From five-star action at the historic shows of Hamburg and Rome, to two-star sport on home soil, there was plenty to write home about for British and Irish riders competing internationally this weekend – as well as one pioneering Polish rider.
Here is your weekly round-up of international jumping action.
1. First female Derby winner since Caroline Bradley in 1975.
It is hard to fathom that, until Sunday, the last female winner of the historic Hamburg Derby had been Caroline Bradley riding New Yorker in 1975. Fast forward 47 years and, jumping the only clear in a four-way jump-off, Hamburg-based Polish rider Cassandra Orschel seized a dramatic victory with the 11-year-old Dacara E. The delight she showed on her lap of honour (pictured) revealed just how much it meant to win this legendary class.
“Not only is this the biggest success in my career, I’m also one of only five women who ever win the Derby in Hamburg,” she said. “It was a day full of emotions!”
2. Two legends team up for victory – one of whom only needs one rein!
In the Global Champions League (GCL) at Hamburg, the legendary pair of John Whitaker and Marcus Ehning teamed up to claim top honours representing Valkenswaard United. However, John had a “scary” moment approaching the final fence in the first round when he dropped his left rein on Equine America Unick Du Francport.
“It all happened so quickly,” said John. “It was a bit scary but I tried not to panic – I think we got away with it!”
With some quick thinking and skilful horsemanship, the pair managed to clear the huge oxer and provide the first of two clears that propelled Valkenswaard United to victory. John and Marcus thrilled the crowds throughout the competition, but particularly with their antics on the podium – Marcus offering his senior counterpart a leg-up on to the stage.
“I was just trying to think positive and jump clear,” said John after his less eventful second round. “Marcus had a really unlucky fault but you have to keep fighting and my horse is on form.”
Marcus, who rode his great partner Stargold, added: “The pressure was on because we haven’t done too well over the last stages. But John is used to it so I thought I would put him under some more pressure and he pulled it off again! Picking up maximum points for the championship is so important and this gives us a lot of hope for the next shows.”
3. Double clear for Equine America Spacecake in first Nations Cup
Ellen Whitaker said she “couldn’t be prouder of our amazing horse and my team” after she rode Tilly Shaw’s 10-year-old mare Equine America Spacecake to a double clear in their first Nations Cup together in Rome. The team finished sixth to winners France but it was a particularly exciting debut for this pair.
“Hard work as it is – sometimes you just have to enjoy every moment,” said Ellen, who was joined by her brother Donald Whitaker (Di Caprio), Joe Stockdale (Equine America Cacharel) and James Wilson (Imagine De Muze) in representing Great Britain in the five-star competition.
4. Ireland win Lisbon Nations Cup
The Irish squad of Richard Howley (Consulent De Prelet Z), Jessica Burke (Namamia), Kevin Gallagher (Ballypatrick Flamenco) and Jenny Rankin (Carmela Z) combined for a tremendous victory in the Longines EEF Nations Cup of Lisbon. Great Britain’s young team finished eighth and following the theme of British siblings on teams (see above), Olli and William Fletcher were part of the team, alongside Karl Robins and Sienna Charles.
5. “When I got him, it was disastrous”: Lynch lands a historic second victory in Rome
Denis Lynch and new ride Brooklyn Heights (pictured above) triumphed in the CSIO5* Rolex grand prix in Rome, Denis becoming the first Irishman to win the historic class twice, having first claimed the title in 2008 on Lantinus. The 13-year-old Brooklyn Heights (Nabab De Reve x For Pleasure) has had a string of different riders in his career and Denis has only been riding him for four months but it was a case of trial and error finding the key to riding him.
“When I got him in the beginning I tried to go quick and it was disastrous, but in the last few weeks the horse has really grown with me, and given me and him incredible confidence,” said Denis. “He is quite strong. He’s a bit special, I’ve never had a horse like this before with his mentality. He’s not typical, he likes to be hacked out, you don’t work him at home and when we tried him and bought him we thought he’d be a good 1.50m horse. When he jumps 1.10m it feels big, when you jump 1.20m it feels big but when you get him in the arena in a good canter he really excels and it’s really incredible what he’s done today!”
From 50 starters in Sunday’s class, 13 of the 16 clears elected to jump off over Uliano Vezzani’s snaking track and Denis seized the advantage of last draw to pip long-time leader 30-year-old Jana Wargers from Germany riding Limbridge, with Italy’s Piergiorgio Bucci (Cochello) third for home side Italy.
“I think what I learned from 2008 with Lantinus is that when you come to a show like this with a great horse you really have to give it your best, and give that horse the best opportunity, and on a day like today it would be disappointing if I made a mistake because he didn’t want to make a mistake,” said Denis. “That’s what these great horses teach you. You have to give them your full focus and concentration because they are rare, and I’m very lucky to have a great horse again.”
6. Victory for Edwards – with a little help from ice packs and paracetamol
Welsh showjumper Mark Edwards scored an incredible hat-trick with home-bred horses at the CSI2* Chard, Somerset, including the top-billed grand prix — all despite a foot injury.
“I was leading a horse out on Tuesday and it jumped on my foot. I wondered if it was broken but it’s just badly bruised. Ice packs and paracetamol have eased it and I got my boots on and managed to ride on Thursday,” said Mark. “It’s harder to walk than to ride and still sore; walking the distances on the course-walk is the hardest part.”
Mark made up time early on in the jump-off with tight lines, maintaining his momentum in the latter stages, scything a turn to the final oxer to cut the leading time by 0.89sec.
“Montreuxs Tale is so quick and covers the ground, I never have to chase after him,” said Mark. “ We made time up between the first two fences and kept it up.”
7. Ahlmann scores ‘one of the biggest goals of the year’
Home hero Christian Ahlmann landed Saturday’s Longines Global Champions Tour grand prix of Hamburg riding his top stallion Dominator 2000 Z, just ahead of Ireland’s Mikey Pender on HHS Calais, who finished equal second after posting the same time as the European champions Andre Thieme on DSP Chakaria, to take his first LGCT grand prix podium.
According to Christian, earning his ticket to the LGCT Super Grand Prix in November was “one of the biggest goals of the year” and he takes over as championship leader in the overall standings.
“It’s an amazing win in front of a home crowd,” he said. “I know the ring very well and I know Dominator very well, we had our difficulties at the start of this show but today he jumped amazing and he gave everything so we had a perfect day. I was hoping for this golden ticket but I didn’t expect it today.”
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