Marcus Ehning put in a breathtaking jump-off performance, executing a risky inside to turn to win the Longines FEI World Cup™ qualifier at Madrid Horse Week.

Of 40 starters, 9 were clear in round 1 of Javier Trenor’s 12 obstacle, 15 effort course. The bogey fence was without question the C element of a triple combination, a light plank balanced on flat cups that fell time and again, with more than 1/3 of riders picking up 4 faults on the fence.

First to jump clear was Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann, and it was 14th in the line-up, Germany’s Tobias Meyer, who finally guaranteed the crowd a jump-off. Another 7 riders – Gregory Wathelet, Ludger Beerbaum, Kevin Staut, Lorenzo de Luca, Marcus Ehning, Scott Brash, and Denis Lynch – would also qualify for the jump-off course that was filled with twists and turns.

Veteran Ludger Beerbaum and Casello, 4th in the line-up, were the first to jump-clear, their time a conservative 47.91 seconds. France’s Kevin Staut and Aran followed them with a much faster 0-fault ride, stopping the clock at 43.98 seconds, well ahead of Beerbaum.

Staut didn’t hold the top spot long. Two riders later Marcus Ehning entered aboard the 11-year-old stallion Comme Il Faut and it was clear the pair meant business. They executed tidy turns at a steady gallop, but it was a turn to the last fence which set them apart, cutting an unbelievably tight track inside the 3rd fence (the only pair to do so) to gallop to the last. That daring turn was the difference today, Ehning’s time .42 seconds faster than Staut, stopping the timers at 43.56.

2nd place finishers Kevin Staut & Aran.  Photo courtesy of the FEI.

2nd place finishers Kevin Staut & Aran. Photo courtesy of the FEI.

Both Scott Brash and Denis Lynch would also jump-clear, but none dared to match Ehning’s risky turn and they finished 3rd and 5th. Brash, whose previous six outings at World Cup™ qualifiers resulted in no points was especially grateful for his 3rd place finish, though admits a ticket to Omaha is still no guarantee; “At the rate I’m going we will have to see if that’s even possible! It has taken quite a while to get some points but I’m very happy with my horse. She was out for much of the outdoor season so it’s great to have her back now in top level sport.”

Of his win, Ehning gushed over Comme Il Faut’s performance, “He has famous parents (Cornet Obolensky/Ratina Z) and he’s an incredible horse, you can see he is clever and careful and he did a super job in the jump-off – I’m really proud of him!”

Ehning has two more qualifiers on his schedule and hopes to qualify for the final in Omaha. “I’m quite relaxed, I have plenty of good horses and I have two more shows this year. My goal is to get to the Final, but there is no pressure,” Ehning said of his plans.

Results
1. Marcus Ehning (GER) – Comme Il Faut – 0/0; 43.56
2. Kevin Staut (FRA) – Aran – 0/0; 43.98
3. Scott Brash (GBR) – Hello M’Lady – 0/0; 44.04
4. Ludger Beerbaum (GER) – Casello – 0/0; 47.91
5. Denis Lynch (IRL) – All Star 5 – 0/0; 48.17
6. Lorenzo de Luca (ITA) – Ensor de Litrange LXii – 0/4; 43.79

By Ashley Fairfield-Remeza
Quotes from FEI press release