The KWPN gelding, Earley, made another piece of Jumping history today when becoming only the third-ever horse to record back-to-back wins when taking the 6-Year-Old title at the FEI World Breeding Jumping Championships for Young Horses 2015 at Lanaken in Belgium.
This hugely popular annual gathering draws vast numbers of breeders, producers and enthusiasts from all around the globe who come to the world-famous Zangersheide Stud to compare the latest crop of 5, 6 and 7-year-olds representing many different studbooks. And it was the Belgian-bred Kerswin van ‘T Roosakker who won the 5-Year-Old category while the Polish stallion, Mjt Nevados S, claimed the 7-Year-Old title.
Once again the entry was enormous, with 224 starters in the 5-Year-Old Championship, 273 in the 6-Year-Olds, and 208 in the 7-Year-Old category. For any horse to take a medal from such a colossal field of starters is quite an achievement, and for any horse to do it two years in a row is exceptional. The 6-Year-old Earley has earned his place alongside just two other back-to-back champions - last year’s 7-Year-Old winner, Barnike who represented the Dutch Ridinghorse and Pony Studbook with Ireland’s Bertram Allen on board, and the KWPN No Time, who topped the rankings in 2000 and 2001 ridden by Dutchman Peter Geerink.
Only horses that jumped clear in the first and second qualifiers were eligible for today’s 5-Year-Old Final, and from the 49 starters in this competition just nine went through to the second-round jump-off. This was a smaller number than usual to make it through to the final phase, as the time proved influential in the first round.
And Kerswin van ‘T Roosakker (Echo van ‘T Spieveld/Diamant de Semilly) broke the beam in today’s jump-off in a speedy 37.33 seconds to take the gold with Doron Kuipers in the saddle. The 24-year-old Dutchman has stables near Rotterdam (NED) from where he competes his own string of horses along with six belonging to Kerswin’s owners, Stal Everse BV. Micha Everse rode the gelding earlier in the year, and Kuipers took up the reins just eight weeks ago. It was a success-story from the very start.
"I have never jumped a jump-off with him before, but I felt from the beginning that he really worked with me. He is careful and has scope and he goes for it. That's all you need to win! This is the first time I’ve made it into the Final (at the FEI World Breeding Jumping Championships) and I’m pretty happy because immediately I’ve taken the best colour medal!" Kuipers said.
Silver medal spot went to another from the BWP Studbook, the approved stallion Keops v. Begijnakker (Indoctro/Lux Z) ridden by Belgium’s Yves Vanderhasselt who mixes his works in the family transport company with a very successful Jumping career. The 36-year-old rider has a reputation for remaining super-cool under pressure, and he finished third with Keops at the Belgian Championships in Geves this summer. The horse was bought by the Vanderhasselt family as a four-year-old.
Bronze in the 5-Year-Olds went to the mare, Formidable (Carambole/Calvados), and it was a particularly special moment for her Dutch rider Willem Greve as he competes internationally with the mare’s sire, Carambole.
Greve spotted Formidable competing at an international show just a few months ago and bought her right away. “There were several people who wanted her because she jumped very spectacularly, and I immediately had a good feeling with her because she is careful and has a lot of scope”, Greve explained.
Horses in the 6 and 7-Year-Old category were ranked in each of the two qualifying competitions, and the top-40 earned a place in today’s Finals in which the KWPN, Earley (Harley VDL/Indorado), wrote his name into the Young Horse history books when clinching 6-Year-Old gold.
With 17 into the jump-off it was always going to take a quick horse to win it, but Earley is a massive 1.77cms tall with a ground-eating stride to match, and just as he did when taking the 2014 5-Year-Old title, the big bay galloped through the timers quicker than all the rest. His rider, Maikel van Mierlo, knows the horse well. Maikel’s father bought the horse as a 3-year-old, and sold him on to owners H.M. van Raaij-Evertse who sent him off to be broken before returning him to Van Mierlo to ride.
Since winning his gold medal as a 5-Year-Old, Earley has been lightly competed, lining out at a few international shows and at the Dutch Championships where he finished seventh this year. “I don’t jump him a lot at home” Van Mierlo explained after taking his second successive title with the horse today. “He only jumped a 1.20m class as preparation for this show and to be honest the pressure coming to this year’s Championships was not special”, he said. The 24-year-old Dutchman’s philosophy is an uncomplicated one. “You have to stay motivated, and to just try your best every day” he said.
Talking about his winning round he continued, “the course was not too difficult and the time was long enough, but with 17 in the jump off you know you have to go full speed! When I came out I knew that I was fast but I didn't know it was fast enough to win. I think I won it on the last line. He's not spooky and he has a very good character - he is top careful, and has a lot of scope” said the rider who operates from the south of Holland, between Eindhoven and Venlo.
And from a Belgian perspective the day came to a perfect end with newly-crowned FEI European individual silver medallist, Gregory Wathelet, taking top spot in the 7-Year-Old Championship partnering the handsome grey PZHK stallion Mjt Nevados S (Calvados Z/Romualdo).
There were 12 into the jump-off here, and Wathelet was chasing the target-time set by Britain’s Laura Renwick who was seventh to go with the ISH mare MHS Washington (OBOS Quality/Cavalier Royale) who broke the beam in 35.13 seconds. Renwick always looked competitive after filling third spot in the first qualifier in which Wathelet and Mjt Nevados S finished fifth, but the British rider regretted the extra pull she took before the last fence today. She finished just 0.16 seconds behind the Belgian rider who scorched home in 34.97 to take the gold.
Talking about Mjt Nevados S, Wathelet said, “he started the season on the Sunshine Tour where he jumped well, and in the Belgian Championships at Lummen I had one down in the jump off because he was not used to going fast. Before I came here I trained him to go quickly, and that training was successful. I knew he was very careful, but in the beginning I didn't know if he had enough scope - now he his going better every week! This week he jumped easily, even in the Final in which the course was quite big but it all felt easy. This horse is definitely not for sale!” said the rider who plans to take Mjt Nevados S on the international circuit now.
Silver medallist, Renwick, bought MHS Washington in partnership with Irish rider Denis Lynch three years ago, but now owns the horse herself.
“Denis bought the mare from the breeder when she was four - she’s special and a bit nervous, but in the ring she lights up and makes everything very easy - just like a real sport-horse! She’s very light to ride and is careful and scopey” Renwick explained. The pair won the Young Horse Final at CSI Knokke (BEL) this summer, and a few weeks ago also topped the British Championships. Renwick was sporting an Irish cap, presented to her by the Irish Federation because she was competing an ISH, and she said she was proud to wear it. “I think I can go far with this horse” she said happily this evening.
And the Irish had plenty of reason to celebrate themselves when Eoin McMahon steered another ISH, Talks Cheap (Tinaranas Inspector/Colin Diamond), into bronze medal position when last to go against the clock.
Talks Cheap was sold at the 2014 Go for Gold Sale in Goresbridge in Ireland. “My boss, Carl Hanley, bought her last year just before the World Young Horse Championships, but it was to soon to take her here” McMahon explained. “We started the season in Vilamoura (POR) where she jumped very well, and then we gave her a break. Before coming here we placed in a 1.45m class, so she has all the scope and she is fast and careful” said the young rider who will celebrate his 20th birthday next weekend.
Five-Year-Old Final: GOLD - Kerswin van ‘T Roosakker (Doron Kuipers) NED 0/0 37.33; SILVER - Keops v. Begijnakker (Yves (Vanderhasselt) BEL 0/0 38.65; BRONZE - Formidable (Willem Greve) NED 0/0 39.36.
Six-Year-Old Final: GOLD - Earley (Maikel van Mierlo) NED 0/0 36.62; SILVER - Ellavar (Marlon Modolo Zanotelli) BRA 0/0 37.10; BRONZE - Take a Chance on Me Z (Christian Ahlmann) GER 0/0 37.49.
Seven-Year-Old Final: GOLD - Mjt Nevados S (Gregory Wathelet) BE. 0/0 34.97; SILVER - MHS Washington (Laura Renwick) GBR 0/0 35.13; BRONZE - Talks Cheap (Eoin McMahon) IRL 36.99..
Full results at www.hippodata.de