'Inspired' Kiwi prepares for World Cup jumping final

April 28, 2011

Katie McVean and her home-bred mare Delphi head into the World Cup Jumping Final in Leipzig, Germany, inspired by Mark Todd's Badminton win at the weekend.

Katie McVean and Delphi at Spruce Meadows in Canada last year.

Interview with Katie McVean

McVean, who will represent New Zealand at the final , says Todd was "legendary" in his win, and she draws plenty of inspiration from the master equestrian.

And the 24-year-old from Mystery Creek is going to need it as she faces the best combinations in the world, representing 21 nations that compete in the 14 qualifying leagues around the globe. They are chasing the sport's biggest prize pool of €633,000 over the four rounds of competition.

Delphi has looked completely at home in her indoor starts in Europe so far, but will be tested in every way in the world's most prestigious indoor event which consists of three rounds starting on Friday (NZ time) with a speed class.

McVean opted to ship Delphi, co-owned by the McVean and Shore families to Europe in February to give her time to acclimatise, rather than rush her across after defending their Olympic Cup crown at the NZ Horse of the Year Show in March.

Instead, McVean flew in for just five days, won NZ's most important showjumping class on catch-ride Seremonie VDL, and herself was back on a flight to Europe within hours of the win.

McVean started Delphi at the World Cup qualifier at s'Hertogenbosch, Holland, where they had a couple of rails, but the horse was not fazed by the hyped indoor atmosphere - something many Kiwi horses struggle with as they do so little indoor jumping in New Zealand.

McVean and Delphi have been training with French coach Henk Nooran in their build-up.

"I'm more excited than anything going into this," says McVean, who has her eyes set firmly on making the last round of the final.

There has been plenty of talk as to whether defending champion Marcus Ehning (Germany) or Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum can secure a historic fourth victory. Just four riders have ever won the final three times, and these are the only two competing in 2011.

Ehning and Michaels-Beerbaum were members of Germany's gold medal World Equestrian Games team last year, and having the final on their own turf can only be a bonus.

Comment from Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum

The competition gets under way with the 1.55m speed class on Friday, the second qualification class on Saturday and the two round 1.6m final on Monday.

Competitors must be well-placed after the opening two rounds to make the cut through to the final, made up of the top two-thirds of the starting field.

Watching nervously from the side-line will be McVean's father Jeff, who is no stranger to competing at World Cup level, albeit a few years ago. His best finish was fifth after leading into the last day.

It is the first time in the history of equestrian sport that the world cup finals in showjumping, dressage, driving and vaulting have been held under one roof.

The event runs from April 27 through to May 1.