A 6ft 3in six-bar thriller, grand prix glory for Whitaker and a remarkable jump-off recovery – this week’s jumping round-up

  • Making the headlines on the international showjumping circuit this week were a phenomenal Frenchman in the form of his life and the all-conquering Peder Fredricson, while Great Britain’s George Whitaker credits “going back to basics” with Martin Wood’s brilliant nine-year-old Peanut for their grand prix victory in the Netherlands. Here are just some of this week’s highlights, plus showjumping results.

    A 1.92m six-bar thriller

    At the CSI5* IFEMA Madrid Horse Week in Spain, Dutch showjumper Maikel van der Vleuten triumphed in the six-bar riding the 11-year-old Toulon mare Dywis HH (main image above). The 10 starters were whittled down to just two for the fourth round where the final vertical stood at a towering 1.92m (over 6ft 3in) and Maikel claimed victory with another clear while his sole rival, the world number two Martin Fuchs, picked up four faults on Commissar Pezi.

    George Whitaker and Peanut winning the CSI2* grand prix in Deurne, the Netherlands

    George Whitaker and Peanut return to the top

    Great Britain’s George Whitaker rode Martin Wood’s brilliant nine-year-old Peanut to victory in a hard-fought CSI2* Deurne 1.45m grand prix at new jumping venue Green Valley Estate in the Netherlands. The pair swooped home just 0.08sec quicker than their nearest rivals after a 13-strong jump-off.

    In a tremendous few days of competition, George and Peanut (Barichello x Quasimodo Z) also finished runners-up in Friday’s ranking class and the 30-year-old rider also finished in the ribbons on Caroline Blatchford’s I’m Special Too DHH, a previous ride for his cousin Robert Whitaker, and jumped some lovely rounds with Louise McEvoy’s stallion Porsche, who is now off to spend some time at stud.

    “It was amazing, Peanut jumped five rounds and didn’t have a fence down,” George told H&H, having used his last draw in the grand prix to his advantage. “I knew what I had to beat and there were only three double clears but there were some very fast times with a few fences down.

    “It was a tough course, there were either killer turns or if you went round it was a bit far. But I know Peanut is unbelievably quick across the ground so I thought I’m not even going to attempt the killer turns, I’m going to get in a good rhythm, give it full speed and just make it as easy as possible for him, without overcooking it.

    “The bogey fence was the double in the jump-off and half the riders had that down but then I knew I could go full tilt after that and it paid off.

    “I always say with Peanut that if I’m in the jump-off I have a very good chance.”

    George explained that, after picking up a few unexpected faults with Peanut the previous week, he’d gone back to basics and the results were clear to see.

    “It was a bit upsetting last week and I was wondering what had happened, so I sat down with my wife Michaela and said ‘I think I’m trying too hard here, let’s go back to basics, to what we know Peanut is comfortable at, don’t overdo it and just get him confident again’. So I did some training at the show, got him working with me and he came out fighting once again. I was on a lot better form myself I think – I was riding better and the two of us just came together again,” explained George.

    “Sometimes you can just try too hard. I know we can both do it, I just needed to find the right buttons again. Then it was just natural again. Luckily it was my week this week!”

    The podium for the CSI4* H&M grand prix at the Sweden International Horse Show

    Photo: Roland Thunholm

    Lucky new jackets help Peder Fredricson spearhead an H&M hat-trick

    At the H&M-sponsored grand prix at the CSI4* Sweden International Horse Show, the podium was filled by three of the company’s sponsored riders. Peder Fredricson was crowned the winner riding H&M Christian K, while the Philippaerts twins also secured second and third in the H&M colours. Olivier took second on H&M Miro with Nicola in third riding H&M Luna Van’t Ruytershof Z, all separated by barely a second.

    “We just got these new jackets and they seem to be working well!” said Peder on the trio’s striking competition wear. “Everyone should have one!”

    Peder, who will be heading to the London International Horse Show next month, added of the 15-year-old gelding H&M Christian K (pictured below): “He’s a real fighter.”

    Peder Fredricson riding H&M Christian K to win the H&M grand prix at Sweden International Horse Show

    Photo: Roland Thunholm

    The sole British challenger in Sunday’s feature class was John Whitaker, who just picked up four faults in the opening round on Equine America Unick Du Francport after some good placings over the weekend. Ireland’s Bertram Allen won Saturday’s speed class on the smart eight-year-old Empoli De Champloue.

    Other Swedish riders in form at the show were the world number one Henrik von Eckermann, who secured a winning double with the 10-year-old gelding Hollywood V, and Stephanie Holmen, who triumphed in Friday’s 1.50m jump-off class with the 16-year-old mare Flip’s Little Sparrow. The show’s leading rider prize was won by Olivier Philippaerts, who took home a John Deere Gator HPX.

    Julien Epaillard y Caracole de la Roque winning the World Cup qualifier in Madrid

    Julien Epaillard is simply unstoppable

    French showjumper Julien Epaillard’s astounding winning streak continued to the CSI5* IFEMA Madrid Horse Week where he galloped to a big-class double, winning Friday’s 1.50m jump-off class then also lifting the silverware for Sunday’s Longines FEI World Cup qualifier, which he also won the previous year, with two brilliant performances with the extraordinary 10-year-old mare Caracole De La Roque.

    “Winning is always very difficult and a streak like this only happens once in a sporting career,” said the world number three, who won the third leg of the World Cup series in Lyon last month. “I have an incredible mare and I’m lucky to be able to ride her. I have to enjoy the moment.

    “I’m very proud of Caracole. She has jumped two World Cups and she has won two World Cups – she’s amazing!’

    Taking the runner up spot was Daniel Deusser of Germany riding Bingo Ste Hermelle, with Simon Delestre third on Cayman Jolly Jumper. Ben Maher finished best of the Brits in fifth, the fastest of the four-faulters riding the Charlotte Rossetter and Pamela Wright-owned 13-year-old Exit Remo after an exhilarating 15-strong jump-off.

    Italian rider Piergiorgio Bucci made a remarkable recovery from a serious stumble in the jump-off to finish fourth. His brilliant gelding Cochello just pecked on landing after the penultimate oxer, pinging his rider right up on to his neck and the pair looked as though they were about to part company. However a stride later, Piergiorgio was pitched back in the saddle and he kicked on, clearing the hefty final vertical without stirrups to finish with a double clear and earn a substantial slice of the prize money.

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