Henrik © CHIG / photo Bujard

Double victory for Henrik von Eckermann

The world number one proved to be a real horse whisperer with his two mares on Saturday, winning the two most important competitions of the day with Iliana and Glamour Girl. There is no doubt that the under-25s were just as keen as their older colleagues and role models and today they had the chance to make their mark in their Grand Prix of the weekend.

The first highlight of the day was the Grand Prix Defender for riders under 25. Eleven of the 30 starting pairs qualified for the jump-off. In front of a packed grandstand, the riders gave it their all, galloping fast and taking the shortest possible turns. It was the fourth rider in the jump-off who delivered the first double clear round, setting a benchmark time for the rest of the competitors. With an unbeatable time of 37.33 seconds, the young Irish rider Seamus Hugues Kennedy took first place on Cuffesgrange Cavadora.

The Coupe de Genève, a combined event in the main arena of Palexpo, is always a spectacle. With the exception of the first obstacle, the course consists entirely of compound fences, alternating between double, triple and even quadruple combinations. It is a technically demanding course that offers great sport. 24 couples took the plunge. Only five completed the course without any problems. The crowd's favourite and yesterday's hero, Steve Guerdat, showed all his skills with Double Jeu d'Honvault and was the first to complete the course with a clear round. Sweden's Henrik von Eckermann went into the jump-off with the fast-reacting Iliana, hoping to repeat yesterday's duel with a different result. He was followed by Austria's Max Kühner, Sweden's Peder Fredricson and Italy's Lorenzo De Luca.

And so it came to the prestigious jump-off. The Swiss rider from the Jura started first, turned quickly, galloped tirelessly and stayed clear in 32.99 seconds. But his first pursuer, the world number one, was faster, galloped faster and took revenge for yesterday's defeat in the final of the Rolex IJRC Top Ten (32.12 seconds). The first two places seemed to be a foregone conclusion, but Peder Fredricson slipped in between the two leaders and finished second by four hundredths of a second (32.16).

The final competition was the Credit Suisse Challenge, a 1.55 metre show jumping competition. The spectators in the stands were enthusiastic and cheered on all the riders. French rider Nicolas Deseuzes and Eldorado Sunheup Z led the interim classification for a long time with a time of 71.94 seconds but were eventually beaten and dropped back to fourth place. Italy's Lorenzo de Luca and Don Vito were faster, crossing the line more than two seconds ahead (69.88) and leading for a long time. Everything seemed to be decided. But the last pairs still wanted to have their say on the podium. Sweden's Henrik von Eckermann, once again in top form, celebrated his second win of the day on Glamour Girl (68.31 sec). The last rider, Anthony Bourquard from the Jura, also took his chance on Ecuador de la Cense and finished third (71.78 sec).

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