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Whitaker takes a brave route, an exciting ‘sassy little’ British prospect and former groom lands five-star grand prix

International showjumping news: Erynn Ballard wins a jump-off against herself at Spruce Meadows
Erynn Ballard and Libido Van’t Hofken win at Spruce Meadows.

In this week’s international showjumping news round-up, we celebrate some mighty performances, particularly from cousins William Whitaker and Jack Whitaker, in the opening week of Bolesworth’s new international tour.

But we also look further afield to some notable Nations Cup podium finishes, a five-star win for a former groom ranked 1,813th in the world, and a rider winning a jump-off against herself. Read on for this week’s international showjumping news round-up and results.

Showjumping news: the big guns are out for a Bolesworth thriller

William Whitaker and Chacco’s Lando took full advantage of the slivers of opportunity left for the taking by their rivals to secure a British victory in Bolesworth’s high-class LeMieux CSI2* grand prix during week one of the inaugural Bolesworth International Equestrian Summer Festival presented by Al Shira’aa.

Ireland’s Shane Breen “knew the big guns were coming behind me” – setting the standard by taking the brave man’s route with Cato Boy over Rafael Suarez’s jump-off course. But William was braver – as last to go, he had to be – slicing across the oxer at fence five and delivering an all-round masterclass in jump-off riding to power ahead by 0.6sec.

William Whitaker and Chaccos Lando win the Bolesworth grand prix in this weeks showjumping news round-up

William Whitaker and Chaccos Lando win the CSI2* LeMieux grand prix.

“I was in the best position to know what everybody else did before I went in. Shane set a really good target – I knew that I had to give everything to try to beat him and luckily it paid off,” said William, of Old Lodge Stud’s talented 11-year-old Chacco-Blue son, who is looked after by Mia Allison and Sophie Price. “He’s a great horse and I feel now each month I get to know him a little bit better and exactly how he needs to be managed so that he jumps his best.”

Britain’s Christopher Smith was the first to come close to runner-up Shane’s impressive time on owner/breeder Nicola Barry’s nine-year-old mare Messarado Blue, and their performance earned them a place on the podium. Don’t miss the full report in this week’s H&H magazine, in shops Thursday 10 June.

Rider wins five-star jump-off against herself

In Canada, the CSI5* Spruce Meadows Continental meeting presented by Rolex hosted some of the world’s top riders and Erynn Ballard (main image) took the spotlight when achieving the rare feat of a one-two in Friday’s The Mustangs 1.55m grand prix qualifier.

The Olympic hopeful took top spot with Libido Van’t Hofken in a time of 42.86sec, finishing a fraction slower on the former Ben Maher ride Gakhir in 84.53sec. Her closest challenge came from Great Britain’s Matt Sampson on Daniel.

“My first five-star win [at Thunderbird Show Park last month] was the greatest day of my career so far. But everybody that rides a pony, whether you’re a little girl, a little boy, or a teenager, you do this to go to the Olympics. So certainly it’s in the forefront of my mind and I’ve got the horses to do it, but I still have a lot of work to do,” said Erynn, who could be part of Canada’s first-ever all-female Olympic team in Paris. “I’m always hashtagging ‘girl power’ and I think that it would be a great thing for the younger generation of the sport. But at the end of the day, no matter what, we’re all teammates.”

Matt Sampson had turned the tables the previous day, beating the Canadian to victory in the CSI5* AON Cup with new ride One Whisper.

Showjumping news: “She’s a proper horse,” says Jack Whitaker

Next in this week’s international showjumping news round-up, we’re back to Bolesworth, where a “sassy little” mare got everyone talking when winning the CSIYH1* Al Shira’aa seven-year-old final. It’s part of this sport’s magic to see a prospective future talent score that first significant win. When that success comes in the hands of one of Britain’s top rising stars, that magic is brushed with an extra sparkle. This year’s final was a real jewellery shop window, headed by the super mare Chique Rv Z in the hands of Britain’s Jack Whitaker, with Ireland’s Shane Breen and Konrad Obolensky a close second.

“We think she’s a proper one,” said Jack, who bought the Cicero Z daughter as a four-year-old with Jake Saywell. “She’s like a rubber ball – a real compact, sassy little mare. I don’t think she knows that she’s small! With her, I have to stick to my own plan, as I can’t just copy the strides that everyone else is doing. But I know that she’s quick and I know she can turn tight.”

Showjumping news: Cian OConnor and Fancy De Kergane help Ireland with a double clear in the Nations Cup of Roeser, Luxembourg.

Cian OConnor and Fancy De Kergane help Ireland with a double clear in the Nations Cup of Roeser, Luxembourg.

Nations Cup thrillers: “I am proud of the team”

At the CSIO3* Longines EEF Nations Cup in Luxembourg, winners Belgium topped the podium on a zero score after a jump-off with Ireland. Great Britain finished in third.

Ireland was represented by brothers Max Wachman (Kilkenny) and Tom Wachman with Cathalina S, Michael Duffy on Clitschko 17 and Cian O’Connor producing a double clear with Fancy De Kergane before felling one pole more than Belgium representative Jeroen Appelen on Monte Blue PS against the clock.

“I suppose you could say that’s one that got away,” said Horse Sport Ireland high performance showjumping director Michael Blake. “The lads jumped great for the most part but one or two little mistakes have ultimately cost us. It is still an excellent result and, of course, congratulations to the Belgium team. When Tom and Cian, our final two riders, jumped their clears under pressure to apply pressure on the Belgians, they didn’t wilt to take us to the jump-off, where they got the job done.

“I am proud of the team. A Nations Cup runner-up finish is never to be sniffed at and it highlights the consistency we have in our programme.”

Third-placed Great Britain also secured a place in the semi-final in Deauville later this month.

“I’m delighted, it’s the first time Britain has qualified for the EEF semi-final in Deauville,” said Great Britain’s chef d’equipe Di Lampard, who led Mark Edwards (Flying Tinker II), Adrian Whiteway (Chacco Volo), Olli Fletcher (Hello William) and Robert Murphy on Kannem JA Z to the podium. “All four riders contributed with clear rounds and this squad is going to the four-star Nations Cup in Sopot, Poland, next week.

“I like the format for the EEF, where all the teams get to compete in the second round – unless they are eliminated in round one – and get to put the wrongs right. It’s in the right spirit and they gain valuable experience, whereas the standalone three-star teams only take the top eight [through to round two]. I’m looking forward to the Deauville semi-final and hopefully, the final in Warsaw.”

Great Britain and Ireland also finished fifth and sixth respectively in the Longines EEF series qualifier in Drammen, Norway, where another jump-off decided victory for Poland over hosts Norway, with Sweden third after torrential rain hit the venue during round two. It was the first time for eight years that Poland has won a Nations Cup. Each of the British quartet jumped a clear – Simon Crippen (Handsome), Leo Lamb on Gmail, Faye Sutton with Spider and Phillip Miller riding Don Royale, who went on to finish third in Sunday’s grand prix.

Showjumping news: Cannes success for Brash and Howley

We continue this week’s showjumping news round-up with the opening day of the Longines Global Champions Tour of Cannes, where Ireland’s Richard Howley and Petitfour VD Wareslage won a 1.45m speed class, toppling long-time leaders Ben Maher and Ginger-Blue.

“Heading in to beat Ben Maher always adds to the pressure,” Richard said. “Obviously he is a world-class rider, so it’s an honour to take the win over him today.”

Great Britain’s Scott Brash and Hello Valentino topped the GCL first qualifier by more than two seconds while Saturday night’s grand prix was won by Janne Friederike Meyer-Zimmermann on the appropriately named Messi Van’t Ruytershof in the city’s football stadium Stade Des Hesperides.

“I had a short second of a moment where I thought ‘now you just drop the rein and go’… and he made it, I am so thankful for this horse – what a horse,” she said.

A winning week for Amanda Derbyshire

US-based British showjumper Amanda Derbyshire sealed a spectacular week at the Tryon International with victory in the $120,000 CSI3* 1.50m grand prix on Cornwall BH. She topped a four-way jump-off to decide the honours, having also sealed victory with Otto BH in the two-phase.

A first ever grand prix success for former groom, ranked 1,813th in the world

A 29-year-old rider from Czechia made history with victory in Spruce Meadows’ five-star grand prix. Vaclav Stanek, who just two years ago was working as a groom at the venue, rode Quintin to an unexpected victory over Matt Sampson and Daniel.

“I didn’t even expect to get a clear round, let alone win my first five-star event,” said the 1,813th ranked Czech showjumper who is a former Rolex Young Riders Academy pupil. “I have watched Spruce Meadows since I was a little kid hoping one day I could ride here, but I would never even dream about winning here. I finally got my cooler in the best way possible.”

Showjumping news: Kent Farrington wins the La Baule grand prix

Kent Farrington of USA wins in La Baule riding Greya.

“I’m determined every day”: Kent Farrington triumphs in La Baule

Finally in this week’s showjumping news round-up, we celebrate US rider Kent Farrington’s brilliant win in the Rolex grand prix Ville de La Baule riding Greya after an exhilarating 11-way jump-off. The duo delivered the quickest of four double clears, beating fellow American Karl Cook (Caracole De La Roque), and Belgium’s Gregory Wathelet (Bond Jamesbond De Hay) took third.

“I’m determined every day,” said Kent. “Our sport has its ups and downs, because horses are animals with their own rhythm and needs. That’s what makes our sport so beautiful. You go from hero to zero very quickly, and that’s the game. I try to stay focused and not think about what might have happened or what might happen. I hadn’t really looked at Karl’s course, and this allowed me to follow my plan and secure the victory.”

Germany won the show’s CSIO5* Nations Cup and while Great Britain wasn’t involved in the team competition, individual representative at the show Lily Attwood and Karibou Horta won Saturday’s accumulator.

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