British team success, teenage horses shine and a mare with a ‘weird canter’ proves unconventional horses can win too

  • There was plenty for British showjumping supporters to cheer about this week, with a victorious performance from the Team GB quartet in Sharjah, UAE, while a pair of veteran geldings prove unbeatable in a high-octane grand prix in Florida (one of whom has spent the past month in a field in Ireland).

    Here is your weekly round-up of this week’s international winners and showjumping news from around the world.

    British Nations Cup glory

    Great Britain’s showjumpers were triumphant in the CSIO4* Sharjah Nations Cup, UAE. The squad of William Funnell (Equine America Billy Picador), Tim Gredley (Imperial HBF) and brothers Donald Whitaker riding Millfield Colette and Joe Whitaker with Hulahupe JR claimed victory with an eight-point margin over Ireland, with the host nation UAE in third.

    There were only two double clears in the competition, both of which came from British riders – Donald Whitaker and William Funnell.

    Shortly before helping Ireland to the Nations Cup podium, Shane Breen and Z7 Ipswich won the 1.45m UAE Equestrian and Racing Federation Cup.

    Teenage horses lead the way

    Returning from a break, the 16-year-old gelding Count Me In and Irish rider Conor Swail immediately resumed their winning ways, claiming top spot in the MARS Equestrian CSI4* grand prix on the Derby field at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), Florida.

    “I’m lucky to have Crosby,” said Conor of the Count Grannus gelding owned by Sandy Lupton and Mannon Farm, who spent the past month in his field in Ireland after a good run at Geneva and the London International five-star shows. “He’s a very fast horse and I was trying to give it a good go and put the other riders under enough pressure and hope they would make mistakes.”

    The pair scorched round from first draw in a five-way jump-off over a track designed by Anderson Lima of Brazil and posted a hefty winning margin of six seconds. The closest challenge came from US rider Laura Kraut with another 16-year-old, St Bride’s Farm’s Confu.

    “He’s the horse of a lifetime for me,” said Conor, currently ranked number five in the world. “He’s changing my career, hopefully we’ll get another few years together. WEF is very tough – if you’re winning here, you can win anywhere in the world. It’s nice to come out and compete against the best riders – and come out on top sometimes. It’s very rewarding.”

    Count Me In’s groom Stefan McNulty was also given the $500 grooms’ award, presented by Double H Farm.

    Conor Swail wins the CSI4* grand prix at WEF riding the 16-year-old gelding Count Me In

    Credit: Sportfot

    ‘He’s everything a rider wants’

    Brazil’s Marlon Zanotelli won the penultimate Longines FEI Jumping World Cup qualifier in Bordeaux, France, riding the 14-year-old gelding VDL Edgar and came within a whisker of completing the grand prix double the following day, just finishing second to Frenchman Gregory Cottard riding Cocaine Du Val.

    Marlon’s World Cup success came after a mammoth 17-combination jump-off, in which the Brazilian was joined on the podium by runner-up Edouard Schmitz (Quno) and Henrik von Eckermann (King Edward) with British stars Harry Charles (Balou Du Reventon) and Scott Brash (Hello Jefferson) claiming fourth and fifth respectively.

    “It was definitely a big advantage to start last,” said Marlon. “I’m very lucky to have my wife Angelica there to watch and tell me exactly what to do – she knows Edgar so well and she knows me a bit too!”

    “Luckily Edgar was amazing today and he’s been so consistent this year,” added Marlon, who finished 0.33sec ahead of his Swiss challenger, who was finishing second in a World Cup qualifier for the second week running. “He’s everything a rider wants – he’s careful, he has scope and for me the most important part is that he’s so clever. He’s so sensitive to the rider, so responsive and he’s getting quicker and quicker!”

    Ireland’s Richard Howley won Friday’s opener, the 1.45m speed class, riding Mansini Ltd.

    A winning treble for Maisy Williams

    After James Smith’s astonishing winning streak during week one of the Villamoura Atlantic Tour, British riders produced plenty more success in week two, with James winning again in the CSI3* classes on Holly and Good Friends, and he was one of many reaping success in the young horse classes, with Michelob and NFS Angelina. Maisy Williams racked up a double with the seven-year-old Gold Rush, also triumphing on the six-year-old Billy Heinz ET, while Nicole Pavitt (Azalea 16) also went on to success in the CSI3* classes on Nobelle Casscania, where Guy Williams (Second Chance), Chloe Aston, Ben Hobday, Polly Shaw, Laura Mantel (Klein Stargette) and Lila Bremner with Billy Penny also flew the British flag.

    The grand prix was won by Frenchman Jerome Hurel riding Byron Du Telman, with Olli Fletcher finishing second for the consecutive week riding Hello William, and Mikey Pender third for Ireland riding HHS Fast Forward.

    Meet the grand prix-winning mare with a ‘very weird canter’

    Winning the CSI2* grand prix at WEF, Florida, in week four was a mare who is not as straightforward as she seems. Mexican rider Tanimara Macari rode the 10-year-old mare IB Chica to top spot, despite competing in the relatively tight confines of the covered arena, which wouldn’t have suited this big-striding five-star winner.

    “We didn’t really have high hopes today because she’s so long and being in the [Van Kampen] covered changed our plan, but it worked out in the end,” said Tanimara, who has only been riding the mare since the end of last year. “She was amazing today, even with all the turning, but she was so game.

    “She’s definitely unconventional. She has a very weird canter and has a few quirks, but it works. She’s a super nice mare and easy to take care of. She has a fighting spirit so when she goes in the ring she really gives everything.”

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