It’s a wrap. Simone Blum (GER) aboard her 11-year-old chestnut mare DSP Alice just made history as the first female to win the individual jumping crown at a WEG.
Cool and calm under all the pressure in the world, the 29-year-old came home with just a single time penalty to win and finish the entire championships with no jumping faults. She was the last of the top 12 to go and had 4.21 in hand. The time was proving a challenge over the very clever Alan Wade (IRE) designed course. Again he introduced even more for riders to think about at maximum height and width.
Nine nations were represented in that final round, with three from the United States and two from Switzerland. The remainder of the field hailed from France, Australia, Sweden, Columbia, Italy, Austria and Germany. Mid field Carlos Enrique Lopez Lizarazo (COL) and Admara notched the first clear of the session but picked up a single time fault, as did the very popular McLain Ward (USA) aboard Clinta. But then came a stunning clear inside time from Steve Guerdat (SUI) and Bianca – the only combination to do so. Fellow countryman Martin Fuchs and Clooney followed and while they were also clear, they had two time faults. Max Kuhner (AUT) and his lovely grey stallion Chardonnay took two rails and picked up time. It was all down to Simone, who was on debut at WEG.
Later she said she wasn’t even sure what she had in hand and was just going for a clear. “It is better for me,” she said. It left her with a final tally of 3.47 penalty points. She congratulated silver medal winner Martin who finished on 6.68 penalties and bronze medallist Steve on 8.
And she played down her “first lady to win the title as part of the World Equestrian Games” crown. “I am the world champion, ok . . . but for me it doesn’t matter if it is woman or man, we are the same. It is perfect . . . really today was a perfect day. I cannot describe my feelings. It is unbelievable.”
She felt Alice had jumped “really great” the whole week. “She had no fault in the five rounds. I think that is really unbelievable and she was jumping all rounds very good. She is so careful. She has the biggest heart and I think this week she knew that she can win the hearts of all.”
She thought her horse had understood the occasion and wanted to win today. “She felt so great and was jumping her heart out for me. It was amazing. I know if I ride her good she will normally never take a pole and that is why I had a very good feeling . . . but it was a difficult course.”
Martin and Steve were equally as proud of their mounts. Martin’s Clooney had overcome colic surgery to make WEG. “It has been a very emotional year,” he said. “I was very worried about him and very happy how he came back and that he is better than ever before. It is my first world championship and it’s not too bad.”
He too had a good feeling about his horse throughout the championship. “Today in the warm-up he felt great before going into the final round.”
He didn’t think too much about the time allowed because he knew he could have a time fault and still be in front of Steve. While he had hoped Simone would take a rail, he said she was a well-deserved world champion as she was “far away from even touching a pole”.
Bronze medallist Steve Guerdat said he had hoped to give his mare Bianca the medal she so deserved. “I am just so proud of her and so happy that today the world can see how special she really is,” he said. “She has all the quality in the world but the most amazing thing with her is that she loves jumping. She loves what she has to do. Every time she sees a jump, she wants to not just jump it, but fly over it and she give a feeling which I cannot describe. She just is very special and I am so honoured and blessed to share my life with an animal like this.”
As a side note to Simone’s win, many will remember Gail Greenough who catapulted herself into showjumping history when she won the 1986 world championship in Aachen (GER), before the New World Equestrian Games were launched in Stockholm in 1990.
For full results, head to www.tryon2018.com
By Diana Dobson, NZ team media liaison
Photos by Libby Law Photography