World of Showjumping
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Martin makes statement in CSI4* 1.50m FOBI qualifier at Thunderbird Show Park

Saturday, 01 June 2024
CSI4* Thunderbird Show Park 2024

Photo © tbird/Kim Gaudry tbird President & CEO Chris Pack, FOBI CEO & Chairman Robert Anson, and William Martin stand in for the presentation. Photo © tbird/Kim Gaudry.


Press release from Thunderbird Show Park



The jump-off of the CSI4* FOBI Qualifier Friday at Thunderbird Show Park was a who’s who of elite show jumping talent.

Among the 10 athletes to advance to Colm Quinn’s (IRL) shortened track in the Thunderbird Arena were no fewer than five Olympians; two more veterans of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Finals; and the winner of the previous day’s CSI4* 1.45m in James Chawke (IRL) with One Edition.

That didn’t intimidate 17-year-old William Martin (CAN), who bested them all. Martin recorded his second career international victory and his first four-star win aboard the 10-year-old KWPN mare, Je Happy Lina. It was also the first FEI win for the 10-year old KWPN mare.

The winning time was 35.93 seconds, with time greatly made up in the final line as the winning pair left out two strides. Charlotte Jacobs (USA) and Rincoola Milsean finished second (36.18s), followed by Nayel Nassar (EGY) and Ivory TCS (36.79s).

“This is a new horse to this level, so I wanted to make [the jump-off] pretty smooth,” said the 2023 North American Youth Championships (NAYC) team gold medalist. “The first three jumps came up super well, and then I wasn’t used to how big her stride got. She kind of took me through the rest of the course, but I’m so happy for it. There’s a lot of quality there—maybe even more than we thought.”

Despite being the youngest rider in the field and starting at the four-star level for the first time this week, the Vineland, Ontario native was more focused in diverting praise toward his mount, whom he has been bringing up the grades for about a year. Martin first tried Je Happy Lina as an 8-year-old; then the mare continued her development under Rebekka Gillespie (GBR) at Toro Horses in Lommel, Belgium before being imported to North America for Martin, who trains with Andrew Bourns (IRL).

“She’s been jumping in the back rings for about a year. She was in a very good program before us, so that always helps a lot,” Martin shared. “We’ve only just moved her up, and every single question I’ve asked her, she’s been there and responded well. So, not only are we celebrating a good win in my own country today, but, we also have a very nice horse, and I’m looking at some good rounds in the future.”

Photo ©tbird/Kim Gaudry William Martin and Je Happy Lina. Photo ©tbird/Kim Gaudry.

Martin described the intelligent mare as a bit of a lion—fitting for the name “Lina”—with a lot of personality and character. She was certainly fighting for Martin Friday evening, as horse and rider rose to the occasion—and the experience level of their competitors.

“I knew Conor Swail and Nayel Nassar were behind me [in the jump-off]. I think it’s great to ride alongside those riders, because you kind of ride to their level—[you’re around them] in the warm-up and everything in FEI, in the flatting. You kind of adapt to the atmosphere a little bit, and it really changes you as a rider.”

Martin traveled north from Bourns’ base in Wellington, FL to compete at tbird and will continue his Canadian tour at Spruce Meadows this summer.

“I think winning in your home country is always better. The crowds are better, and you get a little bit more cheer,” Martin said. “It’s definitely going to be one that we remember.”


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