Horses from the Zangersheide Studbook claimed two of the three gold medals on offer at the 2011 FEI World Jumping Championships for Young Horses staged in Lanaken, Belgium. This event is long-established as the shop window for up-and-coming champions, and for the many breeding organisations who annually compare their merit throughout four days of tough competition.
It was a particularly satisfying result for the host venue at Zangersheide Stud, home to the highly influential and extremely successful Zangersheide Studbook which dates back to its earliest origins in 1992 when Leon Melchior first began to apply a scientific approach to the traditional methods of producing top-class Jumping horses. And ensuring that all the main honours remained with the host nation, it was the Belgian Warmblood Studbook that reigned supreme in the youngest category for 5 Year Olds.
The event, staged in warm and sunny weather conditions, attracted a phenomenal 80,000 visitors who came to see over 800 jumpers in action. A total of 206 started in the 5 Year Old category, a massive 265 in the 6 Year Olds and 240 in the 7 Year Old division. And with €220,000 up for grabs, along with the enormous prestige that is automatically attributed to every medal-winner, the competition was razor-sharp.
A total of 58 qualified for Sunday's 5 Year Old Final, and 35 of these went clear in the first round, so it was a ferocious battle for the medal placings as these youngsters raced against the clock. The quality of the talent on show however was demonstrated when 15 managed to complete with double-clear performances, but the best of all was the Belgian Warmblood mare Gladys - Wandor v Mispelaere x Toulon - who scorched home quickest for Belgium's Yves Vanderhasselt.
"She is a very competitive horse" Vanderhasselt said of the chestnut which is owned by Stephex Stales. "It's never hard to make her run. In the Belgian Championships we had four faults at a liverpool fence, so we came here on a wild card" explained the rider who works for horse dealer Marc Van Dijk. Both the silver and bronze medals here went to horses registered in the Springpferdezucht Oldenburg International Studbook which is the section of the Oldenburg Studbook dedicated to Jumping horses. Germany's Rene Tebbel steered Hildegard Kuhlmann's stallion Cafe's Champus - Cafe au Lait x Calido 1 - into runner-up spot when just 0.04 seconds slower in the second-round jump-off, while Poland's Jacek Bobik lined up in bronze medal position with Mukula Zdzislaw's bay stallion Chacco-Fly - Chacco-Blue x Lord Incipit.
A Real Fighter
Tebbel described Cafe Champus as "careful, and a real fighter" and he clearly likes this horse. "We only did one show together in advance of these World Championships, yet it was very easy for me to ride him here, and to be competitive with him". Commenting on the large number of starters in the 5 Year Old final he added "I think it's fair that all double-clears from the qualifying classes got the chance to compete in the final - the course was not too tough, and we've seen great sport".
Bobik said of Chacco-Fly - "I saw him free-jumping when he was one year old, and I persuaded the owner to let me ride this horse. He's an approved stallion now, and he covered 50 mares this summer". The Polish rider is clearly thinking to the future, and is not keen to let go of his bronze-medal winning ride. "I just talked to the owner and he said the horse is not for sale - so I'll keep reminding him about that!" Bobik quipped.
Modest Start List
There was a relatively modest start-list of just 39 for the 6 Year Old Final won by the Zangersheide gelding Carthageno Z - Carthino Z x Bruggraaf. Dutch rider, Gerben Morsink, produced one of just nine first round clears here and then galloped home to clinch the gold with the chestnut owned by LG Dap Morsink when fastet of the three double-clears on the day.
"This was emotional for me" Morsink said. "As we raced through the finish the memories of 2007 came back to me! Zekina Z and I became World Champions in Lanaken that year, and Carthino Z and I were second so it was very special!". He had an extremely busy weekend. "We had seven family-owned horses here at Zangersheide and they all jumped really well. I don't think they will all still be in our stable at the end of the year, but I sure want to keep some very good ones for myself!" His success has copper-fastened his decision about where to go after leaving college in the near future. "I'm about to finish my studies at University, and now I want to give my sport career a chance" he explained.
Horses from the Westphalian Studbook took silver and bronze in this division, and both were ridden by Germany's Joachim Heyer who steered Gerald Grashorn's stallion Cum Laude 5 - Cayetano L x Pilot - home more than eight seconds quicker than third-placed Chattanooga - Cornet Obolensky x Pilot - a grey stallion owned by Gestut Kempmann GmbH & Co.
Ireland's Jessica Kuerten rode the Zangersheide stallion Cor dela Rossa Z - Cor d'Alme 1 Z x Ahorn - into top spot in the 7 Year Old Final in which 35 horses started. Owner, Ayumi Kotani, has been based in Ireland for many years and this bay, which was born at The Irish National Stud in County Kildare, produced the best of four double-clear performances in this class to take the ultimate prize. The immensely experienced Irish rider planned her course down to the finest detail.
"I knew I would have a chance if I could do something that the others wouldn't do, so I skipped a stride to the last fence" she explained. "These were very demanding courses, and today's asked for a bit of nerve" added the rider who has never displayed any lack of that particular attribute. "This summer I've shown Cor dela Rossa Z at CSI 2-Stars and in Young Horse classes all around Europe, but I never asked a lot from him. I felt we would stand a chance here in Lanaken, so we asked for a wild card which was kindly granted, and here we are!" she continued.
Very Fine Youngsters
Speaking about her own plans for the future as well as those of her horse she pointed out that "this horse belongs to a group of very fine youngsters in my stable. I'm building them up, and that's going to take another two years. I don't expect some super sponsor to fall from the sky, so I just have to take these two years to get back at top level and that doesn't bother me. I've developed all my Grand Prix horses from when they were young" she said.
The silver medal in the 7 Year Old class went to the Holstein-bred Casquino - Cashandcarry/Quinar - which is owned by Tops Horse Trading. Rider, Daniel Deusser from Germany, explained that his boss, Jan Tops, sold the bay stallion as a four-year-old but that "one year later he found out that this was not a very clever decision, so he bought him back!". Deusser has had consistently good results with this talented young horse. "Last year, when Casquino was six, we were placed at these finals and this time we finished second" he pointed out, but he won't get the opportunity to go one better next year because "there is no World Championships for 8 Year Olds!".
Bronze in this category went to the bay mare Tabou Z - Treasure Z x Caretano Z - ridden by Germany's Christian Ahlmann. Owned by Stoeterij Zangersheide, she brought the Zangersheide medal tally to three from the nine on offer on the final day at Lanaken.
5 Year Old Final: GOLD - Gladys (Studbook BWP) Yves Vanderhasselt BEL 0/0 36.41: SILVER - Cafe's Champus (Studbook OS) Rene Tebbel GER 0/0 36.45; BRONZE - Chacco-Fly (Studbook OS) Jacek Bobik POL 0/0 37.12.
6 Year Old Final: GOLD - Carthageno Z (Studbook Zang) Gerben Morsink NED 0/0 36.59; SILVER - Cum Laude 5 (Studbook Westf) Joachim Heyer GER 0/0 37.23; BRONZE - Chattanooga (Studbook Westf) Joachim Heyer GER 0/0 45.98.
7 Year Old Final: GOLD - Cor dela Rossa Z (Studbook Zang) Jessica Kuerten IRL 0/0 41.47; SILVER - Casquino (Studbook Holst) Daniel Deusser GER 0/0 41.65; BRONZE - Tabou Z (Studbook Zang) Christian Ahlmann GER 0/0 44.21.
Photo Caption: Ireland's Jessica Kuerten steered Ayumi Kotani's Zangersheide stallion, Cor dela Rossa Z, to victory in the 7 Year Old Final at the FEI World Jumping Championships for Young Horses 2011 at Lanaken, Belgium yesterday (25 September). Photo: FEI/Peter van del Bulck.