The amateur final, offering 25,000 SFr. in prize money, was held on the Saturday afternoon and produced first-class sporting action and close results. Philip Houston, riding the Chacco-Blue offspring Chalanda, finished ahead of the three Swiss amazons Roya Saberi from Schmerikon on Viola vom Smitshof, Tamara Schnyder from Gütighausen near Zürich with Excona, and Daniela Wüthrich from Birsfelden with Costa von Aarhof CH.
Houston, the Grand Prix Junior Champion at last year’s Salut Festival in Aachen, was in a class of his own and claimed the 8,250 SFr. in prize money with a precise riding display. The podium places went to three Swiss Amazons and their mares with extremely close times: Roya Saberi, who is trained by Thomas Fuchs, finished only one hundredth of a second before Tamara Schnyder and seven hundredths ahead of Daniela Wüthrich.
Swiss show jumpers are still waiting for their first big success at the Longines CSI Basel. As last year, the Belgian Grégory Wathelet on Conrad won the jump-off of the Basel City Championship, winning prize money of 18,750 SFr. and the prestigious trophy “Golden Drum of Basel”.
Niklaus Rutschi on Windsor was the best Swiss rider, turning in an excellent performance to finish third. The Lucerne rider pushed his Dutch chestnut Windsor to the limit, took tight turns and was rewarded for his risk-taking. After one fault in the jump-off, Werner Muff on Pollendr finished as second best Swiss rider in 11th position.
34-year-old Wathelet, who rode for the Ukraine from 2005 to 2007, was 14 hundredths of a second faster on his agile ten-year-old Holstein stallion than the experienced Swede Rolf-Göran Bengtsson on the now 16-year-old Casall. Rutschi’s impressive clear round missed victory by only 21 hundredths of a second, winning 11,250 SFr.
14 of the 55 riders reached the jump-off in the St. Jakobshalle, with this first highlight of the event watched by 5,200 spectators. Several favourites did not qualify: Olympic gold medallist Steve Guerdat, who is saving Nino de Buissonnets for the World Cup competition in Zürich, incurred two faults with Concetto Son. Also failing to qualify were Christian Ahlman (Aachen Grand Prix winner), Ludger Beerbaum (four times Olympic gold medallist), Scott Brach (world ranking no. 1) and Roger-Yves Bost (European Champion). The Swiss riders Pius Schwizer on Armani, Jane Richard on Pablo de Virton, Paul Estermann on Castlefield Eclipse, Alain Jufer on Wiveau and Martin Fuchs on Picsou du Chêne were also unable to reach the jump-off.
Swiss show jumpers have won top prizes in Switzerland and throughout the world – the only exception is the LONGINES CSI 5* BASEL, the world class show jumping tournament in the St. Jakobshalle, in which no local rider has ever taken a major title. A first Swiss victory in Basel is therefore long overdue. The goals of the Swiss riding elite appearing at LONGINES CSI 5* BASEL are correspondingly ambitious. Nearly all of the best riders in the world have entered this five-star tournament, the first highlight of the show jumping calendar in 2016. Fifteen of the top twenty riders in the Longines world rankings published in December will compete in Basel. This array of talent is headed by the 29-year-old Briton Scott Brash, the high flyer with Scottish roots who took the Longines Global Champions Tour title in Doha (QAT) for the second time in November, winning nearly a million SFr. The current form of Brash and Hello Sanctos was confirmed by another win at the Top Ten final and the Grand Prix of the Grand Slam series at CSI Geneva in December.
Jane Richard with Pablo de Virton was the big surprise in the Longines Grand Prix. With two clear rounds with her lively French gelding the rider from Berne that lives in Vinovio near Torino finished as brilliant fourth. Best was the Swedish experienced Rolf-Göran Bengtsson with Casall, which brought him 110’000 Swiss Francs, followed by the also experienced German riders Ludgeer Beerbaum with Chiara and Marcus Ehning with Cornado.
Besides Jane Richard, who has a lot of self-confidence, there were three more Swiss in the second round of the Longines Grand Prix with the price winning money of 350’000 Swiss Francs. After one mistake Paul Estermann with Castlefield Eclipse finished as eighth, Roman Duguet with Quorida de Treho ninth and Nadja Steiner, who was third at the Swiss Championship 2013, finished with Capuera as tenth.
The Swiss Pius Schwizer with Toulago, Martin Fuchs with PSG Future, Beat Mändli with Louis and the winner of the Olympic Games, Steve Guerdat with Nasa did not reach the second round.
Best rider of the tournament was the Dutch Harrie Smolders, who won a car. Paul Estermann and Pius Schwizer were second and third in this ranking.
Paul Estermann’s success carries on at the LONGINES CSI in Basel. After his ninth place in the LGT-Price on Friday he increased even more on Saturday. In the jump-off only the Dutch Jur Vrieling with Bubalu was better than Estermann with Naiade d'Auvers.
The Swiss rider that competed at the Olympic Games and European Championship got 8’000 Swiss Francs for this success with the 13 years old grey mare. Jur Vrieling, second at the Olympic Games with the Dutch team, earned 10’000 Swiss Francs. The 44 years old Dutch, who was last in the jump-off on Friday and didn’t win any money, now caught up for that. With short turns he won in the class of the «Grand Hotels Les Trois Rois», which was watched by 5’400 spectators with a ledge of 15 hundredth seconds.
Second best Swiss was Werner Muff after one mistake with Landthago as 13th. Janika Sprunger had one rail down in the double-combination and finished 15th, Swiss Champion Beat Mändli had two faults and was 15th. Pius Schwizer gave up after Clever Lady refused. Except Estermann none of the Swiss got in the money-ranking in the jump-off.
22 of the 45 riders managed to reach the jump-off. Course designer Gérard Lachat most probably didn’t expect nearly every second one to reach the final round.
Will finished second
Before the main event David Will had his second victory in the Speed-Competition in Basel with Pokerface. The 25 years old German from Bavaria won the opening competition on Thursday with this horse he had lent from Gerhard Fuchs. The second, the Dutch Jur Vrieling with Tum-Tum was followed by five Swiss riders, starting with Pius Schwizer with his mare Alexia, which he took over from Max Hauri.
Only due to a short-term redraw Marco Kutscher got in the field of participants at the LONGINES CSI BASEL. In the LGT-Price the experienced German proofed, that after a long recovery time due to an injury he is fit again. With Cornet's Cristallo he won with a ledge of 1,01 in front of his compatriot David Will with Carriere. After a mistake Paul Estermann was best Swiss as 9th with his mare Cornet's Cristallo in the jump-off. Jane Richard with Pablo de Virton was 10th-With her lively gelding she also had one mistake, at the same obstacle as Estermann. «I attacked too much in the jump-off» was Estermann’s comment, who had won the Grand Prix in Salzburg in autumn. «I could have avoided the mistake. But the horse is in form. And I am going to do my best in the Longines Grand Prix on Sunday.» From the 43 riders and horses 14 where in the jump-off, among them the above mentioned two Swiss. Steve Guerdeat didn’t manage the second round. With his mare Nasa he had a mistake at the last obstacle in the first one. Daniel Saner, Branch Manager of the LGT Bank Switzerland in Basel was very pleased: «the contest was very exciting with good sport. Many of our customers where here and enjoyed it. The event is getting better and better every year.»
The first highlight of the 5th CSI Basel finished with a double victory for Belgium. Grégory Wathelet won the Championat of Basel with Conrad, which had a price winning money of 80 000 Swiss Francs in front of his fellow countryman Peter Devos with Dream of India Greenfield. Best Swiss was Pius Schwizer with Toulago as fourth that had the only clear round of the Swiss riders. There where eleven couples in the jump off. Besides the price wining money the 33-years-old Whatelet, who was riding for the Ukraine between 2005 and 2007, also won the «Goldene Trommel von Basel». Whathelet was first to enter the jump-off and with a lot of speed he finished clear with his Holstein stallion. His fellow countryman Devos, who won the GP of Calgary last autumn, was 0,42 seconds slower than Wathelet. Pius Schwizer was riding the jump-off with his nein-years-old Toulago very clever. He was cautious with the unexperienced horse and didn’t want to make mistakes. The result was the good 4th place and 8 000 Swiss Francs, Wathelet received 20 000 and Devos 16 000. Also Paul Estermann, the rider from Lucerne and participant at the European Championship with Castelfield Ecplise and Fay Schoch from Fribourg with her mare Nouvelle Europe reached the jump-off. Both had two faults and finished as 10th and 11th.
The world of show jumping is looking forward to the event taking place from January 9th to the 12th in Basel. The LONGINES CSI BASEL from Thursday to Sunday in the St. Jakobshalle will take place with the best riders of the world. 15 of the top 20 of the World Ranking List as well as the three actual champions will honour the little jubilee of the 5th CSI Basel with their participation.
The first-class field of participants is led by the Swiss Olympic Champion Steve Guerdat, World Champion Philippe Le Jeune from Belgium and European Champion Roger Yves Bost from France. There are 55 riders from 17 countries, with 17 Swiss top riders that are in the field of competitors, which have been put together by Hansueli Sprunger, the responsible for sport and rider from Basel.
With the two Brits Scott Brash and Ben Maher, the German Ludger Beerbaum, who was Winner of the Olympic Games four times, and his fellow countrymen Marcus Ehning und Christian Ahlmann, Steve Guerdat, the Dutch Gerco Schröder who was second at the Olympic Games and the Portuguese Luciana Diniz, who won the Grand Prix last year in Basel, eight of the ten world best riders are competing. After the short-term resignations of Daniel Deusser, the German Champion and World-Cup winner in Mechelen, the American Kent Farrington, the French Patrice Delaveau and Sergio Alvarez Moya from Spain, Sprunger compensated these riders immediately.
«I gave the former European Champion Marco Kuscher after a long break due to an injury the chance to compete. And with Piergiorgio Bucci there will be a third Italian starting besides Juan Carlos Garcia and Emanuele Gaudiano. And for Spain Lucrezia Pilar Cordon will replace Sergio Alvarez Moya.»