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From youngster to international Grand Prix horse: Venard de Cerisy

Thursday, 22 December 2022
From youngster to international Grand Prix horse

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ
Steve Guerdat’s Venard de Cerisy has an incredible record of results, having earned over 1,8 million Euros in prize money over the last five years. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

 

Text © World of Showjumping

 


 

Steve Guerdat’s Venard de Cerisy (Open Up Semilly x Djalisco Du Guet, bred by Laurent and Gabrielle Vincent) has an incredible record of results, having earned over 1,8 million Euros in prize money over the last five years.* The 13-year-old gelding was Guerdat’s choice for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo as well as for the 2022 World Championship in Herning. In 2021, Guerdat became the Rolex Grand Slam Live Contender when the two won the CP International presented by Rolex at Spruce Meadows, and a year later the pair was back to defend their title – finishing as runners-up. With numerous top placings in five-star competitions all over the world, Venard de Cerisy has a clear round percentage of 52% in 1.60m classes – having placed within the top ten in 60% of his starts on that level.* 

To learn more about Venard de Cerisy, World of Showjumping spoke with Faustine Laferrerie – who rode the gelding as a youngster – as well as Guerdat. “I am just thankful for him,” Guerdat says about Venard. “He has given us more than he was ever supposed to.” 

Up for a challenge

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ
"Both Axel and I believed in him; we both thought Venard would be able to jump any class in the world," Faustine Laferrerie, the gelding's former rider, says. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Faustine Laferrerie got the ride on Venard de Cerisy when the gelding arrived at Axel Van Colen’s stables as a green six-year-old. “Venard arrived at Axel Van Colen’s at the time when Jerome Teveunot and his wife Marion Bousse owned him,” Faustine begins. “When I tried him for the first time, he was really complicated; strong with a lot of blood, and afraid of the rider. However, when I was on him, I had a good feeling. Axel said he thought Venard would need a lot of time, and asked me if I wanted to try – and I said yes. That is where our story started.” 

“He was very sensitive,” Faustine recalls about her first impressions of Venard. “It was difficult to get on him, because he was afraid. When I started to jump, he was really fast and for me he was nearly too strong – and he had a huge stride. Combinations were almost impossible for us; I was always worried that he would take off a stride too early. Both Axel and I believed in him though; we both thought Venard would be able to jump any class in the world. We knew he had it in him, but he needed a lot of work. Although he was super sensitive, he had the right attitude; he wanted to do well and we believed he only needed time to learn to be less stressed and have more confidence in his rider. Because we believed in him so much, we kept working with him. I rode him for one year, and then Axel took over.” 

He was really complicated; strong with a lot of blood

“As a personality, he is really nice, he wants to do well and is kind with humans,” Faustine tells about Venard. “I think his best quality is his mentality, as well as his power: He wants to jump, he would never stop. He always tries, even if it is not easy for him – and he has his own style. He has a lot of blood and that is a quality you need on the top level – and a reason I love him so much.”

“We are really happy to follow his progress, because from the beginning, we believed he could jump the biggest classes in the world,” Faustine says about seeing the gelding with Guerdat in the saddle. “However, I never thought he would have such an amazing list of results, even though we were sure he would be a top horse. It is a nice to see him do so well, as we started from nothing and it was so complicated – it is fantastic to see how he has developed.” 

A big surprise

Photo © Mackenzie Clark Photo Team
"There was something about him, I still cannot explain what it was," Guerdat tells about his first feeling on Venard. Photo © Mackenzie Clark Photo Team.

Switzerland’s Olympic Champion, and former world number one, Steve Guerdat got Venard when the gelding was seven. “My father saw Venard and sent me some videos, and then we went to try him,” he tells. “I am not really into seeing horses on a video, I like to try them and trust my feeling – and in Venard’s case, that was maybe good. I did a few jumps, and I liked him. There was something about him, I still cannot explain what it was. I like hot horses, and I felt he had a lot of blood and I just really liked him – not that he was doing anything that made him feel like a superstar, but there was something special about him.” 

He was way more challenging than I thought

“I was very surprised when he arrived at my place though,” Steve continues. “He was way more challenging than I thought. I had been told that he was sensitive, but everything felt ten times more complicated than what I had expected. It was difficult to get on him, he was ultra-sensitive and at home I had no chance to jump two fences in a row – he was so strong and pulled so much. It was a big surprise for me, I even called the owner and said that I had probably overestimated my feeling and that we should try to sell him as fast as we could. A few people tried him back then, but as he was so difficult we were unable to sell him and that is why I kept going with him.”

A spin at the derby field

Photo © hippofoto.com/Dirk Caremans “The turning point for us was when I decided to jump him in the derby classes,” Guerdat tells. “That completely changed him." Photo © Dirk Caremans/hippofoto.com.

It took a ride on a derby field for Guerdat to discover the genius in Venard. “The turning point for us was when I decided to jump him in the derby classes,” he tells. “That completely changed him. At home, it had been impossible to jump two fences after each other, but when I decided to jump the derby in La Baule with him, I took him to the natural fences we have at home – and he really enjoyed it. He jumped the derby in La Baule really well, and the day after I jumped him in a 1.45m class, and he jumped unbelievable! That was the first time with him that I understood he really was something special. I started to only train him with the natural derby fences at home, and he improved his shape – it really changed him.” 

He has an incredible record of results from the toughest classes in the world

Guerdat believes that Venard’s mind is what makes him so special. “He always wants to try for you,” he says. “He is not a natural talent like some of the superstars in our sport, but he has won more than those we believe to be superstars. He has an incredible record of results from the toughest classes in the world, he is always there within the top. He is very tough in his body and in his head, and he always tries to do his best.” 

Simply thankful 

Photo © Nanna Nieminen/World of Showjumping
“I am just thankful for him,” Guerdat says. “He has given us more than he was ever supposed to, and anything more that comes is like a gift." Photo © Nanna Nieminen for World of Showjumping.

From all their success, the win in the 2021 CP International presented by Rolex at Spruce Meadows stands out for Guerdat because the venue is far from his own comfort zone. “Calgary is special, I have always considered the CP International important – and I think Spruce Meadows is the most challenging venue to win at. You can ride as good as you want, but you also need a horse that is able to win in Calgary specifically – not every horse is able to do that. Throughout my career, I always hoped and looked for a horse that could put me in a position to be able to win there – that has been one of the main goals of my career. Calgary has never been my comfort zone, as I am normally more into very careful horses, and those horses are usually not comfortable there. That is why I always considered the CP International to be one of the most challenging classes for me to win. And that is why it has been so unbelievable that Venard has been performing so well there, and it for sure stands out for me from all the victories he has given me – and there are so many besides Calgary.”

He has given us more than he was ever supposed to

“I am just thankful for him,” Guerdat says. “He has given us more than he was ever supposed to, and anything more that comes is like a gift. He is very experienced now and I just hope that we can keep him sound for as long as possible. As long as he is healthy and happy, he will be jumping – and I believe he still has a few more years left in him at the top level.” 

 

*Statistics from Jumpr App.

 

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

 



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