Marcus Ehning's history in Asia: Can he make it a fourth and set a new record?

Marcus Ehning's history in Asia: Can he make it a fourth and set a new record?

We look back at the 2006 finale in Malaysia...Marcus Ehning is the only person to have ever won FEI World Cup Finals™ gold in Asia – and almost two decades later he returns with the chance of recording a remarkable double.

Ehning was the champion in 2006 in Malaysia’s capital city of Kuala Lumpur, taking the title with Sandro Boy. Emotional scenes greeted the victory, with Ehning overcoming a strong field to win the second of his three titles… so far!

Now the German – who turns 50 years old during the Riyadh competition – brings Coolio 42 to Riyadh. Incredibly, this will be his 21st final! Ehning only teamed up with the 11yo Holsteiner gelding for the first time last summer, and weeks later they won the prestigious Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ leg in Madrid. Can Ehning really win the final for a record fourth time in Riyadh?

In another link between the two finals in Asia, Saudi Arabia's biggest Jumping star and reigning Asian Games champion, Abdullah Alsharbatly, was also one of the participants in Kuala Lumpur when just 23 years old. He'll be joined in Riyadh by fellow Asian athletes from his own nation as well as Japan and Uzbekistan.

One difference between the two Asian finals is that there was no Dressage competition in Malaysia in 2006. That year’s Dressage finale was held in Amsterdam, with Anky van Grunsven and Salinero victorious.

Malaysia welcomed Jumping's finest

2006 was a vintage final with some of Jumping’s most iconic names producing fine performances. While not one of equestrian sport’s established nations, Malaysia had held a series of big Jumping competitions from the early 2000s and had staged several big international sporting events following the 1998 Commonwealth Games.

The crowd in Kuala Lumpur’s Putra Stadium were treated not just to three days of brilliant competition in April 2006, but also to a rare show of emotion from Ehning as he secured his second FEI Jumping World Cup™. The German, then 32 years old, threw his arms around Sandro Boy's neck and punched the air in delight after claiming the title at the 16,000-capacity arena. Joint-leader after the first two final competitions, he held his ground to win the day with the stallion whose spectacular jumping kept the spectators enthralled throughout the week of competition!

Ehning was pushed all the way by Ireland's brilliant Jessica Kuerten & Castle Forbes Libertina as well as Beat Mandli & Ideo du Thot, who held a share of the lead heading into the final day. There was also a strong final day performance from defending champion Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, whose Checkmate produced his best to put the pressure on the leaders.

Drama at the last

However, the final two out would be Mandli and Ehning.Ideo du Thot started well but there were gasps from the sidelines as he clipped the oxer at five. With Sandro Boy in show-off mode it was a 'fait accompli' for the German partnership. They made it look like a walk in the park and Ehning, FEI Jumping World Cup™ champion three years before in 2003 in Las Vegas, was about to be crowned king once again just ahead of silver medallist Kuerten.

Ehning was keen to pay tribute to Sandro Boy after their triumph.

"He's an unbelievable horse," Ehning said. "It doesn't matter to him where he finds himself - how short he is to a fence, how long he is or how big the fence is, he just jumps it and the feeling is unbelievable.” Ehning would also triumph at the 2010 final in Geneva, completing a notable feat of winning the title in three different continents on four horses!

After 2006, we can only hope for more drama and big performances as the FEI World Cup Finals™ head back to Asia this month and visit the Arabian peninsular for the first time. With the biggest names from both Jumping and Dressage confirmed, we can look forward to a week of equestrian sport entertainment.

Source: FEI