Hickstead Derby victor makes winning return and London Horse Show heroes strike again

  • Equine golden oldies, including the 17-year-old Hickstead Derby winner Can Ya Makan, were making headlines from as far afield as Florida to the UAE and Spain as teenage horses captured grands prix, with US rider Mclain Ward stating his horses’ longevity was a “great testament” to his team.

    Here, we celebrate these achievements and the rest of the past week’s international winners and showjumping news.

    Ebolensky and Sampson top Spanish grand prix

    Competing in her first grand prix since winning the final day’s feature class at the London International, Ebolensky proved she’s back to her brilliant best when winning the CSI4* Andalucia Sunshine Tour Horseware Big Tour 1.55m grand prix with the fastest of only two double clears (pictured top).

    Matt and the Evison family’s 14-year-old Clinton mare stopped the clock in 39.68sec, beating Germany’s Kendra Brinkop (In Time) in a nine-way jump-off where their rivals all faulted. Scott Brash and new ride Hello Valentino finished runners-up in the medium tour equivalent in Vejer De La Frontera.

    ‘He’s taken me to the Olympics and World Championships’

    Bertram Allen and the brilliant 11-year-old Pacino Amiro (pictured below) landed Thursday’s five-star jump-off class at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Florida. From a starting field of 54, the Irishman won over tracks set by Frank Rothenburger, where a tight time allowed in round one caught out several combinations.

    “I knew going in that I had to have a good round, but I didn’t want to overdo it today with the grand prix coming up on Saturday,” explained Bertram, who beat his countryman Conor Swail (Count Me In) into the runner-up spot with Laura Kraut third on Baloutinue. “My plan was to be quick early on because I knew if I caught the first two fences well that my horse is as quick as any other.

    “He has really been a fantastic horse for me; he is only 11, but he’s already been to the Olympics, the World [Championships] and won a five-star grand prix here.”

    Bertram Allen and Pacino Amiro win at WEF

    Simpson’s speedy success and the winning return of Can Ya Makan

    England-based Irish showjumper David Simpson landed the CSI2* Longines Sharjah grand prix in the UAE riding the exciting eight-year-old Pjotr Van De Kruishoeve. Shane Breen was also a winner earlier in the week riding his Hickstead Derby hero Can Ya Makan.

    ‘Their health is a great testament to my team’

    US rider Mclain Ward landed a big class double at WEF with a pair of teenage horses, crediting the longevity of his top-flight string to his team’s careful management. His first victory came in Saturday night’s grand prix riding the 15-year-old Callas, the mare’s first success at this level. He beat Ireland’s Darragh Kenny (Volnay Du Boisdeville) into second with Kent Farrington third on Landon, who he considers to have a very bright future.

    “She’s been knocking on the door, so it’s nice for us to break through and get a big win,” said Mclain. “The jump-off was built for us. She cuts a little left, so at fence one to two I could take a straight line. I needed the Hermès [oxer] to show up well off that rollback. Everybody had to make a sharp turn and it was a bit awkward, but I got away with that one.”

    Mclain followed up the following day in the 1.50m classic riding the 13-year-old mare Alanine De Vains, becoming the first rider since 2014 to do the big class double.

    “She should have won the class earlier in the week, but I made a mistake,” said Mclain, competing in just his second class with the mare. “She’s very careful and very fast, so that plays into my hand with a jump-off like this.”

    Crediting his team, Mclain added: “We’ve worked really hard to build a great string of horses and to maintain them so that they last a long time. My top horses are 17 years old, 15 and 14 – they are experienced, which gives you such an advantage, and their health is a great testament to my team. We have great owners that allow us to show these horses the right amount and not put too much pressure on them.”

    McLain Ward and Alanine De Vains

    Irish victory in Belgium

    Irish rider Jason Foley won the CSI2* grand prix at the Flanders Horse Xpo riding the nine-year-old mare Rockwell RC. From nearly 60 starters, 10 came forward for the jump-off. Best of the Brits was Robert Whitaker and Vermento, who just picked up four faults in round one.

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