Mare bought untried proves unbeatable, Olympic veteran wins first five-star grand prix and a teenage rider beats top eventer

  • An amazing assortment of exceptional showjumping horses took starring roles this week as we enjoyed five-star competitions from Qatar to USA to Sweden.

    We’ve always loved Marcus Ehning’s exceptional stallion Stargold, with his charismatic flick of the heels, and he once again proved unbeatable in Saturday’s feature class in Doha, while Laura Kraut’s outstanding championship horse Baloutinue somewhat surprisingly won his first five-star grand prix at the age of 13. A gelding who is blind in one eye proved that having limited vision is no barrier to success and a British teenager had the honour of beating an Olympic eventer in an international grand prix, as we bring you this round-up of this week’s international showjumping news and results.

    ‘A dream come true’: Kraut’s Olympic hero wins his first five-star grand prix, aged 13

    The $425,000 CSI5* Lugano Diamonds grand prix during week seven of WEF at Wellington International was won by US rider Laura Kraut with her Tokyo Olympic team silver medal-winning partner Baloutinue. Somewhat surprisingly, this was the consistent 13-year-old gelding’s first five-star grand prix victory.

    The pair had penultimate draw in a seven-way jump-off and survived a sharp challenge from final rider and her US team-mate Mclain Ward (Contagious), who finished 0.3sec slower, with Ireland’s Shane Sweetnam third riding the 10-year-old Irish-bred gelding James Kann Cruz (Kannan x Cruising).

    “I had a good feeling when I walked the course,” said Laura. “My horse had jumped very well on Thursday, so this is just a dream come true.

    “I took a real shot at the double – I came in there a little more forward than I’d have liked to! But he tried so hard coming out,” said Laura of the galloping jump-off track, describing Baloutinue’s (pictured below) flying leap over the final oxer as a “heroic effort”.

    Laura Kraut and Baloutinue competing at WEF in Florida, where they won the 5* grand prix

    Laura Kraut and Baloutinue winning their first CSI5* grand prix

    “I’m just so excited by Baloutinue, he’s been so great for so long – I haven’t had the opportunity to jump very many jump-offs with him but I felt like tonight he was right there for all of it,” added Laura of the Balou Du Rouet x Landor S gelding owned by St. Bride’s Farm. “I always try to go faster than I probably should, but he’s fast enough on his own, and tonight I just let him go his speed and that seemed to work better. He’s a trier, he’s elastic and he’s very careful.

    “It was a fantastic crowd; the atmosphere here at night is as good as it gets,” added Laura. “We feel like the crowd is really behind us; when I was clear it was an explosion.”

    Baloutinue’s groom Margo Thomas was also awarded with a $500 award presented by Double H Farm.

    Marcus Ehning on Stargold

    Marcus Ehning on Stargold in flying form

    Ehning goes for gold

    Germany’s Marcus Ehning and the charismatic Stargold (pictured above) produced a scintillating triple clear on a warm night in the Qatar desert to become the first back-to-back winners of the CSI5* 1.60m grand prix at Commercial Bank CHI Al Shaqab, Doha.

    “He felt so fresh and enjoys the heat here, so I had a good feeling,” said Marcus after the stallion threw in some trademark bucks en route to victory. “He’s a stallion with a lot of character and I try to let him stay that way.”

    ‘She has a heart as big as a lion’

    Shane Breen posted a win for Ireland in Thursday’s 1.45m two-phase in Doha, Qatar, with his gallant mare Haya, whose gritty style makes her deceptively quick, scoring by 0.28sec over Kevin Staut (Dialou Blue PS). Shane first spotted the grey at a show in France, when his brother Trevor had tipped him off.

    “She struck me as really smart, with laser-vision to her jumps and was super careful,” said Shane, who won last year’s Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Hickstead with the mare. “So I slept on it but when I went to ask her rider Harold Megahey if I could try her, she’d already gone home. So I bought her without trying her! She has a heart as big as a lion.”

    Teenager beats Olympic eventer

    Great Britain’s 18-year-old Olivia Banks recorded the novel achievement of beating New Zealand Olympic eventer Tim Price on his Boekelo winner Happy Boy, to land the CSI* grand prix on the Andalucia Sunshine Tour riding Geodina HS. Swiss showjumper Steve Guerdat claimed the CSI4* 1.55m Equine America grand prix at the venue riding the 10-year-old mare Dynamix De Belheme, whom he thinks is “the best horse I’ve ever had”. The pair soared home half a second faster than team-mate Martin Fuchs riding Commissar Pezi after a 12-way jump-off. Nicole Lockhead-Anderson and Emerald Irish Cruise were among the other British riders on form this week.

    Rider cancels his plane to enjoy his World Cup celebrations

    The final leg of the Longines FEI World Cup Western European League in Gothenburg, Sweden, was won by French rider Marc Dilasser riding the 13-year-old gelding Arioto Du Gevres. For the top 18 riders, all roads now lead to Omaha, USA, in April for the World Cup Final, and this includes Great Britain’s Harry Charles and Scott Brash.

    Showjumping news: Marc Dilasser FRA Arioto du Gevres ( SF G bay 13y. by Diamant de Semilly – Qualisco III Owner: S.A.R.L. Equiouest), winners at the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2022/23 – Gothenburg (SWE)

    Marc Dilasser winning the last World Cup qualifier in Gothenburg, Sweden

    “This is my first ever World Cup win,” said Marc, who was drawn first in the jump-off. “Arioto was not always an easy horse – when he was young, he was difficult to ride, but he has always been a fighter!

    “This has been a fantastic day for me and my owners. I had a plane to catch this evening but instead we cancelled that and we will stay one more night and break out the champagne here in Gothenburg – it’s important to celebrate the big moments!”

    Horse with limited vision wins $100,000 grand prix

    Brazilian showjumper Santiago Lambre won the $100,000 Hampton Green Farms grand prix at the World Equestrian Centre, Ocala, Florida with the 16-year-old gelding Chacco Blue II, who is blind in one eye.

    Santiago Lambre and Chacco Blue II, who is blind in one eye

    Santiago Lambre and Chacco Blue II, who is blind in one eye

    Irish course builder Colm Quinn set the track and Santiago describes his Chacco Blue son as a “slow mover” but with “a mile long” stride and the pair executed some terrific turns to win.

    “Tonight, he showed his speed,” he said. “I tried to gallop everywhere I could and be tight back to the second to last vertical. Luckily for us, both tight turns were on his good side, and not blind side. If it were on his blind eye side I would’ve had to give him a touch more room, but this course was perfect for him.”

    A hat-trick of blue ribbons for Olli Fletcher

    Great Britain’s Olli Fletcher finished runner-up in the Villamoura Atlantic Tour grand prix for the third time, this time riding the 12-year-old Garande. His previous two close finishes came with Hello William. This time he missed out to Dutch victor Niels Kersten riding Tippy Z. Guy Williams and Crispina Z, and Adrian Speight on Millfield Baloney won a rankings class and James Smith, Laura Mantel and Chloe Aston were just some of the riders flying the British flag in impressive style.

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