‘Horses jump with their heart – and he has a very big one’: gelding returns from injury to shine at World Showjumping Championships

  • Daniel Bluman let the crowd at the Agria FEI World Showjumping Championships know just what his clear round on Ladriano Z meant to him last night (12 August) as he joined in with the celebrations.

    Daniel and the 14-year-old Zangersheide gelding were jumping as individuals after the culmination of faults incurred on days one and two meant the three-rider Israeli team finished 16th, so did not make it into the top 10 for the team final.

    Louis Konickx’s course was providing its fair share of problems with faults coming thick and fast – particularly at the treble combination on the last line that really tested what the horses had left in the tank. But Ladriano Z showed no signs of tiring and provided a foot-perfect round, and the first clear of the evening inside the time.

    Daniel, who has produced Ladriano Z since he was a seven-year-old, made no attempt to disguise just what the round meant to him as he joined in with the crowd’s celebrations.

    “He was really good tonight. I really felt like he was in great shape, just like he has been all week. He wasn’t overly impressed by the lights, there’s definitely a lot of atmosphere inside,” said Daniel

    “We knew the time allowed was very short so I knew that from the beginning I had to be on the pace. Nowadays with the change of rules of the one time-penalty per second it makes a big difference. But this was fantastic, the more I jumped the better he felt and he was he was he was with me the whole way around.

    “It was definitely one of the most emotional rounds that I have jumped so far in my career.”

    Daniel discussed Louis Konickx’s increasing challenges as the competition has gone on.

    “I thought the first day was super fair; it was a straightforward class which was great for everyone from every level of the 105 people that started because you could ride a little bit depending on your level of experience and the level of your horse. You could pick how tight and how fast you wanted to go,” said he said.

    “Thursday I thought it was big enough. I knew that some people were going to struggle out of the 105. It was a fair course, but big – and then we knew tonight [Friday] Louis was going to step it up even more. It’s a world championship and the level is high. And he did [step it up]; the time allowed being tight, a lot of careful jumps, a triple combination towards the end, a massive vertical for the last fence. We jumped 14 fences the first day, 14 yesterday and 14 tonight. It’s a lot of jumping. If your horses are not in great shape, somewhere along the line you’re gonna start making mistakes.

    “Ladriano Z jumped amazing the first day [here]. He jumped amazing yesterday, I should have been clear but I made a little mistake. For him to jump a beautiful round like that tonight and put us in great shape for Sunday is super exciting. Regardless of what happens on Sunday, I think we’ve ridden a great championship so far and I’m proud of my horse. I’m proud of my team and I’m a bit proud of myself.”

    The experienced pair competed at the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Tryon and the 2019 Europeans in Rotterdam, and had their hopes set on the Tokyo Olympics but Ladriano Z sustained an injury in 2020 that ruled him out of competition for seven months. Daniel had then been due to ride Gemma W at Tokyo, but a dispute with the FEI over the mare’s registration meant he missed the Games entirely.

    It is clear to see what being back at a championship means to Daniel.

    “One year ago I couldn’t go to Tokyo, I think everyone knows a little bit about what happened there. That was definitely a difficult moment for me,” said Daniel. “At the same time Ladriano Z was rehabbing from an injury. It was a difficult time and we brought him back in the game together with the entire team; the grooms, vets, farriers – there’s a lot of people behind this.

    “We tried at the beginning to give him a couple of months to see if maybe I could get him back for Tokyo but we realised that wasn’t going to happen. Then I decided just to turn him out then after Tokyo I started working with him occasionally, to get his muscles back. There was a little bit of uncertainty about exactly what was going to happen so I really just took it day by day, and by having faith. He’s just been an incredible horse. At the end of the day, horses jump with their heart and this one has a very big one in his chest. It’s as simple as that.”

    Daniel and Ladriano Z go into Sunday’s individual final in sixth place on a score of 5.14. It is exceptionally tight in the top 10; Sweden’s Henrick von Eckermann (King Edward) are in provisional gold on 0.58, his compatriot Jens Fredricson (Markan Cosmopolit)  is in silver on 2.71, and Belgium’s Jerome Guery (Quel Homme De Hus) is in provisional bronze on 3.35. Ben Maher (Faltic HB) is the highest-placed Brit in eighth on 5.72, less than a pole off the podium, and Scott Brash (Hello Jefferson) is in 13th on 8.23.

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