USA’s Beezie Madden is the 2018 Longines FEI World Cup champion, following an incredible performance in the Paris final.
Beezie only had one pole over three days to become the fifth female athlete to take the title in the series’ 40-year history.
The double Olympic gold medalist led from the start, winning the opening two competitions with the brilliant Breitling LS, which left them with one fence in hand.
It was a nail-biting final day, with the pair producing yet another clear in the first round. However, the 12-year-old stallion hit the middle element of the triple combination second time out.
The crowd then had to hold their breath until Beezie crossed the line on just four faults, before they could cheer the 2018 World Cup Champion.
This was the 54-year-old’s second title, as she previously won in 2013 riding Simon. However, she said this win with Breitling was “double exciting”.
“We’ve really believed in him, but he’s taken time to mature, so for him to come through today is fantastic,” she said. “It’s taken a little while to replace Simon and Cortes [her team silver 2016 Olympic Games partner] but it’s happening.”
Her compatriot Devin Ryan was second on six faults, while Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann was third on eight.
Ryan was the surprise success of the event. Not only is the rider relatively unknown, but his horse Eddie Blue was the youngest in the final, at just nine years old.
“His brain is unbelievable, he never knocked a pole as a five or six-year-old,” said Ryan. “He won the American Gold Cup as an eight-year-old and was second at Devon, one of our biggest shows in the US – he’s just a fantastic horse.”
Henrik was clearly disappointed with his third place, as he was just behind Beezie on four faults going into the final round, and a clear would have forced his rival into a jump-off. However, Mary Lou had another rail down.
“It was my mistake, my horse jumped fantastic as always, but we got too close and I interfered,” said Henrik, who was also third last year. “I should have trusted her quality and it wouldn’t have happened.”
The final standings featured three US riders in the top four places as 2017 winner McLain Ward slotted into the fourth spot.