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From youngster to international Grand Prix horse: Beauville Z

Wednesday, 29 September 2021
From youngster to international Grand Prix horse

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping
With Dutch rider Maikel van der Vleuten in the saddle, the now 11-year-old Zangersheide gelding Beauville Z jumped home the individual bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

 

Text © World of Showjumping

 


 

With Dutch rider Maikel van der Vleuten in the saddle, the now 11-year-old Zangersheide gelding Beauville Z (Bustique x Jumpy Des Fontaines) jumped home the individual bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympic Games. As WoSJ chats with Maikel van der Vleuten as well as two of Beauville’s former riders, we discover that rather than pure jumping skills, it is the gelding’s attitude that has made him rise to stardom. Additionally, his arrival in showjumping’s Olympic hall of fame has caught everyone involved in Beauville’s journey slightly by surprise.

Maxime Rius first saw Beauville Z at a regional show in France at the beginning of the gelding’s sixth year, and bought him. “For me, he was a good one, but it never occurred to me that he would end up with an individual Olympic medal – what he has done is crazy,” Maxime tells. “I am very proud to have found him; he was in the middle of about 200 other horses and now I feel like I won in the lottery: I discovered the right one! And this is not a question of money. I have done better deals, but this horse is for sure the best horse I have ever had!” 

Maxime remembers the day he found Beauville as if it was yesterday. “I saw him in the warm-up and thought he had a really good technique in front, and he was jumping nice, so I asked his rider Jean Sebastian Ochin about him. Ochin told me that Beauville was for sale, and that he really liked the horse – but that I was the first one to ask about him. I would lie if I said I thought it was one for the Olympics when I first tried Beauville. However, he gave a good feeling, he was really clever. You could not really judge the scope when he was young though – he had his own way of jumping.” 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping. "It never occurred to me that he would end up with an individual Olympic medal," Beauville's former rider Maxime Rius tells. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

“Beauville had been with Jean Sebastian Ochin since he was two,” Maxime tells. “I bought him with a good friend of mine, Frédéric Bouvard, and we kept him only for about six months and I did 5-6 shows with him. Then he was sold to Francois Mathy and Holger Hetzel and he went to Hetzel’s auction. He was not the most expensive one, but obviously he was the best, since he is the only one that went to the Olympics!” 

“He was always a good horse and jumped super,” Maxime continues to tell about Beauville. “When I rode him, he did many clear rounds but was not spectacular. In that way, he was not the one to watch. He was super to ride but commercially, did not look the best. However, when you came to the show with him, he was always the same, he had a really good character. He knows what he has to do, and he knows when it is Grand Prix time and does 10cm more. He is a crack of a horse.” 

At Hetzel’s auction, Gabriela Roger Ibars bought Beauville. “I was training with Maikel and Eric van der Vleuten at the time, and wanted to buy a good young horse,” she tells. “I tried many horses from Hetzel’s auction and liked three – one of them was Beauville. He was the first one to go in the auction, and one of the cheapest horses there!” 

“It was around Christmas of his sixth year when we bought him and I started to ride him when he was seven,” Gabriela continues. “In the beginning he was a little bit challenging for me, because he had quite a stiff body. But what impressed us so much was that he always jumped clear, always! He never touched a pole! He jumped 1.10, 1.20, 1.30, all clear.” 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping “His mind is his best quality, he wants to do it,” Gabriela Roger Ibars tells about Beauville Z, that she bought at the end of his 6th year and later sold on to Maikel van der Vleuten and his supporter Marta Ortega Perez. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Rogers jumped Beauville up to CSI1* 1.35m Grand Prix classes. “He was clear 95% of the time. He was never a show-maker, he did not jump spectacular, but was always clear. When I wanted to jump a bit bigger, I felt that for me, he was too careful. I told Eric I thought it would be necessary with a better rider on him, because I need horses that are a little bit more forgiving. With me, once I started jumping bigger classes with him, if I missed the distance a bit, he would stop. My boyfriend Maxime de Clercq had ridden Beauville once, and immediately told Maikel that he believed this horse was a perfect match for him. Maikel tried Beauville and took him to two shows and jumped six rounds – all clear. After that they bought him. And if you ask us now, we are all so surprised about what he ended up doing!” 

“His mind is his best quality, he wants to do it,” Gabriela continues. “Already with me, I knew going into the ring that we would be clear. His mentality also gives him the last bit of scope; he is always going to do a good job. I feel super happy to have been a part of his journey. Also the fact that he was the cheapest horse in the auction is funny: It is not always the horses that jump two meters over the wings that are the best in the end, it is the mentality that counts. Beauville will always try his best.” 

Maikel van der Vleuten tried Beauville when he was eight, at the time Gabriela was thinking about selling the gelding. “We thought the horse had great talent, so we tried him,” Maikel tells. “We told our owner Marta Ortega Perez that we have a very nice horse – how good he would be in the end, we were not sure about, but we knew he was nice and she bought him. We had no idea he would grow into being as amazing as he is now though.”

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping "His mentality is his biggest asset – he is a fighter in the ring," Maikel van der Vleuten tells about Beauville. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Maikel took things slow with Beauville. “We stayed calm in the beginning and did lower classes, and he developed very well,” he tells. “As a 9-year-old he did his first five-star Grand Prix, the LGCT of Monaco, which we won. After that, it all went very quick with him!” After the victory in Monaco in 2019, the pair went on to win the CSI3* Grand Prix in Ommen, the CSI5* World Cup in La Coruña, the CSI3* Grand Prix in Lier, the CSI3* Allianz Prize in Aachen and placed second in the CSI5* LGCT Grand Prix in Valkenswaard just ahead of the Games. 

“He is careful and very sharp in a good way,” Maikel tells about Beauville’s best qualities. “He has a lot of blood, but is quite a classic horse to ride. His mentality is his biggest asset – he is a fighter in the ring. He has a bit of his own way of jumping, but I think you see that often: Many good horses on the highest level have their own way of going. He is a very friendly horse, he is always willing to work and always happy – that gives you a good feeling as a rider.” 

 

No reproduction without written permission, copyright © World of Showjumping.com

 



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