Anna Cavallaro (ITA) and Lukas Heppler (SUI) got their FEI World Cup Vaulting 2016/2017 series off to a flying start, storming to victory in Madrid (ESP).
There were four horses for the eight athletes competing, with only Anna Cavallaro vaulting on her usual horse. This meant the other competitors needed to quickly adapt in order to perform a great routine.
Throughout the competition, the favourite Anna Cavallaro proved untouchable, finishing on a final score of 8.423. Performing to Anastasia’s ‘Once upon a December’, Anna Cavallaro was able to show off her great strength and precision, which was evident in her effortlessly perfect split jumps. Her dynamic freestyle showed her continuing growth in confidence, as she laid down the gauntlet for the female athletes going into the series.
Switzerland’s Nadja Büttiker and Marina Mohar, who both borrowed 22-year-old Simbal, finished second (7.708) and third (7.593), with Isabel Fiala (AUT) placing fourth (6.810) after a tumble on day one from Royal Georg Alexander.
“In Madrid the competition is wonderful, the organisation is fantastic and the arena is beautiful,” said Anna Cavallaro after her win. “I really want to come back and compete at this competition next year.”
The four male athletes, also competing on borrowed horses, all posted exceptionally high scores above 8. The top spot was closely fought between Switzerland’s Lukas Heppler and Germany’s Jannik Heiland. They both competed on Monaco Franze 4, who is now recognised as one of the top scoring horses in the sport.
Lukas Heppler’s artistic aspect of his performance, with strong moves on the horse, is one to watch as he finished on a score of 8.535. Defending FEI World Cup Vaulting champion Daniel Kaiser (GER) performed his Houdini routine which caught the eye of artistic judge Anita Flamand Prochaska (SUI), who awarded him 8.950 on the first day of competition, but after touching down after his dismounts he placed third with 8.176. Thomas Brüsewitz (GER) rounded out the class finishing fourth on 8.050.
The FEI World Cup Vaulting now heads to Paris (FRA) for the second qualifier.