World of Showjumping takes you through the highs and lows, thrills and spills, of the showjumping year that was 2015. Here is part one as we look back at the first six months of the year.
Starting on a good note, the first month of the year starts with Casall Ask and Rolf-Göran Bengtsson topping FEI’s ranking of the best horse and rider combinations in the world for 2014. With 1851 points, the pair left Daniel Deusser and Cornet d'Amour (1725 points) behind them as rank two and McLain Ward and Rothchild (1655 points) as rank three.
For Ireland's Cameron Hanley, January did not come with good news. Hanley parted ways with almost his entire string of top horses that included Living The Dream, Caretina de Joter and Antello Z. Owned by Hanley’s sponsor EuroAsia, the horses moved on to Pius Schwizer to be closer to their Swiss owners. In did not last though; in July the horses again switched riders while some were sold.
Two top horses belonging to the Dutch team were retired.
Marc Houtzager's success horse Sterrehof's Opium was officially retired at Jumping Amsterdam at the age of 19 after a very successful career with many triumphs such as winning the Grand Prix in Den Bosch in 2012.
VDL Bubalu was also retired from the sport during a beautiful ceremony at the KWPN Stallion Show in Den Bosch. With Vrieling, VDL Bubalu had huge success; the pair was on the gold medal winning Dutch team at the World Championships in Normandy as well as winning team silver at the Olympics in 2012, not to forget that they contributed to Dutch Nation Cups wins in Barcelona, Aachen and Dublin.
February also saw Germany's Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum starting her 2015-climb on the world rankings, and back into the showjumping spotlight, when she aboard her star Fibonacci 17 won the CSI5* Grand Prix in week seven of the 2015 Winter Equestrian Festival. Back then she was rank 106, and ended the year on rank 38.
Maybe it did not catch that much attention back then, but two new partnerships were formed – and we would go on to hear a lot about them for the rest of the year!
USA’s McLain Ward took over the reins on the 9-year-old HH Azur, while the 13-year-old Papillon Z joined Belgium’s Jerome Guery's string of horses.
The two new couples followed up with some big wins during 2015; Ward and HH Azur went on to take five major wins during the year including a Grand Prix win at Spruce Meadows in July as well as November's Longines FEI World Cup in Toronto, while Guery and Papillon Z won the CSI5* Grand Prix competitions in Lummen and Knokke, as well as the CSI4* Grand Prix in Mons.
There was only one month of the year that saw somebody else than Scott Brash on top of the Longines Ranking. That was April, when Germany’s Daniel Deusser took over the spot as the world’s best rider. For the rest of the year, the British ace dominated the world ranking.
April was also the month where Ludo Philippaerts decided to end a long and very successful career as a rider. Ludo – 51 years old – had been among the world’s best riders for decades. The Belgian rider has a team gold medal from the 1991 European Championships, and an individual silver medal from the 2001 European Championships – as well as having several Olympic Games, World Championships and World Cup Finals behind him.
In April, Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat finally claimed the World Cup title after being Vice Champion Twice, when he went to the top at the Longines FEI World Cup Final at the Thomas & Mack arena in Las Vegas, USA riding Albfuehren’s Paille.
Two top horses were retired in May; the 17-year-old Lunatic that had been competed successful by Sweden's Jens Fredricson and was a part of the Swedish team that took the bronze medal at the 2013 European Championships in Herning, as well as Maikel van der Vleuten’s super mare VDL Groep Sapphire that took the World Cup win at Olympia in 2013 and also the Grand Prix in Maastricht in 2013 and 2014.
For Cameron Hanley, bad news turned into good when Antello Z returned to his former rider together with the 8-year-old Cas 2 as a part of a transaction that finalized the end to Hanley’s previous co-operation with his former sponsor EuroAsia.
The biggest news in June, was perhaps that Marcus Ehning's success mare Sabrina was being retired from the sport at the age of 16. With Ehning in the saddle, Sabrina jumped at the 2011 and 2012 World Cup Finals – and she has Grand Prix wins from London, Bordeaux, Paris, and Dortmund – and also picked up big wins in Paris and Rotterdam last year.
Very sadly, Kevin Staut’s ride Quismy des Vaux HDC sustained serious injuries after she got attacked by a stallion during the CSIO5* event in St.Gallen. The incident happened during the night as one of the stallions competing at the show got out of its box and managed to break into the mare. Quismy des Vaux HDC was found the next morning, strongly lame and with swellings and bruises. Unfortunately, the mare never recovered fully and later in 2015 her owners at Haras des Coudrettes decided to retire her from the sport. The incident sparked an ongoing debate about stable security.
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