Longines FEI Jumping World Cup, Leipzig \ Louise Parkes
GERMANY’s Gerrit Nieberg secured a watershed victory in the 11th leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2022/2023 Western European League on home ground at Leipzig. The 29-year-old rider who took the sport by storm when winning the prestigious Aachen Grand Prix last summer, showed again that he’s a real force to be reckoned with when galloping home in a tense jump-off to pin compatriot Richard Vogel (25) and Looping Luna into runner-up spot.
Nieberg watched 11 others go before him against the clock, including Vogel who produced a spectacular round with his fabulous mare who is still only nine years old. Their time of 37.08 seconds looked impossible to beat, but Nieberg had other ideas.
“I watched him on screen and I could see he was really fast, but I had a really good feeling with my horse in the first round so I thought I’d try a bit more and he did an amazing job!”, he said after posting the winning round with the 11-year-old Blues D’Aveline CH.
Frank Rothenberger’s 13-fence first-round track produced 12 clears and six of them were German. Marco Kutscher, double-European champion back in 2005, was first to come home on a zero scoreline second time out with the 10-year-old Aventador S, but his time of 39.76 seconds was blown out of the water by compatriot Vogel who followed him into the ring.
Vogel’s mare, who he describes as “a naturally fast mover”, was spectacular first time out and it all looked like a walk in the park again in round two as she easily forged the lead when well over two seconds quicker.
Three horses later, Brazil’s Yuri Mansur and Vitiki were also clear and pushed Kutscher down the order when crossing the line in 39.34 seconds and although Sweden’s Wilma Hellström and the extraordinary one-eyed Cicci BJN gave another of their exhibition jumping performances to return with a clean sheet, their time of 40.68 seconds didn’t threaten for the lead either.
Second-last into the arena, Switzerland’s Pius Schwizer and Vancouver de Lanlore looked fast, but their fault-free run in 38.81 seconds still left Vogel out in front and then there was only one man left to go.
Nieberg had his eyes on the prize, and with laser-like focus the pair took every tight turn and scorched down to the last to clinch it. The packed stadium went wild with delight.
“The World Cup Final has always been our main goal and now we are going!” said a delighted Gerrit Nieberg. He is spoiled for choice with either Ben or the brilliant Blues D’Aveline CH to ride.
The Western European League now moves on to the third-last leg in Amsterdam (NED) next weekend with more points up for grabs and world champion Henrik von Eckermann from Sweden still heading the standings followed by Frenchmen Julien Epaillard and Kevin Staut in second and third, Germany’s Daniel Deusser in fourth and Nieberg now in fifth place.