It was a total whitewash for the home side in Mechelen, Belgium tonight when Dirk Demeersman, Jos Lansink, Judy-Ann Melchior and Patrick McEntee filled the top four places in the seventh leg of the 2006/2007 FEI World CupÂ™ Jumping series. This was a first-ever World Cup victory for 42 year old Demeersman who claimed the winners prize of a brand new Land Rover car after leading the seven others a merry dance in the eight-horse jump-off with a great speed round from the 10 year old gelding Tymoon Caloo Meerchen.
Lucien Somers has been designing courses at the Nekkerhal Arena in Mechelen for 25 years now and, once again, came up with a track that asked plenty of questions. “Big and difficult, with a few strong combinations” was the winner's description of today's test to which only a select few found the correct answers.
Demeersman was fourth into the ring in the opening round to show the way however, and Brazil's Alvaro Miranda de Neto was next to do likewise with Ad Laguina when thirteenth to go. Then two more Belgians joined the clear-round brigade when Patrick McEntee riding Ever Mury Marais Z and Jos Lansink with his 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games super-star Cavalor Cumano were foot-perfect in quick succession. Norway's Tony Andre Hansen has been increasingly impressive in recent months and he too left all the timber intact with a good run from his grey gelding Camiro while the last three places were taken up by the final three runners – Geneva FEI World CupÂ™ winner Steve Guerdat from Switzerland riding Tresor, Judy-Ann Melchior for Belgium with the handsome black mare Grande Dame and Germany's Christian Ahlmann riding Sinclair.
A total of eight horse-and-rider combinations finished with that ever-frustrating total of four faults to miss out on the jump-off including Holland's Jeroen Dubbeldam with BMC Up an Down and America's Peter Wylde, re-united with the great mare Fein Cera whom he partnered to take individual bronze at the WEG in Jerez in 2002.
Demeersman was first in against the clock and he had worked out his options very carefully indeed. “My horse is naturally very fast so I tried to stay clear without going too crazy but being fast enough at the same time” he explained afterwards. As it happened, his plan worked out to perfection. Having set the target with a great round in 36.81 seconds he then stood back and watched the others try to do better but, one by one, they found it just a bit too difficult to match. Alvaro Miranda de Neto brought his 11 year old mare home almost two seconds slower and with one fence on the floor but, next to give it a try, Patrick McEntee left all the fences up but trailed the leader by more than three seconds when breaking the beam in 40.87 seconds. Jos Lansink's Aachen hero, Cavalor Cumano, is sometimes more careful than quick but the spectacular jumping stallion was only just over a second off the pace when crossing the line in 38.16 seconds to slot into second spot. And that was where he remained when Tony Andre Hansen brought Camiro home in the cautious time of 42.45 seconds, Steve Guerdat beat the winning time when stopping the clock in 36.57 but dropped a fence, Judy Ann Melchior was two seconds off the winning time and Christian Ahlmann, last to go and giving it his best shot, made a single mistake while recording the quickest jump-off time of 36.56 seconds.
Demeersman was much-pleased with Tymoon Caloo Meerchen. “He is a 10 year old BWP gelding by Skippy and I have him about one year but I feel he is just coming into himself now. He has been lacking confidence when jumping combinations – he was inclined to have a little panic in doubles and triple combinations when I got him first – but he has been getting better and better over the last few months and in October we won the Grand Prix at Leeuwarden and then he was ninth in Frankfurt. I feel he is growing more confident every day” the rider pointed out.
The 20 points collected for today's victory leave the Belgian rider lying 18th on the Western European League leaderboard as the second half of the 2006/2007 FEI World CupÂ™ Jumping series gets underway, but Demeersman is unsure whether he will continue to chase points to try to get to the final in Las Vegas in April. “I had always planned to go to Amsterdam at the end of January so I think I will wait to see how I get along there and then have another look at it” he said tonight.
The 17 points earned tonight by Jos Lansink move him up to joint-11th spot with a total of 27 points to date while Judy-Ann Melchior has shot up from ninth to fourth behind Holland's Albert Zoer in third, Germany's Christian Ahlmann in second and Swiss rider Beat Mandli who maintains the lead with a total of 64 points going into the last six qualifying competitions. The eighth leg of the series takes place at Leipzig in Germany on 21 January.
Grand Prix FEI World Cup (AM5)
1º Dirk Demeersman (Bel) / Tymoon Caloo Meerchen / 0/0-36,81
2º Jos Lansink (Bel) / Cumano / 0/0-38,16
3º Judy-Ann Melchior (Bel) / Grande Dame Z / 0/0-38,64
4º Patrick Mc Entee (Bel) / Ever Mury Marais Z / 0/0-40,87
5º Tony Andre Hansen (Nor) / Camiro 19 / 0/0-42,45
6º Christian Ahlmann (Ale) / Sinclair / 0/4-36,56
7º Steve Guerdat (Sui) / Tresor / 0/4-36,57
8º Alvaro Miranda De Neto (Bra) / Ad Laguina / 0/4-38,65
9º Koen Vereecke (Bel) / Sarah de St Pierre / 4-67,4
10º Cameron Hanley (Irl) / Kerman / 4-69,49
30º Luciana Diniz (Por) / Suzie Quatro / 12-70,13
FEI WORLD CUP JUMPING 2006/2007
1. Beat Mandli – 64
2. Christian Ahlmann – 58
3. Albert Zoer – 50
4. Judy-Ann Melchior – 44
5. Gerco Schroder, Rene Tebbel – 42
7. Michael Whitaker – 39
8. Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum – 38
9. Leopold Van Asten, Steve Guerdat – 30
11. Eugenie Angot, Jos Lansink – 27
13 Markus Beerbaum, Tony Andre Hansen – 25
15. Alois Pollmann-Schweckhorst, Edwina Alexander – 23
17. Patrick McEntee – 22
18. Dirk Demeersman, Harrie Smolders – 20
20. Daniel Deusser, Malin Baryard-Johnsson, Piet Raymakers – 17.