Quote of the Week
“[Have] I ever felt like giving up on her? I have fallen off many times, and asked her, ‘Why can’t you just be normal?’ But then again, I would not want her to [be].”
—Australia’s Rowan Willis on his tumultuous relationship with World Equestrian Games partner and top mare, the notoriously unconventional, Blue Movie. Because all the good ones are a ‘lil crazy.
From Winning Teammates to Adversaries in Just Two Rounds
This weekend in Portugal, the LGCT Grand Prix of Cascais/Estoril saw an epic showdown between London Knights teammates Ben Maher (GBR) and Martin Fuchs (SWI), both of whom were victorious in Saturday afternoon’s GCL competition just hours before facing off against one another in the jump-off round of the Grand Prix (watch Martin eek out the win below).
How'd it Go Down?
Like something out of a Marvel movie, minus the explosions. Two of the world’s best riders, competing on two of their best horses (Maher on Explosion W, Fuchs on Chaplin), blow the rest of the field out of the water, logging double-clear rounds in the afternoon’s GCL competition and booking their spots in the evening’s main event: the LGCT Grand Prix. Two round later, they’re forced to go head-to-head for individual honors in a jump-off field of 11—which, by the way—also included Pieter Devos (BEL) & Claire Z, Marcus Ehning (GER) & Funky Fred, and Christian Ahlmann (GER) & Clintrexo Z. So, yeah, barely anyone of note.
Tell Me More
Ahlmann, Devos, and Ehning all suffered four-faults in round two, leaving the door open for Darragh Kenny (riding Important de Muze) and another promising young Irish gun, Michael Duffy (aboard Mullaghdrin Touch), who laid down the gauntlet with double-clears. One of the last to go, Maher and the peerless Explosion W cake-walked around the shortened course, stopping the clock at a seemingly unbeatable 38.09. Last up: Fuchs & Chaplin—the latter just back from breeding season—looked equally at ease. The pair made a slightly neater turn back to the double combination and flat-out galloped home, ultimately edging out Fuch’s teammate on a time of 37.64.
There’s nothing quite like watching the sport’s top pairs competing at the top of their game, and Saturday’s Grand Prix offered that up in spades. During most of the day, both Explosion W and Chaplin seemed utterly unphased by anything built by the hands of God, man, or in this case, Frank Rothenberger. Lengthen? Shorten? Stretch in the air? Leave a stride out? No problem, even at 1.60m in height.
Watch for both horses to make star appearances at upcoming championship events, including, for our money, an individual gold medal run at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 (here’s looking at you, Explosion W!). And, though he may have had to settle for second place this weekend, don’t expect Maher to lose any sleep: Fuchs & Chaplin previously won the LGCT Grand Prix of Madrid to qualify for the LGCT Super Grand Prix in November, meaning that Maher, in second place, gets the golden ticket in his stead. In other words: we can all look forward to another SUPER-sized, Maher/Fuchs showdown in Prague this fall.
This Just In...
US Equestrian Names Its 2019 Pan American Games Team
U.S. Equestrian has assembled its team for the 2019 Pan American Games, taking place in Lima, Peru August 6-9, 2019. The lineup is a mix of seasoned vets and rookie talents, including our own, PonyApp U25 Ambassador Lucy Deslauriers & Hester as Traveling Reserve (look for an interview with Lucy on our blog this week!). The rest of the team includes: Alex Granato & Carlchen W, Eve Jobs & Venue d’Fees des Hazalles, Beezie Madden (with multiple horses); and McLain Ward & Contagious. You can read the full release here.
If You Can Only Watch One Round...
Watch Martin Fuchs*in Ride His Socks Off in Cascais
You’ve got to want it to win it, and Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs definitely looked like he wanted it more in the LGCT Grand Prix of Cascais/Estoril, where he edged out Great Britain’s Ben Maher & Explosion W—also in top form—with some dramatic gambles, including this nifty rollback turn to the double, and a final gallop down to the base of a pretty wide oxer home. Oh, and it was his mother's birthday, and she was there watching him ride. You just earned a cool 99,000 euro payday Martin—don't skimp on the duds!
**Watch This Space**
Michael Pender Breaks Records at the Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby
Michael Pender leaps into history at Hickstead. (c) Nigel Goddard/Hickstead/ World of Show Jumping
Just three months short of his 20th birthday, Ireland’s Michael Pender has become the youngest winner of the storied Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby in 59 years riding Hearton Du Bois Halleaux. On Sunday, the Derby, itself, also broke records, with a total of three riders (Pender, Shane Breen of Ireland & Golden Hawk, and Harriet Nuttall of Great Britain & A Touch Imperious) going through to the jump-off. Only Pender would ultimately finish double-clear. “He’s done a lot of puissances, but this is the first time I’ve done something like this with him,” Pender said. “Getting up this morning, you don’t think it’s ever going to happen.”
Adrienne Sternlicht Loses the Derby, Wins the Internet
We all have off days in the show ring, in when you’re galloping around a giant Spruce Meadows derby course, the stakes for those “off days” get considerably higher. Take, for instance, World Equestrian Games team gold medalist Adrienne Sternlicht, who appears to have had a little trouble during her 2017 Spruce Derby run with Raia D’Helby. She may have missed placing in the class, but Adrienne won So. Much. More. With this epic photo and a rockin' sense of humor.