Never before has the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup at Jumping Mechelen sold out so quickly. The stands were packed with supporters who didn’t want to miss this event, and we definitely noticed! Our fantastic visitors got what they deserved: an exhilarating competition and a formidable winner!
It wasn’t until the 14th participant, Hans-Dieter Dreher, finally completed a faultless round. After him, only five riders managed to stay clear. Ultimately, Christian Ahlmann (LR Rank: 83) from Germany rode Mandato van de Neerheide (Emerald x Pommeau du Heup) to victory with a lightning-fast clear round. The current number one and world champion, Henrik von Eckermann from Sweden, just missed beating his time and finished second with Iliana (Cardento 933 x Gentleman). Belgian rider Gregory Wathelet also delivered a flawless performance and secured third place with Bond Jamesbond de Hay (Diamant de Semilly x Kannan). All other riders in the jump-off knocked down a rail or two. Pieter Devos narrowly missed the top four with Mom’s Toupie de la Roque (Kannan x Nabab de Reve). Hans-Dieter Dreher (Vestmalle Des Cotis) and Nicola Philippaerts (Moya vd Bisschop) finished fifth and sixth, respectively.
Reactions after the World Cup
Christian Ahlmann: “I truly enjoy Jumping Mechelen. It’s also fascinating to watch the different competitions here. We bought Mandato when he was six years old, and we didn’t use him too much as a young horse. He’s a big and tall horse with a lot of natural ability and the will to give his best. After working with him for three years, I now feel that his body is perfectly developed for high-level competition. He takes almost all his jumps in the same impressive way. I can only be very happy with what he has achieved in the last six months.”
Henrik Von Eckermann: “The course designer did a great job. When I walked the course, it looked good to me, but I expected more clear rounds. I like it when a course that doesn’t seem too difficult at first turns out to be a challenge. Iliana did great, and she’s getting better and better. She impressed even more in the jump-off than in the course. She’s a mare you have to be patient with. I will take her to the FEI Jumping World Cup final along with King Edward.”
Grégory Wathelet: “Jumping Mechelen is a very special event for us. The audience is amazing. Maybe I’m the best Belgian rider today, but I really want to win here. I’m very happy with Bond Jamesbond De Hay’s performance. He has improved significantly in recent months and has surprised me. I’m very curious about what 2024 will bring for him.”
Bart Vonck: “This was my very first FEI World Cup, and it brought a lot of pressure and stress. The start of the competition was tense as some riders withdrew right away. I kept believing in the plan I had, and there were many top riders in this competition. I had hoped for 8 riders in the jump-off, but unfortunately, a few combinations didn’t have luck on their side. In the end, I’m happy with 6 clear rounds; it was a good and thrilling competition.”