21st April 1996 – Jump-off at the World Cup in Geneva. On the one hand, the Austrian Hugo Simon and his little chestnut, E.T. and on the other, the Swiss Willi Melliger and his giant grey, Calvaro V. Many would say - David against Goliath. It was the first, however who had the advantage over the second. This jump-off has remained engraved in the memory of many passionate followers, not only because this duel was breathtaking but also because a jump-off at the World Cup Final is so rare. There’s only been three in 31 years - at the Palexpo in ’96, but also 17 years earlier at the first World Cup Final in 1979 in Gothenberg, between Katie Monahan Prudent and Hugo Simon, the latter emerging victorious. The last time was once again in Gothenburg in 2001, between Rodrigo Pessoa (Baloubet du Rouet) and the fighter Markus Fuchs (Tinka’s Boy) who was so fast that he pushed his adversary into making a fault. The Cup went to him!
A Hitchkockian scenario
In Geneva in 1996, the favourites showed their ambitions from the outset. Hugo Simon and E.T. had already displayed this in the first speed test ahead of Rodrigo Pessoa, who was then only 24 years old, on Lora Piana Special Envoy. The Brazilian rider changed his horse (this was then possible) and took overall lead the next day, thanks to Loro Piana Tomboy. There was nothing between the first ten, so the end of this final promised to be spectacular!
On the final day, the first part was full of reversals. The stylish German Franke Sloothaak, world champion title holder, went up from 7th to 2nd place in the general classification with his powerful Weihaiwej. Rodrigo Pessoa kept the top place for himself. Hugo Simon and E.T. had one fault, Willi Melliger and Calvaro V had two.
But this final had not had its last word. The scenario was to become Hitchcockian, mixing intense drama, emotion and suspense.
Melliger and Simon – no faults. loothaak would crack, Pessoa, however, who had an advance of two faults, lost control of his horse on the triple and at the exit. The title flew out of the Brazilian’s hands who would take it back two years’ later in Helsinki and then successively in Gothenburg and Las Vegas with Baloubet du Rouet.
To decide between Messrs. Melliger/Calvaro and Simon/E.T., this 21st April 1996, there had to be a jump-off …. the second only in history! In spite of his 6ft, Calvaro was fast but nothing compared to E.T.’s 5ft and the diabolic magician of the arena, Paul Weier, who had dreamt up a short cut in front of the lake for those who could dodge that way… Gold for the Austrian, Silver for the Swiss, Bronze for the 1995 winners, Nick Skelton and Dollar Girl, the great mare started off by Thomas Fuchs who died the 24th April 2009.
Back in Geneva
What memories, what emotions, what sport ! 5105 days after the memorable finale that took place from April 14th to April 18th 2012, the best riders of the World once again, made the Geneva public vibrate for the 32nd Final of the Rolex FEI World CupTM, not forgetting the Driving FEI World Cup TM. If victory seem promised to Mario Deslauries, the youngest winner of the Final (in 1984 with Aramis) in the lead until the very last class, it was in fact Marcus Ehning who was crowned. The German was the first to successfully win with two different horses; Noltes Küchengirl and Plot Blue.
Marcus Ehning, respected as one of the very best riders of all times, was to win a third Rolex FEI World Cup Final. The Swiss public was able to rejoice in second place, Pius Schwizer, number One arriving ex aequo with Ludger Beerbaum, but also with SteveGuerdat taking second place in the second round on Trésor. A days forever engraved in our memories!.
Source : Le Cavalier Romand