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Festive stars: meet the Irish teenager making his five-star breakthrough


  • Over the festive season, we’re getting the scoop on a few up-and-coming riders across the equestrian disciplines. These are a select few individuals you really need to keep an eye out for during 2022…

    He’s only 17, but Irish showjumper Max Wachman already looks a star in the making. The Tipperary teenager was picked to ride for the Global Champions League (GCL) team Cannes Stars this year and made his five-star debut on the Tour in Madrid in May.

    He has since produced plenty of impressive performances, including in the GCL Super Cup on his first visit to the Prague Playoffs in November, as well as representing Ireland at the junior European Championships in July.

    Max and his older brother Tom come from a family steeped in racing history. Their grandparents are John and Sue Magnier, owners of Coolmore Stud, and their great-grandfather is the legendary trainer Vincent O’Brien. However, Max and his sibling compete under the family’s Coolmore Showjumping banner and have already won youth championship medals galore.

    Expert tuition from Cian O’Connor

    Max is trained by Ireland’s 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Cian O’Connor.

    “We’re based in Tipperary, about two hours away from him, but coming up to a big show we might go up to [Cian’s base at] Karlswood for three or four days to ride and train with him,” says Max.

    Max currently has four horses, including new ride Berlux Z, who came from French showjumper Simon Delestre after the Tokyo Olympics, and the 12-year-old mare Dorette.

    “They’re both very good,” says Max. “Berlux is new, so I’m still getting used to him, but the Prague Playoffs were a great experience to get to know him in a couple of bigger classes.

    “I’ve had Dorette for a while and she’s very careful, and a great horse to have. I also have a nice nine-year-old called Ikaros, who is on a break at the moment.”

    Five-star showjumping: ‘a great experience’

    Max describes his breakthrough year on the five-star circuit as “a good experience, learning new things”.

    “I didn’t go to too many shows in the end, but the ones I went to have been a great experience – Madrid, Stockholm and Prague,” he says. “It’s a very good league and Jan Tops does a brilliant job putting it all together. It would be very cool to do it again next year.”

    Talking about the pressure of jumping as part of a team at the prestigious GCL Super Cup in Prague, Max says: “I took it in my stride, but obviously there’s a bit more pressure – you have to deliver for your team-mates rather than when you’re riding as an individual. But Abdel Said and Sameh El Dahan are both very nice fellas so they’re very easy to ride with.”

    Max is enjoying a couple of “easy” weeks over the Festive period, but you’ll see him back in action at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida for the next few months. He’s a super young horseman and certainly one to follow in 2022.

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