Even though two French riders are already qualified for the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Final in Gothenburg, their fellow teammates will have a hard time to move up amongst the 18 best riders of the Western European League. At the Jumping International de Bordeaux, from February 7th to 10th, they will have to face the world no. one and the best German riders in the world in the last battle for points in the Western European League towards the 2019-final.
Although he’s already qualified for the final, Steve Guerdat would never miss the Bordeaux leg: “There would have to be a lot of unexpected circumstances to stop me for coming. And the fact that I already have my qualification for the final will not stop me either. This competition is one of those I really want to enter each year. I love the idea of having the World Cup Grand Prix on Saturday night, it sets up a different atmosphere, the arena is always full and the crowd so supportive.” The 2012 Olympic Champion has not won the World Cup Grand Prix of Bordeaux yet, but his great form lately make him the favourite to succeed after Pieter Devos. The Belgian, also already qualified for the final, will be back on the soil of his first World Cup victory.
Ludger Beerbaum, 56, has been ruling the circuit since the last century and is also after a first win in Bordeaux. Some will remember his ruthless lost duels with Frank Sloothaak at the end of the nineties. This year, the world most awarded rider will be back with the same ambition: To write down his name on this prestigious prize list. The German will lead an impressive team, among them his student Christian Kukuk, world no. six Daniel Deusser, world no. three and multiple winner in Bordeaux Marcus Ehning and the Olympic Champion in eventing Michael Jung, however not participating in the World Cup Grand Prix. Deusser is already qualified for Gothenburg, Beerbaum needs to secure his sixteenth position and Ehning has to move up two places on the ranking in Bordeaux.
For others, the stakes are higher in this European final: Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann – winner in Amsterdam, Spain’s Eduardo Alvarez Aznar, Belgium’s François Mathy Jr., Swiss Pius Schwizer, Ireland’s Denis Lynch and Bertram Allen, the Dutch champion Maikel van der Vleuten and many more will have to put in some efforts in Bordeaux to reach a position within the list of the 18 riders out of the Western Europeans League that qualifies for Gothenburg. Not everybody will have their tickets for the final.
For some, it will just feel like another weekend of competition. It is the case for ex-world no. one Scott Brash, or French rider Simon Delestre – who both didn’t score any points during the season. The scenario is the same for France’s Olympic Champions Pénélope Leprévost and Philippe Rozier. For their fellow teammates, the future is already set: Kevin Staut, who qualified early in the season, and Olivier Robert, remarkable in Leipzig, will be at the final in Gothenburg.