NEWS > Jumping
Posted by Peter Cooke on 03/05/2009.
Chris Chugg and Vivant
Franz Venhaus

Chris Chugg - rider, farrier and winner at the World Cup Round in Sydney

Chris Chugg made an emphatic statement by winning the IRT Greater Sydney FEI World Cup held at the Indoor arena of the Sydney International Equestrian Centre on Sunday 3 May 2009 with the only double clear round on his Olympic reserve stallion Vivant.

On his way to winning the event, Chugg not only rode both of his stallions Vivant and Conquistador in the first round, but in between rounds he strapped on his farrier's apron to assist fellow first time World Cup rider Jono Berry whose horse Yandoo Quincey Z had thrown a shoe in his first round. Chugg then changed back to rider and completed two further faultless rounds in the second round of the competition. Conquistador finished in fourth place.

Speaking after the class, Chris Chugg said "it's time to back off the throttle in the jump-off, second round. Instead of trying to win the event by 10 seconds, it is OK to be more measured and careful with my horses." Chris was referring to the first Qualifying event held a fortnight earlier, where he pushed Vivant so hard around the jump off round he faulted at the last fence but still had a four second margin over the next competitor.

The 2009 season has been full of expectation with the two Olympic Games representatives Laurie Lever and Ashleigh Drossel Dan and Chris Chugg seen as the leading contenders for the overall pointscore at the end of the year. The winner of the Australian League is eligible to compete in the World Cup Final to be held in Göteborg, Sweden in April 2010.

Laurie chased down the points to finish second at SIEC Sydney this week. Laurie made sure Chris Chugg had to deliver the goods by jumping a clear and reasonably fast second round in a time of 45.93 seconds as he only had four faults in the first round, meaning there was no room for error in the Vivant round. And the combination delivered a class performance with a clear round in a time of 44.97 secs to take the winner's cheque and collect the World Cup points.

International Course Designer, David Sheppard from Victoria had to prepare a track to meet the high standards of the World Cup as well as make sure that the band of new, first time and developing riders and horses were able to make a well measured and confidence-building entry into the higher level of competition.

Emily Blinkworth and her grey mare Chatham Park Romantic Dream used their first World Cup start superbly and really showed the jumping community she has come of age as a rider and adds significantly to the growing group of young and professional riders entering the senior ranks. Romantic Dream jumped a superb round with only a rolled rail at the first of the double combination taking away from a perfect result to finish in third place.

The other first time World Cup horse was TP Gifted ridden by Amanda Madigan. The diminutive bay produced a solid round with a rail coming out of the double combination and a little trouble in the treble combination at 10A and B for a 12 fault round. They also completed a fantastic clear second round to finish fifth overall.

The other rider to make his first start in the World Cup was Jono Berry on Kerrie and Jamie Winning's stallion Yandoo Quincey Z who had rails down in the middle line of the course at fences seven and the double combination 8A and B, and then the last fence for a creditable 16 faults.

He returned for the second round, with a new shoe, to complete a confidence-building clear round and finished in sixth place from the 16 start field.

David Sheppard presented a solid course for the riders with the first significant test coming at fence number four. This was a bright orange triple bar coming out of the corner 1.50m tall by 1.80m wide, a direct four stride line of 18.10m to a 1.50m vertical at number five and a further six strides at 21m to a 1.45m by 1.70m wide oxer at number six. Many riders were caught out not riding the corner into the line and this caused many to have the back rail of the triple bar. Six riders had a fault here including Olympic team member Matt Williams on Budweiser 003, who was having his last ride before heading back to Europe later this month, as well as last week's Copabella Grand Prix winner Argyle Stables Indigo and Linda Dobson.

The line across the ring from fence seven to 8AB caused nine riders to add to their penalty tally and this included the veteran combination of David Robertson and Sharpe Seal, who did not quite recover in time from an extraordinary flyer at the wide number six oxer to collect the front rail of the next fence.

The Sponsors, IRT, would have been delighted with the second round against the clock as all riders came into the ring with a determination to build on their first rounds and make sure they were able to add some of the prizemoney to their account but more importantly build confidence for the remainder of the year long qualifying events.

Sydney Royal World Cup winner Jamie Winning did not start this week as her leading horse Vangelo Des Hazalles is in transit to Europe looking to join last year's winner Amy Graham and Transatlantic to gain valuable international experience during the summer.

The overall FEI World Cup standings see Laurie Lever at the top of the table followed closely by Chris Chugg, and we can expect this challenge to continue for the remainder of the season.

By Peter Cooke

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