Super Schwizer Seizes Third Round Victory For Switzerland at Lyon by Louise Parkes

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Pius Schwizer and Verdi III put in a stunning jump-off performance to take maximum points in the third leg of the Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2012/2013 series in Lyon, France

Switzerland's Pius Schwizer and Verdi III on their way to victory in the third leg of the Rolex FEI World Cup™ 2012/2013 series at Lyon, France. Photo: FEI/Kit Houghton

“This was a tough class, Frank (Rothenberger) didn’t make it easy for us and the competition was top level so I’m very pleased about my win today”

Switzerland’s Pius Schwizer swept to victory with Verdi in the thrilling third leg of the Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2012/2013 Western European League series at Lyon, France this afternoon. The big guns were out in force today including a heavyweight line-up of home runners, but Frank Rothenberger’s course saw just seven of the 40 starters go through to the second-round jump-off.

France and Switzerland were each represented by two riders in the race against the clock, but it was the Swiss who came off best when the ever-more-impressive partnership of Paul Estermann and Castlefield Eclipse slotted into third behind Belgium’s Ludo Philippaerts and Challenge vd Begijnakker.

“I’m very happy”, said Schwizer who has had to ask the 10 year old gelding Verdi to step up to the plate since his top ride, the mare Carlina, was sold earlier this year. “This was a tough class, Frank (Rothenberger) didn’t make it easy for us and the competition was top level so I’m very pleased about my win today”, he pointed out.

A Little Lenient

It seemed the German course designer might have been a little lenient when two of the first three to enter the ring - Philippaerts and legendary Frenchman Michel Robert - returned with a clean sheet, but it was simply a case of the cream coming to the top at this early stage of the competition.

The course demanded control of pace and accurate steering as well as a keen eye on the clock. Three riders missed out on the jump-off when picking up just a single time penalty, including three-time Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping champion Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum from Germany riding Bella Donna.

Rothenberger started them out over a vertical and then stretched them down a long five strides between the second, a triple bar, and the third, an oxer, before testing their control with a right-hand turn to the vertical at fence four. The vertical at six fell on numerous occasions as riders fell foul of the short three-stride distance from the previous oxer, but it was the triple combination at fence eight that proved most influential, with 11 horse-and-rider partnerships penalised there.

However, as the class unfolded, riders seemed to become fixated on the need to make a careful approach to the tight final double at fence 13. And Germany’s Ludger Beerbaum and Chaman were surprise victims here, the horse ducking out at the first element, having produced an otherwise copybook round. Sweden’s Malin Baryard-Johnsson got into a muddle earlier on the track with H&M Tornesch who had already left two fences on the floor before finding the snaking line from the vertical at nine to the white oxer at fence ten a bit too confusing. They pulled right-handed here before continuing on to complete with 16 faults. And Frenchman Roger-Yves Bost and Castle Forbes Myrtille Paulois, winners of the previous leg of the Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping series in Helsinki two weeks ago, retired at this same spot when finding themselves completely offline on the ride down to fence 10.

Against the Clock

Philippaerts led the way against the clock and really put it up to them with a confident, cruising round that saw his 10 year old Zangersheide gelding break the timers in 40.53 seconds. The French crowd got behind their hero, 63 year old Michel Robert as he set off next with his charming 10 year old Kannan mare, Oh d’Eole, whose enthusiasm for her job is undeniable. With two down however, it was left to the remaining five to challenge the Belgian, and Estermann gave it his best shot with the mare Castlefield Eclipse who has brought the 49 year old rider right to the top of the game.

Their clear in 41.58 seconds was always going to keep them competitive, but when Spain’s Manuel Anon and Rackel Chavannaise produced a lovely clear but were more than two seconds off Philippaert’s target time the result seemed to be wide open.

And that it was, as Frenchman Kevin Staut showed when next into the ring. He had spotted a shortcut which would bring him inside the first fence so that he could make a much tighter line from from fence five to fence seven at the halfway stage of the jump-off track. But he got it a little wrong. “At the first turn in the jump-off I lost a lot of time so I decided to take this option - Michel (Robert) told me it was possible - but I found a bad distance to the oxer at seven” he explained, after his game mare, Silvana, chested the fence before continuing on to finish with just those four faults in what would turn out to be the fastest time of the day, 39.14 seconds.

Full report at

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Louise Parkes
Fédération Equestre Internationale
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