The KWPN gelding, Earley, won the 5-Year-Old title, and the Westphalian gelding Hui Buh clinched the 6-Year-Old honours, but it was the 7-Year-old mare, Barnike, who stole the limelight on the final day of the FEI World Breeding Jumping Championships for Young Horses 2014 at Lanaken in Belgium this evening. Because for the first time in the history of this prestigious event which highlights the talent of so many future stars, a back-to-back double of victories was recorded.
This time last year Barnike, representing the Dutch Ridinghorse and Pony Studbook, was only a novice and her young rider, Ireland’s Bertram Allen, was only beginning to reveal the extraordinary talent that saw him place individually seventh at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Normandy, France two weeks ago. The pair returned to produce another winning performance today, and they have written their names into the Championship history books as the first partnership ever to do so.
Bad weather disrupted parking on the opening day of the event which draws huge crowds to the annual gathering of breeders, producers, riders, trainers, owners and experts from around the globe. But the all-weather competition arenas at Zangersheide Stud were unaffected, and the tented warm-up rings ensured shelter from the elements, so horses and riders enjoyed excellent conditions throughout the five-day fixture.
Just making it to the final competition is a huge achievement for any of the entrants at this event, and from the 237 starters in the 5-Year-Old category, a total of 44 made it into today’s medal-decider in which Earley (Harley VDL x Indorado) reigned supreme for the KWPN Studbook with Dutchman Maikel van Mierlo on board. There were 13 in the jump-off and it was the ground-eating stride of the massive 1.77cms-high bay horse that gave him the advantage. Bought as a three-year-old and now owned by H.M. van Raaij-Evertise, Earley finished third in 5-Year-Old division at this summer’s Dutch Championship. “He’s fast, he has such a big canter but he’s very controlled” said his rider today.
The silver medal went to the Irish Sport Horse mare Ard Ginger Pop (Luidam x Cruising) which was bred by Heather Dean in County Meath and which has been hugely successful on the Irish circuit under former rider Gerard O’Neill. In fact the horse has had such a superb run, counting the ISH Studbook Final title and the 5-year-old Championship at Dublin Horse Show this year among many other accomplishments, that new rider, Sweden’s Angelica Augustsson, felt under considerable pressure as the competition got underway today. Purchased for €95,000 at the Goresbridge Supreme Sale in Kilkenny earlier this month, Ard Ginger Pop is now co-owned by Carl Hanley and Ashford Farm’s Enda Carroll. She combines some of Ireland’s most-treasured genes with her dam, Derrylea Grey Lady, a daughter of Hartwell Stud’s Cruising who died earlier this month at the ripe old age of 29.
The bronze medal winner is wholly owned by the Belgian-based Ashford Farm whose rider, Marlon Zanotelli, is a rising star of Brazilian jumping and a member of the team that finished fifth at the world championships in Normandy. Just like Augustsson, Zanotelli only got the grey, Cool Carimo (Clamiro x Concerto ll), to ride 10 days ago, but Zanotelli described the Holsteiner gelding as “super-careful and an amazing character - he always wants to go for it!”
The 26-year-old rider complimented Eugene Mathy’s course design skills. “Last year there were 25 in the jump-off in this category, but this year there were only 13. The courses were cleverly built over the three days. On the first day the time was very tight and you had to really ride forward all the way. Today the fences were very high - you needed some real horsepower and the horses needed to have experience” Zanotelli pointed out.
Germany’s Christian Ahlmann has only ridden the 6-year-old champion, Hui Buh (Cornado 1 x Paramo K) at “a few small shows” and described today’s victory as “unexpected”. Course designer Mathy whittled down the 42-strong first-round startlist to just nine for the jump-off here, and it was a close-fought affair with the Westphalian Hui Buh pipping the Oldenburg Caspar Blue (Chacco-Blue x Freihert) ridden by Austrian teenager Carola Wegener, by just 0.07 seconds.
Ahlmann could feel quite at home however, as he also rides the sire of today’s winner, Cornado l. A total of 273 horses started out in this category last Thursday.
In both the 6 and 7-year-old Finals, both the open water and the triple combination proved difficult for many horses. There was a take-off pole at the water for the 6-year-olds, but this was removed for the older horses.
Wegener’s result was remarkable as she is just 16 years old and was still riding in pony classes last season. Based in Osnabruck, Germany, this talented young lady is trained by her parents, and when Caspar Blue was bought from his breeder last March, Carola took him to the Bundeschampionnat in Warendorf, Germany where he finished ninth to qualify for the 2014 FEI World Breeding Jumping Championships Final.
Wegener described today’s final test as “long and difficult for a six-year-old”, and she insisted that she arrived in Lanaken “with no ambition at all!”. However she realised that friends and family had high expectations of both herself and her horse when they all turned up in supporters t-shirts this week - “that made me nervous I can tell you!” she said after securing the coveted silver medal.
Bronze went to the KWPN grey gelding Dacantos (Griseldi x Puccini) ridden by Patrick Lemmen who has been working for the horse’s co-owner and former international rider, Henk van den Broek, for the past nine years. Lemmen went early in the jump-off and gave it his all, but finished almost a full second behind silver medal spot.
There were 236 starters in the first 7-year-old class last Thursday in which the fences stood 1.25m tall, but the 32 that made the cut into today’s finale faced a considerably more demanding 1.45m track. A total of 10 went into the jump-off, but only one managed to leave all the poles in place at their second attempt. And Allen was leaving nothing to chance when posting the quickest time of 41.33 seconds to clinch it with last year’s six-year-old champion, Barnike (Baldwin B x Animo).
He was fourth-last to go and took all the risks in the knowledge that some of those following him might also stay clear, but none of them would, Christian Ahlmann steering Casuality Z (Cassini lll x Chellano Z) was 0.17 seconds slower to take the silver medal for Zangersheide Stud. There was a key turn to an oxer that proved expensive for many who couldn’t make the spread when cutting too tight. But when Allen won the Dublin Grand Prix this summer with his lovely grey mare, Molly Malone, it was a similar turn that gave him the advantage and, once again, the young man who sensationally won the opening speed competition at the world championships earlier this month demonstrated his skill and precision when bringing Barnike home the clear winner.
The rider who is based in Muenster, Germany at the yard previously owned by Irish international, Jessica Kuerten, talked about Barnike’s career since last year’s victory. “We did a few shows after Lanaken and they went well, but then she had a long rest of three or four months before starting again, and it took longer to bring her back this time. She was too fresh at first, but eventually she improved. I wasn’t expecting to win when I brought her here this time though!” Allen said.
“I took risks and the mare jumped even better against the clock - I think she likes to run!” he added. He said Barnike has speed and quality, but that he is unsure about her scope. However he also said the same thing about Molly Malone who has taken him right to the very top of the sport.
Bronze here went to Sweden’s Niklas Arvidsson with the Swedish Warmblood stallion Hasard (Heartbeat x Voltaire) which, like Ahlmannn’s gelding Casuality, returned with four faults on the board but in the slower time of 44.46 seconds. “Hasard was breeding and also competing this year, but next year we will use frozen semen and focus more on the sport” Arvidsson said.
Five-Year-Old Final: GOLD - Earley (Maikel van Mierlo) NED 0/0 36.99; SILVER - Ard Ginger Pop (Angelica Augustsson) SWE 0/0 37.48; BRONZE - Cool Clarimo (Marlon Zanotelli) BRA 0/0 38.85.
Six-Year-Old Final: GOLD - Hui Buh (Christian Ahlmann) GER 0/0 33.45; SILVER - Caspar Blue (Carola Wegener) AUT 0/0 33.52; BRONZE - Decantos (Patrick Lemmen) NED 0/0 34.67.
Seven-Year-Old Final: GOLD - Barnike (Bertram Allen) IRL 0/0 41.33; SILVER -Casuality Z (Christian Ahlmann) GER 0/4 41.50; BRONZE - Hasard 1245 (Niklas Arvidsson) SWE 0/4 44.46.
Full results at www.hippodata.de