Quote of the Week
“I think our dad has a very good eye for the young horses… A good example is H&M Chilli Willi. When I saw him, I always doubted him for the big sport, but our dad was always sure he was going to be a real grand prix prospect. In the end, it turned out that way, as it usually does.”
—Belgium’s Olivier Philippaerts on why his father, Ludo, still knows best.
Nicola Philippaerts & H&M Chilli Willi (c) World of Show Jumping
Martin Fuchs & Clooney Make Their Wellington Debut Count
Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs and top mount Clooney took the Winter Equestrian Festival by storm this weekend, riding into town to earn their first WEF ‘Saturday Night Lights’ Grand Prix win in the $391,000 Fidelity Investments Grand Prix CSI5*.
Martin Fuchs & Clooney (c) Sportfot/World of Show Jumping
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The first five-star of the WEF 2019 season featured a deep well of American talent, with Olympians Beezie Madden (Coach), McLain Ward (Contagious) and Kent Farrington (Gazelle) all in attendance. For many riders, Kelvin Bywaters’s first round track was surprisingly uncomplicated, with 18 moving on to contest the jump-off.
As is so often the case, Ireland was solidly represented, with Daniel Coyle (Quintin), Conor Swail (Flower) and third place finisher Richie Moloney & Rocksy Music taking three of the top six spots. Ultimately, however, the class would prove to be a showdown between Fuchs—on a jump-off time of 33.13 seconds—and last-to-go Farrington, known for his lightening-fast speed under pressure.
In the end, the track favored Clooney’s impossibly big step, allowing him to leave out a crucial stride on the way to the double—a feat unmatched by any other horse on course. “I thought that was too much risk for [Gazelle],” said Farrington, who stopped the clock just off the mark at 33.57 seconds. “She is extremely careful, and I thought… she might stop if I tried to go that far away, so I tried to catch him with foot speed around the rest of the course, but we fell a little short today.”
This weekend’s victory makes two horse shows and two big CSI5* wins for Fuchs & Clooney (named Swiss Horse of the Year in 2018), who also took home the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Qualifier in Basel last month. If you’re following along at home, that makes yet another strong Western European League contender for this year’s Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Finals in Gothenburg this April.
The 2018 World Equestrian Games (WEG) Individual silver and Team bronze medalists for Switzerland have a lot riding in their favor, having been paired together for the last five years. With the 2018 WEG, the Rio 2016 Olympics, and a fourth place finish in the 2017 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Finals already under their belts, Clooney, 13, and Fuchs have age and experience on their side. Will 2019 be the year they’ll add a World Cup Finals title to their already impressive resume? Only time will tell.
If You Can Only Watch One Round…
Watch Daniel Deusser & Tobago Z Nail the Inside Turn in Bordeaux
Speaking of potential 2019 World Cup Finals Champions… Germany’s Daniel Deusser, who currently tops the Western European League standings, took home his second big qualifier win of the season this weekend with Tobago Z in Bordeaux, showing incredible versatility on a challenging jump-off track. The pièce de résistance: slicing this nail-biter of an inside turn you have to see to believe!
This Just In...
Shane Sweetnam Bids Farewell to Top Horse, Main Road
Shane Sweetnam & Main Road (c) Facebook/Shane Sweetnam
It was a devastating week in Wellington for Ireland’s Shane Sweetnam, who was forced to say goodbye to his longtime mount, Main Road. Sadly, the 11-year-old gelding died unexpectedly in his stall at the Winter Equestrian Festival. Last year, Shane & Main Road earned top placings at LGCT Doha and GCL Chantilly, among many others in their three years together. Our sympathies go out to Shane, Sweet Oak Farm, and all those connected to this standout pair.
**Watch This Space**
Michael Jung Adds a Chipmunk to His String
Julia Krajewski & Chipmunk FRH (c) Imago/PA Images/Horse & Hound
Michael Jung’s 2019 season is starting to look very bright, indeed. The German rider will take over the reins of Julia Krajewski’s (GER) WEG 2018 horse, Chipmunk FRH, with whom she also won three, three-star events in Marbach, Bramham, and Aachen last year. “When I was informed at the end of last year that Chipmunk could not stay with Julia, but there was the opportunity to hold him for Germany and me, I tried to achieve this,” Jung says. “I thank Julia for the great years of training and I’m curious as to what ‘Chip’ and I can expect from the next few years.”
“It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a…. dressage prospect!”
Talent isn’t just about skill, it’s also about the will to succeed. And if you can find a jumping horse more willing to succeed than Mavis Spencer’s adorabbbbble prospect in the video, below, we dare you to show it to us. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are show jumping careers. This little guy seems to love the job at hand, and we’ll take that over natural talent and a bad attitude any day. You’ll get ‘em next time, champ! (H/t @lauren_minges for the spot-on headline.)