Top mare makes ‘fresh and feisty’ winning comeback and a remarkable case of déjà vu

  • Hitting the international showjumping news headlines this week is multi-winning mare Killer Queen VDM, who has made a welcome return to top-flight sport with regular rider Daniel Deusser after several months on the sidelines.

    Meanwhile in the USA, one Irishman declares his winning mount as having the potential to be “one of the best in the world” – strong words, indeed. There’s also a remarkable case of déjà vu in the Chepstow’s CSI2* grand prix and even the 2012 Olympic champion admits to feeling the nerves ahead of a five-star class. Read on for our weekly round-up of international showjumping news headlines and results.

    A welcome comeback for “fresh and feisty” top mare Killer Queen VDM

    While the King, King Edward, has been making showjumping news headlines in recent weeks, this week it was the turn of the Queen, Killer Queen VDM, to take the spotlight.

    Daniel Deusser and his multi-winning mare made a winning return to five-star competition at the Printemps Des Sports Equestres in Fontainebleau. The 14-year-old mare returned to competition on the Spanish Sunshine Tour this year but they stepped up to five-star for the first time since last summer, looking better than ever when landing a 1.55m class.

    “I’m delighted she did so well,” said the German rider, crediting the mare’s “warrior spirit”. “She might even be a bit too fresh and feisty for a competition like this!”

    Great Britain’s Joe Stockdale was also in winning form at the show with Equine Rescue Services Kandleford in a 1.45m speed class.

    Showjumping news: “I think he’ll end up one of the best in the world”

    Ireland’s Conor Swail won the $225,000 Kentucky Invitational four-star grand prix presented by Hagyard Equine Medical Institute with 11-year-old Casturano after a six-way jump-off in the Rolex Stadium. Egypt’s Nayel Nassar finished second with Igor Van De Wittemoere while US rider Charlotte Jacobs, who also managed to enjoy watching some of the three-day event at the venue, piloted Irish Sport Horse Rincoola Milsean (by Aldatus Z out of Rincoola Abu by Cruising) into third position.

    “This horse jumps clear round after clear round and the confidence you get from jumping a horse with so much ability is how much he’s grown over the past year – I’m very excited about him,” said Conor, who scorched home quickest from penultimate draw. “If he keeps doing what he’s doing, I think he’ll end up one of the best horses in the world.”

    Second-placed Nayel said: “I can’t even guess the number of times I’ve lost to Conor. But that’s the beauty of the sport, it’s not over till it’s over. Conor is a favourite of mine to watch.”

    Conor Swail and Casturano headline this week's showjumping news

    Conor Swail and Casturano win the CSI4* invitational grand prix at Kentucky.

    A remarkable case of déjà vu

    There was a remarkable case of déjà vu in the grand prix at the Chepstow Spring International CSI2* at the David Broome Event Centre, Monmouthshire, when the top two places went to the same combinations as the previous week at the CSI2* Chard – Mikey Pender on HHS Cornetta and William Whitaker on Chacco’s Lando.

    “It was quite cool that Will and I were first and second again!” said Mikey, who also won Sunday’s CSI2* small tour 1.30m with Cornetta’s full brother HHS Cyprus.

    Poles had fallen very easily round Colm Quinn’s jump-off course, with the first third of the 12-strong field all faulting. It was Mikey who broke the jinx, delivering not only the first clear but also taking some economical early lines to clock the quickest time of the class on the big-engined grey by Cornet Obolensky. Four other riders left the fences standing, with William and the striking 11-year-old getting the spectators behind them as they looked to be the only combination in touch – but they were lagging a second behind when they landed before the turn to the final line and couldn’t gain the ground.

    “I was definitely quicker from two to three,”said Mikey, who angled the second fence and turned on a scything seven-stride arc round to the third. “I don’t think anyone else had seven there. I turned her so tight but she is really switched on, she is always with you waiting for you to give her the next instruction.”

    Read the full report from the show in this week’s Horse & Hound magazine, in the shops Thursday, 2 May.

    Steve Guerdat wins with Dynamix De Belheme in Fontainebleau

    Steve Guerdat wins with Dynamix De Belheme in Fontainebleau, despite admitting to feeling “more nervous than I have for a long time”

    A “perfect” mare takes notable victory

    With preparations starting to take shape for many potential Olympians, all eyes were on the CSI5* in Fontainebleau, where Swiss showjumper Steve Guerdat and his brilliant “horse of a lifetime” Dynamix De Belheme triumphed in the grand prix with an eye-catching performance over tracks set by France’s Gregory Bodo and Spain’s Santiago Varela, who will be in charge of the fences in Versailles for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

    “Dynamix has shown consistency since she started competing,” said the reigning European champion, who triumphed after a three-way jump-off. “She’s always been perfect, always jumped clear rounds in every age category and class.

    “It’s fair to say that she surprised me this weekend. I wasn’t expecting her to be so dynamic; I thought she was still one or two competitions away from reaching top form. It gives us confidence for the rest of the season.”

    Even the 2012 Olympic champion admitted to feeling particularly nervous at the start of the show’s feature class.

    “More than I had been for a long time,” he confessed. “Not because of the course – at ’s-Hertogenbosch, Dynamix and I jumped really well on the Friday, but then I didn’t get things right on the Sunday; she hasn’t taken part in any competitions since, so I was left with that memory, which is why I was nervous. But she has some great qualities and made things easy for me as a rider on this really enjoyable course.”

    Showjumping news: “A great couple of weeks” helped by “the most wonderful stallion”

    British teenager Rosie Smith sealed “a great couple of weeks” as a vital member of the Nations Cup team when, after helping the children-on-horses team to a third-place finish in the youth competition in Czechia, she and the great stallion Fruselli landed the grand prix.

    “I’m incredibly grateful to my owners for giving me the chance to gain this experience,” said Rosie, daughter of Olympian Holly Smith, who added: “Although Rosie is short on mileage at this level of competition, she rode to orders beautifully to win, helped by the most wonderful stallion!”

    Ted Bastian-Mason also flew the British flag on the podium, finishing third with a double clear on Forest Ranger OL.

    In the team competitions, the young riders took second, represented by Francesca Young (Carrickview Libretto), Glain Watkin Jones (La Vie Est D’Or), Tallulah Mackenzie Smith (Nistria VD Winning Z) and Connie Adams with Jagger. The junior squad also took the runner-up spot, this time after a jump-off, with a great performance from Henry Squibb (Diatencona PS), Alena Hughes (Hercules), Izzy Doyle (Claxon Van De Bosweg) and Ruby Barrs (Manzana De Rigo), who also finished runner-up in the under-25 grand prix on Guinot Di Nocciola.

    “It was my first 1.45m so it was quite daunting,” she said.

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