A nail-biting Nations Cup jump-off for Great Britain and a ‘unique’ triplet filly wins

  • From Europe to the Middle East and USA, we have enjoyed some terrific showjumping over the past week, with Longines FEI Nations Cup action, World Cup and top-class grands prix to savour.

    Here is your weekly round-up of the latest international showjumping news, plus results from around the globe.

    Austria versus Great Britain in Nations Cup thriller

    The opening Longines FEI Nations Cup competition of 2023 took place in Abu Dhabi, UAE, where Austria galloped to victory after a jump-off against Great Britain. Austrian team rider Christoph Obernauer sealed the win with a 33.68sec round on the 10-year-old gelding Kleons Renegade (pictured below), while Great Britain’s Joe Whitaker and the brilliant Hulahupe JR, with whom he won the World Cup the week before, just tapped out the final planks for the runner-up spot. Last year’s winners Ireland took third.

    “I cannot remember the last time Austria won a Nations Cup and it might even be the first time ever that Austrian has won a five-star Nations Cup – we are really proud of our result,” said Gerfried Puck, the senior member of the Austrian side.

    Great Britain’s pathfinder William Funnell made his five-star Nations Cup debut with 11-year-old Equine America Billy Picador, recovering from an 18-fault first round to jump clear. Tim Gredley and Medoc De Toxandria posted a clear followed by four faults, before brothers Donald Whitaker (on Millfield Colette) and Joe Whitaker riding Hulahupe JR added just four faults each from their two rounds.

    “It went down to the wire – it was a good one!” Joe told H&H. “It was a very good 1.60m course, up to height, and Hulahupe seems to be getting better all the time – I’m very proud of him, he’s stepping up nicely. He’s my best pal, I’ve had him since he was six and we’ve done everything together. But it’s all thanks to the Bullock family, John and Jan and Jess Crane, who owned Hulahupe JR until I bought him last year. They put him with me when he was six and they always believed he was a good horse, and they put their belief in me. So it’s a big thank you to them for everything. Without them we wouldn’t be here at all.”

    Showjumping news: Austria win the Nations Cup in Abu Dhabi

    ‘Unique’ triplet filly wins Challenge Cup

    A horse and rider who have enjoyed a 15-year partnership won the Adequan WEF Challenge Cup during this week’s Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida. US rider Nicole Shahinian-Simpson and Akuna Mattata headed a jump-off field of 12 to win the class on the grass Derby field on Friday (20 January). The teenage Holstein mare, owned by Carol Rosentstein and Silver Raven Farms, was one of three triplet fillies by embryo transfer out of Nicole’s former partner SRF Dragonfly De Joter.

    “She is unique in many ways, and it takes a bit of a village to get prepared for the class, but once she’s in here she’s all show horse,” said Nicole. “Her adrenaline is so high that she just sees red. But, after the round you can walk out on a loose rein and she’s a champion in the prizegiving. She’s very quiet at the barn and an easy horse to take care of. When she gets up here and she knows it’s an important class, she’s all sport.”

    Olympic stallion wins at the age of 20

    The outstanding 20-year-old stallion Tic Tac returned to the winner’s enclosure at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, Florida, with British showjumper Ben Maher. Jane Clark’s Clinton stallion looked better than ever in the grass Derby field at Equestrian Village in week two of WEF to top Thursday’s (19 January) CSI3* 1.45m speed class.

    “Tic Tac knows everything now, so it’s more about just keeping him fit and enjoying everything,” said the Olympic champion, who keeps the stallion – his 2016 Rio Olympic partner – in Florida all year round.

    “We don’t travel him to Europe. We’re very fortunate with the staff and team at home looking after him. He knows his job and he loves this arena.”

    Ben went on to finish second in the $50,000 Palm Beach Equine Clinic grand prix riding Enjeu De Grisien, having won Thursday’s national qualifier with Charlotte Rossetter and Pamela Wright’s nine-year-old Toulon gelding.

    Showjumping news: a home win for Gerrit Nieberg

    The Leipzig leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Western European League was won by home rider Gerrit Nieberg riding Blues D’Aveline CH after a 12-way jump-off. He beat team-mate Richard Vogel (Looping Luna) into second with Switzerland’s Pius Schwizer third on Vancouver De Lanlore.

    “I had a really good feeling with my horse in the first round so I thought I’d try a bit more and he did an amazing job!” said Gerrit.

    Farrington’s grand prix double

    US rider Kent Farrington enjoyed some great results during this week’s WEF with victory in the $50,000 Palm Beach Equine Clinic grand prix on rising star Greya, then the CSI3* grand prix with 10-year-old Landon. His national victory on the “opinionated” nine-year-old Colestus mare, Greya, came from first draw in a seven-horse jump-off.

    “It’s her first time jumping under the lights,” said Kent. “So I tried to just work out of her normal gallop which is already pretty quick. She’s a very special horse and I thought she jumped very well tonight. She has her own ideas, but those are my favourite horses because I think in the end they are the best. When you can train the horse to work with you and use all of their energy to go in the right direction it can be great.”

    The world number 18 sealed the week with victory in the CSI3* grand prix, beating Ireland’s Daniel Coyle on Ariel Grange’s Gisborne VDL into second place.

    “Landon is a big-strided horse, but Daniel’s horse is also big-striding, and I thought he had an incredible round,” said Kent after his first grand prix win with the gelding. “I probably have a little quicker foot speed than him, but it took a lot to beat that round today because he was dropping strides everywhere on a huge gallop the whole way around.

    “My programme is very specific for each horse. He has a very big stride so we work a lot on him trying to control his power through control exercises through poles, very simple stuff. He has to learn to contain his power. You can see that now, his rounds are getting much smoother and his jump-off today felt great. It validates our work.

    “The last year has been a rebuilding time for my string as some of my main horses are winding down their international careers. It’s time for the young ones to step up; I have a group of horses – the oldest being 10 – that are starting to jump in the international scene and I’m excited to see what happens with each of them.

    “I have a great team coming up and Landon is one of that group, so it was an exciting day for the horse and our team.”

    Winning groom Denise Moriarty was presented with the $500 grooms’ award, by Double H Farm.

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