A ‘big pony with a big heart’, a historic dead heat and a rider without a stirrup – who won showjumping ribbons this week?

  • The summer season is reaching a crescendo across the Atlantic, with a string of top level shows in Canada and USA at the moment with showjumping results coming thick and fast, but there’s plenty of action in Europe too. This week we saw a rare tie for top honours in a five-star grand prix, a rider having to improvise with a fast plan B after losing a stirrup in a jump-off, an oversized pony finding the winning formula and the return of Ben Maher’s World Championship star Faltic HB in a nail-biting jump-off.

    Here is your weekly round-up of international sporting action from the world of showjumping over the past few days, as well as this week’s showjumping results.

    Who needs two stirrups anyway?

    In the final CSI5* class at the Longines Global Champions Tour (LGCT) of Rome at the Circus Maximus, Christian Ahlmann and the stallion Solid Gold Z (pictured below) triumphed – despite the rider losing a stirrup en route and having to improvise during his jump-off round. Christian executed a miraculous rollback after his foot slipped out of the stirrup at the third fence from home.

    “I had to do one or two extra strides than I planned,” said the German rider, who still bolted home 0.91sec faster than runner-up Malin Baryard-Johnsson of Sweden riding the brilliantly named Harley Davidson in a six-way jump-off. “He is an unbelievable horse, an unbelievable fighter and I’m so pleased everyone can see how special he is.”

    Showjumping results: Christian Ahlmann on Solid Gold Z winning at the LGCT of Rome

    A historic dead heat and incredible winning streak for Matt Sampson

    Very rarely will a top-level grand prix result in a dead heat, but at the Continental CSI5*/2* tournament at Spruce Meadows, Canada, Ireland’s Paul O’Shea and British rider Matt Sampson shared the spoils after both riders stopped the clock on exactly 38sec in Sunday’s Friends of the Meadows grand prix presented by Rolex (pictured below). A field of 20 combinations representing eight nations tackled Anthony D’Ambrosio’s track with seven making it through to the jump-off. Riding Imerald Van’t Voorhof, Paul set the lightning-quick target for Matt to chase and he and the great mare Ebolensky flew off in hot pursuit, posting the exact same time. This was the first time in Spruce Meadows history that there were two winners of a five-star grand prix.

    “We love Spruce Meadows, to be able to jump in the big grass fields before next week [CSIO5* Masters tournament] and have this result builds confidence,” said Matt. Paul added: “This is a big grand prix in itself, I’m very happy to be here and to have this opportunity ahead of next week.”

    This win was the icing on the cake for a jubilant Matt, who is enjoying an incredible winning streak, having also claimed victory this week in the 1.45m CSI2* grand prix with Rachel Evison’s Curraghgraigue Obos Flight, a 1.40m on Evora BJX and Thursday’s 1.50m class riding Fabrice DN, with several other placings too. Well done Matt!

    Showjumping results: Matt Sampson and Paul O'Shea

    The secret to one “quirky” multi-winning horse? A ‘support human’

    US showjumper Kristen Vanderveen landed the speed stakes at the Hampton Classic Horse Show on a big-striding horse with “a quirky personality”, Bull Run’s Prince of Peace.

    “It’s great to be back at the Hampton Classic,” she said. “My plan was actually to go all-out on my second horse, Faustino, but today it paid off to stay a little conservative. Prince of Peace is also a really fast horse, so I didn’t have to go all-out with him.”

    “He’s quite the character,” she said of the 13-year-old Holsteiner gelding. “He’s taken me a bit of time to figure out. He’s got a quirky personality, so he’s a little special in the barn. He always likes to have his groom with him; we call it ‘needing his support human.’ But he’s won many classes over the years and been great. He’s done speed classes and grands prix, and it’s nice to have a horse that I can use in both divisions.”

    Faltic HB is back!

    One of the heroes of Great Britain’s bronze medal-winning squad from last month’s World Showjumping Championships, Ben Maher’s ride Faltic HB, was back in action this week, competing at the LGCT of Rome. Ben and the Oakingham Stud’s stallion blitzed round clear in 43.35sec to finish a very close second to victor Christian Kukuk riding the impressive stallion Mumbai in Saturday’s grand prix. The victorious German rider picked up one of the last remaining golden tickets to this year’s prestigious LGCT Super Grand Prix at the Prague Playoffs in November.

    Showjumping results: Christian Kukuk, Ben Maher and Marlon Zanotelli on the LGCT podium in Rome

    Taking third after a thrilling 12-way jump-off was Marlon Zanotelli riding Like A Diamond Van Het Schaeck, just ahead of world champion Henrik von Eckermann with his potential superstar mare Iliana. The recent LGCT London winner, Pieter Devos and Mom’s Toupie De La Roque finished fifth while another Brit, Jodie Hall McAteer rode another brilliant double clear with Salt’N Peppa (H&H‘s Spotlight star in this week’s magazine, in the shops 8 September) to finish seventh.

    “This means everything to me,” said Christian, who is based at the stables of Ludger Beerbaum. “I have put enormous effort into this sport and all the horses, especially Mumbai, over the past 10 years since I started at Ludger’s and I always dream about winning one of these LGCT grands prix.

    “I just realised that the breeder of Mumbai is here and it is her birthday – I think the day was just made for us. My groom has always said ‘I want to win one of these grands prix and I want to be in Prague for the Super Grand Prix’ and I said ‘I will try my best’. Today it worked out – it means a lot to us.”

    Ben Maher has closed in on leader Christian Ahlmann in the championship standings; now just six points separate the two contenders as they head to the next round in New York this month before the final in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in October.

    “Big pony with a big heart” jumps to victory

    At the 2022 Hampton Classic Horse Show at Bridgehampton, NY, Amanda Derbyshire triumphed in Friday’s CSI2* grand prix qualifier riding Gochman Sport Horse LLC’s Wonder If (main image above).

    “I’ve had ‘Juicy’ since the start of Florida this year,” said Amanda of the 10-year-old British-bred Cevin Z mare, formerly produced by Emma McGlynn. “She’s the most awesome horse. She’s literally a big pony with a really big heart. She’s been nothing but perfect since we got her and is the nicest, friendliest horse. Every time you go into the ring, you know she’s going to try for you, and it’s such a good feeling to have. Even though she’s little and doesn’t have the biggest stride, she makes up for it by being really fast and economical over the jumps. The owner, Becky, was also here to watch today, and it’s just amazing. She’s my biggest supporter, and I will always be grateful to her.”

    Sunday’s $410,000 Hampton Classic five-star grand prix was won by Karl Cook with Kalinka Van’t Zorgvliet.

    “What a horse”

    At the CSI3* Bemer Riders Tour at Lier, Belgium, Great Britain’s Robert Whitaker was in the money, claiming a victory in Friday’s 1.50m grand prix qualifier riding Caroline Blatchford’s 13-year-old Evert after a quality field of 13 jumped off against the clock.

    “What a horse,” said Robert, who went on to finish 10th to Frenchman Mathieu Billot (Darling De L’Angevine) in the 1.55m feature class and also finished in the money at the show with Vermento.

    London Knights win GCL of Rome

    The duo of Mike Kawai and Sam Hutton helped GCL team London Knights to their first podium of the season at the Rome leg on Saturday (3 September).

    “This feeling is actually amazing because I have always wanted to be on top of the podium in the GCL and to win the class feels incredible – we finally did it!” said Mike, who is trained by Jan Tops and rode Goldwin, a former mount of Laura Kraut, in Rome.

    Sam, who was riding the London stallion Oak Grove’s Laith at only their second show together, added: “We really stuck together as a team. Abdel Said was there helping us and it was a great feeling. We are going to be fighting for a top-four finish that is for sure. When I walked it I thought it was quite a difficult course, and everyone was jumping it really well early on but I think it was the pressure of the teams that got to everyone.”

    Berlin Eagles have now taken the lead in the GCL Championship with just two stages to go.

    Auction purchase is proving profitable

    Israeli showjumper Daniel Bluman took top honours in the $74,000 Hampton Classic CSI2* grand prix riding Cachemire De Braize.

    “Cache has been with us for about three years,” said Daniel of the 10-year-old Selle Français gelding. “He came out of an auction a few years ago, and I’ve been working with him since. He’s got a lot of talent, and he’s definitely fast. He’s had almost 10 international wins. He’s a very good horse, very competitive, and has his own way of going.

    “[Course designer] Alan Wade of course did a good job, but we don’t expect anything less from him. It was a difficult track for the two-star level, but Cachemire is a five-star horse. He’s done a lot of four-star grands prix, so he’s really at a level where he has experience and scope to spare. He gave me a really, really nice first round, then was great for the second. I knew I had to lay it out in the second round because I had some fast riders coming, and Karl Cook had already had a good jump-off. I just focused on my plan, and it worked out.”

    Botham’s quick-fire treble in Rome

    Fresh from success at the London leg of the LGCT, Adam Botham rode Barbara Hester’s Harvey to victory in Friday’s CSI2* two-phase at the LGCT in Rome. Warwickshire-based Adam quickly made it a winning double, jumping Barbara’s great stallion Ebanking (pictured above) to victory in the 1.40m equivalent, then the duo returned the next morning to take the red ribbons for the speed class by an incredible margin of nearly 2sec.

    Another British rider who finished in the ribbons in London, Izac Ketteridge, chased home Adam and Harvey in the opening two-phase to finish second riding Z7 Caretina and then followed up with a victory double in both Saturday’s 1.30m speed class and Sunday’s jump-off class riding Carron Nicol’s impressive 11-year-old Galerius.

    Ireland’s Shane Breen was another victor in Italy’s capital this week, winning the opening CSI5* two-phase with Z7 Ipswich.

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