It was a tense weekend in Gothenburg because on Sunday and on Monday we would know who would be the new World Cup Champion dressage and showjumping of 2016. Last year Charlotte Dujardin won the World Cup Final but she declined the invitation this year. It was the Netherlands’ Hans Peter Minderhoud who fulfilled a life-time ambition when clinching the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2016 title riding Glock’s Flirt to claim the trophy and €50,000 winner’s cheque. The 42-year-old team gold and individual bronze medallist at last year’s FEI European Championships in Aachen gave it his all to earn a mark of 82.357 in front of a packed crowd in the Scandinavium Arena. The win came at the expense of home crowd favourite Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfen, who finished just 0.928 per cent adrift with Don Auriello in second place. Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and the stallion Unee B, third-place finishers in Las Vegas 12 months ago, once again stood on the same step on the podium this time around.
Hans Peter had wanted this win for a very long time. “It was really special for me”, the Dutchman said afterwards. “This was my sixth final and I’ve never been on the podium, although I was twice really close. I started off as a groom and it was always my dream to win it, so it’s very emotional. My horse is almost like a dog, you can take him everywhere. He’s very sweet and always tries for you, he’s a really good boy! I have him now for two years and when I got him he was a nice Grand Prix horse but I didn’t expect him to be a winner but he’s just getting better and better. He’s such a great honest horse in the ring, he doesn’t want to make any mistakes – you really feel that he gives just everything to you! I’ve also been riding around with not-so-easy mares and not-so-easy stallions, so it’s so much fun to have a horse like him. You can really rely on him, and that’s an amazing feeling.” Minderhoud posted the 13th Dutch victory in the history of the FEI World Cup™ Dressage series which this year celebrates its 31st Final. The last time the title went to Holland it was Minderhoud’s life-partner, Edward Gal, who claimed the honours with the much-loved stallion Totilas on home ground in ‘s-Hertogenbosch in 2010.
Swiss rider Steve Guerdat won the World Cup last year in Las Vegas and he succeeded in winning the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final for the second year in a row today. The 33-year-old rider produced two faultless rounds with the 10-year-old gelding Corbinian to claim the €172,500 prizewinner’s purse. “It’s really special”, an emotional Guerdat said. “I wasn’t really thinking I would stand here in front of you as the Final winner today. I have a really strong team supporting me, people who get up early every morning and work really hard, so I want to thank my whole team, it’s really a team victory. We all have the same goal. It’s me who’s standing here in front of you, but there are many people who should be standing here with me. It’s a team victory more than ever I think. It was important to me to ride better than last year – I won, but that was the only reason to be happy that day! I didn’t ride very well and that stays always in your head” he insisted. He was also concerned about his 10-year-old gelding, Corbinian. “I didn’t want to put too much pressure on him, I wasn’t sure how he was going to react over the championship because he doesn’t have that much experience. But he felt very good already when I rode him before the class and powerful again, after a day off yesterday. Today I thought he was really fighting with me which is not always the case. Sometimes it’s more that we are not fighting against each other but that we are trying to look for each other, and its just not that smooth. But today…it felt that the horse was really with me and fighting with me, and that gives you confidence along the course” he explained.
The Netherlands’ Harrie Smolders took the runner-up spot and a handsome pay cheque of €131,250 for today’s two rounds, while Germany’s Daniel Deusser, winner of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Final in 2014, stood on the third step of the podium and joined Smolders in hoisting Guerdat and the trophy into the air in celebration. “I was very thrilled because this was his (Emerald’s) first championship and he convinced me in every way this week“, Smolders said. ‘He’s a very attractive horse and he loves the atmosphere here. I must say it was great sport and super exposure of how our sport should be, the audience, the course designing, everything was very good publicity for our sport. Also to have this kind of money from Longines is just as it should be.” Third-placed Deusser said he had no regrets about his placing. “I made a stupid mistake on the second day and that’s why I’m third, but the sport has been really strong this weekend. When I walked the second-round course i was quite impressed, it was big! I saw Steve in the warm-up and we actually laughed and went “waaahhhhh!”. I said to him if we are still on the podium in the top three after the second round I’m happy with that, and he laughed and said ‘me too!”. In the end that’s how it finished and for me that’s a reason to be happy today!” he said.
Two Belgian riders made it to the final on Monday. Nicola Philippaerts rode his first World Cup final two years ago with Donatella-N but didn’t made it to the final day back then. Now he and H&M Forever d’Arco ter Linden were at the fifth place for a long time but in the first round of the final day he got 8 penalties followed by another 8 in the second round. He ended at the 13th place. ‘Everything went well until I made those two faults’, Nicola said. ‘Then in the second round I knew it was over after that mistake in the beginning. The last days have been excellent but when you’re fifth after two days then you want something more than a 13th place. The indoor season is over. I will be focussing on the first two competition of the Global Champions Tour in Miami and Mexico and hopefully the Nations Cups for the Belgian team.’ Team Eurohorse was very thrilled with the second place of their rider Harrie Smolders but they had a great weekend because they were the only stable with three riders competing. Audrey Coulter didn’t made it to the final round with Jos Verlooy’s former horse Domino, who was fifth with Jos last year in Las Vegas. Jos Verlooy rode Sunshine and ended on the 18th place.