We were treated to a feast of five-star showjumping on home soil this weekend (11-15 May) but there was also plenty of success for British and Irish riders further afield — as well as a breakthrough win for a talented 23-year-old. Here is your weekly round-up of international jumping action.
1. “I had nothing to lose”: Rolex grand prix glory for Gregory Wathelet
Belgium’s Gregory Wathelet and his stunning Polish-bred stallion Nevados S, by Calvados Z, triumphed after a three-way jump-off to decide the Rolex grand prix at the CSI5* at Royal Windsor Horse Show. The pair dared a full-stretch gallop to the last, taking off a mile away (pictured below), but cleared it with ease to post the winning time
“I had two quick riders behind me and nothing to lose, I had to try. He did superbly,” said Gregory after hitting the €125,000 (£106,640) jackpot — and missing his flight home as a result. He finished ahead of Austrian Max Kuhner (Elektric Blue P) and Israel’s Daniel Bluman, who finished third, having lost his stirrup approaching the towering final Rolex vertical and just tapped the top rail.
British wins in the five-star classes came for Holly Smith and Fruselli in the King’s Cup, and Harry Charles with new ride Billabong Du Roumois on Saturday. Harry was following up on the success of his sister Sienna Charles in the under-25 class.
2. Teenager takes top honours at Balmoral
Eighteen-year-old Niamh McEvoy landed the CSI2* grand prix at Balmoral in Northern Ireland riding the 12-year-old mare Templepatrick Welcome Limmeric. Niamh was a prolific pony rider, winning European team gold, and beat off the opposition in an eight-way jump-off to land the £7,854 top prize.
3. “To be up with these top riders is unbelievable”: 23-year-old Sanne Thijssen scores in LGCT thriller
The emotion of winning the Longines Global Champions Tour grand prix of Madrid was clear to see as 23-year-old Sanne Thijssen erupted in the saddle after rocketing over the finish line with her “horse of a lifetime” Con Quidam RB. This was the biggest win of Sanne’s career and she became the third-youngest rider to win an LGCT grand prix. Taking joint second were Irishman Darragh Kenny (VDL Cartello) and Marlon Modolo Zanotelli riding VDL Edgar M.
“You can’t even put into words this feeling. I really wanted to win a Global grand prix, now I have the opportunity and I wanted to take this chance,” said Sanne, who has now qualified to compete in the LGCT Super Grand Prix at the GC Prague Playoffs at the end of the year. “To be up with these top riders is just unbelievable.”
Best of the Brits was fifth-placed Jodie Hall McAteer riding Salt’n Peppa with an immaculate double clear.
4. “At verticals you can go as fast as his legs will take him”: deceptively quick gelding takes Jordan Coyle to grand prix success
Irish rider Jordan Coyle landed the $125,000 Old Salem Farm grand prix in USA. Alan Wade set the track, over which nine of the 33 entries jumped off and Jordan rode Celtic Park LLC’s Centriko Volo to victory.
“I didn’t think my time would hold against the riders after me, but I’m lucky that Centriko is actually very fast,” said Jordan. “He doesn’t look fast, but the way he jumps makes him faster. He’s like a millimetre above the jumps when he goes clear, so he doesn’t waste time going too high. And with verticals, you can go as fast as his legs will take him. The more delicate a jump, the more carefully he takes it. I chickened out and added a stride [on the final stretch]. On a different horse, I might have left out one more stride, but Centriko is still a little green at this level and a little unsure. He’s just an unbelievable athlete to jump. It was a good day for the Irish.”
5. “She thinks that every class is the Olympics”: speedy mare helps Grace Debney collect the silverware in Old Salem, USA
British rider Grace Debney was in winning form, including in the 1.45m $15,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame High Junior/Amateur Jumper Classic presented by Eastern Hay, riding Temple Equestrian LLC’s Chapka De Moyon.
“This horse is naturally one of my faster horses,” she said. “She’s so cool. She always wants to win, and it seems like she thinks that every class is the Olympics. I think her will to just go is what really helped me. I was able to just hold against her the whole time and steer her around.”
6. Berlin Eagles top the GCL rankings
German riders Christian Kukuk and Philipp Weishaupt helped the Berlin Eagles win their second leg of the GCL series in Madrid to keep their top spot in the overall standings.
“We were under pressure because we want to stay in the lead at the top,” said Philipp. “To go in last is always extra pressure. I have a great teammate and we have two fantastic horses. When you get to win here in Madrid it is extra special.”
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