The Irish are invading the podium at the FEI World Breeding Jumping Championships. Straight after Michael Pender took the silver and the bronze in the 5-year-old final, Gerard O’Neill and Killossery Kaiden continued the Irish success to secure the gold medal for the 6-year-old horses.
Aboard Killossery Kaiden – an Irish bred stallion by Lux Z x Cruising bred by F. and L. Glynn – O’Neill produced the sole clear round in the jump-off against eight other competitors, to step up to the top of the podium.
“We’re from Kilkenny in Ireland, where we have a big yard with over forty horses and we have over a hundred horses all together. I have had Killossery Kaiden about a year and a half now, and he has just been getting better and better. He was very close in the final in Dublin, and had the second last down in the Breeders Classics there so he has been knocking on the door and been close to a win, so it’s fantastic that it came today. He could not have picked a better place,” said a happy gold medalist afterwards.
After a total of nine clear rounds over the first round track set at 1.35m, it came as quite a surprise when only one rider could repeat a clean sheet in round two. As it turned out it would be the second fence of the jump-off, an oxer, causing the most trouble for the riders. Medal favorites Christian Ahlmann (GER) and Cornwell (Cornado I x Grossadmiral) got an unexpected refusal at this very obstacle, and no less than three of the other riders had to see it fall to the ground as the horses just did not seem to get a good jump at it. “I think it was difficult because it was a vertical in the first round, and it rode already a little bit tricky. But when they put the oxer on and everybody tried to come inside… It was quite wide, and the horses were a bit startled from it. It is unusual that it would jump so bad – but I think that was why,” explained O’Neill about the heart breaker of the jump-off.
As second to go, Dutch rider Julian de Boer on the KWPN-bred gelding Fernando V (Zapatero VDL x Larino, bred by R. Vrieling) kept number two intact and set up a good pace only to see the first part of the combination fall to the ground a little later. The time was excellent however, and de Boer took the lead with four faults and a time of 35.53 seconds – the fastest of the final. “It’s a really fresh young horse,” said de Boer about Fernando V. “He jumps unbelievable, but sometimes he has a bit too much energy.”
Three riders later, O’Neill produced the only clear round in the jump-off as he piloted Killossery Kaiden around the shortened track to a time of 47.85 seconds to take over the pole position – and staying there until the very end.
None of those to come could do anything about O’Neill nor de Boer, and eventually it was Thierry Goffinet on the BWP-gelding Kannabis van de Bucxtale (Contact van de Heffinck x Concorde, bred by Feniram BVBA) that took the bronze medal with four faults in the jump-off, that came on an oxer mid-way, and a time of 40.02 seconds. “It was the first time this year he had one down,” explained Goffinet. “But, ok – he was still amazing and gave me my first medal here.”
On his career set-up, gold medalist O'Neill explained: “I produce most of my own horses, that I have together with owners. Most of them we have half together. We have been lucky enough to produce some good horses like Zigali P S and Castlefield Eclipse, that have jumped World Championships and the Olympics. That is our idea, to produce some of the best horses in Ireland and have them for sale. It’s nice to ride at top level, but you have to pay the bills too!”
Silver medalist de Boer’s day did not start with any podium forecast: “This morning I wanted to leave, and was waiting at the gate at 9.20 AM,” said Julian who was not qualified for the final. “I needed to wait there until 9.40 AM, and then they called me and told me that I could ride. So, I went back and got the horses off the truck and went back to the stables!”
All three riders praised the championships at Zangersheide. “It is an amazing show here and is run so professionally, so all credit to the organizers,” O’Neill concluded.
Text © World of Showjumping // Pictures © Jenny Abrahamsson
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