Estonian show jumper best at Moscow Region Governor's Cup

Estonian show jumper Tiit Kivisild took the Grand Prix at the Show Jumping Cup of the Governor of the Moscow Region, beating rivals from Russia, Belarus, Baltic States and Western Europe.

The competition was first held in 2004 and is now considered to be one of the most prestigious in Russia. The three day event at the Otrada Equestrian Center just outside Moscow, which saw youngsters and experienced professionals taking part, culminated in a Grand Prix on Sunday, June 21.

Watch the pictures from the event

40 riders battled for victory on the day, and most of them struggled on an extremely difficult course the organizers had provided, thanks to 1.4-meter fences, a water jump and a strict time limit of 82 seconds.

Even the crowd favorite, Gennady Gashiboyazov, got 16 penalty points. His horse Papyrus – a small, but a very lively trakehner breed – is known for its great sporting abilities and bad character. And this was not their day, as the pair finished 28th in the overall standings.

The first rider to put up a faultless performance was Tiit Kivisild, and for a long time it seemed the Estonian would be the only one to accomplish this feat.

His rivals kept making mistakes, knocking down fences and experiencing most problems with the water jump; with some hoses simply refusing to execute it.

Russian Vadim Konovalov came close to matching Kivisild. The rider of Come On got no penalty points, but exceeded the time limit and received two points for it.

And a lady nearly interfered in men's hustle, but a great disappointment aviated Zhanna Kim as her Ransom knocked a fence down on the very last barrier.

Despite rainy weather, all the seats at Otrada Center were packed on the day – a picture not seen in previous years – showing the recent rise in interest towards equestrian sports in Russia.

And the audience was not denied the most dramatic part of any show jumping competition – the jump off.

Russia's Artur Bagdasaryan was among the last to challenge the course, and his horse, Konkord, didn't let the rider down, committing no mistakes and coming in time.

The fate of the Grand Prix of the Moscow Region Governor's Cup was to be decided between Kivisild and Bagdasaryan.

The organizers announced a break, as they needed to change the course before the culminating event.

As usual with show jumping competitions, there were a lot of activities for the spectators not only at the seats, but also outside the competition arena. This year they were offered dishes from Russian cuisine, test-drives of a luxury cars and an exhibition of trendy artist Aleksandr Dzhikiya.

The course was shortened before the jump off and – according to rules – the riders were not allowed to examine it before the start.

But it didn't confuse Kivisild at all. His grey holsteiner Cinnamon obeyed his master inviolately and once again put up a calm, accurate and error-free performance.

So the pressure was on Bagdasaryan after that, and he eventually failed to cope with it. The Russian rider refused to continue after the first knockdown at the beginning of the course, allowing his rival to triumph in the Grand Prix.

Tiit Kivisild received the Cup from Moscow Region Governor, Boris Gromov, and a check for 7,500 Swiss Francs. The win is the biggest success in the rider's career.

Dmitry Gorshkov, RT