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Lock, stock and barrel from Lorenzo De Luca at the FEI World Equestrian Games 2018, while the Swiss team retain their lead after the second qualifier

Thursday, 20 September 2018
FEI World Equestrian Games 2018

 Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson Italy's Lorenzo De Luca and Irenice Horta have taken the lead at the FEI World Equestrian Games 2018. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

The second team and individual qualifier at the FEI World Equestrian Games 2018 Bank of America Jumping Championships had it all, including an individual shake-up that saw Italy’s Lorenzo De Luca rise to the top as second last to go in the competition. Despite Team Italy already being eliminated as he entered the ring, De Luca gave it his all on Stephex Stables’ Irenice Horta (Vigo d’Arsouilles x Diamant de Semilly) to surprisingly snatch the lead from home hero McLain Ward and Clinta (Clinton x Lord Pezi). 

Individually, the excitement of the competition was limited to the very last part of the class – where the overnight headliners stepped into the ring at Tryon after seven hours of competition that counted a total of 122 riders on the start list. 

Placed fourth overnight when entering the ring as no. 105 to go, expectations were high for Germany’s Marcus Ehning and Pret A Tout (Hiram Chambertin x Stew Boy) that only carried 0.37 penalties forward. However, it surprisingly fell apart for the couple towards the very end of the course and they had to add eight faults to their score. 

The German maestro was one of many that could not answer the questions asked by course designer Alan Wade today. Just like on Wednesday, it was a long track that waited for the riders – fourteen fences overall, this time set at 1.65m – and in the end only five riders managed to deliver clear rounds, with an additional four recording a time fault only. The clears came from Germany’s Simone Blum, Austria’s Max Kühner, Ireland’s Cian O’Connor, Sweden’s Peder Fredricson and Italy’s Lorenzo De Luca. Germany’s Laura Klaphake, USA’s Adrienne Sternlicht and Swizterland’s Janika Sprunger showed off some serious girl power when recording a time fault only and were followed by USA’s McLain Ward who also exceeded the time allowed. 

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson The incredible Clinta and McLain Ward sit second for USA individually. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

Faults spread out everywhere over Wade’s track but like on Wednesday it was a double that was one of the real heart breakers as 13ab fell again and again as the penultimate challenge. The open water also caused plenty of trouble when following a tall, skinny peach-coloured upright, with several riders struggling to get a good distance coming in. However, it was the last part of the course that seemed to take its toll on the horses – with an oxer-vertical on four short strides at jump nine to ten claiming its fair share of victims, before the bogey at 13ab waited two fences later and then a tall upright placed close to the in-gate where the horses seemed to drift to the left towards the exit. 

It was Germany’s Simone Blum leading the way as USA’s own McLain Ward entered the ring as no. 106 to go. Aboard the incredible athletic mare DSP Alice (Askari x Landrebell), Blum jumped an early clear round to stay on her overnight score of 2.47 penalties and in the lead throughout the majority of the class before the world no. two got to work. 

Although slightly out of their comfort zone at the double of 13ab – like so many others – the magnificent pair of Ward and Clinta managed to keep their cool to add a time penalty only, going into the lead on a score of 2.09 overall to wild cheers from the home crowds who released their breath as the two crossed the finish line. 

 Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson Peder Fredricson and H&M Christian K sit third for Sweden after the second qualifier. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

Two riders later, it was reigning European Champion Peder Fredricson’s turn. Riding H&M Christian K (Namelus R x Calvados), the Swedish world no. seven showed off his horseman skills to pilot the 11-year-old gelding to a clear round and slotting in behind Ward on his overnight score of 2.16. 

One of those who could not follow was world no. one Harrie Smolders from the Netherlands, who had to see an unfortunate foot in the water aboard Don VHP Z (Diamant de Semilly x Voltaire). Sitting third from Wednesday, Australia’s Rowan Willis and Blue Movie (Chacco-Blue x Pilot) fell down the ranks after eight faults and also Brazil’s Pedro Veniss on the magnificent Quabri de l’Isle (Kannan x Socrate de Chivre) had to see a silly rail fall on the innocent oxer at no. eight. 

With five left to go, it seemed like the biggest threat to Ward would be overnight leader Steve Guerdat and Bianca (Balou du Rouet x Cardento). But, when the 12-year-old mare clipped a pole on the vertical at ten the pair dropped down – giving their lead away. 

Hopes were now high that Ward would go out on top ahead of Friday’s third qualifier and team final, but Lorenzo De Luca wanted to script if differently. Like a Sunday morning walk in the park, De Luca took the grey 10-year-old mare around the fourteen-fence track – making it look deceptively easy – crossing the finish line on a clean sheet to keep on his score of 1.19 and robbing the hosts for a win in the very last minutes of the competition. 

 Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson The Swiss team are still on top after two rounds of competition: Here Steve Guerdat and Bianca. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

Guerdat might have had four faults, but the Swiss team have kept their lead from Wednesday’s first qualifier – sitting on top of the team standings on a score of 11.64 penalties. Less than one fault away is the hosts, as USA sit second on 12.59. Third is Germany on 18.09, fourth Sweden on 20.59 and fifth the Netherlands on 24.35 – meaning it’s less than two poles separating the first and third placed teams ahead of tomorrow’s final that count ten countries in total.

 


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