Tag Archives: show jumping horses

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HORSE SCOUT REAL: YAZMIN PINCHEN- riding the storm of life and circumstance

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Once the starlet of the British showjumping, Yazmin Pinchen has ridden the storm of life that took her from regular team appearances, a string of exciting horses to the doldrums of losing her funding, her yard, and her family. She talks to Horse Scout about falling from hero to zero and most importantly, her dogged determination to rise back to the top. 

 

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25-year-old Yazmin Pinchen has been a winner on the international showjumping circuit since the age of 10.

 

She competed successfully in pony jumping and at the age of 12 years, she had her first major success when winning the Gold medal for England as part of the International Pony Team. At 14 Yazmin went on to represent the British team at the European Championships in Children on Horses, where she won Team Gold and Individual Silver medal.

 

As a Senior rider, Yazmin made her 5* debut at 18 years, becoming one of the youngest riders to be selected for a Senior FEI Nations Cup team. She was competing in Abu Dhabi alongside Peter Charles, Tina Fletcher, Robert Smith. “I jumped clear until the last fence when my horse stopped and we got eliminated. It was devastating at the time but I learned so much from that” she recalls.

 

Yazmin went on to compete on several on FEI Nations Cup teams and in Gijon, she helped the team win silver with her homebred, Ashkari. With the same mare, she competed in a number of FEI World Cup qualifiers with to gain a wealth of experience at the highest level and all before the age of 20.

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From childhood, Yazmin had aspirations to be the best showjumper she could and spent time working with some of the world’s best riders. “I started with Michael Whitaker when I was 16 and then when I was 18, I moved to Belgium to base myself with Ludo and Johan Philippaerts. I learned so much out there, which set me up for the future. Johan was an amazing teacher but sadly I had to come home because my dad was critically ill. When I was better I went to Simon Delestre, but it was really tough and after everything that had happened I felt I needed to be at home.”

 

Alongside her showjumping career, Yazmin is a mother to two-year-old son Harry. “I am really lucky because he is the easiest baby and he’s very independent. From the day dot, he has got used to entertaining himself. I am so fortunate that I am with my mum and she is a huge help both with Harry and the horses. We all live on the same property. My partner helps with childcare as does my groom who is trained nanny, so between us we are a good team.”

 

Taking time out to have a baby came with pros and cons. “Everything was going really well, I was jumping 5* and then I fell pregnant. I rode and competed until I was 4.5 months and I actually won more than ever when I was pregnant. I insisted on a C-section because I wanted to get back to riding as soon as I could and I was back on a horse two weeks later. But it wasn’t as easy as I expected.”

 

“I remember going to a show and turning about 100 circles because I was so scared.”

 

The feeling soon passed and she was back to her winning ways. However just as Yazmin was building her string up and planning her season, she was faced with the devastation of family breakdown.

 

“My dad who had been a big financial support to my career left my mum. It was a difficult time for all the family and he announced he did not want to be involved anymore. So we had to sell most of the horses and give up on all our plans to compete internationally. It was a horrendous time, I pretty much lost everything I’d worked for overnight.”

 

“I had to start all over again. Set up a yard and fund it all myself. Everybody assumes I am just this rich girl who is being supported by her parents, but that is not the case. Yes, I had help in the past but now I am having to fund the whole thing. Most of my horses are young and I have two of my own who have all the potential to be CSI 5* horses. What I need is owners to invest but it is difficult if you’re not at the top of your game. I am in a bit of a hole because I can’t prove myself without the backing. Even the good horses I have are just sitting there because I can’t afford to go to the international shows.”

 

Naturally bubbly with a positive outlook, Yazmin refuses to look back with any remorse. “It’s just life I guess and having a baby was the best thing that ever happened to me. It’s amazing being a mum and Harry is so much fun, he comes everywhere with me. It’s always been important for me to take time out to be a mummy too so I make sure I have the afternoons off to spend with Harry.”

 

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“I just want to make my son proud and do my best for him”

 

Yazmin feels that the adversity and change in circumstances she has faced have improved her outlook. “ I have had to learn to run a business, balance my accounts and be super organized. I think having Harry has actually made me more motivated because I want him to see me do well”

 

“It’s not easy, of course, you have your breakdowns”

 

“But everyone does. I sometimes get frustrated and give way to tears by thinking “I’ve become a nobody”. Luckily I shake myself out of it quickly enough and I would never let my son see that. I just always make sure I am a happy, positive mummy”

 

 “My goal is to get back on British teams and make the Olympics.”

 

“I know I have the ability and the drive, I just need the support. What I have learned from being in the doldrums is that it is important to be ambitious but enjoy the sport. I want to make everyone who supports me proud but I also want them to enjoy the ride.”

 

Yazmin is looking for sponsorship and owners at all levels. For more information contact Horse Scout:

Lucie@horsescoutpr.com

07752319988

 Photography by Events Through A Lens

 

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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.

 

Photo from hopedeamer1-18

How to win the Puissance on a horse you’ve never ridden before

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Horse Scout reporting at the TheraPlateUK Liverpool International Horse Show 

 

The Puissance is the ultimate test of horsemanship. It measures bravery, scope and the ability to hold your nerve. It is an event that never fails to fill seats and excite a crowd and cause a stir. This year’s Puissance at Liverpool International unfolded like a fairy tale and the end to a great year for British rider Matt Sampson, who finished in joint first after clearing 7ft 3” (2m20). Not only was he a relative rookie against the big red wall, but he achieved the feat with a horse he was riding for the very first time- Laura Renwick’s Top Dollar VI.

 

Eleven combinations competed which ran for the maximum five rounds. It was whittled down to just two in the final round with Matt sharing the honours with Irish youngster, Michael Pender. Michael was riding the scopey mare Hearton du Bois,  with whom he won the Dublin Horse Show Puissance this year.

 

Matt’s catch ride, Top Dollar VI may have more experience than his rider, having jumped a number of Puissance classes with Laura. In fact, the pair won the class at Olympia in 2017 but Laura decided to hand the reins over to Matt less than an hour before the class. That being said, to take on any new horse before a class and win it, is one helluva feat. Let alone to put faith in one another to jump the unjumpable.

 

Matt reveals how he prepared himself mentally for the challenge:

 

“I didn’t know him at all but maybe that’s not always such a bad thing. I just tried to ride forward to it and give him a little bit of room because he’s such a big horse. You’ve just got to keep them confident but then he’s a very good horse. It got easier each time as I just figured him out and trusted him a bit more and it just went on from there.”

 

So what does it feel like jumping that wall? “It feels amazing” he smiles. “I’ve actually only done one Puissance before at a show in Holland. So I didn’t have a lot of experience in the class.”

 

Preparation outside is minimal he explains. “It’s very hard to prepare in the warm up to jump a wall. Because we don’t have a wall in there, we just have a vertical and an oxer. I did a couple of verticals and an oxer but only about 1m40 to 1m 50 high. In comparison to what we are jumping in the arena, it’s not a lot but I think it’s better to keep the horses confident so if they go in the ring thinking that they can jump it, then it’s got to give you a better chance.

 

About an hour before the class, Laura (Renwick) rang me and asked me what I was doing and I said “nothing”. So she said did I want to ride her horse in the Puissance.

 

When asked if he had many catch rides in his career. He responded humbly with “not really”. Until legendary jumper Geoff Billington interjected with “he’s the King of Catch rides this one” referring to Matt’s win in the Hickstead Speed Derby on a catch ride Top Flight True Carlo in Hickstead’s Derby meeting.  In May, Matt had the biggest win of his career when claiming the prestigious Hamburg Derby, aboard Gloria van Zuuthoeve.

 

Whilst it is apparent, Matt would love to ride the gallant chestnut, Top Dollar again, he is philosophical about it. “I don’t know if it will happen again- probably not. But if I don’t ride him again, it was a good way to end on a high. He jumped amazing and it filled me with confidence.”

Written by Ellie Kelly

Liverpool International Horse Show - Dressage - Charlotte Dujardin

Wowed by Liverpool

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Our roving reporter, Ellie Kelly heads down to the TheraPlate UK Liverpool International Horse Show  to check out the action.

 

It was my first visit to Liverpool-  both the city and the show and I have not been disappointed. Despite the 600 mile round trip, within hours of being there, I decided to make it a regular fixture. Nina Barbour has delivered a first-class event to this vibrant city. In a part of the world which is rich in horse enthusiasts and professional riders but surprisingly short of major equestrian events. Testament to the quality and production of the show, leading riders from the worlds of showjumping and dressage were competing, even at a time when many professional yards wind down over Christmas. Still a relatively new show, Liverpool International is gathering momentum but with leading riders some great entertainment, I wasn’t surprised to see the Echo Arena with very few empty seats.

 

On the first day, Charlotte Dujardin reminded she is no one-hit wonder when claiming the Equitop Myoplast Freestyle Dressage. The multi-medaled Olympian scored 81.938% on her flashy eight-year-old mare, Florentina VI in the Intermediate 1 class. Earlier in the evening, she paraded Valegro to an excited crowd at the Echo arena.

 

Also on Friday, teen showjumper Jack Whitaker won the Liverpool International Under 25 Grand Prix, sponsored by Equerry Horse Feeds. The son of Michael Whitaker has had another great year, including winning a silver medal at the Youth Olympics in Argentina.

 

It was a great day for the girls on the second day. Pony rider Claudia Moore repeated her great Liverpool victory of 2017 in the 148cm Championships, sponsored by Carden Arms. Claudia was a member of Great-Britain’s Pony European Championships this summer, where she claimed individual bronze. In the evening, Harriet Nuttall who scored the fastest jump-off time to win the four-star Voltaire sponsored jumping class, somewhat fittingly as the Somerset rider is sponsored by Voltaire.

 

On Day three Harry Charles underlined his status as one of world showjumping’s most exciting prospects by claiming a brilliant victory at the TheraPlateUK Liverpool International Horse Show.

 

The 19-year-old, from Alton in Hampshire, won the 1.45m international speed class, sponsored by Hope Valley Saddlery, with bay mare Doulita.

 

It proved to be a thrilling competition, with Harry’s time of 57.28 seconds proving just enough to edge out Graham Babes. They were both members of Great Britain’s gold medal-winning European Young Riders team earlier this year.

 

“It was an amazing win,” Harry said, after collecting a £7,300 victor’s purse. “I own the horse, which makes it extra special. I’ve had her a year, and every day I have put work into her to get her to this level.

 

Harry, son of London 2012 Great Britain team showjumping gold medallist Peter Charles, added: “It has been an absolutely fantastic year for me. Liverpool last year was my first real big show, and since then my whole career has taken off. I put a lot of pressure on myself. I want to win every time, it is the best feeling in the world, and I chase that every day in training. I want to make sure I do my best.

 

It was England and Ireland who shared top honours in the Puissance on Sunday evening. Yorkshireman Matt Sampson and Irish challenger Michael shared the top prize after they both jumped 2.20 metres (7ft 3in) to clear the famous red wall in a class sponsored by Equitop GLME.

 

And for Matt, it was a remarkable result, given that he only knew about his ride – Top Dollar VI – barely 30 minutes before the start after its regular rider Laura Renwick rang and offered him the ride.

 

“I’ve only ever done one Puissance before but he filled me with confidence and it got easier as I figured him out a bit more,” said Matt.

 

There will be more hot off the press action from the final day of the TheraPlate UK Liverpool International Horse Show.

 

 

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CATCHING UP WITH A YOUTUBE STAR: THIS ESME

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With her entertaining and informative video series, 17 year old Esme Higgs has become a YouTube star. In fact “This Esme” has become the world’s largest equestrian YouTube channel with 3.5 million views monthly. Ellie Kelly caught up with her ahead of the TheraPlateUK Liverpool International Horse Show, where she will be coming along to enjoy the show and meet her fans.

Do you remember your first time on a pony?

Yes, at a friend’s 5th birthday party, I was 4 at the time. I remember feeling so high up and the pony seemed massive, however looking back on it the pony was probably only 12hh.

What is it about riding and the lifestyle that you love?

So many things! Being outside, sharing my life with animals, developing a bond, trust and partnership with my horse.

How do you juggle going to college with your horses?

For me, looking after the horses is a pleasure and a real break from school work and studying. It has just become part of my everyday routine. I try and manage my time well to fit in as much as I can.

Do you ride every day?

I’d love to, but at the moment with winter and my A-levels around the corner, it’s hard. However next year when my studies are done I have lots of riding planned, both in the UK and around the world.

Why did you decide to start making videos?

I started making small videos on my phone to track my progress with my pony Casper, so I could look back and see how much I’d improved. Quickly, and to my surprise, views and subscribers increased and I now post a video at least weekly and get over 3 million views a month from people all over the world.

Best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Work hard, play hard

Have you ever had anything nasty written about you on social media or to your face?

I’ve met lots of people face to face who watch my videos and every one of them has been really friendly and positive. I also get lots of mail sent for “Mail time with Mickey” videos and again people are all so lovely. However, I do occasionally get a negative comment- it seems to be inevitable that if you put yourself out there you will get some criticism as understandably everyone has different opinions on things.

What advice would you give to people who might have suffered that?

Whilst its easier said than done, I try and ignore it, and would advise others to do the same. Don’t reply or give them any attention, and remember that the negative comments are far outweighed by all the positive feedback. Also, you don’t know what’s happening in the life of the person who has left the negative message.

What do you want to be when you finish school?

Once I finish school, I’m going to spend a year doing YouTube full time and see how that goes. During that year, I’ve got plans to travel and visit, amongst other places, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, Ireland and Japan. I’m hoping to have more equestrian experiences and film them in the process. Following this I’d like to go to University and ultimately work with horses.

What couldn’t you live without and why?

Apart from horses? Coffee

Which horse would you most love to ride?

A big event horse like Ballaghmor Class

What makes you laugh?

Mickey, he’s just the funniest pony

What makes you cry?

At the moment….Thermodynamics in Chemistry

Where are you happiest?

Outside- whatever the weather!

Favourite book?

The Harry Potter series as they got me into reading when I was younger.

Favourite film?

Anything Sci Fi

Favourite food?

Italian, can’t go wrong with pizza or pasta

Casper’s favourite treat?

Stud Muffins!

You’re coming to Liverpool- what will you be doing there?

I’ll be making a film for YouTube as well as being part of the signing zone and meeting my viewers. I’ll also no doubt enjoy the shopping and the show!

What is on your Christmas list?

A unicorn!

What is on Casper’s Christmas list?

Lots of treats….

New Year’s Resolutions

To keep coming up with new ideas to try and make my YouTube content better and better.

You can meet Esme at the Liverpool and see a host of other equestrian stars at the TheraPlate UK Liverpool International Horse Show, which runs from 28th-31st December. Tickets still available www.liverpoolhorseshow.com

 

 

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The biggest win of my career: Longines FEI World Cup at Olympia

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British rider William Whitaker celebrated the biggest win of his career after claiming the Longines FEI World Cup Final at Olympia yesterday. Fighting back tears he said “This is the one class I think about every day. I’ve been coming here since I was two or three years old and to actually win it is a dream come true. To us British riders, the World Cup here is like a Championship and you only get one shot at it, a year. I have been thinking about it for a while and decided if I was clear, I wouldn’t hold back in the jump-off.”

 

Riding the stallion Utamaro D Ecaussines, who he partnered at the World Equestrian Games in North Carolina earlier this year, William posted the fastest clear in the jump off. “I knew I had done a good round but when I looked down at the list and it was the best riders in the world left to jump, I didn’t think it was possible.  It helps that I was on such a horse. He has such a good brain and mentality. He was nearly falling asleep in the warm-up but he just lights up and grows a hand when he gets in the arena. We’ve had loads of fantastic performances but we’ve never managed to win a Grand Prix so to win one and it be this one on homer turf, is so special.”

 

The 29 year old from Huddersfield, is of course part of showjumping’s most successful family. Both his uncles John and Michael together with his cousin Robert Whitaker were competing in the World Cup yesterday. His uncle Michael was next best Brit, finishing in 4th place. “I have memories of my uncles jumping here,” William said. “The thought of winning the World Cup was one of those things that got me out of bed in the morning.”

 

Belgian rider Karel Cox claimed second place and America’s Laura Kraut finished third. Laura was one of five female riders competing, all of whom got through to the jump off, including Britain’s Laura Renwick.

 

 

 

Ben Maher & Triple X III

BEN MAHER

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The Horse Scout team catches up with Ben Maher at the Longines Global Champions Playoffs in Prague this weekend. 

 

Ben Maher has had a cracking season in the Longines Global Champions Series. After winning three Grand Prix, he was crowned as the overall winner of the LGCT after winning Rome in September. His horse, Explosion W is just nine years old. The seemingly unstoppable pair went on to Doha, the final leg of the Series to win both the Grand Prix and captain his team- the London Knights to another victory in the Longines Global Champions League.

 

The Global Champions League has really taken off. As team Manager of the London Knight’s, what has been the strategy behind your success for most of the season?

A lot of thought and planning goes into it. We will have a meeting in January to find out what horses everyone has available and work out where to aim those horses and what everyone’s commitments are. So it’s a 90% plan for the first half of the season. There’s a text group and most of the time it stays serious but the guys sometimes fool around a bit. We have a very strong team spirit.

This year I’ve been lucky, there has been a very strong team bond and they have all taken it very seriously and that’s why we’ve managed to be so successful.

 

What is the significance of the Global Champions Series to the sport and how has it changed it? 

It has been great for the sport. We ride every weekend for 100,000 euros to the winner. It was only five years ago that we were riding for 20,000 and thought that was a big weekend. It’s pushed the level of prize money monumentally. I never thought I would see prize money come to our sport this fast.

 

With that, the horse values have increased. It’s brought more sponsors in and hopefully, there will be TV right from big broadcasters. Maybe, in the end, we can get it back on mainstream TV because it is a great sport. There are lots of kids who have ponies or dream of having ponies. They have a connection with what we do. Like people who play tennis at the weekend, love watching Andy Murray. I Hope that within my career it can come back to what it was because I really believe it’s a great sport to watch.

 

The GCT and the GCL are continually trying to improve and grow the sport. It’s brought some colour to the sport. We’ve been very lucky to ride in these unique venues and now fans can actually follow a team and we have team colours to make it stand out. Slowly it’s building momentum and I really think that in ten years time, it will be huge.

 

Does the attractive prize fund detract you from competing at other significant competitions and making team appearance?

Obviously, the prize money is increasingly growing in the GCT but it’s not growing comparatively at other competitions. I’m still committed to my country and supportive of the Nations Cup Series and the Championships. My decision not to be available for Championships was based on the fact I have a younger team of horses and Championships are a lot harder on a horse than one Grand Prix on a Global Champions Tour so it was in the best interests for my horses’ welfare.

 

We still have not qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, so you think there is a chance we may not get there? 

We have two chances next year at Rotterdam in the European Championships and then Barcelona for the Nations Cup Final and I will do my best to make that happen.

 

I will never forget riding for my life in Aachen to qualify for the Rio Olympics. It was harder getting to Rio than it was in Rio and I never want to get to that point again. It’s a sport where we are always moving, some people who may not have helped to qualify still make it on to an Olympic team because they have the right horse at the right time and you have to have that in consideration. I also have owners that own my horses and it’s not always my decision.

 

How do you think it will grow the sport?

The GCT and GCL, runs at a slightly higher pace so that keeps the interest. Rather than 40 horses with riders all dressed the same, I agree it can be like watching paint dry- like Formula 1. Where the sport is interesting is looking at the tactics, the training and what goes on behind the scenes before those 60 seconds we spend in the ring. I think this is how we can really draw the audience into what we do and then they can bond with the horses as we do ourselves.

 

It looks like an incredible life from the outside but what is the reality?

I’m incredibly lucky to do the sport that I love and enjoy. But I’ve been on the road 50 weeks this year. I barely know what home is. I’ve also had the best season of my career and I wouldn’t change it for the world. We lose more often than we win and I just try to enjoy it as much as I can.

 

Whilst you are now winning big, the overheads must be enormous? 

The expenses are huge. It’s travel for both horse and rider and we are living in hotels most of the time. There are 40 horses within our team with 20 members of staff, planes, trucks. The reality is that the prize money a horse can win now and the value of the horses, it’s now in keeping with what it costs to run a horse.

 

With these horses, there is no expense spared. They are treated like high-level athletes. They are better looked after than I am. They live in the Four Seasons hotel lifestyle every single day. They have physios, specialist care and in many cases have one groom per horse. They are the athlete and that is how we take care of them. Thankfully the sport has now developed enough to help make it financially viable for investors and owners to be part of the sport

 

Highlight of your career

Competing at the Olympic Games in London where we won team gold. It’s a moment that won’t be repeated in my lifetime at a home game. I would like to go to another Olympics and the dream is to win both a team and an individual gold medal. A double gold would be the ultimate!

 

Do you think we could win a medal at the next Olympics? 

I think anything is possible. This year I didn’t think it would be possible to win the Global Champions Tour Final on two young horses.

 

What do you think of the state of British showjumping at the moment? 

We have a lot of good young riders in the UK but I don’t think it’s a sport where riding is just enough anymore. I think you have to be a very rounded person and you have to be able to communicate with sponsors, owners. I think it’s looking bright, I believe We are just a few years off being very strong. Myself and Scott have had a very good year and I hope we can be a part of that and lead the way for young riders like Emily Moffit, Jack Whitaker, and Harry Charles but we don’t have a lot of time before the next Olympics so we need to accelerate and get things moving quickly.

 

https://www.gcglobalchampions.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!”

 

 

 

 

Tina Cook sj

B is for Bigger, Better, Barbury

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Chris BurtonImage by Benjamin Clarke Photography

If you want to see eventing at it’s finest and fancy a cheeky preview of many of the horse and rider combinations likely to be heading to the World Equestrian Games in North Carolina this September, then head to the St James’s Place Barbury Horse Trials ( 5-8th July).

 

Barbury has undoubtedly become one of the premier international events of the equestrian calendar. It attracts the leading professional riders as well as the amateurs at the top of their game, so has never been short of thrilling action. With around 1000 horses to see this year, from one of the best spectator-viewing spots around, you certainly won’t be bored.

 

The four day event runs more international horses than any other UK event. Who come from all over the UK and even the world, to contest the ultimate cross-country challenge set by Captain Mark Phillips. He also designs Burghley, Gatcombe and Lexington. This year offers a CIC3* class as well as the fourth leg of the Event Rider Masters Series (ERM) plus sections of CIC2*, a final Pony Trial for the European Championships and seven Novice sections. Even the Novice sections include the best of the best at that level and with the Dubarry Burghley Young Event Horse classes staged on Thursday; this really is a chance to see the stars of tomorrow as well as today.

 

Don’t quote us on this but Barbury has often been used as an “unofficial trial” for major Championships like WEG and the Olympics and this year is expected to be the same. It’s not just the British riders under the spotlight either. With a significant number of foreign eventers based over here, don’t be surprised you are in the midst of team selectors from several nations.

 

The entries list has an eye-popping number of medal and 4* winning riders and the World number one and two- Horse Scout Advocate Oliver Townend and Gemma Tattersall. Then there is Andrew Nicholson, certainly the most successful Barbury rider of all time, having won the CIC3* consecutively, five times from 2012 to 2016. Other gifted Antipodeans in the line-up include Badminton babe Jonelle Price and her husband Tim plus Sir Mark Todd, last year’s Burghley winner, Chris Burton and Blyth Tait- who has also designed this year’s Novice course. The Brits include European Champion Nicola Wilson on her gold medal-winning mare Bulana, Tina Cook, William Fox-Pitt and Horse Scout advocate Emily King. Plus our very own CEO, Lucienne Elms is taking a rare day off to compete her 3* horse, Mistralou who she is aiming to take 4* next year.

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The Barbury nightlife is as good as any at an event. With parties on Friday and Saturday, you may find it hard to leave, especially after you have seen your eventing heroes pulling their moves on the dance floor. From personal experience, I can reassure you that in most cases- their talents lie elsewhere.

 

This year, changes have been made to the event layout, to give a better experience both for the riders and spectators. The final decision on this was made after the Organisers sought feedback from the riders on to improve the event. Which is very positive news, given that the Barbury Estate was sold to new owners last year and some were in doubt that the event would continue to run. The event is now “owned” by ERM, so we can be confident that Barbury Horse Trials, is here to stay.

 

Arena attractions include The JCB Champions’ Challenge on Saturday, all in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund. This is where top National Hunt Jockeys, including Champion Jockey, Richard Johnson and Sam Twiston-Davies, take on eventers Mark Todd, Jonelle and Tim Price and Lissa Green, in a relay show jumping competition.

 

Furthermore, there will be no need to feel guilty about dragging the family along. There is a “Kidzone” with a mini-zoo and real life meerkats; a dog show and dog agility masterclass with a World Champion agility competitor. Of course there is also tonnes of shopping and some great British nosh. So bring deep pockets and empty stomachs.

… But In the words of Baz Lurhmann, don’t forget to wear Sunscreen.

 

To buy tickets and for more information, visit www.barburyhorsetrials.co.uk

Written by Ellie Kelly

Cover Image by Adam Dale

 

Photo from hopedeamer1-14

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