps of his father,
the living legend Nelson Pessoa. Rodrigo is one of the best-respected
competitors on the circuit and has two Olympic team bronze medals
from both Atlanta and Sydney to his credit, while Italy has been
a very happy hunting ground for him too. It was at the World Equestrian
Games in Rome in 1998 that he set the show jumping world on fire
with a magnificent performance with Lianos Z to take the World
Title, so he should be feeling very much at home as he heads for
Milan this week.
however he has learned one of the most important lessons of equestrian
sport always expect the unexpected and learn to live with
it when things dont work out the way you planned.
his win in Bordeaux he said "you get some show jumping classes
in which everything comes together just right and this was one
of those, but there are plenty of times when it doesnt work
out that way you just have to be happy when it does".
This philosophical attitude however has not dulled his hunger
for success and, along with the rest, he will come out with all
guns blazing when the bell rings for him in Thursdays opening
is the first time for Italy to stage the Final in the 26-year
history of the FEI World Cup series. This country, with its
proud tradition of horsemanship, has produced many of the sports
great champions like Raimondo and Piero DInzeo, Mancinelli
and Orlandi and the Italian crowds will be out in force when the
action gets seriously underway on Thursday. The arena at the Forum
of Assago, a modern venue on the outskirts of Milan, has a seating
capacity for 12,000 spectators and they are destined for a feast
of good jumping and great competition as the temperature rises
in the closing stages of the 2003/2004 FEI World Cup Jumping series.