World number one buys British-based rising showjumping star

  • World number one showjumper Harrie Smolders has bought a one-third share in the British-produced six-year-old stallion Escape Z.

    The son of the Dutchman’s Olympic partner Emerald was bred in Holland by Willem van Hoof and has been produced in the UK since a three-year-old by Danielle Ryder.

    In 2016 he claimed the national four-year-old title at Addington and last year was named leading five-year-old stallion at the world young horse championships in Lanaken.

    The 166cm (16.1hh) chestnut will remain in the UK with Danielle — who along with his breeder Willem retains a one-third share — to produce for the next year and a half.

    “I am often away from home and he would not get enough exercise at my place. He has to keep up with his peers, no more. Hopefully he will be the successor of his sire Emerald,” Harrie said.

    “He is a very remarkable horse. I believe that he has great quality and enough power to cover wide oxers. I am always looking for horses like that. As long as they have something exceptional, the right instincts, things you can not change as a rider.”

    Danielle said Harrie — who claimed a European individual silver medal last year with the British-produced stallion Don VHP — had confidence in the UK’s young horse system.

    “Harrie has known the horse for a year and a half and followed him since he did his first international shows as a five-year-old, then he saw him jump at Lanaken on the z-tour and he approached us from there,” Danielle said. “He will ride him a few times over the next two years and then take him over as an eight-year-old. He knows Willem well and trusts us 200%.”

    Danielle, who runs Sports Horse Direct, has been sourcing horses from Willem for 14 years and believes Escape Z is the best to have passed through her hands.

    “We’ve had a feeling from the horse from the beginning,” she said. “I always believed in him, Harrie believed in him before he rode him and when he sat on him he said he was even better than he thought. He can make power from nothing.

    “He’s a simple horse to ride because he’s so balanced and easy in his character. I can collect [semen] off him in the morning and go to a show in afternoon, but in the ring he’s a fighter — he only ever sees the jumps and is totally focussed on his job.”

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    Escape Z has some superb competition bloodlines, being out of the mare Promesse (Heartbreaker x Cathargo), who is also the dam of the popular five-star grand prix stallion Untouchable 27.

    Escape has already made a mark on the breeding world, having served 70 mares last year. His foal Escape The Opposition was awarded the best show jumping foal at the BEF Futurity, achieving the highest points of any age and any category in 2017.

    As well as continuing with stud duties, the AES and Zangersheide-approved stallion will be aimed at newcomers second rounds this year and will also contest the six-year-old classes at Lanaken.

    For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.

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