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From youngster to international Grand Prix horse: Mumbai

Wednesday, 24 February 2021
From youngster to international Grand Prix horse

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping
“When Mumbai enters the ring, I think he knows when it counts. I have the feeling that he would do anything for me,” Christian Kukuk tells. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

 

Text © World of Showjumping

 


 

In December 2020, the now 9-year-old BWP stallion Mumbai (Diamant de Semilly x Nabab de Reve) – bred by Kurt de Clercq – won the CSI5*-W 1.60m World Cup in Riyadh with Germany’s Christian Kukuk in the saddle. For both Kukuk and Mumbai, this was the first major five-star victory of their careers – confirming the expectations Kukuk’s employer Ludger Beerbaum has for the stunning stallion.

“I am an absolute fan of Mumbai,” Beerbaum tells World of Showjumping. “He is a phenomenal jumper with exceptional potential and, in my opinion, a true candidate for the Olympics.”

Philipp Weishaupt – Beerbaum’s employee - discovered Mumbai as a 6-year-old and convinced his boss to go and try the stallion. Until then, the stallion had been carefully produced by Belgian rider Nick Vrins. Vrins first saw Mumbai as a 4-year-old, when scouting for horses for his upcoming auction. “My first impression of him has everything to do with his looks: He stands out with his special color, grey with a brown spot on his hind-end. Mumbai was selected for the Woodlands International Sales Auction, but the year he was selected – when he was four – no one bought him. Back then, he was already expensive because he was jumping really well. It was one of the first editions of the auction and no one wanted to spend that money. However, we in the Woodlands' team thought he was a really nice horse, so we bought him ourselves.”

Photo © Nanna Nieminen for World of Showjumping
“My first impression of him has everything to do with his looks: He stands out with his special color, grey with a brown spot on his hind-end," Mumbai's former rider Nick Vrins tells. Photo © Nanna Nieminen for World of Showjumping.

In addition to his looks, it was Mumbai’s pedigree that convinced Vrins. “Mumbai is really well bred,” Vrins tells. “For me, the family was a huge deal: His grandmother is Eureka van’t Roosakker, that won a lot with Maikel van der Vleuten. I rode Mumbai from the end of his 4-year-old season until he was six. In the beginning he was a little bit difficult, because he had a tendency to get a bit too excited. At the end, I did a few international shows with him before Ludger saw him and bought half of him.”

“It has been amazing to follow his development,” Vrins says. “I thought he was a really good horse, but to see what Christian has done with him has been incredible. For sure he is a championship horse: He has all the scope and he is nice to ride. He is a really brave stallion, and he has a great character.”  

Surprisingly, when Christian Kukuk took over the reins of Mumbai at Ludger Beerbaum Stables, he was not immediately smitten. “We had a tough start, but good relationships often start that way,” Kukuk smiles.  “Nick had done an amazing job with Mumbai. However, I guess I am quite extreme when it comes to dressage and flatwork… Mumbai and me, we had quite different opinions of this in the beginning.”

“It took us a few months to really find each other,” Kukuk continues. “I remember the first time I sat on him two years ago. Back then, I had no idea how I would manage to ride a course with him. The communication between the two of us was not there. Over time, we got used to each other. I had to compromise, to still leave him to his own style. I have tried to find a balance between us. Now, I really trust him and he trusts me: We are a good match. He has learned a lot over the last two years and when I ride him now, he actually feels like a different horse.”

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping
“He is a phenomenal jumper with exceptional potential and, in my opinion, a true candidate for the Olympics," Ludger Beerbaum says about Mumbai – here seen with his rider Christian Kukuk. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Kukuk believes that Mumbai’s mentality is his best quality. “When Mumbai enters the ring, I think he knows when it counts. I have the feeling that he would do anything for me,” Kukuk tells. “His head is so strong: He can be so focused but still relaxed. After a big jump-off, he leaves the ring totally chill and happy with his job. He never loses his concentration in the ring, he is so straight forward.”

Beerbaum and Kukuk are not Mumbai’s only fans: The whole crew in Riesenbeck adores him. “He is such a good guy, my grooms love him,” Kukuk smiles. “I am so happy to have him. His personality is actually hard to put into words. He is not arrogant, but also not shy: He is just cool. I think he knows how good he is, but he is not a show-off.”

The pairs’ first five-star Grand Prix win in Riaydh is understandably an achievement that stands out for Kukuk. However, he can point out the moment he truly started to believe in the stallion’s championship abilities. “Last year, I had Mumbai with me in Doha – when he was only eight – and we jumped the biggest classes. He really impressed me there. For 2021, we are aiming for the major championships.”

 

No reproduction without written permission, copyright © World of Showjumping

 


 

Mumbai: Black Type pedigree presented by Hippomundo



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