FEI World Cup, USA: all the attention turns to Wellington for the penultimate leg.
With the qualifying from the Western European Division now over, all the attention from the world of show-jumping is focused on the American Division, in which there is still plenty to play for.
The CSI5* Wellington in Florida takes centre stage this week and will be hosting the penultimate leg of the FEI World Cup. 372 thousand dollars in prize money is up for grabs in the World Cup GP scheduled for Saturday. The final qualification leg meanwhile is in Ocala from the 18th to 22nd of March.
Todd Minikus currently leads the standings on 81 points followed by Jack Towell on 71. In third place we find McLain Ward on 61 points, the same amount as Leslie Burr-Howard.
Laura Kraut is fifth with 57 points, the same points total as Kirsten Coe while Beezie Madden, after a brilliant start in which she was one of the leading riders with McLain Ward (1st place with Simon at the World Cup leg in Lexyngton, 3rd place with Simon in Washington and 5th place with Cortes C’ in Toronto), has fallen slightly behind and is in 7th with 56 points. This is also partly due to her decision to rest her extraordinary mount Cortes C’ ahead of other upcoming events.
To continue, the young Katie Dinan is just 1 point behind, Richie Moloney is in 9th place with 54 points and Candice King rounds off the top 10 with 53 points.
As we edge ever closer to Saturday and to add to the excitement, Todd Minikus has brought his new rising star of the show-jumping world to the attention of fans, rivals and the media: Babalou, also known as Babalou 41, a female Oldenburg sorrel that comes from Two Swans Farms and is the daughter to none other than the great Baloubet du Rouet. The pair recently won in emphatic style the GP at the CSIO4* Wellington worth 150 thousand dollars last week, finishing ahead of a top-pair like Beezie Madden and Simon (second) as well as Meagan Nusz with Dynamo (third). If that wasn’t enough, the pair also rode to victory in the Nations Cup.
Babalou, 10 years of age, is close to making that necessary step forward in its career and the signs lately have been there. Minikus has spoken about the progress made by the horse recently, revealing how much it has matured in recent years. No longer does it suffer from tension and nervousness and the horse is able to maintain the right level of calm and concentration during competition as the latest results testify.
Beezie Madden has also expressed her satisfaction with her mount. Even if she was unable to win with Simon (Mr.Blue), the mount showed great form despite its advancing years (16). Madden added that the horse still has the same desire to compete of a younger and more motivated performer. Madden knew it was never going to be easy to beat the time set by Todd Minikus, a rider that when he puts his foot down on the accelerator is unstoppable.
Another big name in the American Division of the World Cup is McLain Ward. He is currently third in the overall rankings and has so far enjoyed a successful World Cup season with his mount Rothchild, an Oldenburg gelding owned by Sagamore Farms. In the first part of the tournament, they won the Toronto leg in November and obtained a second place finish in Lexyngton in October.
There have also been some other good results with another talented mount at his disposal: HH Carlos Z, also known as Carlos van het Parelshof Z, a 13 year-old Zangersheide gelding and son to the legendary Chellano Z. Born in Belgium, the horse was paired with several European riders, Annelies Vorsselmans, Nicola Philippaerts and Emilie Martinsen, before making its way to the USA and with Nicholas Dello Joio and then McLain Ward. With HH Carlos Z, McLain Ward won the Washington leg in October and another important leg of the Furusyyia FEI Nations Cup in Wellington last month.
Laura Kraut is also one to watch from the American Division and she has two very respected and admired performers in the form of Cedric and Andretti. With the former, a 17 year-old grey, she recently won the CSIO4* Ocala GP that took place in February and the Wellington World Cup leg in November. With Andretti she finished 9th and 5th in the Lexyngton and Washington legs of the World Cup in October.
Here is the starting order below for the latest stage of the FEI World Cup for the American Division: http://pbiec.coth.com/classes/Detail/cid/143599
source: WEF Equestrian Worldletter/fei.org