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From youngster to international Grand Prix horse: Balou du Reventon

Tuesday, 07 July 2020
From youngster to international Grand Prix horse

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping World of Showjumping spoke to Darragh Kenny as well as Balou du Reventon’s former riders Jorge Matte Capdevila and Liubov Kochetova to learn more about this stunning stallion’s journey to the top. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

 

Text © World of Showjumping

 


 

Balou du Reventon (Cornet Obolensky x Continue) is a fascinating combination of beauty and undeniable talent. With Ireland’s Darragh Kenny in the saddle, the now 14-year-old stallion has showcased incredible consistency at the very highest level of the sport. Last year alone, Balou was Kenny’s partner at the FEI Longines European Championships in Rotterdam, a part of Ireland’s winning squad at the FEI Nations Cup Final in Barcelona, won the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Chantilly and the Rolex Grand Prix of Knokke as well as placing second in the Prague Super Grand Prix – all after having started 2019 with a second place finish in the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Shanghai.

World of Showjumping spoke to Darragh Kenny as well as Balou’s former riders Jorge Matte Capdevila and Liubov Kochetova to learn more about this stunning stallion’s journey to the top.

Russia’s Liubov Kochetova bought Balou du Reventon from Paul Shockemöhle when the stallion had just turned six, taking over the reins from Patrick Stühlmeyer. “He is a very beautiful horse,” Liubov recalls about her first impression of Balou. “He is different, he is light in his type even though he is a stallion. When I first got him, he was just a baby. In the beginning he was a bit scared; after flying from Europe to America I guess. Some stallions are more confident, but Balou was a little bit on the shy side. I spent a lot of time with him, more than with my other horses – I felt he was not happy and needed to get used to me,” Liubov explains. 

Photo © Erin Gilmore Photography "Balou is strong and smart, and he loves competing. In the ring, he is your partner and he knows what he needs to do," Liubov Kochetova tells about her former partner. Photo © Erin Gilmore Photography.

“Balou was with me for five years, he knew me – he was a part of our family and we had a great relationship,” she continues. “Me and my family were so in love with him. During those years, he grew up to be such a smart horse, and he was just the sweetest horse really.”

“We started in the young horse classes, and moved gradually up the ranks – during the two last years with Balou, I jumped all the biggest five-star classes in the world; at Spruce Meadows, the Global Champions Tour – everything,” Liubov tells about their journey.

“Balou is simply the best, in everything,” Liubov answers when asked what makes the stallion stand out. “He is a fighter in the ring and will always do his best. Balou is strong and smart, and he loves competing. In the ring, he is your partner and he knows what he needs to do. If he is not tired, he is always clear. Now, it is amazing to see him with Darragh – I am so happy and proud. He will always be a winner with Darragh! I really hope they can go to the Olympics together.”

In March 2017, Chile’s Jorge Matte Capdevila bought Balou from Kochetova. “When I bought Balou, he was jumping really good with Liubov,” Jorge begins. “When I started riding him, the feeling was amazing – maybe not as easy in the beginning as he seemed to be with Liubov, but I could feel he really had talent. Balou made me work a lot before we got used to each other – my time with him was a big lesson for me. Since Liubov had been riding him for a long time, they had a really strong relationship and it took a while for Balou and me to find each other.”

“I rode Balou for one year, all of 2017,” Jorge continues. “Shortly after I bought him, I got injured and therefore he spent nearly eight months in Chile and was mainly focused on breeding. After that I went straight to Wellington to do the Winter Equestrian Festival. Thanks to Balou we had a super season and achieved some amazing results. As I had to return back to Chile due to my work, Darragh – who was my trainer at the time – and I agreed that the best for Balou would be to continue his career with him. I felt that a superstar horse like Balou should be with a superstar rider, competing at the top level,” Jorge tells.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping “If you think about it, he has changed my whole life, really," Darragh Kenny says about Balou du Reventon. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

“Balou is crazy careful, you never have to worry about the front rail,” Jorge says when asked about Balou’s best qualities. “And, he has all the scope too! All in all, he is really nice, always. Now, I love to watch him with Darragh; as I said, they are two superstars. I am sure that this couple has a lot more to do together, and I hope we can watch them in Tokyo.”

Darragh’s first encounter with Balou was together with Jorge, when the two watched the stallion jump with Liubov in Wellington. “We both really liked him,” Darragh recalls. “Back then, Jorge was looking for a horse and he really liked Balou. We tried him and Jorge bought him. He had already done some very good things with Liubov, and he looked really spectacular with her – so I knew he had a lot of talent. While I thought the rideability could be improved, both the talent and the quality was there. I thought a lot of the horse already back then.”

In April 2018, Balou was sold to Ann Thompson. “I was very lucky that my owner Ann Thompson could buy him for me to ride”, Darragh tells. “Last year, there was maybe one five-star Grand Prix that Balou jumped where we were not placed,” Darragh continues. “Since the very beginning, he has been fantastic. At our first show together, we won a three-star Grand Prix. Even though he is a little bit quirky to ride sometimes, he always tries really hard in the ring and is super careful. Now, every time I go in the ring with him, I am confident of the possibility to jump clear.”

“If you think about it, he has changed my whole life, really. I had some very good horses during my career but none like Balou,” Darragh closes off. 

 

No reproduction without written permission, copyright © World of Showjumping

 



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