Results from the first vaulting competition at Caen’s Zenith arena at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France, indicate that the championships are going to be hard-fought affairs.
Squad compulsory test
In the Team Compulsory rounds, the scores are within just 0.1 mark of each other in the top three. The Austrians, their steady and reliable horse Alessio I Amabile, came out on top while demonstrating incredible elevation and control throughout.
Austria’s solid performance gave them the lead of 0.021 marks over the German team whose horse, Delia 99, broke into trot for the sixth member of the team as he was going into the Stand element of his compulsory test. Switzerland gave their usual slick and powerful performance to slot into third place on a score of 7.757.
A total of 17 nations are competing for the world championship title this week. The venue is a theatre designed by Jacques Millet and Claude Renouf which opened in 1993. It has staged concerts featuring many major stars including Leonard Cohen and has also hosted the Cuban National Ballet.
With state-of-the-art sound and lighting equipment, the 7,000-seater stadium has already proven a huge hit with Vaulting enthusiasts who roared support for their chosen teams throughout today’s competitions.
German Chef d’Equipe, Ulla Ramge, was full of praise for the venue. “This is the best arena we have ever had for our sport,” she said.
Finishing in a creditable ninth place out of the 17 teams was the New Zealand squad, in the country’s team WEG vaulting debut. The squad made its entrance into the arena accompanied by the 1980s NZ number one song, Poi E, by the Patea Maori Club, and moving into Dave Dobbyn’s Loyal. The Kiwis are vaulting from Ikarus 267, a horse borrowed from the club of their German coach, Verena Fiess.
It was a historic day for Canada, too, as it was also the first time the country has had a full squad at a World Games. They finished the day 12th overall.
Their equine team member was Bankey Moon, an eight-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding the squad leased from Becca Hewit of Great Britain for the Games. Hewit was also the Canadian Squad Lunger.
In the Womens Individual Compulsory test, current European champion Rikke Laumann from Denmark, once again on board Ghost Alfarvad Z and accompanied by lunger Lasse Kristensen. They topped the table with a score of 8.453 after a magnificently controlled test, showing huge elevation throughout.
Closely following Rikke is Great Britain’s Joanne Eccles with her veteran campaigner W H Bentley. Eccles had one slight error on the landing of her Forward Scissors element but otherwise put in an exuberant and flowing performance to sit on a score of 8.35. Sitting just 0.05 marks behind is Swiss vaulter Simone Jäiser on Luk, who split the judges scores at C and D by 0.6 and 0.8 marks respectively, which was enough to push her down into the third spot at the end of day one.
The Female Individual competitions have the biggest entry, 32 in total, and it was Italy’s Anna Cavallaro who lined up fourth today ahead of Germany’s Corinna Knauf in fifth and America’s Mary McCormick in sixth place.
The Men’s Compulsory test was a clash of the titans, proving the strength of the competition to come. Achieving his best-ever score at international level, current European Champion Jacques Ferrari topped the scoreboard with 8.410.
The French vaulter, who was first to go on board Poivre Vert, put in the performance of his life to remain ahead of the rest of the field, displaying incredible strength and flexibility whilst maintaining control throughout. Following behind is a second French vaulter, current World Champion Nicolas Andreani on Just A Kiss HN with a score of 8.30; a heavy landing after the Forward Scissors element being the only fault to mar an otherwise impeccable round.
Current World number 3, German vaulter Victor Brüsewitz lies in third place after a slightly unbalanced performance throughout lowered his scores.
Germany’s Erik Oese finished fifth ahead of Austria’s Lukas Wacha in sixth, and it was a great result for ninth-placed Lambert Leclezio from Mauritius who was representing his country for the first time at world championship level thanks to FEI Solidarity funding.
Andreani has big ambitions this week and is thoroughly enjoying the great venue. “I’ve never competed in such a beautiful arena before. We really are in the limelight here, and the spectators are very close which just adds to the experience,” he said.
“My friends and my whole family are here, including my grandmother Noelle who has travelled 900km to support me. As defending world champion, I would of course love to win gold at the first WEG in France – seeing a tricolore on the podium would be even better!”
Vaulting continues on Wednesday with Freestyle starting at 9.30am, while the Technical Test and first Pas-de-deux will take place on Thursday. The finals for all four events – Squad, Individual Female, Individual Male and Pas-de-Deux will all be held on Friday.
Additional reporting: Louise Parkes
Compulsory Squad: 1, Austria 7.873; 2, Germany 7.852; 3, Switzerland 7.757; 4, France 7.217; 5, Sweden 6.954; 6, Italy 6.754; 7, USA 6.666; 8, Hungary 6.562; 9, New Zealand 6.428; 10, South Africa 6.294.
Compulsory Female Individual: 1, Rikke Laumann DEN 8.435; 2, Joanne Eccles GBR 8.350; 3, Simone Jaiser SUI 8.300; 4, Anna Cavallaro ITA 8.224; 5, Corinna Knauf GER 8.110; 6, Mary McCormick 8.080; 7, Jasmin Gipperich 8.027; 8, Kristina Boe GER 7.961; 9, Elisabeth Bieri SUI 7.765; 10, Daniela Fritz AUT 7.746.
Compulsory Male Individual: 1, Jacques Ferrari FRA 8.410; 2, Nicolas Andreani FRA 8.300; 3, Viktor Brusewitz GER 8.216; 4, thomas Brusewitz GER 8.144; 5, Erik Oese GER 8.106; 6, Lukas Wacha aut 7.971; 7, Lukas Heppler SUI 7.915; 8, Vincent Haennel FRA 7.901; 9, Lambert Leclezio MRI 7.801; 10, Adam Lukac SVK 7.741.