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Man Williams, Ben Maher and Mikey Pender win

  • The 2022 Longines Global Champions Tour reached its thrilling conclusion in Saudi Arabia on Saturday night (22 October) when Ben Maher smashed into the record books with a historic hat-trick, while 23-year-old Mikey Pender also stole the spotlight with a breathtaking grand prix performance. The Longines FEI World Cup jumping series rolled on to Helsinki, Finland, where Swedish rider Angelica Augustsson Zanotelli said her tactics for securing a big class double was just to “keep calm”. Meanwhile, in Portugal, one of our favourite stallions on the circuit, the eye-catching Ernie Of Greenhill Z, earned his first moment of grand prix glory under an expert ride from Guy Williams.

    Here is H&H’s weekly round up of international action from the world of showjumping over the past week, plus showjumping results.

    ‘Ernie was due a win’

    On the CSI3* Villamoura Champions Tour in Portugal, Guy Williams and the 10-year-old Emerald stallion Ernie Of Greenhill Z (main image above) landed Sunday’s grand prix after a thrilling six-way jump-off. Guy only took the reins on Ernie earlier this year and targeted this feature class on week two of this Tour, winning in impressive style from his countryman Adrian Speight riding Millfield Baloney.

    “I was second to go and I just went as quick as I could and clear,” said Guy. “Adrian was just behind me then Piergiorgio Bucci [who finished third] was right behind him. The course-builder told me when I was walking the course that he was hoping for five or six clears, so he was spot on – it was a nice course and the time was all right. Luckily I was at the right end of the final six.”

    Guy and Ernie, who is registered as bay but has very unusual white markings, jumped their first grand prix in June and this is the first time they’ve found the winning formula.

    “He hadn’t done an awful lot when we found him, he’s come on a lot and he’s jumped clear in a few grands prix now, but he’s just been a bit unlucky really,” said Guy. “He was making a few silly mistakes but we’ve rectified that and he was due a win. I didn’t jump the first week as I thought I might be able to win on this second week and it all went to plan! Every other week here there’s a four-star prize fund for a three-star show, it’s really good.”

    Guy also debuted the new nine-year-old mare Namika, jumping some lovely clears in the process.

    “I’ve only had her a week so I don’t know too much about her yet, the owners have sent her to me and we’ll see how she goes,” said Guy, whose daughter Maisy is also in action at the show.

    Villamoura Champions Tour showjumping results

    Mikey Pender’s 300k jackpot

    Mikey Pender, 23, landed his second grand prix of the Longines Global Champions Tour when beating his three jump-off rivals in Saudi Arabia, to win Saturday’s €900,000 (£782,000) Riyadh grand prix. Drawn third, Mikey and Marion Hughes’s huge striding Irish-bred HHS Calais (Cavalier Royale x Obos Quality 004) smashed the previous times set by Jur Vrieling (Long John Silver 3) and Harrie Smolders with Monaco NOP.

    The 11-year-old gelding HHS Calais, expertly ridden by the young Irishman, flexed every muscle to clear the fences and they were just 0.01sec up on the clock at the split. They then pirouetted round the bends and executed a breathtaking twist over the vast final oxer to soar into top spot in a time of 35.78sec. The penultimate rider, Malin Baryard-Johnsson with H&M Indiana, rocketed round but faulted at a late oxer, leaving Mikey to collect the €300,000 top prize, following up on his previous victory in Valkenswaard.

    “I can’t believe it, my horse jumped unbelievable,” said Mikey. “It’s emotional and I’d like to thank the team at home. Without them, days like this wouldn’t be possible.”

    The top-placed British rider in Saturday night’s grand prix was Harry Charles (Borsato) in ninth after succumbing, like several combinations, to the middle part of the treble combination in round one. Even the world champions Henrik von Eckermann and King Edward showed a rare moment of vulnerability, coming home with 12 faults, while Shane Breen and Vistogrand suffered the agony of tipping the front rail of the final oxer in an otherwise foot-perfect performance to finish on four faults, just out of the money.

    LGCT grand prix of Riyadh results

    Ben Maher’s historic hat-trick: “He’s a real champion”

    Great Britain’s Ben Maher announced he “couldn’t be prouder right now,” after becoming the first rider in Longines Global Champions Tour (LGCT) history to claim three championship titles.

    The Hertfordshire rider collected four faults in round one of the feature class riding Oakingham Stud’s 12-year-old stallion Faltic HB (Baltic VDL x Concorde), the slightest error coming at the triple bar, three fences from home. But when his two key rivals, Pieter Devos with the barefoot mare Mom’s Toupie De La Roque and Christian Ahlmann on the mighty stallion Dominator 2000 Z, came home with eight faults apiece on Uliano Vezzani’s testing track, the 2022 LGCT title went to the seemingly invincible British rider.

    “It’s been an incredible year,” said Ben, who was crowned LGCT champion of champions in 2018 and 2019 and until this weekend had stood alongside Scott Brash and Edwina Tops-Alexander as the only riders to have earned dual LGCT championships. “Faltic’s been an amazing horse – it’s the first year he’s come to this level and unfortunately we didn’t win a grand prix this year, but he’s been unbelievably consistent, with many top placings.”

    Ben’s groom in Riyadh was Derrin Lake, and third-placed Christian paid tribute to the winning team: “Big congratulations to Ben, he’s a real champion, he has nothing to prove anymore and he claimed the most points over the season so he’s the deserved winner and the one to beat next season!”

    LGCT of Riyadh results

    “Dream” double for Swedish contender and “feisty” mare

    Angelica Augustsson Zanotelli of Sweden scooped victory in the second leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup in Helsinki, Finland, riding the “feisty” 12-year-old mare Kalinka Van De Nachtegaele (pictured, above). This superb win came after the pair’s victory in the previous day’s CSI5* Defender Grand Trophy.

    “I know my horse is super quick but I had to stay calm or she would get too excited,” said Angelica, who was drawn last in a 10-strong jump-off and received advice from her husband Marlon, who was also in action in the class. “I had my plan and went as fast as I could while keeping her under control and it worked.

    “She’s very special, she’s very delicate and sensitive but when she enters the arena she wants to win. She’s been extra amazing over the last six months and I think her best years are still to come – she’s getting better all the time!”

    Marlon added: “I’m so happy for Angelica, it’s a dream for us to be in the top sport together!”

    Three members of the Whitaker family were in action in the qualifier – Robert, Donald and Jack, who finished ninth with four faults in the jump-off riding Equine America Valmy De La Lande. Donald also claimed a superb five-star win the previous day riding the 11-year-old mare Little Khira H.

    Sixth-placed World Cup rider Victoria Gulliksen of Norway and Equine America Papa Roach now head the overall standings in Europe ahead of the third leg in Lyon, France, this Sunday.

    Helsinki International Horse Show results

    Express success for Burke

    Irish rider Jessica Burke, who will be the guest on this week’s Horse & Hound Podcast, won the Masters at the CSI4* St. Lo, France, riding Express Trend. Liam Nicholas’s 12-year-old gelding remained faultless over the five rounds to claim the E3,000 top prize.

    CSI4* St Lo showjumping results

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