Richard Vogel and United Touch S Are Untouchable in Lugano Diamonds CSI5* Grand Prix

Richard Vogel and United Touch S Are Untouchable in Lugano Diamonds CSI5* Grand Prix

Winning was a matter of fractions for Germany’s Richard Vogel and United Touch S in the $385,000 Lugano Diamonds CSI5* Grand Prix during ‘Saturday Night Lights’ at Wellington International’s Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) on February 24. WEF hosts 12 weeks of FEI competition at Wellington International and runs through March 31.

Under the glittering lights of Wellington International in front of a packed International Arena, four athletes advanced to the jump-off from a starting field of 39 in the season’s second five-star grand prix. Three of the top-15 riders in the world advanced to the tie-breaking jump-off, including Vogel, currently ranked no. 11, Mclain Ward (USA) in eighth and Shane Sweetnam (IRL) 12th were joined by Darragh Kenny (IRL). All four produced clear rounds over Anthony D’Ambrosio’s (USA) track, making the deciding factor the numbers on the clock.

Kenny set the standard at 46.14 seconds aboard VDL Cartello, a 17-year-old Holsteiner stallion (Cartani 4 x Lord) owned by Heathman Farm, LLC. The lead changed hands quickly as two-time U.S. Olympic team gold medalist Ward, piloted his 16-year-old Casall mare, Callas, to a time of 42.39 seconds for owner Beechwood Stables. Sweetnam and James Kann Cruz, an 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Kannan x Cruising) he owns together with Gizmo Partners, LLC, gave their best effort in 43.53 seconds to sit second before the final draw.

Vogel and 12-year-old Westphalian stallion United Touch S (Untouched x Lux S) saved the best for last and broke the times in 42.04 thanks to the horse’s massive stride. Their time earned the win for owner Julius-Peter Sinnack, bumping Ward to second and Sweetnam to third to round out the podium placings.

“It’s a very, very special feeling,” noted Vogel of his time spent on the back of United Touch S. “I have been lucky enough to ride a lot of good horses in my life, but he’s outstanding. When he leaves the ground, that power and scope is something very unique and I’m very happy to be in his saddle.”

Vogel admitted that he had added confidence returning from the last draw in the jump-off. “I was very lucky that I went behind all three of these guys, and I knew I had to risk it all,” said the 26-year-old. “If I had a rail, I was fourth and if I was a slow clear, I was fourth so there was not so much to lose.

“It means a lot to win here on a Saturday night; it’s a very special atmosphere,” continued Vogel, who is coming off victories with Untied Touch S at CHI Geneva and the FEI Nations Cup™ Final in Barcelona. “Whether it’s a three, four or five-star, these nights have a special character.”

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