When the Volvo World Cup, the first European League circuit with the most media coverage, began in 1978, it had ten stages: Amsterdam, Berlin, Bordeaux, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Anvers, Dortmund, Vienna, Geneva, Birmingham and Gothenburg, where the first final in history was won by Hugo Simon who had already won the qualifiers in Amsterdam and Dortmund. Bordeaux therefore finds itself among the founding fathers.
Other winners of the first series were Peter Luther of Berlin, Christian Huysegoms (the Belgian who rode a rather dreadful but brilliant mare, Katapult, to be the first winner in Bordeaux), David Broome (won in ‘s-Hertogenbosch ; the 1974 World Champion from Britain won Bordeaux in 1979), Degar Henri Cuepper (one of the Belgian heroes of the Montreal Olympics who won at home in Anvers), Paul Schockemohle (won in Vienna ; he had won seven qualifiers in his career but never a final), Nick Skelton (won in Geneva ; the always capable British rider won one stage this year as well) and Caroline Bradley (won in Birmingham with the celebrated Marius, before she discovered the phenomenon Milton who she couldn’t ride competitively because she died prematurely of a heart attack in 1983. Two years later the horse won his first World Cup in Bordeaux with John Whitaker).
Of these 13 original events, only four remain in the 2008/2009 “Rolex FEI World Cup Jumping.” The award for longevity and stability goes to Gothenburg, as it hasn’t missed a year since 1979 and has organized 12 finals in 30 years. Both Bordeaux (who changed organizers in 1994/1995) and ‘s-Hertogenbosch (canceled in 2000/2001) failed only once, but only the Dutch city has hosted a final (Jos Lansink and Libero H won in 1994). Bordeaux always hesitated to present its candidature. Geneva disappeared from the schedule for nine years to return in 1991 and organize its first final in 1996, where Hugo Simon and E.T. FRH won. Geneva will once again gather the world in 2010 for its second final. Meanwhile, the 2008/2009 season will resume with the three “ancient stages” of Bordeaux (Feb. 6-8), Gothenburg (Feb. 19-22) and ‘s-Hertogenbosch (March 19-22).
The World Cup, the oldest international jumping circuit, remains the discipline’s point of reference. It is the title to which all jumping champions aspire. If you’re not convinced, read the charts. To be one of the 13 qualifying competitions, surviving since the circuit’s inception, shows that this « Grand Prix World Cup» is not a Grand Prix like the others. Ludger Beerbaum has dreamed for a decade of being able to add it to his list of accomplishments; Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum has only one desire: to be the first female to break this test which is one of the rare Grand Prix that takes place in France but hasn’t been won by a native. Winning this qualifier is a real career highlight for a rider; riders and spectators alike do not soon forget the winner of the World Cup Bordeaux.