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Three young horses with so much promise, three riders with extraordinary skill and three Studbooks with a host of talent in their armoury are celebrating victory at the FEI World Breeding Jumping Championships in Lanaken.
Staged at the world-famous Zangersheide Stud, this annual event honours the breeders of the wonderful equine athletes we have in our sport today, and the Studbooks in which those horses are registered. So congratulations to the German Sport Horse (DTPF), the Irish Sport Horse (ISH) and the Belgian Warmblood (BWP) Studbooks which were all represented on the top stop of the 2017 podium!
At just 24 years old Pippa was by far the youngest winning rider when the Finals for horses in all three categories took place yesterday. And she did it in style when taking the Five-Year-Old title with Thomas Williams’ grey mare, Chilli.
“I only ride young horses and it has been my aim all year to come here,” said the girl from Canterbury, “We were clear, and always either second or first in all our qualifiers, and I knew she could go fast!” said the young lady who pipped her nearest rival by almost a full second in the seven-horse jump-off.
It’s pretty daunting alright, and even the most experienced riders feel the pressure at these Championships. “It’s unbelievable to come back and win again - against 260 starters!” said Ger O’Neill who last year slotted the Irish-bred Killossery Kaiden into pole position in the 6-Year-Olds and came back to do it again this year with Columbcille Gipsy. He knew he was on another good one though.
“This has been a dream come true and it’s a great day. Unfortunately the mare’s breeder, Eamon Murphy, isn’t here, but he’s been watching from home and I’m really happy for him!” said Ger who is recognised as one of the top producers of young Jumpers in Ireland. He’s also joint-owner of the winning horse, so the man from Kilkenny can be especially proud.
And it was a truly tough competition on the final afternoon, with 20 of the 40 starters making it into the jump-off over the course designed by Belgium’s Eugene Mathy which tested riding skills to the limit. A very clever jump-off track left riders with the option of a time-saving super-tight and sharply-angled turn to the third fence. Many tried to take it, but most didn’t succeed.
“It took a good horse to stay clear!” Ger said, and it was obvious that only well-cemented horse-and-rider partnerships could cope with the challenge. Not all 6-year-old horses would have the confidence and courage to take on a winding course like this at speed, but Columbcille Gipsy didn’t hesitate.
“She’s been very consistent all year and she won the €40,000 Breeders Classic a few weeks ago,” Ger said. “It’s great to have a good league like the Classic at home in Ireland, because we have our horses ready for Lanaken and for three years in a row now we’ve won a lot of medals!” said the Irishman.
By Toulon out of a mare by the thoroughbred, Grundyman, Columbcille Gipsy looks set for a busy future. “I might just bring her back again next year and win the 7-Year-Olds!” Ger said. Silver medal went to 30-year-old Harm Lahde from Germany with the French-bred Oak Grove’s Darshan while Belgium’s Caroline de Laet took the bronze with Halland van de Mispelaere.
Colombia’s Daryo Arroyave is no stranger to success at these Championships either, winning both the 5 and 6-Year-Old titles in previous years and making it a full collection when galloping to victory once again this time around with the 7-Year-Old Korlano van Klapscheut.
From 189 starters in this category earlier in the week, there were 42 qualified for the Final in which only nine managed to jump clear in the first round.
Daryo was chasing the target of 41.86 seconds set by Spain’s Ivan Serrano Saenz and Citizen Mezz who broke the beam in 41.86 seconds. With a superb run, the 38-year-old who moved from Colombia to Madrid in Spain when he was 22 years old, raised the bar even higher when galloping through the finish in 40.62.
Belgian star, 31-year-old Pieter Devos, did his best to oust him from pole position with a great run from the aptly-named Flash, but wasn’t quite quick enough when stopping the clock on 41.49 seconds to snatch silver medal spot.
Dayro took up the ride on Korlano “a horse with a lot of special qualities!” when he started working with former Belgian international rider, Gilbert de Roeck, 12 months ago, and they’ve clearly clicked.
Meanwhile Pieter Devos dedicated his silver medal success to his back-up team. “My sister-in-law prepared this horse, I’m always at big shows and can’t produce the young horses so I want to thank my family because they do all the hard work - I’m just the pilot today!”
Text by Louise Parkes
Images by FEI/J-Image