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That Special Bond – with Gregory Wathelet

Wednesday, 04 January 2017
That Special Bond

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
"He is one of the best horses I have ever ridden" - That is what Gregory Wathelet says about Forlap. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

In World of Showjumping’s series ‘That Special Bond’ we talk with some of the top names of the sport, to discuss the horses that have shaped their careers, fulfilled their dreams – and sometimes even broken hearts.

This time European Vice Champion Gregory Wathelet shares which horses have meant the most to him during his career, and reveals that there is one horse that is that extra level of special to him – so much in fact that he bought it back after two and a half years apart.


The Special One

"The special one for me is Forlap. He is one of the best horses I have ever ridden. It was really hard to see him leave, because he was very special to me. But to be honest, when we sold him, it was a good deal for the business. I got him at the end of his 6-year-old season, and we sold him when he was 9-years-old.

Now we just bought him back. Sometimes I have felt quite unlucky to lose some of my very best horses, but this time I feel very lucky to get such a special horse back. Now I want to give Forlap time to get to know me again, but the feeling in general is good.

Why I like him so much? His quality is amazing, he is careful and unbelievably clever. He has his own style; I think he knows where the poles are. I don’t really have an explanation for it, but I never had a connection with a horse like I have with him. That is also why I have kept trying to get him back, and now I am very happy to have found people who helped me to get him into my stable again."

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson. "Conrad is the horse I had the best results with": Gregory Wathelet seen on Conrad de Hus. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

The Result Recorder

"Conrad is the horse I had the best results with; the silver medal at the European Championships in Aachen in 2015, winning the Aachen Nations Cup with a double clear in 2013, as well as the Nations Cup Final in Barcelona in 2015 and also five-star Grand Prix classes. I only rode Conrad for three years at top level, but if I look at the results during that time with him they were for sure the best of my career.

I got Conrad when he was 8-years-old and everything was always easy with him. His mind is really good; I could take him to big shows straight away even if he was not too experienced. Nothing could disturb him when he was in the ring, even when he lost his bridle that time in Paris. I think anybody could ride that horse."


The One That Got Away

"Another one that got away, and a horse that I maybe regret losing a little too quickly is Cortes ‘C’. I had him for two years before he was sold to Beezie Madden. I got him when he was 6-years-old and it was a disaster; he was handicapped with his body and the flat work was really difficult. But Cortes was a genius in his mind and he had so much scope. He could jump anything and he was extremely careful. I used two years to build him up and in the two last months that I had him, he started to feel ready for bigger things. In the beginning of December 2010 he won a Grand Prix in Portugal, and then I took him to Mechelen at the end of the year where he won the Masters and was second in the World Cup – after that he got sold.

Cortes went to a great stable where he got to improve, but I do think that it would have been nice to keep him for another year or two."


Text © World of Showjumping by Nanna Nieminen // Pictures © Jenny Abrahamsson (No reproduction without permission)


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