Find out all the latest news from this week’s international showjumping action from Valkenswaard, Saint-Tropez, Montefalco and Fontainebleau
Tops International Arena, Valkenswaard, the Netherlands
BEN MAHER and Ginger-Blue (pictured) stole the limelight in the year’s opening event at Tops International Arena, Valkenswaard, the Netherlands, winning the CSI4* grand prix in assured style.
The Hertfordshire rider seized the advantage in an 11-strong jump-off, crossing the finish with Jane Clark’s 10-year-old KWPN mare in 40.42sec to beat long-time Swiss leader Bryan Balsiger (AK’s Courage) by 0.08sec. Dutchman Maikel van der Vleuten’s mare Beauville Z made a welcome return to the sport with a third-place finish, with Cian O’Connor fourth for Ireland on Kilkenny. Less than half a second separated the top four combinations in a nail-biting finale.
“It was quite a big and rather tricky course with difficult distances,” said the British Olympic gold medallist. “I often had to make an extra stride. Ginger-Blue gave me a very good feeling in the first round and that gave me confidence for the jump-off. I did what I could and Ginger-Blue is by nature a very fast horse. This is a nice boost.”
Ben had plenty more to celebrate when winning the young horse final with the hugely exciting Point Break. Dutch rider Willem Greve set a formidable target with Pretty Woman Van’t Paradijs, but seven-year-old Point Break (Action-Breaker x Balou Du Rouet), owned by Charlotte Rossetter and Pamela Wright, outclassed his opposition for the second time in as many days.
“He is really growing here in this arena, I think he has a lot of potential,” said Ben.
GRAND PRIX SUCCESS FOR NEW FATHER GUERDAT
Hubside Spring Tour, Saint-Tropez, France
WORLD number one Steve Guerdat won his first five-star grand prix since the birth of his daughter five weeks ago. The Swiss rider triumphed at the Hubside Spring Tour in Saint-Tropez riding a “fresh” 12-year-old gelding Venard De Cerisy, “who gave it his all”.
“It obviously means a lot,” said Steve.
BREEN TRIUMPHANT IN ITALIAN JOB
FOLLOWING his results at Chard, Shane Breen rode the brilliant 13-year-old Z7 Ipswich to victory in the CSI4* grand prix in Montefalco, Italy, in a competitive five-way jump-off. The pair produced a double clear nearly two seconds faster than their nearest rivals to claim the top prize.
Best of the Brits was John Whitaker with Unick Du Francport, who finished seventh with a first-round time-fault, but the Yorkshireman won earlier in the week with the nine-year-old Luidam son, Green Grass.
Laura Renwick took Thursday’s speed class on Galerius then followed up with victory on Friday with the ever-consistent Dublin V, while Dermott Lennon flew the Irish flag in a two-phase with MJM Pursuit.
“I NEVER EXPECTED TO BE THAT LUCKY”
Fontainebleau CSI*, France
NICOLA WILSON’S prolific speed horse Naomi 55 surpassed even her own great track record when she won every class she entered at Fontainebleau CSI*.
The 15hh, 14-year-old headed three 1.25m–1.30m table As.
“The French go so fast and while I know she is quick and can beat them, I never expected to be that lucky to get three in a row. She does love the French atmosphere – they have loud music, everyone gets really involved and it gets her blood up,” said Nicola, who bought the mare as a four-year-old off an old primary school friend.
You can also read this report in the 13 May issue of Horse & Hound magazine.
You might also be interested in…
Equestrian Canada announced the riders bidding for the one individual showjumping space available at the Games
The event, which was cancelled last year owing to Covid, will take place at its usual home, the NEC Birmingham