Mill Spring, N.C. – Sept. 23, 2018 – The ultimate day of show jumping took place Sunday at the FEI World Equestrian Games™, with the best-performing partnerships over the first three rounds of competition returning for their final chance at the individual world championship title. Separating themselves from the original pack of 124 as the only duo to impressively navigate five rounds without dropping any rails over four days of competition, Simone Blum and DSP Alice of Germany emerged victorious to capture the gold medal. At only 29 years old, Blum can now add this exclusive distinction to her list of accolades, the only female rider to win the individual jumping title at a World Equestrian Games. The victory made a special week that much sweeter, as she already won team bronze earlier in the week and owns the horse on which she won, the 11-year-old mare DSP Alice. Martin Fuchs and Steve Guerdat, both from Switzerland, nabbed the silver and bronze medals, respectively.
When Blum and DSP Alice entered the ring as the final of nearly 400 rides completed over the entirety of the competition’s timeframe, they had a helpful advantage with exactly 4.21 points separating them from the pair holding the top spot at the time, Switzerland’s Fuchs and Clooney, who had just edged out counterparts Guerdat and Bianca. Knowing that she had a rail in hand but not a rail and a time penalty, Blum expertly and carefully directed DSP Alice around the lofty pattern, clearing every fence and tripping the timers with a mere time fault, the only penalty earned over the course of the entire week, to send the audience into an uproar and solidify her status as the new world champion.
Blum has a heart-warming backstory behind her win and relationship with DSP Alice, the fiery chestnut mare that carried her to a new career highlight. No stranger to horse sport, she was born into a family of horsemen, as her father Jürgen competed at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics in Eventing. With her win Sunday in addition to her new team bronze medal, two generations of family members can now stake claim to world titles, with Blum’s list already including top international showings that include the silver medal in the 2015 German Women’s Championships, the gold in 2016 at the same event and the victory in the 2017 German National Championship during her first year competing against the men. Four years ago, DSP Alice was found at the age of nine by Blum’s soon-to-be husband, Hans-Günter Goskowitz, and the pair will be married next month, adding a personal celebration to a growing list of equestrian successes.
Kicking off the morning in the U.S. Trust Arena, the top 25 pairs fought past the fatigue of three days of upper-level jumping in the hopes of clinching one of the top 12 spots on the scorecard to gain entry into the final phase. Course designer Alan Wade (IRL) presented contenders with a 16-effort route that only five horse-and-rider combination successfully mastered of the original field. Carlos Enrique Lopez Lizarazo (BRA) and S.A.S. Haras Des Grillons’s Admara laid own the first clear of the day to jump from 25th place all the way into eighth position, and their performance was soon mirrored by Laura Kraut (USA) and Zeremonie, who crossed the finish line to thunderous applause from the hometown crowd.
The day one leaders Steve Guerdat (SUI) and Elias Stud Farm’s Bianca added their names to the callback list as the third pair to leave the course intact, followed by teammates Martin Fuchs (SUI) and Luigi Baleri’s Clooney. Last to ride over the initial track, owner-rider Simone Blum (GER) and DSP Alice impressively completed their fourth consecutive clear trip of the week to retain their status at the head of the leaderboard. The only combination to make it to the finals that was not on a team, Max Kühner and his own Chardonnay started the day in second position overall, and clung to that spot headed into round two despite a time fault.
In total, nine nations appeared in the final contest. Proving why they deserved the team gold medal that was earned earlier in the week, the U.S. team qualified three pairs within the top 12, more than any other nation. Laura Kraut and Old Willow Farms LLC’s Zeremonie led the way for the Americans in sixth place headed into the last phase, followed by McLain Ward and Clinta, the horse he co-owns with Sagamore Farms, just fractions of a point behind in seventh position. The world championships newcomers Adrienne Sternlicht and Starlight Farms 1 LLC’s Cristalline have already had what is perhaps the highlight week of their competitive career as part of the medal-winning team, and rode their way into the finale with a 12th place slot. The only other country represented more than once in the closing round was Switzerland, thanks to Fuchs and Guerdat and their third and fourth place rankings.
Forcing the returners to prove that they merit the recognition as the best in the world, Wade constructed an only slightly shorter track for the day’s second phase, this time with 15 fences set at 1.65m in height serpentined around the ring. Riding in order of reverse standings, the first four to go each clipped at least one rail, followed by two entries that left all the rails up but accrued a time fault, Lopez Lizarazo aboard Admara and Ward with the reins on Clinta.
Throughout the final test, it became clear that the tight time allowed would be another obstacle for competitors to overcome, with eight of the 12 partnerships still in contention falling victim to a single time fault. Of the final 12 pairs that returned to the ring, only one managed to finish the last course fault-free, Guerdat and Bianca. Fuchs and Clooney returned to ring and incurred just 2 faults, but it was Blum and DSP Alice with the standout performance of the day. Finishing with just a single time fault over the challenging track the duo proved themselves on the world stage to capture the world championship title.
Sunday’s festivities conclude equestrian action at the Tryon International Equestrian Center, with the FEI World Equestrian Games™ coming to an end following two weeks of spirited competition across eight disciplines. More than 1,000 high-performance horses from across the globe, along with their elite human athletes, took center stage to vie for the top honors in their respective sports, and the best of the best are leaving with a new claim to a coveted world championship title.
Rider / Country / Horse / Table C / Round 1 / Round 2 / Round A / Round B / Total
1. Simone Blum / GER / DSP Alice / 2.47 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 1 / 3.47
2. Martin Fuchs / SUI / Clooney / .68 / 4 / 0 / 0 / 2 / 6.68
3. Steve Guerdat / SUI /Bianca / .00 / 4 / 4 / 0 / 0 / 8.00
4. McLain Ward / USA / Clinta / 1.08 / 1 / 4 / 4 / 1 / 11.08
5. Carlos Enrique Lopez Lizarazo / COL / Admara / .81 / 6 / 5 / 0 / 1 / 12.81
6. Max Kuhner / AUT / Chardonnay / 2.97 / 0 / 0 / 1 / 9 / 12.97
7. Lorenzo de Luca / ITA / Irenice Horta / 1.19 / 0 / 4 / 4 / 5 / 14.19
8. Fredrik Jonsson / SWE / Cold Play / 3.23 / 4 / 0 / 5 / 5 / 17.23
9. Alexis Deroubaix / FRA / Simon d’Aure / 3.38 / 4 / 1 / 4 / 5 / 17.38
10. Laura Kraut / USA / Zeremonie / 1.87 / 8 / 0 / 0 / 9 / 18.87
11. Adrienne Sternlicht / USA / Cristalline / 4.26 / 1 / 5 / 4 / 6 / 20.26
12. Rowan Willis / AUS / Blue Movie / .31 / 8 / 0 / 4 / 8 / 20.31
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Simone Blum – FEI World Equestrian Games™ Jumping gold medalist
On being the first female winner at WEG in jumping:
“I’m so grateful to be here. I cannot describe my feelings — it’s unbelievable. I’m world champion as the first woman. For me, it’s not about whether it’s a woman or a man. To me we are the same. It’s perfect, really today was a perfect day.”
On her rounds:
“Alice jumped the whole week really great. She had no faults out of five rounds – I think that’s really unbelievable. She’s so careful, she’s always fighting and she has the biggest heart. I think this week she knew that she can win the hearts of the world. I think she really wanted this win today because she fought so great and was jumping her heart out for me and was amazing.”
“I’ve had Alice for four years. My fiance, who I will marry in four weeks, found Alice, and he is the most wonderful man in the world for me. It’s because of him that I’m standing here. I grew together with Alice; she was a very special horse. I think hard work pays off. She was always very special and very, very good and this week she showed her biggest talent and so I’m very, very proud of her.”
Martin Fuchs – FEI World Equestrian Games™ Jumping silver medalist
On his experience:
“It’s my first world championship and it’s a great feeling to be here on the podium. I’m riding one of the best horses in the world – he’s proven it over the years. We were missing an individual championship medal. This year, the year started really good with a grand prix win, but then unfortunately he had colic surgery. He recovered really well from that but it’s been a very emotional year and we were worried about him. We’re very happy how he came back and that he’s better than ever before.”
On his rounds with Clooney:
“I had a really good feeling with Clooney throughout the whole championship. Today during the warm-up he felt great before going into the final round. He jumped brilliant, and then afterwards I was watching my friend Max [Kuhner] who had a fault, which meant that I stayed in the lead. Then watching Simone, obviously I would’ve hoped she would knock a rail down so I could be world champion but she was far away of even touching a pole and that’s why today she is the world champion.”
Steve Guerdat – FEI World Equestrian Games™ Jumping bronze medalist
On his performance with Bianca:
“My biggest pride today is for the horse. We had a few championships where I think she jumped better than any other horse, but we had one down and I got home a bit disappointed because I really wanted to give her an opportunity she really deserves. I thought it was going to go the same with clear, and she was jumping amazing since the beginning of the week. She touched two fences the whole week that came down in the Nations Cup, so I tried to keep it together today. I’m just so proud of her and I’m so happy that today the world can see how special she really is.”
On the continuation of the World Equestrian Games:
“Maybe it’s better that three or four different places or organizers can concentrate on one or two specific disciplines and make the best out of it. The World Championship can stay the World Championship. I’d rather be in a World Championship in an amazing place where it’s just about show jumping or dressage. I think it would be easier for everybody.”
McLain Ward (USA) – 4th place individually
On his second round:
“I thought she was brilliant. She jumped the same both rounds. I could have used a little bit of fortune in the first round, but she jumped brilliant and she came to these championships amazing. The main goal was reached. It’s a little bittersweet not to be in the medals individually, but I’m thrilled with Clinta. I’m proud of this team and it was a great championship for us. I think with a little good fortune, this mare is going to win a gold medal in Tokyo. She’s on the way up.”
On when he realized Clinta had the potential for a championship:
“I always hoped she could do it. I knew she had the quality and was an incredible trier. With the ease that she has jumped this very big championship, I couldn’t be more proud of her and I’m excited. I know that we can do a little bit better over the next year or so — there is always something you can take from it and improve on. I think she is going to come out of this stronger and better than she was coming into it.”
On the course:
“It’s as big as I’ve ever seen it. It’s huge. It just shows the level [of the sport]. The people 15 years ago, you would’ve gotten one clear over this and now there are so many good ones, so well-schooled, so well-seasoned and just one star after another at this level.”
Laura Kraut (USA) – 10th place individually
On preparing for the final after Friday’s team medal:
“I’m still so happy. I have to toughen up. Nick [Skelton] always says, ‘You’re too kind to them. You’re too nice.’ This morning, I really had to make a conscious effort to say ‘You’re going to have to dig in and really make her perform today,’ and thankfully I really didn’t have to.”
On her second round:
“I had to ask a lot of Zeremonie. It was hot and difficult. She’s had a super week, I think. We have a gold medal and I made it to the top 10. Right now, I just couldn’t be happier for her, it’s her first championship and she came through great.”
On the U.S. performance:
“I don’t know many championships where four riders make it on the final day, and then to have three in the final 12 was great. That just goes to show we had a really great week and Devin was 16th, so four riders in the top 16, that’s really incredible out of 124 starters. We have a lot to be proud of.”
Adrienne Sternlicht (USA) – 11th place individually
On her performance:
“All I wanted to do was perform for Cristalline out there and give her the best ride that I could. I have never-ending gratitude to my horse for bringing me here. Just to be here, I don’t even know what to say. All I have is love for my horse. Every course I jumped here has been the biggest course I have ever jumped in my life. The plank was significantly taller than me. I didn’t really have much time to walk the course, I walked around once. I had to trust myself, trust my eye and trust my horse because she jumped first in a course like this.”
On making the top 12:
“Walking up here for the final round, I said thank you to Robert Ridland for giving me this opportunity. McLain told me that he had to push for me a little bit harder than he ever let on. The top 12 was never in the realm of possibilities in the world that I was living in, but I knew my horse could certainly make the top 25 if I just left her alone and didn’t get in her way. I don’t know what else to say but thank you to my amazing animal.”
Devin Ryan (USA) – 16th place individually
On his performance in the first round:
“Eddie Blue felt great. He made a huge effort over the whole course. It was a little bit of rider error and we took that vertical for granted, and he just was taking me at it a little bit. We were playing tug of war towards it and he got a little too close to it, which made him work a little harder. The whole course made him put forth a huge effort. Until the last jump you could feel his power and scope and that he was still fresh. Overall, I think I had a consistent week. My horse had one down in every class, but I think that consistency says a lot about a horse. It was nice to be here and not have any big hiccups in my ride.”
For full results, click here.