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The FEI World Cup in the City of Lights: A Recap From Paris

The FEI World Cup Finals in show jumping and dressage took place over the weekend in Paris, France. We’ve got the recap of all the action right here!

America’s Beezie Madden and Breitling LS took their second win of the week tonight to go into Sunday’s title-decider with a one-fence advantage at the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final 2018 in Paris (FRA). Photo by FEI/Liz Gregg

Thousands of spectators and scores of horses and their riders have all gone home to their native lands — but for five action-packed days, the capitol of the horse world was Paris, France, which played host to the FEI World Cup Finals in show jumping and dressage. The competition was fierce and the feats by horses and riders were inspiring: here’s a recap of the action if you couldn’t catch any of it live.

Dressage

Winning the 2017 FEI World Cup Finals by a huge margin, Isabell Werth of Germany has been hailed as the queen of the dressage arena, and she was the heavy favorite to win in Paris. But the USA’s own Laura Graves certainly didn’t make it easy, marking an 81.413% in the Grand Prix, the first of two rounds of competition. This score was Graves’ personal best aboard her Verdades and she led Werth by over three full points.

Graves was also riding in her first World Cup Finals in Europe, a setting which she found unique: “It’s very different from the conditions in America, since the qualifying circuit is mostly on outdoor courses, and here it’s indoor. It’s a real opportunity to be here in Paris, to be up against the best and to push back your limits.”

Winning Round | FEI World Cup Finals – Dressage Grand Prix Paris 2018

The Queen of dressage has been de-throned!Laura Graves and Verdades performed a test out of this world in front of an electric crowd to score a hair-raising and personal best of 81.413% in the FEI Dressage World Cup Finals Grand Prix!

Posted by Fédération Equestre Internationale on Friday, April 13, 2018

Werth and her mount Weihegold made a few uncharacteristic errors which hindered their score, leaving the door open for Graves and Verdades to step right up. “The mistakes with the gallop and in the transitions were a bit unexpected,” stated Werth. “But let’s face it, it makes the competition even more exciting!”

But on the second and final day of competition in the Freestyle, Werth came out swinging, scoring an incredible 90.657% on Weihegold who appeared to be much more focused for performance. In response, Graves and Verdades scored a smashing 89.082% for yet another personal best. While this score wasn’t enough to surpass the ruling queen, it certainly established Graves as a serious contender in international competition.

Winning Round | FEI World Cup Dressage Freestyle Finals – Paris 2018

SHE'S DONE IT AGAIN! Defending champ Isabell Werth and the extraordinary Weihegold Old have won the FEI Dressage Freestyle World Cup Final for the second year running. The definition of harmony, power and absolute talent – we have our champions for Paris 2018.

Posted by Fédération Equestre Internationale on Saturday, April 14, 2018

Werth called her freestyle performance “the best Freestyle to Music class that we have performed,” aided in part by the incredible atmosphere in the Accorhotels Arena.

Graves reflected on her meteoric rise to success with her own horse: “Without Verdades, without his constant desire to do well and improve, without his talent, none of this would have been possible. We finished second but I’m very happy! We shattered our personal record, and for a while I imagined that with an average like that anything could have happened; I thought for a moment we might even win.”

Jessica von Bredow-Werndl of Germany and Unee BB wrapped up the podium in third.

Show Jumping

It was an American rider who took Paris by storm, winning all four rounds much like 2017 — but this year, it was Beezie Madden and Breitling LS taking top honors, becoming only the fifth female rider to win the FEI World Cup Finals in show jumping.

The World Cup challenge is a grueling four rounds, opening with a Grand Prix under Table C which converts faults into added time. Madden and Breitling took the lead early over Germany’s Daniel Deusser in second and fellow American Devin Ryan. With characteristic humility and horsewomanship, Madden stated “The week will be long and for now, I am just happy about this victory. I will think about the rest of the competition tomorrow.”

Winning Round | Beezie Madden – FEI World Cup Finals Paris 2018

Nobody could catch Beezie Madden / John Madden Sales, Inc ???????? tonight as she and Breitling LS take the lead after Competition 1 in the LONGINES FEI Jumping World Cup Finals. Can they keep up this great form for the rest of the week?

Posted by Fédération Equestre Internationale on Thursday, April 12, 2018

In round two, Madden and Breitling again conquered all, buying themselves a small lead going into the final day of competition. The rest of the leaderboard shifted quite a bit, with Deusser dropping out of the competition completely as only the top riders were invited back for the third and fourth rounds. Only a few rails separated the top pack from leader Madden and a podium position; a number of American riders worked their way into the top ten as the hometown French also did their best to hold on to a chance. Harrie Smolders of Holland finished second and Henrick von Eckermann of Sweden third; von Eckermann moved up to second place in the standings while USA’s Ryan loomed in third.

“Even though I was ahead, I wanted to increase the lead today and have a bigger margin for the rest of the competition. That’s why I didn’t hesitate to take risks by taking out strides between the obstacles in the jump-off,” described Madden. Quick to remind everyone she wasn’t flawless, she recalled: “In Gothenburg in 2013, I completely messed up my jump-off on the second day. Today my horse was fabulous, I can always count on him. I feel really good with him; he is a stallion that is easy to handle and he has a very good character.”

Winning Round | Beezie Madden – Longines FEI World Cup Finals Paris 2018

This combination is untouchable!The outstanding Beezie Madden / John Madden Sales, Inc & Breitling LS make it two wins from two in the LONGINES FEI Jumping World Cup Finals. Can they find another faultless run in the last final this Sunday?

Posted by Fédération Equestre Internationale on Friday, April 13, 2018

The third round saw another flawless performance from the leading pair, but also double clears from von Eckermann and Smolders to keep the pressure on.

But with less than two rails in hand over fellow American Devin Ryan, Madden made for a nail-biter when she and Breitling dropped their only rail of the competition. The roar of the crowd when they sailed clear over the final fence was equal parts relief and excitement. Madden was quick to praise Breitling: “We’ve really believed in him but he’s taken time to mature, so for him to come through today is fantastic! It’s taken a little while to replace Simon (her 2013 World Cup winning ride) and Cortes (team silver 2016 Olympic Games) but it’s happening!”

Winning Round | Beezie Madden – FEI World Cup Finals Jumping – Paris 2018

An outstanding Beezie Madden & Breitling LS have won the LONGINES FEI World Cup Finals 2018!!????????????????They’ve been on blistering form all week & the rest just couldn’t down the pair from US Equestrian! Massive congratulations Beezie Madden / John Madden Sales, Inc!

Posted by Fédération Equestre Internationale on Sunday, April 15, 2018

Devin Ryan put himself on the map as one to watch, coming in as a relative dark horse and proving that he and the just-nine-year-old Eddie Blue were certainly an international threat.

Next year’s FEI World Cup Finals will take place in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2019.

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