Swiss upset in last World Cup jumping qualifier

March 23, 2009

A lesser-known Swiss rider upset the big guns in the final qualifying round for the Rolex FEI World Cup competition.

"It's always nicer to beat Marcus Ehning and Michael Whitaker than somebody nobody knows," said Daniel Etter after winning the final leg in 's-Hertogenbosch. The big smile on the face of Etter, son of the famous horse dealer Gerhard Etter, said it all when he added: "Maybe now people know me."

Magali Dubois Vaucher from Rolex presents Daniel Etter with a Rolex watch after his win in 's-Hertogenbosch. © Ronald Veurink/FEI
The Swiss rider was already qualified for the Rolex FEI World Cup final and completed a successful indoor season winning the prestigious European final in's-Hertogenbosch. Etter could not overtake Gerco Schroder, who didn't make it to the jump off at Indoor Brabant but nevertheless won the Western European league. Etter took second position in the Western European league, leaving Marcus Ehning and Edwina Alexander tying for third.

Etter was the big surprise of the 13th and final leg of the Rolex FEI World Cup competition. Having the likes of Ludger Beerbaum, Steve Guerdat, Michael Whitaker and Marcus Ehning for competition, Etter was not the biggest name on the list. But in show jumping any top rider can win a top class anytime.

The last leg of the Western European World Cup competition was a classical show jumping thriller. Building up to a climax, the 7000 spectators enjoyed a repetition of riders beating the best time, the last rider being the winner. Daniel Etter really fought his way to the finish, stepping up the gas in the first long line, cutting corners in sharp turns and racing to the last diagonally placed oxer.

With a jump off containing two long lines, this competition did not seem to suit Michael Whitaker's top horse Portofino. The 15 year old Dutch bred mare does not have a big stride, but she is hard to beat in sharp turns. Yet, Michael Whitaker kicked her on in the long lines, Portofino jumped as well as ever and secured the 15 points Michael needed in order to qualify for Las Vegas. "That was all I aimed for," said Michael, who ended up 19th in the Western European league. Portofino is a feared competitor in World Cup finals, time and time again she proved to be very successful. In her present form she can really do well, competing in her sixth FEI World Cup final.

Not quite sure of her place in the final is Christina Liebherr. The Swiss rider had a terrible fall in the class preceding the World Cup competition. In the jump off, the son of World Cup winner Libero H gave his rider a hard time cutting turns, but fourth place was a fantastic result. Cristina Liebherr may go to Las Vegas, depending on the number of qualified riders who decide not to participate in the final.

Jos Lansink and Jessica Kurten will not go to Las Vegas, their places will be taken by Geir Gulliksen and Rolf-Goran Bengtsson. Christina Liebherr wil need a third qualified rider declining to jump in the final.

Ludger Beerbaum proved that he can do without his Olympic horse All Inclusive. Denis Lynch competed the Arpeggio offspring in 's Hertogenbosch. Beerbaum rode one of the other horses of his string, Coupe de Coeur, to 5th place, securing his ticket to Las Vegas.

Already qualified, Steve Guerdat rode Tresor to 6th place. Jeroen Dubbeldam made the Dutch hearts beat faster. His new horse BMC Van Grunsven Whisper showed all the potential of a championships horse, taking 7th place. Leon Thijssen, together with Max Kuhner and Denis Lynch on the reserve list for Las Vegas, ended up 8th aboard his scopey gelding Olaf.


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