Three thrilling final competitions decided the new champions crowned at the FEI WBFSH World Breeding Jumping Championships for Young Horses 2018 at Lanaken in Belgium. It was a whitewash for the Irish Sport Horse Studbook that took gold, silver and bronze in the 5-Year-Old category, but it was the host-nation BWP Studbook that provided the 6-Year-Old winner while an Oldenburg stallion was best of the 7-Year-Olds.
Sport, breeding and horse sales come together annually at this prestigious fixture which highlights future talent while also recognising and rewarding breeders and riders.
The Irish Sport Horse stallion Uppercourt Cappucino, a son of Pacino bred by Paul Byrne and owned by HK Horses, had to see off a massive 232 other promising youngsters to win the Five-Year-Old category with 22-year-old Richard Howley on board.
There were 53 qualified for today’s medal-decider and 24 of them went into the super-fast jump-off against the clock in which Howley’s fellow-countryman, Darragh Ryan (22), set the pace when scorching through the finish in 35.34 seconds with the gelding CSF Sir George, by Sir Shutterfly, owned by Molly Tracy and bred by Shane Connolly. But Howley shaved 0.17 seconds off that to take the lead and couldn’t be bettered, and when Mikey Pender (18) slotted into third it was an all-Irish podium. Pender created a sensation two years ago at these championships when taking both a silver and a bronze medal at just 17 years of age, and this time around he was partnering HHS Vancouver, by Indoctro, which is owned and bred by Marion Hughes.
Talking about his gold-medal-winning ride Uppercourt Cappucino which he purchased in Millstreet, Ireland, Howley said, “He has only done a handful of shows in his life and the horse is so mature in his mind it’s just like riding an 8-year-old. This a good day for the Irish and a good day to be Irish,” said Howley.
With 273 starters in Thursday’s first qualifier, the Six-Year-Old division was the biggest of all and it came down to a lightning-fast jump-off to decide the champion. There were 43 qualified, and for a long time it seemed Great Britain’s Donald Whitaker and his grey Colestus mare Chilli (BRAND Studbook) might not be overtaken after posting a clear in 33.95 seconds. Bred by Eric Schoch and owned by Thomas Williams, Chilli was 5-Year-Old champion last year, but one of the last to go, Belgium’s Jeroen de Winter stopped the clock almost a full second sooner with the BWP’s Mystic van ‘t Hoogeinde to clinch the gold.
And Brazil’s Thiago Ribas da Costa earned bronze when breaking the beam in 35.17 seconds with the BWP’s Mano Negra van de Bucxtale by Mylord Carthago, bred by Els Boterdale and owned by Ecurie de Costa.
For winning rider Jeroen de Winter, this victory was a bit of a surprise. ”I submitted my applications to the Belgian Federation three months ago, mainly with the goal to compete in the 7-year olds horses class. But a few weeks ago we finished sixth at the Belgian Championship and when I looked at Equibel, I saw that I was also selected with Mystic for this World Championship.
“It was not really my plan, so I briefly consulted with my coach Dirk Demeersman. He said that I had to try it for sure and here I am,” said de Winter.
Mystic van ‘t Hoogeinde joined Jeroen’s stable as a four-year-old and is still half-owned by breeder Rony Thys.
The aptly-named Oldenburg, Solid Gold Z, stood top-of-the-line for Germany’s Christian Ahlmann in the Seven-Year-Olds. From 40 starters there were 11 into the jump-off in which the pair set the target in 38.34 seconds. Bred by A. Sprehe, the son of Stakkato was already a winner at both Chantilly and Bordeaux in France and in Leipzig, Germany this year so this was the perfect end to a great season.
The Netherlands Willem Greve and his brown KWPN stallion Grandorado TN finished in 39.49 seconds to claim silver for the KWPN Studbook. This son of Eldorado van de Zeshoek was bred by Mts. Rietberg & D.J. Verhoeven who happily came to collect the premium presented to all breeders on the day.
Belgium’s Gudrun Patteet was the best lady rider and posted the last double-clear to take the bronze with Sea Coast Crystal de l’Eau, a daughter of Clapton bred by Hof Ter Leeuwe and owned by the rider and Sea Coast Horses who belongs to the SCSL Studbook.
Ahlmann of course lives at the Zangersheide Stud venue in Lanaken so was enjoying himself today. ”It is already special to win in front of your own family and friends, but doing that at home with your own stallion makes it something else, especially when you look at how tough this class is…I would definitely compare it to a CSI2* Grand Prix!” he said.
“If you look at how many horses have been on stage here and afterwards confirmed in the big sport, then I think this World Championship is a very good indicator of a horse’s quality. It is true that Solid Gold Z has already had a very good season, but it still has to happen here at the right moment and at the right time…
“On the first day there were 203 horses that participated in the 7-year-olds so it’s already quite an achievement to make it to the final. Before the jump-off I felt that Solid Gold Z was getting a bit tired, but his exceptional attitude and willpower ensures he never disappoints,” said Ahlmann.