A skewbald horse who was previously used for carriage driving has qualified for the showjumping World Cup final this spring.
The 16-year-old gelding Life Is Beautiful will be heading back to the city where he was born, with Japan’s Shino Hirota, having secured his ticket to the final in Gothenburg.
Shino and the coloured gelding secured three wins and two runner-up spots in the 2018/19 Japan league of the World Cup, which put them at the top of the series leaderboard by some distance.
After his early career in Sweden, the horse was sold as an amateur to Japan, where he was spotted by New Zealand rider Bruce Goodin, who advised his business partner, Shino’s husband, Ryumi Hirota to buy him.
“Ryumi, who represented Japan at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney and at three World Cup finals, wasn’t overly impressed when he tried him at first because he had such an economical jump,” an FEI spokesman said.
“But the higher the fences were raised, the higher Life is Beautiful would go, and the moment Shino took up the reins they really clicked.
“Now the pair are seen as potential candidates for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on their home turf, so they couldn’t have arrived at the peak of their performance potential at a better time.”
Joining Shino as winners of their respective World Cup leagues are Tegan Fitzsimon, who took the New Zealand series, and Australian winner Aaron Hadlow, an accounts clerk who produced his ride Vahlinvader “from the outset”.
Brazilian Luis Felipe Pimenta Alves topped the South American league, Egypt’s Abdel Said the Arab league north Africa sub-league and four-time Olympian Ramzy Al Duhami from Saudi Arabia the Arab league Middle East sub-league.
An unusual skewbald thoroughbred caused a stir at Kempton Park racecourse at the weekend
Mud can be a shoe-pulling, tendon-tweaking nightmare — but must it be an inevitable part of winter? Here’s how to
Take advantage of our sale on Horse & Hound magazine subscriptions today
Siengsaw Lertratanachai from Thailand won the southeast Asia qualifying series, while Tongyan Liu took the Chinese league.
The World Cup final runs in Gothenburg from 3 to 7 April.
For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.