The showjumping year of 2011 has been filled with top sport, some spectacular wins, thriller championships with deserved medalists, horse sales ahead of next year’s Olympics, retirements of superstars – and tears over the loss of one of the best horses through the times. This is the story of the ups and downs in the world of showjumping in 2011.
Kevin Staut opens the new year as number one in the world on the Rolex Ranking – for the sixth month in a row. Kevin stays on top until June. There is also good news for Rodrigo Pessoa and his wife Alexa when they become parents to a little daughter named Sophia. On the other hand it’s time to wave good bye to Franke Sloothaak’s former top ride Joli Ceur when he passes away at the age of 25. Sloothaak and Joli Coeur won team gold for Germany at the Olympics in Atlanta in 1996 and at the WEG in Rome in 1998. At the WEG they also claimed the individual bronze medal. Another big name leaves the sport; No Mercy – Christina Liebherr’s top ride – is retired, and thanked of during the five star show in Zürich.
A horse sale will turn out to be one of many; in January Chris Chugg’s super stallion Vivant is sold to Aleksander Onishchenko. For the rest of the year the Ukrainian oil billionaire continues his purchases, one after another.
There is also some drama when Denis Lynch quits the Irish showjumping team due to “irreconcilable differences” with Ireland manager Robert Splaine – a decision that he later reverses in June when he returns to the team. In the end of January there is more bad news for the Irish when Jessica Kürten loses the ride on Lady Forbes' horses, which includes Jessica’s top rides Castle Forbes Libertina, Cosma and Myrtille Paulois. There is good news for Christian Ahlmann though, who returns to the German A-team after being out since the Olympics in Hong Kong.
For Pleasure, one of the most successful showjumpers of all times passes away 25 years old. The Hannoveraner stallion fell asleep in his field at the family Ehning’s yard. “We are grateful to have had such a fantastic stallion for such a long time, and we will never forget him”, said the family after For Pleasure’s passing.
Dutch showjumping secures the great talent VDL Groep Verdi as Eric van der Vleuten buys a part of the KWPN approved stallion by Quidam de Revel – preventing a sale abroad despite great offers from across the borders.
After five good weeks in the Emirates Cian O’Connor ends up as Leading Rider of the UAE tour and his Irish-bred horse Larkhill Cruiser brings home the title as the Leading Horse, while Swedish rider Angelica Augustsson gets her big international breakthrough when she surprisingly wins the Rolex FEI World Cup qualifier in Gothenburg.
Kevin Staut continues on as number one in the world, as well as ending up as Western European league winner in the Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2010/2011 with 96 points.
Denis Lynch continues to be in the limelight when he gives a raised amount of 100.000 euro to the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) in order to take care of Ireland´s horses that suffers from the welfare crisis.
Mc Lain Ward’s super horse Sapphire suffers an injury, and is out for the rest of the season; “It was basically a bad step injury—it was nothing traumatic. It’s unfortunate, but this kind of thing happens,” Ward said afterwards.
The Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida comes towards an end, and Laura Kraut and Cedric are victorious in the $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix at the CSI 5* in Wellington.
Marcus Ehning’s wonderful stallion Sandro Boy retires during a beautiful cermony in Leipzig. Sandro Boy won the World Cup final in 2006 together with Ehning, and has several grand prix victories – including victories from Zürich, Frankfurt, London, Lyon and Hannover. Altogether the stallion won a total of 1.2 million Euros in prize money.
Christian Ahlmann & Taloubet Z win the Rolex FEI World Cup final in Leipzig after thrilling rounds, where Marco Kutscher was in the lead ahead of the last final round – but seals his faith when he has three poles down on Cash in the final round. Eric Lamaze is runner-up on Hickstead, while Jeroen Dubbeldam is third on BMC Van Grunsven Simon.
Another showjumping baby is born when Ludger Beerbaum and his wife Arundell become parents to a baby girl named Mathilde.
Lots of horses change owners; Katie McVean – the big surprise during the World Cup final in Leipzig ending up as an overall number six – sells her mare Delphi for an undisclosed multi-million amount. The ten year old mare – bred by Katie’s father – is bought by the Saudi Arabian Equestrian Federation who will co-own her with Kamal Bahamdan. Cian O’Connor also sells his top horses Larkhill Cruiser to the Saudi Arabian team when Abdullah Al Sharbatly buys the Irish bred horse. Alexander Onishchenko continues his shopping spree of 2011 when he buys the SF-stallion Niack de l’Abbaye. It is revealed that it will be Roger-Yves Bost that in the future will ride Castle Forbes Myrtille Pauloise and Castle Forbes Vivaldo vh Costersveld for the Irish owner Lady Georgina Forbes.
The Top League kicks off in la Baule, France, and Ireland takes home the first leg of the season. Hickstead takes home his second big Grand Prix in less than a month; first the amazing stallion wins the five star GP of La Baule, later in May he repeats his success in Rome.
Kevin Staut continues to top the world ranking, and is also the first athlete to be appointed to the FEI Executive Board. “These are exciting times - I will continue to compete while helping the FEI to build closer partnerships with athletes, the National Federations and rider groups around the world,” Kevin Staut commented on his new role in the FEI.
Eric Lamaze takes over the throne as number one in the world, and pushes Kevin Staut down to rank two – it’s the beginning of the Lamaze-domination that will stick with us for the rest of the year.
Hickstead and Lamaze also rule at Spruce Meadows; taking home some big wins on home soil. The Dutch team takes home their second Top League win of the season, when they win the third leg of the series in St Gallen. Denis Lynch reappears on the Irish team for the Top League shows in Falsterbo and Aachen in July. Ludger Beerbaum became German Champion; this was the ninth time Ludger claimed the prestigious title. Edwina Tops-Alexander becomes the first Global Champions Tour rider to win one million Euros in total prize money earned from the first event that took place in Wellington, USA in 2006.
More horses retire; after a fantastic career with Jessica Kürten Castle Forbes Libertina is officially retired at the Mullingar Fayre and International Horse Festival in Ireland. It’s also decided that the KWPN stallion Blauwendraad's O'Brien will be retired from the sport after yet another injury.
Horses continue to change hands; BMC Unaniem is sold to Greek rider Athina Onassis de Miranda, while Lord Louis is sold to Denis Lynch’s sponsor Thomas Straumann. A tragic death also strikes the showjumping community when Italian show jumper Gianni Govoni loses his top horse Love Affair when the Quick Star-mare dies unexpectedly and sudden due to a cardiac arrest at the show stables at the CSI show in Geesteren, Holland.
Michael Whitaker’s mare Portofino joins many other top horses this season and retires from the sport. Together with the British rider the Habsburg-mare had an amazing career – five times she was qualified for the World Cup finals and in 2005 the mare was second in the finals in Kuala Lumpur. Two legends – Cumano and Shutterfly – are both retired in Aachen, leaving behind them fantastic careers and fans around the globe who will miss their appearances on the international showjumping scene.
British showjumper Ben Maher is the new rider on Billy Twomey’s former ride Tackeray, while Cian O’Connor sells two of his top horses K Club Lady and Temple Road to Aleksander Onishchenko – who by now has earned the title “The horse buyer of the year”. At the Olympic Trials in Aachen German turned Ukrainian rider Katharina Offel makes the money spend worth it when she is best of the individuals on Vivant, and Ukraine is best country in the team qualification.
Patrice Delaveau is unbeatable in Falsterbo and takes home both the Derby and the Grand Prix on two of the most exciting horses of the year; Ornella Mail and Orient Express. Eric Lamaze and Hickstead continue their winning ways on another continent; taking home the $200.000 price when winning the Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Spruce Meadows. The Dutch team triumphs again in the Top League when they win in prestigious Aachen, while Janne-Friedrike Meyer takes home the Grand Prix on Cellagon Lambrasco. During the show Marcus Ehning becomes a father again when his wife Nadia gives birth to Davy Andreas Ehning.
It’s all about the battle of the Top League when the final comes to Rotterdam; it’s do or die for the eight teams involved. In the end the German team snatches the overall victory from the Dutch, while it’s bye bye to USA and Denmark who has to compete in the Promotional League next year.
Christian Ahlmann and Judy-Ann Melchior are unlucky when their top horses Taloubet Z and As Cold As Ice are injured right ahead of European Championship in Madrid. Later the same month Michael Whitaker’s ride GIG Amai also joins the “injury list”.
Maikel van der Vleuten’s former ride Vleut is purchased by Jan Tops for his then soon-to-be wife Edwina Tops-Alexander. Later the same month Vleut’s father Quick Star dies at the age of 29. Quick Star had a tremendous sporting career together with Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, and won several international Grand Prix classes – and is also famous for his countless successful offspring. The stallion Hors la Loi II is also put to sleep after a serious tendon injury.
Sergio Alvares Moya – the big home hope ahead of the Europeans in Madrid – loses his chances to compete at the championships when his horse Action Breaker gets an injury during the Spanish team training less than a week ahead of the show. Marcus Ehning suffers the same faith when Plot Blue gets a minor injury and is out of the German team that was selected for Madrid.
Some new rides are secured: Jan Tops buys another horse for Edwina; the seven year old Heidi du Ruisseau Z. Jos Lansink gets the ride on Epleasure van het Heike; a daughter of his top horse Valentina van het Heike and For Pleasure.
Hickstead and Eric Lamaze become the Kings of Calgary when they win the one million dollar CN International at Spruce Meadows for the second time!
Germany wins the team gold in Madrid with Marco Kutscher/Cornet Obolensky, Carsten-Otto Nagel/Corradina, Janne-Friedrike Meyer/Cellagon Lambrasco and Ludger Beerbaum/Gotha on the team. France claims silver and Britain bronze, while a disappointed Dutch team goes home without a medal.
Rolf-Göran Bentgsson and Ninja La Silla win the individual gold after a thrilling final where all is lost for Gerco Schröder on the last fence in the last round on the last day. “I have to thank my horse. He is in his life’s form now and jumped really nice the entire week. I also have to thank my sponsors Alfonso Romo for the opportunity to keep such a horse,” said the humble winner afterwards. Carsten-Otto Nagel and his brilliant mare Corradina take silver, while Nick Skelton claims the bronze on the wonderful Carlo. The Swedish success continues when they win the Promotional Final in Barcelona, securing a place in the Top League in 2012. The same weekend as the Europeans Jan Tops and Edwina Alexander marry at Saint Paul’s Church in Monaco.
The final FEI WBSFH World Ranking lists are published; the studbook ranking is topped by KWPN, which also dominates the top three in the jumping horse ranking with BMC Van Grunsven Simon on top, Hickstead on second and Taloubet Z on third.
Utascha SFN leaves Eric van der Vleuten, and is moved by her owners Springpaarden Fonds Nederland to Jeroen Dubbeldam – where it is later known that she will stay. Jan Tops acquires Rene Lopez’s top ride Noblesse des Tess that is later resold to Kamal Bahamdan – while the eleven year old gelding Rahmannshof's Bogeno is sold to Athina and Alvaro de Miranda. Katharina Offel ends her partnership with Aleksander Onischenko, who on the other hand buys yet another horse – this time it’s Nifrane de Kreisker. It is also announced that Henrik von Eckermann will continue to compete Ludger Beerbaum’s ride Coupe de Couer with the Olympics in London next year as their main goal after producing great results at the Europeans together.
Pius Schwizer takes an Ahlmann/Etter, and wins both World Cup qualifiers in Oslo and Helsinki on the super mare Carlina – securing a strong start on the indoor season. Christian Ahlmann – who managed to do the same last year – is on the other hand back in the contest to become one of the riders on the German showjumping team for the Olympic Games next year when CAS declares the so-called Osaka Rule invalid.
British rider Tim Stockdale fractures his neck in two places after falling off a young horse, and is out of competition. Luckily Tim will make a full recovery.
The United States wins team gold, Brazil silver and Mexico bronze at the Pan American Games. The USA’s Christine McCrea on Romantovich Take One claims the individual gold medal.
Tragedy hits the showjumping circuit when Hickstead – one of the best horses in the world – dies in Verona following a heart failure. The stallion collapses in the arena after he crosses the finish line and is walking out of the ring. “He was the best horse in the world. We are all devastated," Eric Lamaze said following Hickstead’s passing. Days of shock and disbelief follows, but the international showjumping community unite and shows great respect for one of the best showjumpers that ever lived. One thing is sure: Hickstead will never be forgotten.
Edwina Tops-Alexander is the overall winner of the Global Champions Tour, and Roger-Yves Bost wins the last leg in Abu Dhabi after one of the fastest jump-offs of the GCT-season. Ludger Beerbaum yet again becomes Rider of the Year in Germany after taking home the overall win the DKB Riders Tour.
Jeroen Dubbeldam’s ride BMC Van Grunsven Simon is sold to the US after months of speculations of a sale, and Beezie Madden is the new rider of the gelding. Niels Bruynseels’ rides Nasa and Carpalo go to Steve Guerdat, and Norway’s Blue Loyd is sold to Cian O’Connor. Coupe de Coeur is secured for the Swedish team ahead of the Olympics in London when the stallion's owner Madeleine Winter-Schulze sells a part of him to Sweden. After a year working with Edouard de Rothschild, Olivier Guillon is back in his old stable and will be replaced by Jessica Kürten.
More rider injuries follow; Lauren Hough is injured after a bad fall in Stuttgart and stays in hospital until she is ready to go home. Dirk Demeersman gets an injury in an upper leg muscle during the show in Wiese, while Tim Stockdale finally is released from hospital.
The great stallion Animo is put to rest at the age of 29. Animo has more than 3000 registered offsprings, and is the father of many top-level horses in show jumping.
Billy Twomey and Tinka’s Serenade win the Rolex IJRC Top Ten final in Paris. Still, Eric Lamaze is the one who makes the biggest impression finishing second on Coriana van Klapscheut just a month after losing his top horse Hickstead. “It was great what she did today. She really did it with her heart. It’s an hounor to be second here,“ Eric said afterwards. There is more good news for Billy Twomey who wins the International Rider of the Year Award at the 2011 Show Jumpers' Ball in Ireland. It’s not bad for Eric either; he gets the ride on the eight year old winner of the Sires of the World 2011 Hunter’s Scendix – as well as Luikka and Verdi. Christmas comes early when he and Hickstead are voted Canada’s 2011 Athlete of the Year – 56.9 per cent of the voters picked the Lamaze-Hickstead combination as their choice. Eric Lamaze also finishes the year on top of the latest Rolex Ranking – chased by Rolf-Göran Bengtsson.
Horse sales reaches a top as the Olympic deadline is close; Denis Lynch’s promising ride Crocant is purchased by Aleksander Onishchenko, while Onishchenko´s Sanctos van het Gravenhof goes to Scott Brash. Silvana de Hus stays in France when Haras de Hus sells her to Haras des Coudrettes that lets Kevin keep the ride, while Kellemoi de Pepita is lost for the French when sold to Qatar. Air Jordan Z is sold to Italy, Caramell KS is sold to Saudi Arabia and Edwina Tops-Alexander’s ride Ciske van Overis goes to Rodrigo Pessoa.
More horses are sadly lost: Danish top rider Andreas Schou loses his mare What’s Next due to colic, while Sören von Rönne's horse Cypriano collapses in the ring in front of the audience at Vilhelmsborg. Pedro Veniss‘ ride Lester Vador tragically dies after a bad fall in the Grand Prix class in La Coruna.
John Whitaker’s top horse Peppermill is unlucky again, and is out with a tendon injury. There will be no Olympics for the stallion as it seems now. Two more top horses retire: Mario Steven’s Mac Kinley and Lars Nieberg’s Lucie both do their last shows in Frankfurt and is waved goodbye by the German crowds.
2011 has for sure been an eventful year in the world of showjumping!
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