Martin Fuchs and Leone Jei prey on EC medals: “He was fantastic”
The first day of the EC jumping in Milan has concluded. As luck was not on the side of the Dutch riders today, KWPN horses made a significant contribution to the team result of their respective country. Reigning European team champion and individual vice-champion Leone Jei jumped an impressive round under Martin Fuchs. They claim the second position on the intermediate rankings.
As any international championship, the first day was full of thrills and spills. The speed class demanded short turns to set a fast time, though that of course increase the chance at mistakes. The top 10 features no less than three Swiss and two Swedish riders. Sweden is currently in the lead, followed by Switzerland and Germany. The best KWPN horse of day one was Baltic VDL-son Leone Jei (out of Dara ster prest IBOP-spr PROK by Corland, bred by G.M. van Mersbergen of Udenhout).
“I am incredibly happy with the performance of Leone Jei. He was fantastic and already gave me a great feeling at the warm-up. I am had a clear plan when I entered the ring. Wherever possible, I wanted to reduce the strides without taking too much risk. By now, he has a lot of experience at the highest level, allowing me to ride the course like I wanted and planned to.”
The powerful grey encountered no problems in the grass arena of Ippodrome Snai San Siro. Fuchs left out one stride both before and after the water jump. “That’s only possible for a horse with such huge canter strides as Leone. This way I could make the best of his big canter.” The resulting time of 72.53 seconds secured them the second place.
Rein in the energy and temperament
In the course Leone Jei seems unfazed, but the experienced horse gets somewhat excited when entering the ring. “Entering the arena at a championship is one of the most difficult aspects with Leone. I try to keep him as relaxed as possible. I also take my time for the warm-up, I don’t let him work too much, but rather a bit longer and I try to keep him as relaxed as possible here, too. It’s all about reining in his energy and temperament, so he can use all that power to jump the big courses.”
Focused on Paris
Fuchs is clear about his goals: “This was only the first round of five, so our focus is on the team championship. We want to defend our title and secure that ticket for Paris. We have had a fantastic season so far, so we try to keep that up and bring it to a successful conclusion.”
Iliana in sixth place
Besides the superb results of the Swiss titleholders, Henrik von Eckermann showcased he was crowned World Champion for a reason. Albeit aboard a different horse than King Edward, but the Cardento-daughter Iliana (out of Destiny vb by Gentleman, breeder J.A.M. Bocken of Weert) did not disappoint. The combination ranks sixth after the first day, despite a rail down early on in the course. Thanks to a quick time, to which the four penalties were added, Eckermann and Iliana place high in the intermediate standings that is currently topped by the Swedish team.
On Thursday at 13.15 hours the second qualification for individual riders and the first leg of the team competition commences. The team championship final is scheduled for Friday. All participating KWPN horses, the timetable, starting lists and results can be found in the special media guide.
Photo Leone Jei: Dirk Caremans