Top British rider’s Tokyo contender heads world rankings as breeders celebrated

  • Breeders of the world’s top horses, including Holly Smith’s Tokyo contender Denver, have been recognised at the World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses (WBFSH) breeders awards.

    The awards honour breeders of the top ranked showjumping, dressage, and event horses of the year. As a live ceremony could not take place owing to the coronavirus pandemic, a video celebrating the winners was produced.

    Marleen Woertmann received the jumping award on behalf of her now deceased father Anton Woertmann, breeder of the eventer-turned-showjumper Denver. Owned by Ian Dowie, the 12-year-old Albfuehren’s Memphis x Chico’s Boy notched up 1155 points with Holly between 1 October 2019 to 30 September 2020.

    “I do not think my father thought he would ever breed a foal like this. It is an honour to my father, an honour to his work and I am very happy to receive this award,” said Marleen.

    Holly took on the ride in September last year following the gelding’s former eventing career under Constance Copestake. Holly and Denver’s highlights include winning the La Vanguardia Trophy at the CSIO5* Barcelona in October 2019, three podium finishes at London Olympia CSI5*-W, and third place in the Amsterdam CSI5*-W in January. Following the return of the sport after the first coronavirus lockdown, the combination have secured top-10 finishes around Europe.

    “He‘s always been a jumper. He’s a natural talent – it’s just been a bit later he was allowed to do what he was best at,” Holly told H&H.

    “It feels great for him to be number one, and I think in part he probably owes it to my top horse Heart’s Destiny who sadly died. They were a great team together; I used Heart’s Destiny for the Nations Cup and grands prix and then Denver cleaned up everything in between.

    “Having both of them running together was wonderful but now it’s Denver’s turn to do it on his own. We’re out in Spain at the moment and have the Nations Cup next week so we’ll see how he goes.”

    Holly said she is aiming the KWPN gelding for the Tokyo Games next year.

    “I very much let the horse guide me, they know what they’re capable of and what they can do and I try to give them every chance to show me.”

    The winning dressage breeder was the late Inge Bastian, who was represented in the awards by her husband Günter Bastian – breeder of the Oldenburg-registered mare Weihegold OLD by Don Schufro x Sandro Hit. Inge also won the award in 2017.

    Ridden by Isabell Werth, the combination won six international events during the competition year collecting 2753 points.

    Dutch couple Jannie and Johan Schurink took the eventing breeders award for the KWPN gelding Scuderia 1918 Don Quidam. The 12-year-old by Quidam x Amethist topped the world rankings with 172 points and is competed by Australian Kevin McNab, who said the gelding was “a little star”.

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    Mr and Mrs Schurink describe themselves as “hobby breeders”.

    “Don Quidam was born here and it is amazing that a horse we have bred becomes number one in the world,” said Mr Schurink.

    “It is a great thing for my wife because she has put a lot of work into the horses, and she deserves this award.”

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