‘Never give up’: showjumper wins the class of his dreams – after 12 years of trying

  • Colombian showjumper Mark Bluman has won international showjumping classes all over the US and Europe but, despite 12 years of trying, grand prix success has so far eluded the 30-year-old.

    However, underlining why you should never give up on your goals, Mark’s fortunes changed on Saturday (29 January) when he and the nine-year-old mare Marilyn won the $100,000 1.45m CSI2* grand prix at the inaugural Split Rock Saratoga CSI2* at TerraNova Equestrian Center.

    The odds were still stacked against him as a huge field of 16 progressed to the jump-off, but seizing the advantage of last draw, Mark and Over The Top Stables’ mare flew round Olaf Peterson Jr’s course to take this milestone victory in impressive style.

    “I have been jumping in grand prix classes for about 12 years now and this is my first international win,” said Mark. “I have been close multiple times and was really hoping to come here and get that under my belt.”

    Mark grew up in Medellin, Colombia and has been riding since the age of three. He was crowned the national children’s and junior champion before moving to the United States and has represented his country in Nations Cups. He spent two years in Europe at the stables of Tal Milstein in Belgium before rejoining his family to run the successful Bluman Equestrian.

    His winning mare Marilyn is German-bred by the stallion Messenger and was previously ridden by Mark’s cousin Daniel Bluman, who represents Israel in top-level showjumping but was dramatically ruled out of the Tokyo Olympics last year.

    “Marilyn is not very experienced, but in our family we have big hopes for her for this year,” said Mark.

    “I had time to watch everyone go, and in that position the only thing to do was go as fast as I could and turn tight, and hope that the rails stay in place and they did for me,” he added.

    “My whole family is a big supporter of the Split Rock shows. We have been big supporters since the beginning and it is always a great atmosphere, great footing and they treat the riders the way they should be treated.”

    Great Britain’s Jessica Mendoza, who was third behind Mark Bluman in the grand prix, racked up an impressive one-two at the show, winning Thursday’s 1.45m welcome class on the 15-year-old Dublin, also slotting into the runner-up spot on Casanova 499.

    “They were both amazing – I didn’t quite expect to be first and second when I woke up today but couldn’t have asked for a better result from them both,” said Jessica, who fielded half of the contenders for the four-way jump-off. “I think Dublin loves the courses built, the type of the arenas, and the great competition [at Split Rock].”

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