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Zineday – “I think he is the one”

Wednesday, 16 August 2023
From youngster to international Grand Prix horse

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ. “He is an absolutely outstanding horse," Philipp Weishaupt says about Zineday. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.


Text © World of Showjumping



At the 2023-edition of CHIO Aachen, Philipp Weishaupt’s 9-year-old Zineday (Zinedine x Polydor) impressed with his effortless performances in the €1.5 million CSI5* 1.60m Rolex Grand Prix when placing third after posting the fastest round in the jump-off on the cost of a pole down. However, Weishaupt, who took the third place behind two well-established horse-and-rider combinations – Marcus Ehning and Stargold as well as Daniel Deusser aboard Killer Queen VDM – had all the reason to be delighted with Zineday. “Normally, when you ride a jump-off, you always want to win, but in my situation here – I am riding a 9-year-old horse, which I think no one else did – sitting next to those two guys with very experienced championship horses – I’m over the moon with Zineday,” Philipp said back in Aachen. “He showed his quality, he is an absolutely outstanding horse. He’s a young horse, and how he handled the first round is absolutely insane and it’s so much fun to ride him.”

Made in Riesenbeck

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ. "Zineday has been at the yard in Riesenbeck since he was born," Weishaupt tells about his talented 9-year-old. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

The story behind Zineday’s outstanding talent started in Riesenbeck way before he was born. Zineday’s mother L.B. Paola (Polydor x Frühlingsball) competed on five-star level with both Ludger Beerbaum and Henrik von Eckermann, while his sire Zinedine (Quidam x Heartbreaker) jumped on five-star level with Beerbaum. In 2014 – as a 10-year-old – Zinedine placed second in the CSI5* 1.60m LGCT Grand Prix in London and in the CSI5* 1.60m Grand Prix in Paris as well as 5th in the LGCT Grand Prix in Shanghai, before his sport career sadly ended two years later due to an injury.

“Paola originally came from Susanne Behring, who is from our area,” Philipp explains. “Christina Liebherr bought Paola, and then we got her in our stable. Both Ludger and Henrik rode her on five-star level; she won the Riders Tour Grand Prix in Paderborn and a couple other big classes. Franz-Georg Ottman, a friend of ours, is on paper the breeder of Zineday, because we had issues getting Paola in foal, and we therefore sent her over to his yard. However, Zineday has been at the yard in Riesenbeck since he was born, and as a three-year-old, he got used to the saddle.” 

He had a lot of potential, but his character was not the easiest

At first, it was Richard Vogel – who at the time worked as an assistant rider for Philipp – that rode Zineday, before Christian Kukuk took over the reins when he was four. “Zineday was very challenging as a young horse,” Philipp recalls. “He had a lot of potential, but his character was not the easiest – which is somewhat surprising, because Zinedine actually has an amazing temperament.”

“However, Zineday really needed a good rider and good management,” Philipp explains. “He was special; the talent was clearly there, but his rideability was not great. I think he got the best possible program: He was always in very good hands and in a good system, first with Richie and then with Christian. He never had a bad rider on him and I think if that would not have been the case, he would not be where he is now. As a young horse, he was really a borderline case; he was so difficult and on many, many, local shows we struggled with him. He was so spooky, so hot – but the quality was never a question though.”

“Christian basically laid down the foundation for Zineday’s success; he spent so much time with him, stayed behind at local shows just to take him to the ring once more after the show was finished to make sure he went home with a calm and relaxed feeling,” Philipp tells. 

Drawing up the boundaries

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ “Christian basically laid down the foundation for Zineday’s success," Philipp tells. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

“Zineday surely was very special,” Christian Kukuk agrees. “He tried everything he could to make sure I would not like him and he was a stallion as well, which did not make it easier. But despite his efforts, I could not help but like him anyway. Every single time I jumped him, I had a feeling you don’t get so often; I knew all the work I put in him was going to be worth it one day. I never had a doubt that he would be an outstanding horse.”

“I rode Zineday from he was four until he was seven,” Christian continues. “He had an arrogant attitude: He would be quiet and calm, but from one second to the other, would try to jump on you – you really had to watch out. He was like a pony one second and a dragon the next. As soon as you got on him, his temperament turned on; he did not like to go here, he did not like to go there… It was always a discussion with him. He was always a bit against you. He got hot and spooky in the warm-up, which is actually a bit funny now because when it comes to the jumps he is not spooky at all. You can put any wall, any water in front of him, and he is going to jump. He was always looking for an excuse to test you as a rider.”

It was always a discussion with him

“It was a challenge to get him on your side; it was a mix between being very strict with him and telling him ‘this is not right’ while at the same time being nice,” Christian tells about his work with Zineday. “I spent so much time on him! However, I felt he improved all the time, and even though it never really went away – he is still special now – as soon as you are in the ring and the bell goes, he gets excited. He knows his job now and you just have to follow him in the ring. He makes it look so easy in the ring, but the work to get there has been hard.”

“When I rode him, I always said I thought he was the best horse I ever had,” Christian tells. “It is nice to see him with Philipp now; I am happy that he has a rider like him, so that he can show all his potential – because he needs a good rider. I was always sure that he would do it, and to see that he now really does it all makes me happy and proud. I am sure there is more to come; this is only the beginning of his career. He is just starting out, and straight away finished third in the Grand Prix of Aachen! This alone shows how special he is. I think he will win many Grand Prix classes and championship medals. Of all the Grand Prix classes I have seen, I cannot think of one that would have been a big effort for him.” 

A stroke of luck

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Weishaupt’s horse owner Alice Lawaetz bought Zineday in July 2021. “I was in a lucky situation where Alice told me that whenever I knew of an outstanding young horse, she would be happy to buy one," Philipp tells. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Christian rode Zineday until July 2021, when Weishaupt’s horse owner Alice Lawaetz bought him. “I was in a lucky situation where Alice told me that whenever I knew of an outstanding young horse, she would be happy to buy one. I told her we had two nice 7-year-old horses in the barn; Just Be Gentle and Zineday – and she went for Zineday. Christian was very professional at that point, and was happy that the horse was going to me and not leaving the stable. We took a decision to castrate him, because he was just so unfocused. At the first few shows I struggled with him; he was wild and running all over the place, but I could feel the potential. I took it easy with him, and then when he was eight, I jumped a few two-and three-star Grand Prix classes, and then did a four-star in Pinneberg and a five-star in Oslo.”

At the first few shows I struggled with him; he was wild 

“Zineday jumped nine Grand Prix classes when he was eight, and he was clear in six of them,” Philipp continues. “Last winter I was supposed to bring him to s’Hertogenbosch as my first horse – and that would have been his debut in big classes – but then the day before I broke my foot. When I got back from my injury, we did small classes in Hamburg, then Wiesbaden and in La Baule he was third in Saturday’s big class. Then, I took him to Paris and Aachen. In Paris he was double clear for the GCL team and in Aachen he was third in the Grand Prix, and most recently in Riesenbeck, again double clear for the GCL team.”

If you give him a finger, he takes the whole hand

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ “It was always going to be a good experience for him," Philipp tells about his expectations ahead of CHIO Aachen 2023. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

While Zineday delivered consistent results already as a youngster, it was his character that caused the challenges – and some of that quirkiness is still there. “The consistent, good work from Christian, as well castrating him helped a lot,” Philipp says. “Still, you need to know how to ride him. You can never give him one finger, because he takes the whole hand – he is always testing you, he is like a stubborn Shetland pony in this sense.”

He is always testing you, he is like a stubborn Shetland pony in this sense

Going into CHIO Aachen, Philipp – who won the Grand Prix at the prestigious German venue in 2016 with LB Convall – did not have a clear plan on which of his two horses he would choose for the main class of the week. “For the moment I am lucky to have two outstanding horses in Zineday and Coby, thanks to their owner Alice,” he explains. “Without her I would not be where I am today. I jumped Coby on Wednesday and Zineday on Friday, and those are the two big qualifiers, and I had said I would pick the one I had a better feeling with for Sunday. They were both jumping fantastic, so I was confused and there were many pros and cons in my calculations on what I should do. However, the build-up for Zineday had been perfect, so I wanted to give him a shot.” 

“My expectations were high, but if I would have had one down in the first round, I would have still been happy,” he continues. “It was always going to be a good experience for him. With the double ditches, he would in any case have taken a step further in his education for the years to come. Obviously, I was more than happy to be third. He is probably the best horse I have ever had – and I have had a couple of good ones. I have been lucky to have outstanding horses during my career – Catoki, Monte Bellini, LB Convall, Coby, Asathir – but I think Zineday is the one, he has the best qualities from all of them combined.”

On track for Paris 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ. "I only need to stay focused and make the best possible plan for my horse and then I am sure we have a good chance for Paris," Philipp says about the future with Zineday. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Born and produced in Riesenbeck, Zineday’s story is a beautiful one – and one that in many ways is only just starting. “The whole story behind him is very special, and we still have his parents in the stable,” Philipp says. “Ludger always said that from the quality, Zinedine was the best horse he ever had and I think he has passed that on to Zineday. Being able to ride a horse as talented as him throughout his younger years, knowing that everything is going in the right direction, makes me really proud."

My main goal is Paris next year

"He is only nine, and my plan is to step down a level after the European Championships in Milan; I don’t want to keep pushing him to the big classes constantly," Philipp tells. "I want to take it a bit easy with him and my main goal is Paris next year. There is still a year to go, and many things can still happen. I don’t look at the others, I only look at myself and I have a horse with potential. I hope I as a rider won’t mess up; I will try to bring consistent results in the year ahead and continue on the road we are on. I think we are on the right track – I only need to stay focused and make the best possible plan for my horse and then I am sure we have a good chance for Paris.”



16.8.2023 No reproduction of any of the content in this article will be accepted without a written permission, all rights reserved © World of If copyright violations occur, a penalty fee will apply. 


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