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That Special Bond – with Beat Mändli: “City Banking and Pozitano were dream horses!”

Tuesday, 02 February 2021
That Special Bond

Photo © Dirk Caremans/Hippo Foto "City Banking was very athletic, bloody and strong, careful, fast and feisty – I am sure he would have been a top horse today as well," Mändli tells. Photo © Dirk Caremans/Hippo Foto.

 

Text © World of Showjumping

 

In our series ’That Special Bond’ some of the top names in the sport speak about the horses that have shaped their careers, left a lasting impression and sometimes even broken hearts. This time around, we speak with Switzerland’s Beat Mändli who has had so many special horses cross his path that he finds it hard to choose one over the other. “Where do I start?” Mändli laughs. “I actually had 33 different horses winning Grand Prix classes for me during my career, so obviously I have been lucky to have some incredible partners over the years and all of them were special to me!”

The Special Ones, The Ones That Got Away and The Money Makers

Photo © Jan Gyllensten “He was the one to really put me on the map," Mändli tells about Galant XVII CH. Photo © Jan Gyllensten.

“The first horse that comes to mind as a really special one, is Galant XVII CH (Galant x Aristocrate CH),” Mändli tells. “He was the one to really put me on the map. We bought Galant around the mid-80s, because back then the dealers in Switzerland had to include some Swiss-bred horses in their purchases in order to be able to import horses from abroad. I think Galant was bought for 9000 CHF at the time. I started to ride Galant when he was around four years old and brought him up myself. Around seven years later, in 1992, I won the CSIO Grand Prix in Falsterbo with him. Galant is actually the only horse that I have ever won a CSIO Grand Prix with! That was a special win in many ways, also because Galant’s sire was Swedish – so the home crowds celebrated a bit extra on our behalf. Galant was super competitive, careful and fast. He was very versatile too; he could win a speed class in the evening and a jump-off class the next morning – I would say he was a modern horse at that time. Galant brought home many wins for me: The first big win with him came when he was seven and he took his last international victory when he was 17 years old. Galant had quite a character though; he could stand in a corner because he had decided he did not want to do it that day or he was impossible to bring out of his stall because he just turned around and showed you his backend, he was difficult with the blacksmith – an opinionated type. You had to do it his way, so I learned a lot from him in those early days in my career. I kept Galant until he passed away at the age of 35, he spent his retirement with a friend of mine in Hungary. It was definitely a special bond I had with him, and one that lasted almost his entire life.”

Photo © private collection "He was a beautiful model, dark brown. City Banking was simply a dream horse!” Mändli tells. Photo © private collection.

“The one that got away would be City Banking (Saygon x Wendekreis),” Mändli continues. “He was really an amazing horse and also very special for me. I had him from he was seven and brought him up through the classes. When he was nine, I jumped him at the Olympic Games in Atlanta. It was perhaps a bit too early for him, but he still did well. After the Olympics, City Banking won four Grand Prix classes on top level – in Bremen, Dortmund, Maastricht and Paris. Then he got a bit of rest, before he jumped at the World Cup Final in Gothenburg in 1997 where he ended fourth. Three weeks later, he had a bad colic and passed away. That was a big loss for me.”

“Like many of my horses, City Banking also had a strong character,” Mändli tells. “He was more the type that wanted to please though, and sometimes he got so eager that I really had to hold him back. City Banking was very athletic, bloody and strong, careful, fast and feisty – I am sure he would have been a top horse today as well. He was a beautiful model, dark brown. City Banking was simply a dream horse!”

“Another horse that in a sense got away was Indigo IX (Paladin des Ifs x Kouglof II) – one of my all-time favourite horses,” Mändli says. “He ended up struggling with his soundness and never got the chance to have a big career. Looking back, he had to go and do the big classes a bit too soon – when he was eight and nine – and I would never do this again with any horse. He injured himself on the water jump during the World Championships in Aachen in 2006 and he never really came back fully after that. However, he ended up having a happy life and jumped smaller classes with my friend Bo Kristoffersen’s daughter Nadja.”

Photo © Dirk Caremans/Hippo Foto “Pozitano was big, looked a touch slow although he had a lot of blood. I really developed my riding style on him," Mändli says. Photo © Dirk Caremans/Hippo Foto.

“If we go back to the special ones, there was of course also Pozitano (Polydor x Waidmannsdank xx) – that came into my life after City Banking passed away,” Mändli continues. “Pozitano was eight at the time, and Lesley [McNaught] – my then sister-in-law – had been riding him as a seven-year-old. However, he was a big and strong horse so eventually the owner gave it to me to ride. Pozitano was very special, and you had to take him a little bit the way he wanted to be, but at the same time he had to know that you were the boss – just for his own good. He liked to run himself a bit into the jumps, often got a bit too close – making it somehow difficult for himself with his big body so sorting that out took a bit time to start with. In the end, he jumped some big Grand Prix classes, was double clear in two or three Nations Cups in Aachen and ended third in the World Cup Final in 2000 as well as fourth in 1999. Pozitano jumped three European Championships, one World Championship and also gave me my only Olympic medal – the team silver in Sydney in 2000, which is the best memory I have from my career. Looking back, we should have won the gold though – we had such a good team; Willi Melliger with Calvaro, Markus Fuchs with Tinka’s Boy, Lesley with Dulf, as well as Pozitano and we only lost the gold by one point!”

“Like City Banking, Pozitano was also a super model but a totally different horse,” Mändli tells. “Pozitano was big, looked a touch slow although he had a lot of blood. I really developed my riding style on him. I had to be a bit slow, give him space and hold him together – he was my top horse for six-seven years, so he really shaped my way of riding. Like with Galant, I kept Pozitano until he passed away – he enjoyed 7-8 years of a very happy retirement and was around 25 when he left us.”

Photo © Dirk Caremans/Hippo Foto "With Ideo I knew that if I rode well, and had a good plan, he would jump a clear round nine out of ten times," Mändli tells. Photo © Dirk Caremans/Hippo Foto.

“Pozitano was not only a very special one for me, but also one of my horses that won the most. This was also the case of Ideo du Thot (Arioso du Theillet x Shaliman du Thot), that also goes in the category of both being special and a money maker,” Mändli tells. “I know I say this every time, but Ideo had a special character. He was a type you had to slow down, he was feisty and kind of wanted to eat the jumps – especially when he was younger. As a young horse, Ideo was with French rider Cedric Angot as well as his wife Eugénie but ended up in Switzerland through Thomas Fuchs. In the beginning, Ideo was ridden by Urs Fäh – who owned half of him together with Rolf Theiler. Back then, Rolf also owned many of the horses I rode so eventually Rolf bought Urs out and gave Ideo to me. During our first season together, I was playing a bit around with Ideo at the Sunshine Tour and quite quickly I had some good results with him. At that stage, I would not have thought to win the really big, big classes with him though as he did not really show the scope. However, he had a really big heart, a good brain and that combined with his forwardness – this little craziness he had – eventually created the scope. What Ideo could do with his body was incredible, he was a bit like a snake over the jumps – but in a good way. He could use his body from his nose to the tail! Ideo had such a will to do it, his brain was super. You could just push the button on Sunday morning, and he would know the Grand Prix was that afternoon. With Ideo I knew that if I rode well, and had a good plan, he would jump a clear round nine out of ten times. Ideo was one of those horses you could program: I gave him one or two smaller classes and then the Grand Prix and he would just go in and do it. He finished in the top three in many big Grand Prix classes. One of my other career highlights came with Ideo when we in 2007 won the Rolex FEI World Cup Final in Las Vegas. We were also close on other occasions; in 2006 we were third – two years after we ended fourth. Looking back, I think Ideo’s luck was that he had such a good life as a young horse – he had never been over-jumped or asked too much.”

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping "I now believe I have a really special horse in Dsarie," Mändli tells. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

“After a bit of a break from competing at the highest level due to my move to the States, I now believe I have a really special horse in Dsarie (Vernon x Ahorn),” Mändli tells about his present situation. “Dsarie showed a lot of potential when she was nine years old but was a bit unlucky later on as I did not ride so good due to back problems. However, now we are both fresh after a quiet 2020 and I hope we can make it to the Swiss team for the Olympics. I bought Dsarie just before she turned six. She is a very big horse, a touch slow but still very bloody and sensitive. Dsarie has all the ability and scope, and she wants to do it. She does not win against the fastest horses in the world, but she jumps a lot of clear rounds when she is in a good place. Out of all my horses, Dsarie is the only mare I have really connected with – I always preferred geldings. Like many of the horses I have had in my career, Dsarie has her own way – and she likes to buck… a lot! Normally, I prefer the horses to be more channelled but with her it feels like she needs her playfulness in order to be good. For a while, I tried to control her a bit more but then she lost a bit her fight and sparkle. Now, I leave her as she is, and she feels much happier this way, so I hope I come back strong with her this year.”

 

No reproduction without written permission, copyright © World of Showjumping

 



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