March 4, 2007 - Wellington, Florida – Markus Fuchs of Switzerland made his first trip to Wellington, Florida, worthwhile by claiming the $100,000 Zada Masters Cup on Sunday, March 4, during the CSI-W Zada Enterprises LLC Wellington Masters at the Winter Equestrian Festival.
Having only arrived on American soil earlier in the week, Fuchs finished second in Thursday's $25,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round VI before winning on Sunday. His partner in both classes was La Toya III, a 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare that he has been riding for the past six years.
Sunday saw 53 challengers line up to take their chances over what was expected to be a difficult track set by Venezuela's Leopoldo Palacios. The Olympic course designer did not disappoint, with a double combination at fence 9 and a triple combination at fence 13 both causing their fair share of casualties in the World Cup Qualifier.
In the end, nine riders managed to solve the puzzle and jump a clear round. One notable exception was Canada's Darren Dlin and Catwalk who were working on a clear round when, coming over fence 11, the bridle began to slip off over the horse's ear. By the time they approached the triple combination at fence 13, the bridle had completely fallen off and was dangling in front of Catwalk's chest. Incredibly, Dlin and Catwalk still managed to jump clearly through the triple, much to the crowd's delight. There was only one fence left to go, but without any means to steer, Dlin failed to get his mare to the obstacle and was eliminated for going off course.
The jump-off also gave the crowd some thrills with nine combinations trying to better each other's time. Brianne Goutal, 18, of New York City laid down the gauntlet as the first rider on course, jumping clear in a time of 42.91 seconds riding Onira. Another young woman, Kate Levy of Katonah, New York, followed her into the ring, and immediately bettered her time, clocking in at 41.43 seconds.
Three riders later, Fuchs, a 2000 Olympic Team Silver Medalist and 2001 World Cup Champion, left all the rails in their cups and stopped the clock at 40.90 to move into the lead. None who followed were able to better his time, with Canadian Eric Lamaze coming the closest at 42.55, a time that would only be good enough for third place.
"My horse really jumped well, especially on the last half of the course," said Fuchs of his winning jump-off ride. "I really let her go to the last fence, but I think it was a little bit everywhere that I made up the time. On Thursday I was the idiot that had two rails (in the jump-off), but today I am the hero."
For his efforts, the 'hero' pocketed $30,000 in prize money, getting his three-week stay in Wellington, Florida, off to a strong start. Levy's impressive second place finish netted her a check for $22,000.
"I was thrilled with my horse," she praised her eight-year-old grey gelding. "He is young and green for this level of jumping. I knew there were good and very fast riders coming behind me. He has a big stride, so I think that helped my time."
For Canada's Eric Lamaze, his stallion's incredible ability to jump was a deterrent in the jump-off.
"Hickstead is very fast, but I took a sharp turn to the third fence, and he jumped way up over it and I lost some time there," explained the Schomberg, Ontario, resident who has represented Canada at the last four World Equestrian Games. "I didn't think that I had the time, so I opted to only be medium careful to the last fence. At that point, it is stupid to run at it."
Goutal took fourth place with Onira while Belgium's Gilbert de Roock was fifth riding the eye-catching roan, Kira III. Thursday's winner, Georgina Bloomberg, was also double clear in the jump-off riding Cim Christo to place sixth.Show jumping action heats up at the Winter Equestrian Festival with the CSIO5* CN Wellington Open held March 7 to 11. The extremely popular CN Nations' Cup will take place Friday evening, March 9, in the Internationale Arena. The CN Nations' Cup, which sees four-member teams competing for top honors, is the only one held on U.S. soil.
Results of Class 100 - $100,000 Zada Masters Cup, CSI-W Zada Enterprises Wellington Masters - March 4, 2007
T/A: 90.00 T/A: 60.00
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