The ISH, WESTF and MIPAAF Studbooks stole the limelight at the 2023 edition of the FEI WBFSH Jumping World Breeding Championship for Young Horses which drew to a close at Lanaken in Belgium yesterday.
In a particularly remarkable week for both Irish riders and horses they claimed all three medals in the 5-Year-Old division, while Harry Allen steered the Italian-bred Kumina Della Caccia to win the 7-Year-Old category and Germany’s Katrina Eckermann claimed the 6-Year-Old title with the Westphalian gelding Cascajall.
A massive 694 horses lined out at the hugely popular event that ran over four days from 21 to 24 September, once again attracting breeders and enthusiasts from all around the globe.
A total of 235 budding talents lined out in Thursday’s first qualifier for the 5-Year-Old title won by the Oldenburg Studbook’s Castlefield Dancer (Presley Boy/Cento), owned by Castlefield Breeding Farm and bred by CDM GmBH with Ireland’s Jason Foley in the saddle.
The following day it was the BWP mare Simply the Best X (Ermitage Kalone/Indoctro), owned and bred by Johan Bourguignon and ridden by Morocco’s Vincent Zacharias Bourguignon, who topped the second qualifier. There were 39 starters in yesterday’s final in which 11 went through to the deciding jump-off against the clock.
Foley, individual Junior European champion in 2018, had two through to the closing stages and finished eleventh with Castlefield Dancer who picked up eight faults against the clock and eighth with the ISH SVS Symphony (Comme Il Faut 5/Air Jordan) who posted the quickest time of 37.00 seconds but left one on the floor.
That still left three Irish-breds in the race, and they took gold, silver and bronze. Gert O’Neill, twice a gold medallist at these Championships, took the bronze with the bay gelding Ballyshan BF Super Hero (Celtic Hero BZ/Lux Z) owned by Martin Egan and bred by Gary Doherty, breaking the beam in 39.21 seconds.
Silver went to Boleybawn Alvaro (Dominator 2000 Z/Crown Z) ridden by 19-year-old rising star Niamh McEvoy. Bred by Ronan Rothwell and owned by the breeder and GBBS International Ltd. the stallion crossed the line in 37.72 seconds.
And Mikey Pender clinched the gold with HHS Ocala (Urano de Cargigny/Wandor van de Mispelaere), owned and bred by Bravo Hughes Ltd. who jumped clear in 37.22 seconds.
Pender, who will celebrate his 24th birthday later this week, is one of Ireland’s most exciting talents and has been medalling at these Championships since 2016. This was his sixth time on the podium but his first time to stand on the very top step.
“In the past I was very close to it a few times, but I was always just not fast enough. I’m very happy that everything came together today. I would also like to thank my entire team who helped make me to make this possible. HHS Ocala is a very careful and competitive horse and I think he is really a horse for the future”, he said.
From a field of 256 starters, Katrin Eckermann and the Westphalian gelding Cascajall (Casalico/Comme Il Faut) topped the line-up in the opening 6-Year-Old qualifier on Thursday while the Zangersheide stallion Ely Des Rosiers Z (Emerald/Thunder vd Zuuthoeve), owned and bred by Herik Duran and ridden by Belgium’s Nathan Budd, won Friday’s second qualifier in this division.
A total of 40 combinations lined out in yesterday’s medal-decider in which 10 went through to the jump-off and four jumped double-clear. It was Germany’s Alexander Uekermann and the KWPN IB Easy (Emerald /Dallas), owned by IB Berger GmBH and bred by E. Kuijer, who just missed a place on the podium when they stopped the clock in 36.88 seconds.
Dutch athlete Jeimer Hoekstra clinched bronze with the Zangersheide gelding Maddox vh Haringvliet Z (Monte Bellini/Ogano Sitte), owned by the rider and bred by A. Hoekstra. Their time of 35.79 in the last round saw them just 0.04 seconds behind the silver medallists from Ireland, 23-year-old Leah Stack and the ISH mare Laurina (Stakkato Gold/Cruising), owned and bred by the late Dr Noel Cawley.
Germany’s Eckermann previously won the 6-Year-Old title with the mare Chao Lee in 2019 and she did it all again yesterday with Cascajall, owned by Otmar Eckermann and bred by Alfons Baumann, who crossed the line for victory in 34.06 seconds. Her second ride, Viva Fly (Vivant van de Hellinck/Starpower) slotted into twelfth place.
“Both Cascajall and Viva Fly came to my stable in June. Before that, it was my father who did all the preparatory work. After that it all went quickly, but both horses have a lot of quality. Due to the busy schedule of international shows, I only had a few days to prepare for this world championship last week. I would therefore also like to expressly thank my entire team at home”, said the 33-year-old rider.
The 7-Year-Old category attracted 203 entries, and it was the Holsteiner stallion Kannandillo (Kannan/Candillo 3), owned by Rödl Sportpferde GmbH and Stefan Rödl and bred by Nicole Hanneken, who won Thursday’s opening Two-Phase competition with Angelos Touloupis from Greece onboard.
The following day it was Belgium’s Gilles Thomas and the Zangersheide mare Lavanoche T&L Z (Lavallino Ter Klomp/Bentley van de Heffinck) owned by Nieuwenhof, Robert Geens and bred by Guy Vandeven, who slotted into pole position. But it would be the MIPAAF mare Kumina Della Caccia who would reign supreme in yesterday’s 40-starter final test.
There were 11 through to the jump-off and neither of the previous day’s winners made the cut when both picked up 12 faults in the first round.
In another super-close finish, four combinations jumped double-clear and Belgium’s Virginie Thonon and the Zangersheide mare Scala du Piedroux Z (Silver 2 de Virton/Crown Z) clinched fourth spot in a time of 38.93 seconds behind The Netherlands’ Renee de Weert and the KWPN mare Labantrix (Eldorado van de Zeshoek), owned and bred by Stal van den Broek, who took the bronze.
Silver medallist Philip Rüping from Germany posted a really fast time in 35.90 seconds with the OS mare Casanina PS (Casalico/Chacco Blue), owned and bred by Gestüt Lewitz. But Harry Allen bettered that by 0.6 seconds to grab the gold with the Italian Sport Horse mare owned by Ballywalter Stables and bred by Coop Soc. Agr. La Caccia-Onius.
It was a special victory for the 22-year-old Irishman because his older brother, Bertram Allen, also won two consecutive gold medals in Lanaken with Barnike – in 2013 when the horse was a 6-Year-Old and in 2014 as a 7-Year-Old.
Talking about his winning mare yesterday evening Harry Allen said, “I’m not too sure of the plan for her now. She’s owned by American rider Adrienne Sternlicht and was sold in our Aloga Auction last year and Adrienne let me keep the ride on her. I think she’s an unbelievable horse, maybe the best seven-year-old I’ve ever ridden!”