Taking It to the Max

At the draw for the FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final in Paris in 1987 (L to R): Leslie Burr-Lenehan (USA), World Cup Director Max E Ammann, and Nick Skelton (GBR). (FEI Archive)

As the FEI celebrates its centenary, one man’s name stands out when it comes to the development of equestrian sport over the last 100 Years – journalist, historian, art collector, and creator of the FEI World Cup™ Jumping series, Mr. Max Ammann.

There are people who talk, and people who do, and Switzerland’s Max Ammann is very definitely one of the latter. Over a 30-year period from 1978 to 2008, he drove equestrian sport out of a culture of conservative complacency and into an era of energy and progress that has brought us to where we are today.

He didn’t do it alone. He had the support of the three FEI Presidents of his era, and in particular the late Prince Philip who championed many of his innovative ideas.

And the story began in the fishing, farming, and wine growing lakeside village of Ermatingen in Switzerland where his father kept horses on the family farm.

Two businesses

“For over 100 years our family had two businesses. One was local transport and the other was buying fruit and vegetables from farmers and delivering to big shops in Zurich and St Gallen. So we had five horses, and in 1945 my father decided to compete with them. At that time, we had Driving competitions on a local and national level, and he competed from 1946 until 1955. He was quite successful and I was his groom,” Max says.

That led to father and son travelling to many big horse shows over the following years, and when Max moved to New York in 1964 as Foreign Correspondent for Swiss, German, and Austrian newspapers he decided to drop in on the National Horse Show which, at the time, was staged in Madison Square Garden. “I met a lot of people including Bill Steinkraus, Frank Chapot, Kathy Kusner, and Bert de Nemethy. So I started writing about horses and horse shows for (Swiss magazines) Cavallo and Reiter Revue and (American publication) Chronicle of the Horse,” he explains.

He returned to Europe for the FEI World Championships in Jumping at La Baule (FRA) in 1970 and the Olympic Games in Munich (GER) in 1972, and then in 1973 relocated to Switzerland once again when taking up the job of Chief Editor at Luzerner Tagblatt, the daily newspaper in Lucerne.

Agreement

“I had an agreement that I would go to 10 or 15 horses shows every year, so I started with the CSIOs, which were the dominant events at the time, and then began going to indoor shows which were practically unknown. I was the only foreign journalist at s’Hertogenbosch (NED), Amsterdam (NED), Berlin (GER), or Dortmund (GER), but I wrote about the competitions and I could feel that there was something happening in the sport,” Max says.

What he was feeling was the change of mood brought about by the success of those World Championships in La Baule. The 1960s had been very difficult.

“Most international events in showjumping were held outside Europe at the time. The ’64 Olympics were in Tokyo (JPN), in ’68 they were in Montreal (CAN), and in ’66 the World Championships in Jumping were in Argentina. Also that year the big Swamp Fever (Equine Infectious Anaemia) crisis happened, and as a result no continental Europeans competed at the Eventing World Championships in Burghley (GBR) and no Irish or British competed at the European Jumping Championships in Lucerne (SUI).”

Change for the better

But there was a major change for the better in the 1970s in a number of different ways. Jumping grew in popularity after the thrilling World Championships at La Baule in 1970 and the size and scale of the Munich Olympic Games in 1972, which will forever be remembered for the devastating terrorist attack, but which were also the largest yet, setting records in all categories with 195 events and 7,134 athletes from 121 National Olympic Committees.

That led to a coming together of journalists and riders alike, and during the FEI World Championships at Hickstead (GBR) in 1974 the International Alliance of Equestrian Journalists was formed.

The riders then decided they wanted the same kind of representative body, and at a meeting in Geneva in 1977 they established the International Jumping Riders Club of which Max was Secretary for a few years.

With the sport clearly moving in a more positive direction, TV broadcasters became increasingly interested in it. “When we were in Aachen or Hickstead we went to dinner together each evening and of course we talked a lot. We discussed the binding together of shows to create more interest, and that’s how the World Cup idea was born,” Max says.

Indoor shows became the main focus, and originally the plan was to create a Formula 1 motor-racing-style series, “in other words one worldwide tour.” However, Bill Steinkraus felt it was too complicated, in part due to the cost and stress of transporting horses all round the world. So the League system, that still remains to this day, was considered.

Presented

In 1978 Max presented the idea to then FEI Secretary General Fritz Widmer who advised him to take it to a Jumping Committee meeting in Brussels, Belgium where the FEI had its headquarters at the time. They liked it and made a favourable report to FEI President, the late Prince Philip, who invited Max to Windsor to discuss it.

“I had already written the rules and he liked it very much and said two things – ‘First, if we do it, then you have to run it!’ and ‘Now I’m going to translate it from American English into proper English!’”

Then there was the question of who should pay for it. Max spoke with Mark McCormack, manager and founder of IMG group which managed top sports figures and celebrities, but they weren’t interested, instead offering to sign up the world’s top riders. When that didn’t materialise, Max turned to an old friend, former Olympic rider Anders Gernandt, who was now a commentator on Swedish TV. And that was the turning point in the story.

“He put me together with the President of Volvo, Pehr Gyllenhammar, who invited me to dinner with a group including his friend Ulf Bergqvist, a Director of a bank and the Director of the Scandinavium Arena in Gothenburg. They listened to my presentation and I said I’d need 480,000 Swiss Francs which at the time was quite some money! After dinner we sat down and had some Cognac, and Gyllenhammar put out his hand and said, ‘It’s a deal!’ So now I had the agreement of Prince Philip and the President of Volvo and that was sufficient,” Max says.

Concept

So what was it about the concept of the Jumping World Cup that they found so appealing?

“I think it just had to come. I’m not a gambler; I only take calculated risks and I was absolutely sure it would succeed because there were precedents in skiing and football and other sports. And in the meantime, I had talked to many horse shows in New York, Washington, to Gene Mische in Florida, to people in Toronto, Berlin, Dortmund, and Vienna and they were all interested.”

And where did Max get the confidence and skills to put it all together?

“I come from a little village on Lake Constance, and my father had a business so the logical thing when I left Secondary School was to make an apprenticeship in business. So I worked with an international transport company and travelled all around Europe for five years learning the job. Then I worked in shipping companies in Hamburg and Basel, so I had a business education before I switched to journalism in the early 60s. I knew how to make an offer, how to write letters, how to calculate, how to read figures in an annual report, and I spoke English, French, and German and all of that helped,” he explains.

In an obituary after the death of Prince Philip, Max wrote that when HRH was elected FEI President in 1964, words like sponsorship, communications, doping control, marketing and public relations were unknown at the FEI. “It was Prince Philip who brought the FEI forward; he was a visionary but also a very practical man,” he says.

FEI

Max left his job at Luzerner Tagblatt and, with a contract created by the Prince, worked from FEI HQ when it moved from Brussels to Berne. And as the years rolled on, he was involved in the early stages of the creation of the Dressage and Driving World Cups which were based on similar lines.

“The Dressage people became jealous of the Jumpers because they were getting a lot more media attention and there was a lot of discussion about how the Dressage World Cup should be, including some wild ideas. Prince Philip was annoyed by some of the proposals made at a Board meeting, so he told the Dressage Committee to sit with me to sort it out and I told them ‘Gentlemen, I don’t know anything about Dressage or how to develop or promote it, but I can help sell it!’ And a member of the Dressage Committee saved it when suggesting we have a Grand Prix with the best going into the Kur which is the World Cup competition. So through the Grand Prix you preserve the tradition of Dressage and with the Kur you have what people like to see!”

The next discipline that wanted a World Cup was Eventing. “At the Olympics in Seoul in ’88, the Americans wanted it and Roger Haller came to me asking for help to make it happen. Princess Anne was then President and I discussed it with her, but she rightly thought it would be too difficult because Eventing horses don’t compete every week, so nothing came of it,” Max says. However, the FEI Driving World Cup would become a reality.

Seminar

At the FEI Driving World Championships in Hungary in 1989, Max heard the Driving Committee discussing the details of a seminar the following day. “I said to them, what you are talking about is of no importance for the future of the sport; you need to discuss finance, how to create interest, and how to get journalists to cover the sport!”

The following morning, he got a call from Committee President Jack Pemberton asking him to address the seminar, and it went so well he was invited to create an ad hoc Committee of which he would be Chairman. Instead of inviting insiders, however, Max opted to bring in non-specialists including the marketing manager of the Winter Olympics and, after two meetings, they put a proposal to a seminar in Wolfsburg in 2002. Not everyone was initially impressed by the new formula, but a week later the organisers at Aachen expressed an interest and the series began in earnest a year later.

In the lead-in, however, and much to Max’s amusement, a test-run in Gothenburg didn’t meet with everyone’s approval. “I invited all the World Champions of the previous 20 years and they were allowed to train from 11pm to midnight before their event. It was their first experience at a big indoor show, so they drove like maniacs for an hour! Olaf Petersen was course building for the Jumping World Cup and he came racing into my office the following morning and shouted, ‘It looks like a battlefield out there; don’t let those mad Drivers in my arena again!'” Max relates with a laugh.

The FEI Driving World Cup™ survived, however, and went on to become another major success.

Overview

Max’s involvement in equestrianism has given him a great overview. He’s passionate about recording the history of the sport and the two books he wrote for the FEI – “Equestrian Sport in the Olympic Games” and “The History of the FEI Championships” – have become a valued resource.

Looking back on that history, he recalls that not everyone played by the rules down the years. He talks about the Nations Cups staged in Harrisburg, Washington, New York, and Toronto where they ran the classes with just three team-members instead of four, “because they felt four riders with one drop-score was too complicated.” And they broke the rules even further when permitting women onto those teams.

“In the summer of 1950 they had trials for New York and Toronto, and the three riders who qualified were Arthur McCashin, Norma Matthews, and Carol Durant, even though, officially, women were not allowed to compete in Nations Cups at the time – but I think the FEI were half-asleep in Brussels!” Max says with a chuckle.

Talking about his relationship with the three Presidents of his era, he describes Prince Philip as “the best the FEI ever had, an absolute leader and a thinker.” Max learned that HRH didn’t always mean what he said, however.

“He had his specialities when you talked with him. When he said ‘I see,’ he didn’t see at all, so you had to explain more. And when he said ‘I don’t understand,’ you knew he understood perfectly well, but didn’t like what you just said!”

Men’s Club

Max constantly describes the FEI as “a Men’s Club” during those years, and says when Prince Philip’s daughter, Princess Anne, took over the Presidential role, she did a great job but had a much tougher time than her father, simply because she was a woman.

HRH the Infanta Doña Pilar de Borbon was also a good President. “She had a less competitive background than Anne, who was an Olympian and a European champion and was from a horse family. But Doña Pilar loved horses and worked very hard at the FEI,” Max says.

Back on the subject of three-rider Nations Cup Jumping teams, Max says he’s a big advocate of the formula which will be used at this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo. “Because we have to make our sport understood by the ordinary people, not just the specialists,” he says earnestly. “I sat for 30 years in press stands at Aachen and Rome and even there you have to watch and make calculations, and that shouldn’t be necessary.”

Reasoning

“I understand the reasoning of riders and Chefs because of course it’s nice to give young riders their first experience and share the responsibility more. But you could do that by having three riders in Superleague teams and allow the lower developing level teams to have four,” he says.

And what if the three-rider format produces strange results? “Well, that’s sport, and sport doesn’t produce justice; it produces winners!” he insists.

Max retired from the FEI in 2008 but he never sits still. As editor of L’Annee Hippique for 30 years, during which time he also produced “about 30” Media Guides and two books on the World Cup, he has continued writing and recently published an extensive history of the Swiss Equestrian Federation. As an art collector and art lover, he is involved in the work of the Foundation for Naive and Outsider Art in St Gallen, which supports lesser-known artists who are “not in the mainstream.”

Speaking about the philosophy behind his successful career, Max says it was built on engaging everyone in conversations, and on his belief that “you shouldn’t hide and you shouldn’t lie! When you make decisions, you have to stand over them and be prepared to explain why you made them.”

Max Ammann made a lot of good ones, and equestrian sport today owes him a great debt of gratitude.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Supporting the USET Foundation at the Aiken Summer Classic

The Classic Company is proud to announce that it will be promoting the United States Equestrian Team Foundation (USET) and the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games at the Aiken Summer Classic, June 16-20 and June 23-27, 2021. “All of the entry fees from the Low Hunters and Training Jumpers, our largest classes, will be donated to the USET Foundation, which provides funding for the Olympic and Paralympic teams as well as United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Developing and High Performance Programs,” said Bob Bell, President of the Classic Company. “We are proud of our Olympic and Paralympic Teams and wish them great success as they represent the United States in Tokyo this summer.”

“Given the added layer of complexity and logistics due to the COVID-19 pandemic and rescheduling of Tokyo 2020, this year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games will be the costliest Games in the history of the United States Equestrian Team,” said Bonnie Jenkins, Executive Director, USET. “At the same time, as the philanthropic partner to the USEF, we cannot lose sight of the USEF Development and Pathway Programs that are priming our country’s elite, young athletes to successfully represent the United States on the greatest international stages in the future.

“We are extremely grateful to Bob Bell and his team at the Aiken Summer Classics for their support of the USET Foundation,” Jenkins continued. “It’s wonderful to have a competition organizer acknowledging the commitment required to sustain a safe and successful experience for our athletes and horses in Tokyo, as well as finding creative ways to support our athletes more broadly.”

If exhibitors want to make an individual donation to support the U.S. Teams and the USET Foundation, they will receive an attractive blue armband with the USET logo designating the individual as a USET supporter. Riders are encouraged to proudly wear the armband in the ring while competing. Click here to donate today.

ClassicCompany.com
GulfCoastClassicCompany.com
Phone/Fax: (843) 768-5503
Post Office Box 1311, Johns Island, SC 29457

German Day in Baborówko

30 May 2021 was the last day of Equestrian Festival Baborówko. 200 riders with 350 horses from 25 countries all over the world competed for a prize pool unparalleled in Polish eventing – over 90 000 EUR.

In the most important class of the show, the CCI4*-S for the prize of the patron of the event, Mr Roman Roszkiewicz, with a prize pool of 70 000 EUR, the leader after dressage and cross-country was Ingrid Klimke (GER) with SAP HALE BOB OLD. However, the rider had an unlucky but harmless fall in the CCI3*-S cross country, which made it unable for her to compete in the four-star jumping trial. The second and third place after two trials belonged to Michael Jung (GER) with FISCHERCHIPMUNK FRH and FISCHERWILD WAVE. The rider confirmed his fantastic shape and finished the jumping with two clear rounds to take the first and second place. Third went to Sandra Auffarth (GER) with LET’S DANCE 73.

“I am very pleased with of my horses, especially with FISCHERCHIPMUNK FRH and FISCHERWILD WAVE, which are in a great shape. We had some demanding conditions, but that’s just eventing,” said Michael Jung (GER). “It was a hard show, but shows like that are necessary, especially in this season, where we have to take advantage of every occasion to prepare for Tokyo. I’ve been to Baborówko two years ago. Now there are new great arenas. To achieve good results, we need good conditions and that’s what we have here.”

The CCI4*-S also determined the podium for this year’s Polish National Championships, for the third time in Baborówko. We witnessed a great performance by Paweł Spisak with Banderas. The rider finished the class as the best Polish athlete, and secured his 9th gold medal of the National Championships. Mateusz Kiempa defended his silver with Libertina, and bronze went to the home rider of Baborówko Equestrian Association, Paweł Warszawski with Lucinda Ex Ani 4.

“We are very glad that some of the best eventers decided to visit Baborówko. We’re happy that in these difficult times and after a year-long break we managed to safely carry out the event, taking advantage of the potential of our new and modernized infrastructure,” says Henryk Święcicki jr., the director of the show.

There was a change in the lead after the jumping for the CCI4*-L, for the trophy of Lotto. Fouaad Mirza (IND) was in the first and second place with SEIGNEUR MEDICOTT and DAJARA 4. However, he had faults in the jumping trial and so the win went to Aminda Ingulfson (SWE) with HOT CUP VH) after a clear round. Fouaad finished second and third.

In the CCI3*-S, for the trophy of Kuhn, the first three placings went to German riders. Michael Jung was victorious with KILCANDRA OCEAN POWER, second went to Hanna Knüppel riding GEKE EQUIGRIP’S LEVINIO, and third to Peter Thomsen with COOL CHARLY BLUE.

Lotte Palmgren (FIN) with GENIALE 11 took the lead after jumping in the CCI2*-S for the trophy of Concordia Grupa Generali, and kept her position in XC. Felix Etzel (GER) was second with PROMISING PETE TSF, and Esteban Benitez Valle (ESP) with ESCARA GP was third.

The CCI2*-YH for six-year-old horses, for the trophy of Kunowo Stables, ended with the win of Andreas Dibowski (GER) riding CRISTALLIK. Merel Blom (NED) with DENIM took second, and third went to Louise Romeike (SWE) with MADAME D’ ENGELBOURG Z.

The leaderboard of the CCI1*-Intro remained unchanged since Saturday – Jerome Robine (GER) kept his lead with COBY R, Merel Blom (NED) with THE BLACK SWAN was second, and Malin Petersen (SWE) went home with the third riding HULDA.

More information can be found at:
www.festiwal.baborowko.pl

Shanghai Swans in the Lead after GCL Round #1 at Longines Athina Onassis Horse Show

May 27, 2021 — The Shanghai Swans team, already in the lead in the overall standings provisionally, after two legs of the Global Champions League, thanks to their second place in Doha and its victory in Madrid last weekend, got off to a great start in the League’s first round in Ramatuelle/Saint-Tropez.

The team, made up of Germany’s Christian Ahlmann on Solid Gold Z and Austria’s Max Kühner with EIC Caleo, didn’t waver in light of the competition and above all their main challenger, Valkenswaard United, represented on the French Riviera by Sweden’s Peder Fredricson on H&M and Australia’s Edwina Tops-Alexander with Identity Vitseroel, second in the overall standings before this weekend, and also second in this first round in Saint-Tropez. Both of these teams jumped clear on the perfectly balanced course, designed by France’s Grégory Bodo, while five other teams finished with four faults. The St. Tropez Pirates, the ‘local team’ made up of France’s Olivier Robert (Ilena de Mariposa) and Belgium’s Pieter Devos (Claire Z), only finished thirteenth out of the sixteen teams competing in this first round with seventeen faults.

Full results.

LAOHS’ website: https://www.athinaonassis-horseshow.com/

Daniel Koroloff – E-mail: daniel@blizko-communication.com

Erynn Ballard Is Two-for-Two at Tryon Spring 4

Erynn Ballard and Classic Penny ©Reagan Ibach, TIEC.

Mill Spring, NC – May 27, 2021 – Erynn Ballard (CAN) went two-for-two to open the first week of international jumping competition at Tryon International Equestrian Center & Resort (TIEC), claiming the $37,000 Horseware Ireland Welcome Stake win with Classic Penny in a competitive 30.238-second jump-off round after Wednesday’s $6,000 Power and Speed Stake CSI 2* win. Ashlee Bond (ISR) and the 2011 Belgian Warmblood mare (Hickstead II x Cruising) owned by Hila Moverman and Stephex Stables, Lazy, were anything but, scoring reserve with a time of 31.914 seconds. Lillie Keenan (USA) and Agana van het Gerendal Z, the Chansonette Farm LLC entry and 2011 Zangersheide stallion (Aganix du Seigneur x Topas), claimed third place after clearing the short course in a time of 34.653 seconds.

The Nick Granat (USA) course design welcomed 59 entries in the first round, with ten pairs qualifying for the jump-off round. Ballard and the 2012 Norwegian Warmblood mare owned by Ilan Ferder took a crack at Ashlee Bond’s leading time and caught them on the last line of the track, Ballard assessed.

“Following Ashlee is not so easy, and the only place where I felt like she gave me a window of opportunity was the last line. She cut into the vertical, and ended up being wide and did eight [up the last line]. I really had no choice – I had to get there in seven [strides]. Even from the beginning, Penny was quite handy – it was just one of those days where everything went the way it was supposed to go.”

Erynn Ballard and Really Electra Xango Win Their First Class Together for $6,000 Power & Speed Stake CSI 2*

Erynn Ballard (CAN) competed in the irons with Really Electra Xango for the first time on Wednesday to kick off Tryon Spring 4, winning the $6,000 Power & Speed Stake CSI 2* with a speed phase time of 22.783 seconds. In reserve, David O’Brien (IRL) and El Balou OLD, the 2012 Oldenburg stallion (Eldorado VD Zeshoek x Balou du Rouet) owned by Chansonette Farm LLC, stopped the timers in 23.368 seconds, while Michael Murphy (USA) claimed third on a speed phase time of 23.75 with Comedie de Talma, the 2012 Selle Francais mare (Kannan x Contender) owned by Esperanza Imports, LLC.

Forty-eight entries navigated the power phase of the track set by Nick Granat (USA), with 22 horse-and-rider pairs continuing on to the speed phase of the course. Ballard is newly paired with the 2012 Brazilian Sport Horse mare (Indoctro x Lucky Electra Xango) owned by Ilan Ferder, and revealed that their winning ride in Tryon Stadium was actually their first competition together.

“That was my first class with her! I love her,” Ballard elaborated. “She goes the way that I like to ride, and I really believe in her. She really went out there today from start to finish.”

While Ballard acknowledged that many riders were using the Power & Speed Stake as a training opportunity, she wanted to go for the win with “Electra,” choosing to take a more conservative approach with some of her other horses. “There were a lot of people who were training in that class. When we walked the course, we made a plan for the horses that we were training. I said, ‘Electra, we’re going for the win,’ and she went for the win.”

The course not only suited her horse, Ballard reported, but she thought that it was a great way to kick off the first day of FEI competition at TIEC, initiating the first week of international jumping competition of the season.

“I liked the course. It was a very fair start for a two-star. Sometimes, the lines are blurred between two, three, four, and five, so I think that it was a really nice introduction to the two-star.” Ballard concluded, “A lot of these horses haven’t had a lot of exposure [to different environments], as they’ve been in Wellington for most of the winter, so it’s a positive start for the horses at this level, and we hope to have a good rest of the week.”

For more info and results, visit www.Tryon.com.

Winning Is in the Cards for Tomas Yofre and Cardora in $25k Horseware Ireland Welcome Stake

Tomas Yofre and Cardora ©TIEC.

May 20, 2021 – The only pair to go double-clear after two rounds of competition in the $25,000 Horseware Ireland Welcome Stake, Tomas Yofre (Lexington, KY) and Cardora produced a winning time of 39.064. Christina Webb (Raleigh, NC) and FVF Sailor Man, the Fox View Farm entry and 2006 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Popeye K x Baby Grande), dropped one rail and finished the course in a time of 38.279 for reserve, while third place went to Ramiro Quintana (Wellington, FL) and Castana LS La Silla, the 2009 La Silla mare (Quintero x Ratina Z), after their four-fault, 41.777-second run.

The Catsy Cruz (MEX) designed course challenged 34 entries in the first round, with only four duos returning for the jump-off round. While Yofre and the 2010 Holsteiner mare (Caretino x Tamara V) owned by Stellium Sport Horses LLC have only been paired together for a few months, they are already clicking as a team, he shared.

“She is amazing. I’ve had her for four months, and she’s done very well, so I’m happy.” The trailblazers for both the first and second rounds of competition, Yofre reported that his plan was to focus on the technical difficulty of the track while keeping the time in mind. “I was the first to go in, and it was technically difficult. I had a plan, and I just stuck to the plan and it worked out. The times were very close.”

For more info and results, visit www.Tryon.com.

Caroline Mawhinney Wins U25 Grand Prix CSI3* to Conclude Kentucky Spring Classic

Lexington, KY – May 23, 2021 – The final day of the Kentucky Spring Classic and the conclusion to Kentucky Horse Shows’ spring series saw a day full of exciting show jumping competition Sunday, May 23. A total of 39 rising young talents gathered for the $15,000 U25 Grand Prix CSI3* in the famed Rolex Arena, hopeful to close out competition in Lexington with a win. In the end, it was 15-year-old Caroline Mawhinney and her own Stella Levista who emerged victorious, claiming their first U25 win together.

Christina Kelly and Monique Take Top Honors in the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby

The StoneLea Ring kicked off Sunday morning with the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, wrapping up the final day of competition at the Kentucky Spring Classic. A total of 36 junior, amateur, and professional athletes took center stage to showcase their skills in the decorated derby ring. Three talented pairs emerged victorious, with Christina Kelly riding Monique, Libbie Gordon on Ascott, and Campbell Brown aboard Fleetwood laying down two jaw-dropping rounds to make up the podium for the class.

For more information, please visit www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.

It’s Team Gold Again for Spain as UAE Dominates Individual Podium

On left is gold medallist Salem Hamad Saeed Malhoof Al Kitbi riding Haleh, on right is silver medallist Mansour Saeed Mohd Al Faresi with Birmann Aya. (FEI/Christoph Taniere)

The defending champions from Spain claimed team gold once again at the Longines FEI Endurance World Championship 2021 at San Rossore in Pisa, Italy; the UAE dominated the individual podium when clinching the top two places.

The was the first championship to run under the new FEI Endurance Rules, and history was made when Boni Viada de Vivero became the first Chilean rider to stand on a World Championship podium when scooping individual bronze, while Brazil also celebrated their first-ever medals when taking team silver ahead of France.

In a dramatic competition it seemed that the individual title looked set to also fall into Spanish hands when Omar Blanco Rodrigo and his brilliant grey, For Ferro, moved up from fifth to first after the second loop and stayed out in front until the closing stages. However, the speed and supreme fitness of the UAE horses, Haleh, who clinched gold for Salem Hamad Saeed Malhoof Al Kitbi, and Birmann Aya, who slotted into silver medal spot for Mansour Saeed Mohd Al Faresi, saw them surge ahead in the final loop to finish neck-and-neck and hand-in-hand without a challenger in sight.

Heart rate

Haleh’s heart rate never went above 50 beats per minute and at the very end of the 160km test registered just 47. At the final vet-check, the 10-year-old French-bred gelding looked completely unfazed as he nibbled some grass while the Australian-bred Birmann Aya, who has a tremendous record for speedy finishes, was also chilled with a heart rate of 54.

Chile’s Viada de Vivero produced the most mature of rides, and the 27-year-old got a great reception from the Italian supporters as he is based in Italy. Lying 19th after the first loop he improved to 17th, 16th, 10th, and then fifth before clinching third and bronze with the nine-year-old As Embrujo.

Al Kitbi was never far off the lead, however, finishing the first two phases in third place, moving into second after loop three and staying there until the final push over the 20km sixth-phase course. In contrast, Al Faresi, who is also 25 years old, was lying 13th after the first loop but improved to third by loop four and in the end only one-hundredth of a second separated him from his gold-medal-winning compatriot.

Team

But the individual gold and silver medallists were the only two of the five-man UAE team to complete. A total of 12 countries contested the team title but just three finished, and it was a major battle for the medal placings. The strong side from Bahrain were big favourites, but HH Sheikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa retired and his four running mates were all eliminated. The gold and silver medallists from Spain and Brazil each finished with just the essential three team-members, while the bronze medallists from France completed with an impressive four.

And although the Spanish appeared to be running away with it at the outset, they were under intense pressure when their two main contenders were eliminated for metabolic issues for their horses. Jaume Punti Dachs and Alex Luque Moral claimed individual gold and silver along with team gold at the last World Championships in Samorin, Slovakia four years ago, but Luque Moral’s Eryvan was vetted out after Phase 4 and the Punti Dachs’ JM Bucefala experienced the same fate after Phase 5.

So Blanco Rodrigo could take no chances with For Ferro over the last 20km; he must finish safely if his team was to stay in with a chance, and when he clinched individual sixth spot and Angel Soy Coll finished fourth with Warrens Hill Chayze, that bolstered the Spanish effort.

Desperately close

It was desperately close, however, because the third score posted by 2008 and 2010 individual gold medallist Maria Alvarez Ponton was critical and there was huge tension while her horse, Mandany, was closely examined at the final vet-check. But a big roar went up when he was passed, leaving her in individual 15th place and finalising the total team time of 23:10:34 which left Spain in gold but just 3:01 ahead of Brazil in silver while the French posted 23:43:01 for the bronze.

The Brazilians lost Rodrigo Moreira Barreto at the first vet-gate, but Philippe de Azevedo Morgulis (Saiph SBV), Andre Vidiz (Chambord Endurance), and Renato Salvador (Uzes Trio) stood firm to finish eighth, ninth, and tenth, respectively, thereby giving the victorious Spanish a real run for their money.

The French, who claimed team silver at the last four World Championships, lost Charles Cappeau and Camil des Ormeaux after the fourth loop, but Nicolas Ballarin (Anir de la Teuliere), Gaele Ollivier Jacob (Pot Made), Margot Thomas (Kalon Milin Avel), and Roman Lafaure (Akim Cabirat) all completed to ensure their place on the podium.

Dream result

For the new individual champion Al Kitbi, it was a dream result.

“I’m in this sport now 11 years and this is my first World Championship and I’m so proud of it!” he said.

The final loop was particularly tough. “Until the last five kilometres the rest were pushing and making it hard for us, and in the final vet-check I was so nervous, I thought my heart might burst!”

For Chile’s Boni Viada de Vivero, was a day he will always remember. “I can hardly believe it! I knew I had a good horse, but to have one that’s in the top-three in the world – now that is just incredible!” he said.

Results here.

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By Louise Parkes

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Shannon Gibbons
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Tori Colvin and Ipso Facto Finesse the $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at TIEC

Tori Colvin and Ipso Facto ©Mackenzie Clark.

Mill Spring, NC – May 21, 2021 – Victoria Colvin (USA) and Glade Run Farm LLC’s Ipso Facto scored a two-round total of 391 to claim the win in Friday’s $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, concluding a double derby day at Tryon International Equestrian Center & Resort (TIEC), which also featured a $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby. Claiming reserve honors in the $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, Greg Crolick (USA) and Testify, the 2014 Hanoverian gelding (Cassini II x Valencia T) owned by Jon Cotton, earned a two-round score of 387. Crolick also earned fifth aboard Kuore, the 2012 Polish Warmblood gelding owned by Renaud Farm, LLC, on a total of 364. In collecting both third and fourth place, Michael Britt-Leon (USA) received a total score of 371.5 aboard Kelly Sims’ Private I, the 2012 Oldenburg gelding (Corrado x Verdi). Britt-Leon guided Kelly Sims’ entry Bacchus to fourth on a score of 370.75 with the 2013 Hanoverian gelding (Bisquet Balou x Feliz V/D Donkhoeve).

The course set by Andres Christiansen (USA) challenged 23 entries in the first round, with the cutoff to challenge the handy round set at 159. When the top 12 riders had concluded their second performance, it was Colvin who topped Crolick’s first-round lead for the win. As it was only the second international derby for the 2013 NRPS gelding (Douglas x Emmasinaa-a), Colvin was proud of her mount’s performance and thankful that the first round track “wasn’t too difficult or scary” for him.

“The first round rode nicely. It was a nice course, and it wasn’t too difficult or scary, which was nice for him. This is only his second derby,” she revealed. “He was [recently] champion in the Low Children’s at Aiken, with a 12-year-old. So, yeah, he went very well! I did one international derby with him, and this is my second. He’s very good at it!”

After watching the second round unfold, Colvin saw that tight turns were the name of the game if she wanted a competitive score. “Everyone went pretty handy [in the second round] and almost all of them had good scores, so I thought that I had to do all of the inside turns and hope he knew where I was going,” she detailed.

“There were lots of inside turns, but he was great. The tightest one was to the last jump – that oxer came up really quickly!” Colvin concluded, “He went fantastic, and I’m thankful to have the ride on him.”

Greg Crolick and Calisto Claim $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby

Greg Crolick (Clarkston, MI) and Jon Cotton’s Calisto conquered a field of 40 entries to earn the win in Friday morning’s $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby at TIEC, scoring 184 over two rounds with the 2012 Selle Francais gelding (Arko x Kambera Vilelongue). Matt Cyphert (Argyle, TX) and Katie McDonnell’s Crimson Tide, the 2008 Hanoverian gelding (Lordanos x Elfe), claimed reserve on a score of 181. In third, Jimmy Torano (Wellington, FL) and Moonlight, the Isalou, Inc. entry and 2012 Hanoverian gelding (Conthargos x Chacco Bella), added 87.5 to their first-round score to collect third and a total score of 180.5.

Crolick and Calisto have been partnered for a year and a half, he reported, and “held their own” in the first round over the Andy Christiansen track despite a tiny bobble. “He rode really smoothly in the first round. He did everything I asked him to do. He had a light rub in the first round, unfortunately, but still held his own in the score.”

Though he was hoping to navigate the handy round without executing an inside turn after the second jump, “a couple of other people did it, so that put the pressure on and I had to do it,” Crolick explained. “It worked out really well. He’s a wonderful and kind horse, and he does everything we ask him to do.”

When not dominating USHJA National Hunter Derbies, Calisto is ridden by Katherine Cotton, Crolick concluded. “Calisto is owned by Jon Cotton and his daughter, Katherine. He’s a wonderful horse. He’s a great horse for her, and he’s become a wonderful National Hunter Derby horse for me.”

For more info and results, visit www.Tryon.com.

Dominic Gibbs and Delia B Dominate High Jr/A-O 1.40m Jumper at Kentucky Spring Classic

Lexington, KY – May 21, 2021 – The famed Rolex Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park was buzzing with excitement Friday, May 21, as junior and amateur-owner competitors took center stage to vie for top honors in the High Junior/Amateur-Owner 1.40m Jumper. In a one-round competition against the clock, 37 hopeful athletes sought victory aboard their mounts, but it was ultimately junior athlete Dominic Gibbs who rose to the occasion riding Mount King Ranch LLC’s Delia B to take first place honors.

Alivia Kohus, Taylor Cawley, and Campbell Brown Emerge Victorious in Equitation

Friday afternoon in the StoneLea Ring, equitation riders took center stage to compete for the top prize in the Hamel Foundation NHS 3’3” Medal, ASPCA Maclay, and the USHJA 3’3” Hunter Seat Medal. Showcasing some of the nation’s top junior athletes, the competition was tough in the ASPCA Maclay as 20 horse-and-rider combinations tried their hand at the eight-obstacle course, hoping to acquire points towards the 2021 indoor season. In the end, Alivia Kohus laid down a jaw-dropping course aboard her mount, Cristallo’s Carlchen P, which helped earn her the blue ribbon. Taylor Cawley dominated the Hamel Foundation NHS 3’3” Medal aboard Quax for the second week in a row, while Campbell Brown claimed victory in the USHJA 3’3” Hunter Seat Medal aboard SWS Questionnaire.

For more information, please visit www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.

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