Canadian show jumping athlete Wesley Newlands of Toronto, ON, claimed victory in the 1.30m Final to close out the Longines Global Champions Tour held in Vienna, AUT, from September 17 to 20.
Riding Wieminka B, Newlands came out on top following a 17-horse jump-off. Germany’s Frank Rothenberger was the course designer throughout the week, and he set a demanding track for the 1.30m Final event in the CSI2* division. Challenging mid-way through the large jump-off field, Newlands knew that a daring and difficult inside turn after fence three could make or break the win. The crowd gasped when she pulled it off, and cheered her home in a time of 35.95 seconds. Her closest challenger, runner-up Christian Schranz of Austria, finished a full second behind, clocking in at 36.99 riding Whisper von Lichten CH.
“I didn’t get to see anyone go in the jump-off, but there was one inside turn that someone had tried to do, and I knew I had to try it if I wanted the win,” explained Newlands, 27. “I went really tight back to the vertical (at fence three), and then I made my turn after that; I was able to slip inside the two fences, and that’s where I think I got it.”
Newlands has been partnered with Wieminka B, owned by her family’s Weslands Farm, for the past three seasons.
“She loves to jump,” said Newlands of the 12-year-old grey Dutch Warmblood mare (Cardento x Topas). “In the speed classes she can get a little feisty and quick at the fences. In the Final, I just wanted to go for a nice, smooth round and qualify for the jump-off. When I went back in, she was in it to win it! She is super brave, and she loves her job.”
Earlier in the week, Newlands and Wieminka B had placed fourth in Thursday’s 1.40m speed class. The class attracted a total of 48 entries, including Newlands on her second mount, Evita van de Veldbalie, who placed eighth. Newlands enjoyed another top result in Vienna with Evita van de Veldbalie, a 2004 bay Belgian Warmblood mare (Wandor vd Mispelaere x Clinton), by taking seventh in Sunday’s €24,500 1.45m Grand Prix.
Newlands was especially proud to hear the Canadian anthem ring out in Vienna, as her last win had come on Canadian soil in the Cardel Homes Welcome at the CSI5* Spruce Meadows ‘Continental’ tournament in Calgary, AB, riding Cewaldine.
“It felt really nice; I was so happy to win at that venue,” said Newlands of her Viennese victory. “I had seen the winner’s cooler on the first day, and I was determined to come home with a win. It is hard to win a class on the Global Champions Tour, as you are competing against professionals as well; there is no division between the professionals and amateurs like we have in North America.”
Vienna marked the third stop for Newlands on the Longines Global Champions Tour this season. She also competed in Miami, USA, in April as well as in Valkenswaard, NED, in August.
“The Global Champions Tour shows are unbelievable, and I get to travel to cities I wouldn’t normally get to see,” said the Toronto native. “They are the best horse shows I have ever been to, and the atmosphere is unbelievable.”
In terms of her development as a rider, Newlands said of her time competing in Europe this summer, “I think going to different events each week has helped me a lot in terms of planning which horses to show at which venues. I’ve also been exposed to such a different riding style over here – a deeper seat and sitting back in the saddle more – and I think I’ve become a stronger rider as a result. And maybe more gutsy, too!”
Next up for Newlands is CSI2* Marienheem, NED, from October 1 to 4, followed by CSI2* Oslo, NOR, from October 15-18 and CSI2* Lyon, FRA, from October 28-November 1.