‘I wasn’t sure I was the right rider for him’: perseverance pays off for the Olympic champion and a world championship medallist returns

  • With temperatures plummeting at home, we are ever so slightly envious of all the riders competing somewhere warmer, and judging by this week’s international showjumping news and results, the British showjumping horses are clearly thriving.

    So who has been in the ribbons around the world this week? Read on for our weekly round-up of international showjumping news and results.

    A win for Stockdale, and Cacharel’s welcome return

    Joe Stockdale is making his first visit to the competitive circuit of the United Arab Emirates, but quickly hit winning form with Barbara Hester and his mother Laura’s 10-year-old stallion Ebanking (Etoulon x VDL Sheraton) in a huge 80-starter speed class, the CSI4* Equitrans Logistics Diamond Tour 1.50m at the Al Shira’aa International Horse Show – Equitrans having handled the shipping of his horses from Europe.

    The duo beat Ireland’s Shane Breen on Scarteen into second by well over a second. In third was Germany’s Christian Ahlmann on Otterongo Alpha Z.

    “That was a super way to start, I was absolutely delighted with him,” Joe told H&H. “It’s very competitive here, there are some good riders and horses. I haven’t done this tour before but it’s great to get going outdoors earlier than normal and the horses are all fresh and loving it.”

    After a six-month spell on the sidelines, it was great also great to see Joe’s world championship bronze medal-winning partner Equine America Cacharel back in the ring.

    “I was just steady with her this week and we’ll play it by ear,” said Joe. “I came on this tour a bit with her in mind because I wanted to get her going after such a long time off. It wasn’t an injury or a lameness as such, it was just something minor, but enough that we wanted to be very cautious with her and get it right, rather than carry on jumping her and for it to develop into something major. So we decided to do a complete reset and come back when we knew everything was 100%. We played around with her shoeing and did MRIs and worked with the British vets, just to make sure it’s all where it should be. It’s really nice to have her back.”

    Joe has also teamed up with a new eight-year-old, Laska JDV (Gaspahr x Namelus R), who was previously ridden by young Slovenian rider Gaj Riossa and caught Joe’s eye in Oliva at the end of last year.

    “I literally only had him a couple of weeks before I brought him here, but I thought this tour would be a great start for him in terms of getting to know each other,” said Joe, who will be based in the UAE for the next six weeks and has been picked for the first of the region’s four-star Nations Cups in Sharjah at the end of the month on Ebanking.

    “Laska is quite big so he’s got a bit of developing to do, but I have high hopes for him, he’s showed a lot of promise already. He’s a lovely horse to have in the stable, he has a great brain and he’s a joy to work with.

    “The shows here so far have been top notch, really well organised, so it’s great to be here and so far, so good.”

    The winner of the show’s CSI4*-W Longines Al Shira’aa FEI Jumping World Cup Grand Prix was Sophie Hinners from Germany riding nine-year-old Sinclair.

    Showjumping news: Ben Maher wins with Enjeu De Grisien

    Ben Maher wins the CSI3* grand prix on Enjeu De Grisien

    Maher resumes his winning ways

    Fresh from their World Cup success at the London International last month, Ben Maher and Enjeu De Grisien (Toulon x Andiamo) wowed the Florida crowd with victory in Saturday’s $140,000 Southern Arches CSI3* grand prix in week one of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). Ben co-owns Enjeu with Charlotte Rossetter and Pamela Wright and the duo beat US Olympic team gold medallist McLain Ward into second on First Lady.

    “Enjeu is 10 now, we bought him when he was seven and he was a difficult young horse – very active and almost too much power for the body he has,” said Ben. “I struggled to get him under control and we were on different paths for a while, he didn’t really understand me and I didn’t understand him, but all of a sudden it just clicked. He was always a very talented horse – I just wasn’t sure I was the right rider for him. But as a rider we have to adapt and we have to understand our horses and change to what they like. We made those changes and one day to the next, it worked and he’s continued on to be in great form.

    “At the moment I actually have a group of horses that are all ready to go like this. It’s the best team of horses I’ve ever had here. I’m very fortunate that I have multiple horses at the moment that can do this, so I’m just going to be careful, selective, not overjump them and make sure that we can have the best WEF possible without using the horses too much for the rest of the season.”

    A winning double for Kenny

    Ireland’s Darragh Kenny secured a winning double at WEF, opening with victory on Irwin, an 11-year-old Kannan stallion, whom he describes as “an incredible horse”, then steering nine-year-old Serendepety (Emely x Escudo I) to victory in the $32,000 speed class

    “These 1.45m speed classes [at WEF] are incredibly competitive and fast,” he admitted. “With such a large field of high talent it’s a bit of a luck of the draw of who gets the prize that day. That being said, I knew I could count on this mare to be quick and careful, so I followed the planned track and it ended up being enough.

    “We bought her when she was five, then trained her until she was seven,” said Darragh, who now owns the mare in partnership with German Olympic champion Ludger Beerbaum. “The idea for her is to continue working towards the highest level, and so far it looks promising. I think she’s quite special. She’s a really careful but quick horse, and so much fun to ride. Over the past several years we’ve taken our time with her; there’s no rush in her success but we would love to step her up possibly into the 1.50m over the next few months and see how it goes.”

    Mr President kicks off with a win

    Scott Brash and Hello Mr President made a winning start to 2024, taking the CSI2& 1.45m grand prix on Spring MET in Oliva, Spain, after a 10-way jump-off.

    “It was a nice class with a well-built course,” said Scott. “In the jump-off, my plan was just to keep it tight and smooth. Hello Mr President is a very fast horse naturally, so if I can let him run and jump, that suits him well. I’m happy with how he’s feeling at the moment.”

    Showjumping new: PIETER Devos and Mom's Toupie De La Roque win the World Cup qualifier of Basel, Switzerland

    Pieter Devos and Mom’s Toupie De La Roque win the World Cup qualifier of Basel, Switzerland.

    Teenage mare lands the World Cup of Basel

    Belgium’s Pieter Devos and his barefoot 17-year-old mare Mom’s Toupie De La Roque won the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup of Basel, Switzerland. The pair were drawn third and produced one of just two double clears, quicker than Switzerland’s Janika Sprunger with Orelie.

    “It’s the first show of the year and this gives a lot of confidence,” said Pieter. “It’s an important year, an Olympic year, and I’m going to do everything to be in the team and to have a fantastic year – like it started!

    “She is still very fresh so I think she has a good season in front of her. We will for sure do everything to go to the World Cup Final – we now have to make a good plan for that but also for the season and for Paris this summer.”

    You may also like to read…

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.

    You may like...