Tag Archives: Show Jumping

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

Puissance and Dressage Masterclass Come to Royal Windsor Horse Show

The Organisers of Royal Windsor Horse Show have announced a further release of General Entry tickets for the sold-out days of 2021 Show (taking place from 1-4 July) plus a new evening entertainment ticket offer.

The evening programme will see the return of a Puissance competition to the Show on Thursday 1 July, as well as a Dressage Masterclass, adding to the diverse array of equestrian spectacles on display over the course of the four days.

The Puissance, a traditional jumping competition whereby riders tackle an imposing red wall which gets higher in every round jumped, was last seen at Royal Windsor in 2009. On that occasion it was a 20‐year‐old William Whitaker who took the top spot, clearing 7ft aboard Cyber Space. Always a crowd pleaser, the competition will take centre stage in the private grounds of Windsor Castle on the afternoon of Thursday 1 July.

Joining the programme on Thursday will be a new Dressage Masterclass documenting the skills required for horses stepping up to Grand Prix level, the highest level in international Dressage. Presented by British Olympian Richard Davison, the masterclass will not only consider the steps required in training horses to reach this pinnacle, breaking down notoriously challenging movements such as piaffe, one-time-changes, and passage, but will also look at how a rider can maximise the points scored during the test itself.

Richard will be joined by Stephen Clarke, the FEI’s highest ranking Dressage judge and a judge at the London 2012 Olympics, to carry out an appraisal of a Grand Prix Dressage test, noting where the horse and rider score their points and tips for where they could pick up a few more marks. The horse and rider combinations performing under Stephen’s watchful eye will be up-and-coming British Grand Prix riders and future Olympic hopefuls looking to cement their status amongst the world’s best.

Whilst visitor numbers are restricted due to the ongoing pandemic, the organisers are announcing a final release of tickets for each day of the Show. This includes a new offer for 2021 – Champagne Evenings at Royal Windsor Horse Show – allowing entry from 4pm to the end of the Show. The ticket includes a drinks voucher and offers visitors the chance to enjoy a long summer evening at Royal Windsor. Tickets will be released at 10am on Thursday 10 June.

Show Director, Simon Brooks‐Ward, said, “I am hugely excited to welcome these new additions to Royal Windsor Horse Show for 2021. The Puissance is always great fun and a real crowd pleaser, and the Dressage Masterclass is certain to be extremely enlightening. We are also delighted to be able to offer a new ticket type this year for our evening entertainment – with the show moved back in the calendar, we are looking to encourage visitors to come to the Show and enjoy the long summer evenings.”

To find out more about Royal Windsor Horse Show, or to book tickets, visit www.rwhs.co.uk.

For more information, please contact:
Niki McEwen / rEvolution / nmcewen@revolutionworld.com

Kent Farrington and Orafina Are Two for Two at TIEC

Kent Farrington and Orafina ©Shannon Brinkman.

Mill Spring, NC – June 6, 2021 – Kent Farrington (Wellington, FL) and Orafina dominated the $25,000 Tryon Resort Sunday Classic at Tryon International Equestrian Center & Resort (TIEC) to close out Tryon Spring 5 competition, stopping the jump-off timers in 34.862 for the win. In reserve, Aaron Vale (Williston, FL) and Major, the 2007 Danish Warmblood (Carmargue x Pinot) owned by Don Stewart, sped through the short course to claim second place after their 36.131-second jump-off performance. Conor Swail (Wellington, FL) and Koss Van Heiste earned third place after stopping the timers in 36.323 on behalf of Eadaoin Aine Ni Choileain PC with the 2010 Belgian Warmblood gelding (Breemeersen Adorado x Hadise Van Heiste).

The Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) track saw 27 entries take on the first round of competition, with nine pairs returning for the jump-off test. Kent Farrington and the 2012 Dutch Warmblood mare (For Fashion x Corofina) also topped the $37,000 Horseware Ireland Welcome Stake CSI 3* on Thursday, making them two-for-two on the week.

“The week went pretty well,” Farrington recapped after producing a comfortably fast round to take the win and shut out any subsequent challengers. “I brought a bunch of young horses here, and this is one that’s still developing, even though she’s won some international classes already.”

Farrington chose to travel from Europe to TIEC for one week of competition with his younger mounts, and will jet back to Europe and reunite with his top mounts next week. For horses like Orafina, Farrington chose to compete at Tryon Spring 5 to continue her education at a lower level. “She’s only nine, and she wasn’t saddle broken until she was six. She’s unbelievably careful, and she just needs rounds and experiences to grow her confidence. I’m really happy with her for the week.”

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

Brilliant Bengtsson Seals Swedish Victory at St Gallen

Rolf-Goran Bengtsson and Ermindo W. (FEI/Richard Juillart)

Sweden pipped Germany in a third-round showdown against the clock to win the opening leg of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ 2021 Division 1 series at St Gallen in Switzerland.

On a dramatic day of top sport in the Grundenmoos Arena where the tradition of wet weather conditions once again played its part, it came down to a face-off between Sweden’s Rolf-Goran Bengtsson and Germany’s Christian Kukuk. And super-cool Bengtsson sealed it with a brilliant run on his 12-year-old stallion Ermindo W.

From a starting field of 10 nations, only nine returned for the second round when the British opted to withdraw. And on a tough afternoon, when many of the teams finished with big scores, the closing stages turned into a cliff-hanger.

Testing track

Swiss course designers Gerard Lachat and Reto Ruflin set them a testing track on which nothing could be taken for granted. Looping turns and dog-leg distances had to be accurately ridden, and the triple combination at fence four claimed plenty of victims. The bending line from the vertical at seven to the triple-bar at eight and the following water-tray oxer at nine also saw plenty of action, while the penultimate double at fence 11 was highly influential, with the flimsy white plank on top of the vertical second element falling time and again.

Team Egypt sprang a surprise when tying for the lead with Germany going into the second round with just five faults on the board, while the Swiss were in third carrying eight and the Swedes were close behind with nine at the halfway point.

Brazil, Britain, Israel, The Netherlands, Mexico, and Italy were lying in that order as round two began, but the serious business of the day was played out between the leading four countries, and it went right down to the wire.

Out of contention

The Egyptians slipped out of contention when adding 20 faults despite very smart performances from Mohamed Talaat and his lovely stallion Darshan and just four in the second round for Friday’s Longines Grand Prix winner Nayel Nassar who brought out Darry Lou, the gelding originally competed by American star Beezie Madden.

The unrelenting rain led to several breaks in the competition to attend to the grass footing in the arena, but the horses coped well and the tension increased as Germany, Switzerland, and Sweden continued to slog it out.

Christian Kukuk and Mumbai matched their first-round score of eight, but German hopes were bolstered by a brilliant clear from Maurice Tebbel and Don Diarado. However, the troublesome water-tray oxer at nine hit for the floor for Andre Thieme and DSP Chakaria and when Philipp Weishaupt’s Asathir clipped the second element of the penultimate double then Germany had to add eight more to their scoreline for a total of 13.

That left them on level pegging with the Swedes who added just four, thanks to superb double-clears from both pathfinder Douglas Lindelow and Casquo Blue and anchor rider Malin Baryard-Johnsson with the feisty mare H&M Indiana. Both Evelina Tovek and Winnetou de la Hamente Z and Bengtsson and Ermindo had a pole down, but just one of those four-fault results had to be added when taking the best three scores into account.

Delight

Meanwhile, the Swiss crowd, small in numbers due to pandemic restrictions but full of voice for their home runners, screamed with delight when their hero and individual European champion Martin Fuchs returned a double-clear with his exciting gelding Leone Jei.

Luck played its part, however, the fabulous grey clearing the open water at fence five with another spectacular leap but creating heart-stopping moments along the way when hitting the back bar of the water-tray oxer at nine very hard, and also tapping the top of the plank at the second-last which had fallen so easily for many others.

When compatriot, Steve Guerdat, retired Venard de Cerisy after having two down, then the four faults collected by both Bryan Balsiger and Twentytwo des Biches and Beat Mandli with Dsarie had to be counted bringing their scoreline to 16. Assured of third place, the home team would now sit back and watch Germany and Sweden decide the final result.

Jump-Off

First into the third-round jump-off, Bengtsson didn’t flinch, setting off with a determined run that saw him take a risky right-hand turn to the vertical second-last and clearing the final Longines oxer in a fast 43.50 seconds. It was vintage stuff from the man whose career highlights include the individual European title in 2011, team and individual silver at separate Olympic Games and fourth individually at the 2014 FEI World Equestrian Games™ with brilliant horses like Ninja la Silla and Casall ASK. And the 12-year-old stallion Ermindo W certainly gave his all.

Germany’s Kukuk also set off with fire in his belly, but when Mumbai hit the third fence then he took his foot off the gas to complete the course with an additional time fault. Second place would have to be good enough for his country on.

The right man

Talking about the choice of Bengtsson for the jump-off, team-mate Douglas Lindelow said he was the right man for the job. “Rolf is very experienced and always very calm, and he performed splendidly and put plenty of pressure on Christian,” he said.

Swedish Chef d’Equipe, Henrik Ankarcrona, was thrilled with his team. “We have never won the Nations Cup here and my riders were fantastic today. The Organising Committee did a great job for the second round, taking the time to have a longer break to take care of the footing and it turned out very well.”

Meanwhile, the hosts were also very happy.

“My horse is still inexperienced at that level, but he showed all his potential today. Sometimes it is not easy to handle his temperament, but today we managed it,” said Martin Fuchs. “I rode him here two years ago in the young horses classes at St Gallen, so it’s special to come back and jump a double-clear in the Nations Cup with him today!” he added.

And it was a special day for Swiss team manager Michel Sorg too. “This was my first time as Chef d Equipe at a 5* show, and being at home made it even more special.

“We are so grateful that the sport could take place, and with some public it was even nicer and we are happy with our results this week. Next week we are going to La Baule and we will have Martin, Steve, Beat, and Elian Bauman as Elian was so good here in the Grand Prix,” he said.

However, they’ll have to face the Swedes again at the French fixture. And on current form, they’ll prove tough nuts to crack.

FULL RESULTS

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

German Olympian Daniel Deusser Takes Longines World Number One Slot

Photo: Daniel Deusser. (FEI/Dirk Caremans)

Olympic bronze medallist Daniel Deusser (GER) is back in the number one spot in the Longines Rankings for the third time. He takes over at the top with a total of 3,385 points.

Deusser, a member of the German squad that took team bronze at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, was lying second at the end of the previous rankings period just 25 points behind 2012 Olympic champion, Steve Guerdat (SUI), who has held the position since February 2020.

Deusser is no stranger to being world number one. In 2017 he took over pole position from fellow-countryman Christian Ahlmann who had enjoyed a lengthy period at the top and in 2015, Deusser broke the 16-month reign of Scott Brash (GBR).

Based in Belgium, Deusser was part of the silver medal winning team at the Longines FEI European Championships 2019 in Rotterdam (NED), just pipped at the last fence by Belgium. He was also part of the silver medal winning teams at the European Championships in 2013 and 2015.

With his loyal stallion Cornet d’Amour, Deusser won the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final in Lyon (FRA) in 2014 and finished third in Gothenburg (SWE) in 2016.

As the equestrian calendar starts opening up again, the new rankings reflect some strong points-earning performances, with Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs staying in third position on 3,101, Ben Maher (GBR) up into fourth on 3,008 ahead of Kent Farrington (USA) and Scott Brash (GBR). Sweden’s Peder Fredricson has dropped from fourth to seventh, ahead of Ireland’s Darragh Kenny. McLain Ward (USA) and Marlon Modolo Zanotelli (BRA) make up the top 10 with just three points between them.

The full Longines Rankings list is published here.

Media contact:

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

Kent Farrington and Orafina Win $37k Horseware Ireland Welcome Stake CSI 3*

Kent Farrington and Orafina ©Shannon Brinkman.

Mill Spring, NC – June 3, 2021 – Kent Farrington (USA) and Orafina scored a win in the $37,000 Horseware Ireland Welcome Stake CSI 3* at Tryon International Equestrian Center & Resort (TIEC) at the start of Tryon Spring 5 competition, stopping the jump-off timers at 36.926 for the win. In reserve, Lillie Keenan (USA) and Fasther, the 2010 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Vigo D Arsouilles STX x Farmer) owned by Chansonette Farm LLC, cleared the short course in 37.994 seconds, while Erynn Ballard (CAN) and Gakhir, the 2011 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Spartacus x Indorado) owned in partnership by Esperanza Imports, LLC and Ilan Ferder, scored the yellow rosette with a time of 38.888 over the jump-off track set by Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA).

After 59 entries challenged the first round of the competition, seven pairs were invited to test the jump-off track. Farrington and his own 2012 Dutch Warmblood mare (For Fashion x Canturo) have been partnered for less than a year, and have been starting small, he reported: “We started very small, and she’d only shown up to 1.35m. She’s come on strong in the last eight or nine months, and she has a lot of potential,” he said. “She’s unbelievably careful, so we’ll have to determine how big she wants to jump, but whatever level she does I think she’s going to be very competitive.”

With several smooth rounds produced in the jump-off contest, Farrington chose to ride the course in a way that would help her grow as an athlete, he shared about his jump-off strategy. “She has a very big stride, and I’ve been working on her turns and her rollbacks. I thought she did that very well today. It’s been a struggle for her in the past to rollback right, [quickly] to a vertical, which was jumps two to three in this jump-off. She’s coming on strong, so I’m very happy with her progress.”

Erynn Ballard and Bettina des Celtes Keep the Streak Going with $37,000 Power & Speed Stake CSI 3* Win

Erynn Ballard (CAN) and Bettina des Celtes dominated Wednesday’s $37,000 Power & Speed Stake CSI 3* at TIEC, navigating the speed phase of the Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) course design in a time of 24.373 seconds. In reserve, Ashlee Bond (ISR) and Boheme de Fleyres, the 2011 Selle Francais mare (Vargas de STE Hermelle x Easy Boy) she owns in partnership with Little Valley Farms, cleared the course in 25.879 seconds, while third place went to Rowan Willis (AUS) and Wellington Grey Goose, his own 2011 British-bred mare, after their 25.893-second performance over the speed test.

Ballard and the 2011 Selle Francais mare (New Boy de Logerie x Cumano) owned by Ilan Ferder were one of 36 entries to challenge the power component of the course, with 22 pairs continuing on to the speed phase. Ballard, who now has six wins under her belt and one podium finish in her last seven outings at TIEC, was able to watch most of the class and noticed that the course offered minimal opportunities to trim the number of strides between fences, but that by taking a longer route in one turn, she could set herself up to be tighter to the liverpool.

“Today was a really interesting class,” she recapped. “I actually got to sit and watch a lot. There wasn’t a huge opportunity to do more or fewer strides than everybody else. It stayed very close. The first jump in the speed portion was the green vertical at the end of the combination and everybody was going inside [to the liverpool] afterwards. I really felt that the inside turn put you on the outside [track] to get back to the liverpool.

“They were doing seven or eight [strides] and I said to Ilan [Ferder], ‘I really believe I can still do eight to the end jump, but get there in a better way, and I can be much faster to the liverpool.’ So I did seven to the Liverpool.” Ballard revealed that her later position in the order of go was helpful in securing the win, as well. “I was lucky enough that I went late, so nobody really picked up on that. Today I think it was a class that the strides really played a big role, because it was so close. To be able to leave out a stride like that to that particular jump, I think gave me an edge.”

Matt Williams and FR Yandoo Pennsylvania Win $2,000 Power & Speed Stake CSI 3*

Matt Williams (AUS) competed in the irons with FR Yandoo Pennsylvania, his own 2012 Australian-bred mare owned in partnership with Brigio Williams, winning the $2,000 Power & Speed Stake CSI 3* with a speed phase time of 29.744 seconds. In reserve, Daniel Pedraza (MEX) and Santa Rosa Yalta, the 2012 Mexican Sport Horse mare owned by Proyectos Agricolas sa de CV, stopped the timers in 30.648 seconds, while Rachel Lindsey (USA) claimed third on a speed phase time of 32.28 with Comander 16, her own 2011 Oldenburg gelding (Coup de Coeur x Lupicor). Thirty entries navigated the power phase of the track set by Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) with 17 horse-and-rider pairs continuing on to the speed phase of the course.

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

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.

Steve Guerdat… a Five-Star Dad!

© HUBSIDE JUMPING / Filippo Gabutti.

End of the HUBSIDE SPRING TOUR de Grimaud-Gulf of Saint-Tropez which brought the world’s best riders together for two weeks on the French Riviera. This week, Sadri Fegaier’s Haras des Grillons played host to the first CSI 5* outdoor show in Europe (and the only one in the world). The world hierarchy was respected since the best rider on the planet was the winner of the Grand Prix: Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat added an umpteenth victory to his exceptional list of wins, five weeks after his greatest achievement: the birth of his daughter.

“It’s my first win since I became a dad, so it obviously means a lot to me. I imagine that my daughter had absolutely no idea what happened (smiles), but it pleases me to think that I won this 5* Grand Prix for her on the day that she is five weeks old. We realised that Eduardo Alvarez Aznar, who was the first to go in the jump-off, had ridden a lot faster than we imagined when we watched his round on the screen. I don’t think my jump-off course walk was the greatest as there were strides to take out all over the place: this is why we were caught off guard by the jump-off and Eduardo’s time. I tried to take out strides, but I didn’t succeed (smiles), so I stepped on the gas going into the double. So my jump-off may not have seemed very smooth. At any rate, I’m really pleased; my horse jumped superbly. I wasn’t sure that it would be enough for the jump-off, but it worked out well in the end. We may have benefited from Julien Epaillard’s four faults. None of my horses competed a lot last year. This one took part in two or three shows in 2020; he started competing again in Spain this year, in small classes and a 3* Grand Prix, then everything came to a standstill again in terms of European show jumping. So it’s obviously his first show since competition resumed; he has a great mindset and he’s in really good shape. He was a bit fresh on the first day and I was concerned that wouldn’t be enough for today, but he gave it his all and he was in exceptional form.”

Full results here.

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

Eduardo Alvarez Aznar ahead of These Ladies in the First HUBSIDE Jumping Spring Tour

The scenario of the first HUBSIDE JUMPING SPRING TOUR CSI4* Grand Prix of 2021 was ideal. The sun shining again in the ring in Var, forty-one combinations competing in this 1.55m Grand Prix and a final with 10 jump-off riders: the French course designer Cédric Longis was to be commended to have successfully finished up with the 25% of clear rounds expected. Although two lady riders finished on the podium, in the end it was Spain’s Eduardo Alvarez Aznar who was the winner, riding Legend, his ten-year-old gelding.

Eduardo Alvarez Aznar, winner of the CSI4* Grand Prix: “This was Legend’s first 4* Grand Prix, so I couldn’t be more pleased today! He jumped really well in the first round. I knew there were still some very fast combinations after me in the jump-off so I took a lot of risks and they paid off. I’m really delighted and I would like to thank my groom for the great job that he has done.”

Full results here.

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