Outsider claims World Cup jumping qualifier

February 23, 2009

Scandinavian riders dominated the World Cup showjumping qualifier at Gothenburg at the weekend.

Three Scandinavian idols were in the jump off of four combinations, two of them were from Sweden. The crowd went wild when Svante Johansson and his small, energetic stallion Saint Amour came out best and pressed Thomas Velin into second position.

Sweden's Svante Johansson and Saint Amour jump to victory. © Remco Veurink/FEI
Rolf-Goran Bengtsson completed the Scandinavian carnival in third place, Alvaro Miranda gave the Swedish leg of the Rolex FEI World Cup competition a touch of Brazilian temperament, delivering the fastest time, but knocking down two fences.

Not many people had Svante Johansson's name on their list. Yet the ambitious Swede and his very competitive horse already had shown their ability to win a big class. "No famous names of horses and riders today," said the winner after receiving the coveted Rolex watch.

"I have no idea why a lot of top combinations didn't make it to the jump off. This was what I really have been hoping and training for! Winning a World Cup qualifier in front of my home crowd, that's one of the best things that can happen to me."

To Svante Johansson the Rolex FEI World Cup competition in Goteborg was the focus of his indoor season, not the final in Las Vegas. "I went to a small competition in Zwolle, Holland, in the beginning of January, because I wanted to go to Amsterdam and after that I wanted to do well in Goteborg. Saint Amour is a small horse, he can't jump the biggest classes every weekend. I want to keep him happy and confident, so I have to vary his agenda. I never intended to try and qualify for Las Vegas, the European championships in Windsor are my goal for 2009."

In a small, but absolutely thrilling jump off, Thomas Velin had to set the pace. Straight after him, without having seen his opponent, came in Svante Johansson. Saint Amour, a true son of the famous Grand Prix sire Stakkato, fiercely fought his way through the jump off, attacking every fence, improving the result of Velin and Godsend du Reverdy. The pressure was too much for Alvaro Miranda, who gave everything with Ad Picolien Zeldenrust, but ended up with eight faults. The second Swedish favourite, Rolf-Goran Bengtsson, had to settle for third place when his scopy stallion Quintero la Silla had a rail down.

So, only four combinations tackled the big and tricky course leaving all poles in their positions. Being on the last part of the starting list, top riders such as Meredith Michaels, Albert Zoer and Gerco Schroder knew they would benefit even if they would have a rail down. A fast four fault round would also yield World Cup points. Strategic riding by Albert Zoer and Gerco Schroder resulted in 10, respectively 9 points, consolidating top positions for these two Dutch riders.

Edwina Alexander was overtaken by Albert Zoer, when Isovlas Late Night had two refusals in the triple combination.