Tag Archives: show jumpers

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Mexican Young Guns take Nations Cup glory

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In any sport when the underdog wins, it makes for great entertainment. So when the Mexican team took a decisive victory in the very first leg of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup in Wellington, Florida the press conference was a joyous affair.

 

The youthful foursome fought off some of the world’s most successful nations including the USA, Canada, and Ireland. In fact, it was the youngest two Mexican riders with the least team experience who sealed the deal with their double clear performances. These came from 23-year-old Eugenio Garza Perez riding Victer Fin DHZ and 24-year-old Manuel Gonzalez Dufrane on the athletic grey mare Hortensia van de Leeuwerk. The other two riders played their part with low-faulted rounds from Fernando Martinez Sommer (29) on Cor Bakkar and Juan Jose Zendejas Salgado (25) riding Tino la Chapelle.

 

Tryon’s FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 course designer, Ireland’s Alan Wade, set a track that tested rideability, and the final line of a one-stride triple combination to big oxer proved the undoing of many. However with three first-round clears the Mexicans were already in command at the halfway stage on a zero score, trailed by Ireland and USA on eight, Israel close behind with nine, last year’s Wellington winners from Canada on 12 and the three-member Colombian side already trailing the field with 16 on the board.

 

The Mexican quartet kept a cool head and clung on to their lead in the second round, which caught out a number of the world’s leading riders such as World No 2 Mclain Ward and Beezie Madden who both faulted. Fernando Martinnez Sommer commented on the technicality of the course. “The course was difficult enough, for me my horse has a very big stride so I had to go a bit steady all the time.”

 

All four riders were quick to praise their Chef d’Equipe Constant van Paesschen, not just for their Nations Cup victory but what he has delivered to Mexican showjumping during his short career so far. Stany van Paesschen had similar positive words “From when I came two years ago, I said I am going to try as much as I can to push some young riders forward. We have some great young riders but we also have some great support from professional and older riders. I think we have a great team.”

 

Garza Perez, who trains with legendary Irish rider Eddie Macken and is the only member of the Mexican side to be based in the USA, said: “Today’s result is a testament to the quality of the next generation of young Mexican riders.”

 

He was a member of the historic site that posted that spectacular win in Dublin last August. “That day was an inspiration to us all!” he pointed out. And now the main Mexican goal is a place at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup Final 2019.

 

“There’s an Olympic place on offer in Barcelona and we intend to take it!” He said.

 

Team Israel had a great show too. Daniel Bluman’s double-clear with Ladriano Z bolstering an impressive all-round performance that saw them add nothing to their first-round nine-fault tally for the second spot. The Americans looked strongest at the outset, with an extremely experienced team of Beezie Madden, McLain Ward and Laura Kraut joined by young star Lucy Deslauriers. But single errors proved costly, so they will be hoping to turn the tables when their regional League moves to Mexico next time around. Only Mexico, USA, and Canada were entitled to qualifying points in today’s competition, so they claimed 100, 80 and 60 points respectively.

 

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HORSE SCOUT REAL: Harry Charles

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Harry Charles is the teen sensation everyone is talking about in the world of Show Jumping. Those who rate him highly as a rider and a horseman include Performance Manager Di Lampard, Olympic Gold medalist, Nick Skelton and of course his biggest fan is his dad, Peter Charles MBE. Who also happens to be an equestrian legend in his own right. With many team appearances for both Ireland and Britain, Peter was one of the showjumpers who made history, helping Team GB to Olympic gold at London 2012.

 

2018 has been a storming year for 19-year-old Harry. Not only did he win both individual and team gold medals at the Young Rider European Championships, earlier in the year he finished third his very first Grand Prix, beating dad in the process. The dream continued when he jumped at Aachen, considered as one of the most prestigious and challenging venues in the world against all his childhood heroes. Shortly after that, he competed in the London leg of the Longines Global Champions Tour before making his senior team debut at the Nations Cup in Dijon. We are excited to announce that Harry will join the stellar line-up of riders at this year’s Theraplate UK Liverpool International Horse Show. And it sounds like he is excited too…

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“Last year, Liverpool was the first ever big show I did so for me that was really special,” says Harry who was placed in several big classes. “I had a really good year last year and to top it off, to do well at Liverpool in front of an amazing crowd and some of the best riders in the world was just amazing for me.”

 

Harry explains what riders love about the show “For an indoor arena it is a really good size. Which is good for riders and horses and for course builders too as you can build bigger jumps in there” he explains “I think the crowd love it. They are looking down on the arena so that always creates a really good atmosphere and it drives the riders on to win a class, I think.”

 

Peter, who has also jumped at the show explains what he loves about competing there. “The show brings to the North-West, a different audience and the atmosphere there is really intense. The arena is up, close and personal and I think people really appreciate the art of showjumping” he says.

 

This year the Charles family will be bringing a number of horses and both Harry and his two sisters, Sienna and Scarlett will be competing.

 

“We plan to bring the best horses we can to Liverpool and we are aiming at the big classes like the Grand Prix and the jump-off classes. So we are going to take a team of horses that can be very competitive” he says, highlighting the significance of the show in the equestrian calendar.

 

“It’s one of the few big shows we have in Great Britain and being right at the end of the year, everyone is up for it. It’s always really nice to look forward to. There is a fun atmosphere too. I don’t have any shows or horses to ride on New Years Day so I think if all goes to plan, it will be great to party too.

 

Before Liverpool, Harry is looking forward to spending a Christmas at home with all his family

“We try to have a day off riding but some days we will ride a few horses. The season in showjumping never stops so you have to keep going.”

 

Meeting Harry and Peter at home, it’s clear that their base- Heathcroft Farm, is very much a family operation. Scarlett and Sienna are following closely on their brother’s heels, each winning medals for their country at youth level. Naturally, they live, work and breathe horses and most of the time they all get on. “Me and my sisters have a few disagreements every now and again like everyone does. It’s not always about horses either” smiles Harry. “Even me and my dad, sometimes we can have different opinions on things but we all get on. If we didn’t, it wouldn’t run as smoothly as it does.”

 

“We all have a good work ethic and are usually too tired to argue!” chips in Peter, who along with his son are huge Liverpool FC fans. Peter was born and raised in Liverpool so the city is dear to his heart. “I grew up in Bootle and I have a lot of friends and family up there so it’s very personal to me to go and jump up there with my family. A lot of my wider family will come to watch”

 

Peter trains Harry on a daily basis both at home and at competitions and it is clear, he has huge respect for his father. “Dad is my trainer and of course I would consider other people but for me, I don’t think there would be anyone any better in the world.”

 

To watch Harry and a host of other great riders at the Theraplate UK Liverpool International Horse Show, you can buy tickets from: https://www.liverpoolhorseshow.com

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BEHIND THE SCENES: GRIT, GLAMOUR AND GREAT SPORT AT THE LONGINES FEI NATIONS CUP FINAL BARCELONA 2018

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I was lucky enough to be reporting at the Longines FEI Nations Cup Final In Barcelona last week. Not only was there great sporting action, a masterful display of horsemanship and a tantalising finish. Beyond this, there were some high profile individuals and interesting back-stories that really highlighted what a special sport this is.

 

Having breakfast in the hotel one morning I was sat next to Jessica Springsteen. The drop-dead gorgeous daughter of Bruce was looking very much in love with boyfriend, Italian heartthrob Lorenzo de Luca, as she ate her boiled egg.  Lorenzo was later caught buying his girl a present in the shopping village.

 

Across the room was World No 1, Harrie with the rest of the Dutch team and World No 2 Mclain Ward, fresh from winning team gold at WEG. Mclain was over to train 19-year-old showjumping sensation; Lucy Deslauriers who was making her first big team appearance for the USA. Extraordinarily Lucy’s father Mario was also competing but for his homeland of Canada. Now 53 years of age, Mario was the youngest ever winner of a World Cup Final at the age of 19 and he and his daughter could make headlines if they both achieve their dreams of being selected for the Tokyo Olympics, for their respective Nations.

 

Also competing at the show were the UAE team who are rising stars. After a fascinating interview, I discovered every one of them has a full-time job and compete just a handful of horses alongside this. Jobs included a policeman, an office administrator and a camel trainer.  “Football is the only professional sport but we are trying to change that” I was told.

 

“Never give up” was the take away message from this year’s prestigious competition. Held in the popular Real Club de Polo in Barcelona for the sixth year in a row, it was the Belgians who won the oldest jumping competition in the world and lifted the Nations Cup trophy. But it was by no means decisive and Peter Weinberg, Chef d’Equipe of the team summed up the result and in that, the very nature of equestrian sport. “We call ourselves the “Never Give Up Team” because in the middle we had two with 12 faults already but still we were fighting to the last rider, so this victory means a lot to us!”

 

With one of the most challenging tracks this final has seen, of the eight nations who went through to the final, just three riders jumped clear. It is hardly surprising that Course Designer Santiago Varela has been selected as course designer for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The track was imposing and technical and questioned control, balance, judgement and skill, all the way around. As Varela pointed out it wasn’t about the number of faults the riders collected. “A score of 8 or 12 didn’t mean they had a bad round, horses jumped unbelievably, but the course was difficult, tough and big…and everything was connected”, he explained.

 

As was the case with most of the teams, the Belgians had mixed fortunes, Niels Bruynseels gave the team confidence with a superb clear from Gancia de Muze but both Pieter Devos (Claire Z) and Jos Verlooy (Caracas) each leaving three fences on the floor. However, it was the dashing Nicola Philippaerts, who saved the day with a sublime clear round on H&M Harley v. Bisschop and that sealed the deal.

 

Nicola said his teammates told him “everything is still possible” when he was last to go. “I just tried to ride my own class and it worked out well – today it was me that could make the clear round that would make a difference, and another time it will be one of the others”. And he had even more reason to be pleased when sharing the €100,000 bonus for double-clear performances with team-mate Bruynseels, Sweden’s Peder Fredricson and Italy’s new star, Riccardo Pisani.

 

This was Belgium’s second win of the Longines FEI Nations Cup in Barcelona; their last came in 2015. As Chef d’Equipe Weinberg said: “it was an interesting day, first ups and then in between downs, but in the end, we won anyway so it was really great sport!”

 

 

 

 

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NIGEL COUPE- The win that made me

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Until last year Nigel Coupe was a name that had not been heard on the international showjumping scene for some time. It was at Hickstead that together with Golvers Hill, a horse bought for showing, Nigel reminded the world of his talents, by winning The Al Shira’aa Derby at Hickstead, one of the most iconic showjumping events. Since then he won Cock of the North and the Horse of the Year Show Grand Prix plus the Leading Rider award. “I’ve had a good spell since the Derby” he says humbly.

 

“Winning the Derby was amazing. I’ve grown up watching it, so to win it was a bit of a dream. It all seems a long time ago now but coming here as defending champion and seeing myself in the Hickstead magazine from last year, brings it all back” he says on the eve of this year’s Hickstead Derby.

 

Nigel is now 47 years old but first entered The Derby 28 years ago. Although he competed at Hickstead as a boy on 12.2hhs, so the historic venue is a special place for him. He took a 10 year break from riding in The Derby until 2015, when he finally had a horse suitable. The Irish bred Golvers Hill (aka Ricky) who Nigel half owns, was bought by his other owner as a four year old and started life as a Working Hunters. “We got to the stage that he couldn’t do both and I always rated the horse as a jumper so we decided to concentrate on the jumping. He’s my best horse now” Nigel says of the 15 year old. Ricky who is by Ricardo Z out of a Clover Hill mare, has been consistent on all his three Derby attempts. Finishing second on his first attempt in 2015 and fifth in 2016 before the big win.

 

So what makes a perfect Derby horse? “They need to be brave and careful. Definitely not spooky and not afraid to take something on. Irish horses are notoriously good at the Derby and I think they often last a bit longer than some of the others” he believes. “In the old days people jumped their best horses in The Derby, now they go for the bigger prize money in the Global Champions Tour. Then again some horses would not suit the small GCT arenas, like at Monte Carlo which is on the same weekend, just as Hickstead suits certain horses more than others.”

 

With an experienced horse like Ricky, Nigel would not do much specific training for The Derby. “I practice more when they are younger and definitely when they do their first Derby. With a more experienced horse, they know what to expect so you don’t need to train so hard. But I do jump through a Dyke a few times and practice some ditches.”

 

Nigel runs a 50 box commercial yard in Prescott, Lancashire. Like most professionals, he has to make a living from training and livery as well as producing and selling horses. “Unfortunately I don’t have 5 Grand Prix horses to win big prize money on and decent horses fetch good money, so it’s a balancing act.”

 

Last year’s Derby success has been life-changing for Nigel, who has been knocking on the door of international stardom for many years. He has made several appearances on Nations Cup Teams and was a mainstay on the British youth teams winning several medals at Junior and Young Rider level.

“Winning the Derby did open up new opportunities and I have had new owners come on board and sponsors approach me. It increases your profile and has definitely brought me more of a following on social media.”

 

And the dream… “I try not to have dreams but in the long-term I want to build up a better string of horses and keep enjoying it. In the short term? I want to win The Derby again tomorrow” he smiles.

Written by Ellie Kelly