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Close-Up: HH Azur

Thursday, 19 January 2017

HH Azur had us spellbound from the moment we first saw her. McLain Ward’s incredible 11-year-old mare by Thunder vd Zuuthoeve x Sir Lui vd Zuuthoeve is one of the most eye-catching horses on the circuit, and last year she won team silver at the Olympic Games in Rio, as well as five-star Grand Prix competitions in Wellington and Rome plus the four-star World Cup in Toronto.

At home, HH Azur is called Annie and according to her groom Kirsty Bond the lovely mare has some specific likes and dislikes. What Annie loves the most is to be turned out with Lilly Ward’s mini pony Daisy, and she also loves her team mate HH Carlos. As to her diet, Annie likes the occasional pizza (!) and also donuts (!). “She's really easy to take care of and to travel, but she hates to have her body clipped – the legs and face are no problem just the body!” Bond shares with World of Showjumping. “Oh, and she's amazing to take on trail rides – she doesn't look at anything and she's really happy to go exploring!”

Formerly known as Azur Du Garden, she was produced by Brazilian rider Pedro Nolasco before François Mathy’s rider Diego Perez Bilbao took over the reins and developed Azur up to 1.45m Grand Prix level. When she was eight, McLain got the ride on the wonderful mare – but he actually tried her already when she was five. “I thought she was an incredible jumper at the time, but I did not buy her since she was very green and a little wild,” McLain told to World of Showjumping in an interview last year. After trying her again, the year she was eight, McLain had a very special feeling about HH Azur’s qualities: “From day one, I thought there was something different about that horse. When you watch that mare walk out of the barn, there is something about her. When you see her jump, there are no words. She is something special, something brilliant. If you appreciate horses and showjumping, you have to appreciate what is in her.”

Well, here’s to appreciating HH Azur – one of our favorite horses of all times.

All photos © Jenny Abrahamsson.

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