The first leg of the World Cup Final is a tough one to sum up. Of course there were some brilliant rounds, but there was also true heartbreak and a lot of frustration. The course itself was quite lovely, 1.50m in height, but built with a lot of width on the oxers and long distances. Some horses made it look like a walk in the park, while others struggled. This is expected, but the surprisingly part is a couple of paris who fell in the latter category.
Lets get the heartbreak over with so then we can end on a good note.
Rich Fellers and Flexible’s drive for a second World Cup title came to an ugly, gasp worthy end. Rich and Flexible are fine physically, but I think there will be some mental anguish in replaying what went wrong. They were having a fabulous round in their typical style, Flexible galloping nicely and slicing through corners, until the last double combination, 3 jumps to go on course. They came out of the corner and the distance just didn’t happen. Flexible tried to jump the first of the double, took it down, and then was really left with no option other than to refuse the second element. Now, I hate this word and never thought I’d use it, but I’m gutted for them. Finishing the first leg in 34th place, there will not be a repeat win for them in Gothenburg.
If that wasn’t hard enough to watch, another very high profile pair met the same problem. Currently the world’s #1 ranked rider, Christian Ahlmann came around that same corner in an otherwise win-worthy round and, once again, the distance just didn’t happen. Taloubet refused, and they would be left in 25th place.
Now let’s move onto the frustration.
The rest of Team USA faired better, but a number of great rounds were ruined by the final couple of fences. McLain Ward and Super Trooper (10th), Charlie Jayne and Chill RZ (11th), Reed Kessler and Cylana (13th) all had a late rail, and Kent Farrington and Uceko (16th) were perfect until the final two fences! If I’m frustrated, I can’t imagine how they are feeling.
Finally, let’s talk elation!
Katie Dinan and Nougat du Vallet, a poised clear for 9th place. How great is that?! Katie and Nugget looked fantastic, and although they were conservative on the clock, they couldn’t have produced a smoother round.
And then there is Beezie and Simon. The round looked kinda slow to the eye, but Beezie rode it with typical precision and Simon jumped from some pretty tough places that would have left a lesser horse with a refusal. Their result? First place in a time of 62.28 seconds! What makes it even more impressive is that they did it from the middle of the order! Woohoo! Although it may be over (the chance of winning) for some of the American pairs, Beezie has two great horses (Simon and Cortes) that could very well take her to the win.
You can watch a video of Beezie’s round here.
For complete results you can click here, and if you have an FEI TV subscription, the second leg (with a reputation to be big) goes tomorrow at 12:25 EST.
Fingers crossed for Team USA in the second leg!
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