The 2016 edition of the FEI World Breeding Jumping Championships for Young Horses staged at the Zangersheide Stud in Belgium more than lived up to expectations, with massive entries of high-quality horses and edge-of-the-seat excitement in the competitions in all three categories. The Irish Sport Horse gelding Killossery Kaiden topped the 6-year-old division with Gerard O’Neill on board.
The Irish had even more to celebrate when Gerard O’Neill produced the only clear in the jump-off to take the 6-year-old title with the gelding Killossery Kaiden (Lux Z/Cruising). There were 65 clears from 264 starters in the first qualifier in which the eventual champions finished fourth behind last year’s 5-year-old bronze medallists Willem Greve and Formidable. There were 64 foot-perfect runs in the second qualifier in which a single error pinned the Irish pair into 93rd spot, but having made the cut into the final 40 they were the only ones to keep a clean sheet, O’Neill gambling on a careful round which paid dividends at the end of the day.
From County Kilkenny in Ireland, O’Neill is a regular producer of top-class horses and a successful and respected competitor on the national circuit. As he explained at today’s press conference, amongst the horses he has produced are Zigali PS which competed successfully for 2008 Olympic champion Eric Lamaze from Canada and who is now campaigned by Maria Ortega Perez from Spain, and the brilliant mare Castlefield Eclipse who has been the backbone of Swiss teams for many years with Paul Estermann in the saddle. “I’ve been riding this horse for about 18 months now and he did well in the HSI series for young horses at home in Ireland but I wasn’t so fast so I didn’t really expect to win!”, O’Neill explained. “It’s my third time to ride here and now I have the gold medal so I’m pretty happy! This is a great show with super courses and fantastic organisation” he added.
The silver medal went to the KWPN gelding Fernando (Zapatero VDL/Larino) ridden by The Netherlands’ Julian de Boer whose time of 35.53 was more than 10 seconds faster than the winner’s, but who left a fence on the floor in the last round. The rider who lives in the north of Holland was riding his grandfather’s horse, and as fate would have it his success was a bit random. “Normally I would have left yesterday but I stayed for the party, and this morning I put the horses on the truck but I delayed leaving because a rider withdrew and I was the first reserve. I got a call to ask if I wanted to ride in the final, so I took the horse off the truck again and now I have the silver medal!” he said with a smile.
Bronze medallist Thierry Goffinet from Belgium was understandably disappointed because his costly single error with the BWP gelding Kannabis van de Bucxtale was unexpected. “My horse was second at the Belgian Championships and has been jumping super at international shows. The fence I had down in the jump-off today is the first fence he has knocked down this year in competition!” he explained.
GOLD - Killossery Kaiden (Gerard O’Neill) IRL 0/0 47.85
SILVER - Fernando V (Julian de Boer) NED 0/4 35.53
BRONZE - Kannabis van de Bucxtale (Thierry Goffinet) BEL 0/4 40.02.
Full results here