Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2022/2023 Western European League, Helsinki (FIN)
FEI Press Release by Louise Parkes
Making the very best of her last-to-go draw, Sweden’s Angelica Augustsson Zanotelli galloped to victory in the second leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2022/2023 Western European League series in Helsinki, Finland today.
Riding the feisty 12-year-old mare Kalinka van de Nachtegaele the 35-year-old rider was tenth to go in the jump-off but only saw pathfinder, Belgium’s Gilles Thomas, take his turn before her. “I didn’t watch the others, but Marlon (her husband and fellow athlete) told me they were really fast. I know my horse is super quick and I knew I had to stay calm or she would get too excited, so I had my plan and went as fast as I could while keeping her under control, and it worked!”, said the happy rider afterwards.
Breaking the beam in 34.13 seconds she pinned longtime leader Gerrit Nieberg from Germany into runner-up spot with Blues d’Aveline CH. This pair seemed to have set the bar too high for their opponents when grabbing the advantage with a brilliant run in 35.16 seconds when second to go, but Augustsson Zanotelli shaved more than a full second off that target time. Third place went to Germany’s Janne Frederike Meyer-Zimmermann (Buettner’s Minimax) and Ireland’s Thomas Ryan (Springfield) slotted into fourth.
From 37 starters there were 10 through to the final barrage and every spot was hard-earned. The tight confines of the 60m x 30m ice-skating rink in Helsinki always presents an enormous challenge to riders and horses as well as to the course designer at this annual contest. But Brazil’s Guilherme Jorge set them a superb track that tested the best while keeping them safe.
As Jordy van Massenhove explained after jumping clear first time out, Jorge’s generous time-allowed of 74 seconds meant there was no need for heroics. It was rhythm and accuracy that were key to success and time wasn’t really an issue.
“He didn’t want us to rush because he knows everything comes up so fast in this ring and of course you can’t add strides anywhere, but if you ride in a normal rhythm you normally easily get inside the time”, the Belgian rider said after safely negotiating the 13-fence course including the bogey penultimate triple combination that proved the undoing of many others.
The jump-off however was fast and furious, and the turns to the vertical three from home and to the following vertical before hanging right-handed on the run to the final oxer just didn’t come up quite right for some, including Norway’s Victoria Gulliksen and Papa Roach who clipped the latter and for Great Britain’s Jack Whitaker – one of three members of his family competing in today’s qualifier – who clipped the former when his brilliant little grey, Equine America Valmy de la Lande, got too deep on the approach.
It all came up just right for Augustsson Zanotelli and Kalinka however. “I’m lucky I have a very quick horse so I will not go in to play safe!”, she said after her first round. And she lived up to her promise when breaking the beam in the winning time as the crowd went wild along with her delighted husband, Brazilian Olympian Marlon Zanotelli, who said afterwards “I’m so happy for Angelica, it’s a dream for us to be in the top sport together!”
“My horse was unbelievable!”, the winning rider said. “She’s very special, she’s very delicate and sensitive but when she enters the arena she wants to win. She’s been extra amazing over the last six months and I think her best years are still to come – she’s getting better all the time!”
Runner-up Nieberg said it was difficult to be one of the first to go against the clock today but that he was “more than proud to finish second!” And it was a big moment for third-placed Meyer-Zimmermann today too.
“I just came back from my maternity leave, so today is special. Everything takes more time now but it’s so much more beautiful to travel with my family!”, said the athlete who gave birth to son Friedrich Alexander in January 2022.
Double-clears for Ireland’s Ryan and Belgium’s Thomas left them in fourth and fifth places ahead of Gulliksen who slotted into sixth with the fastest four-fault finish. Adding points to her second-place finish behind Switzerland’s Bryan Balsiger at last weekend’s opening leg in Oslo (NOR), Gulliksen is in pole position on the Western European League leaderboard going into the the third leg of the series in Lyon, France next weekend.
Helsinki Event Director, Tom Gordin, was a happy man this evening. “We made a new record in visitors and I’m so proud that riders come back year after year, and so thankful!”, he said. And so was course designer Guilherme Jorge.
“It’s always a big challenge here because of the small arena and I always try to give the best chance to horses. We have great footing so that helps”, he said, adding, “and now I must be Angelica’s second-favourite Brazilian!”
WEL Standings here https://results.hippodata.de/2022/2183/docs/longines_fei_world_cup_wel_2022_2023_standings_helsinki.pdf