World of Showjumping
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Gold again for Gerard O’Neill at the FEI WBFSH World Breeding Championship for 6-year-old horses

Sunday, 24 September 2017
FEI WBFSH World Breeding Championships 2017

Photo (c) Haide Westring. Gerard O'Neill celebrating his clear round in the jump-off with Columbcille Gipsy. Photo (c) Haide Westring.

Just like last year, it was Ireland’s Gerard O’Neill that took home the gold at the FEI WBFSH World Breeding Championship for 6-year-old horses – this time aboard the Irish Sport Horse mare Columbcille Gipsy (Toulon x Grundyman).

As many as twenty out of the 40 pairs in the final qualified for the jump-off after producing clear rounds over the 1.40m track set by Eugene Mathy, that counted a total of thirteen fences including a triple combination at 7abc as well as a water jump at fence 10.

With half of the class in the jump-off, it was bound to be a race against the clock – and early on it became evident that riders that wanted to be on the podium had to be creative with their choice of way around the shortened track. Many went for the inside turn from the Zangersheide oxer as the second jump to the following VDL vertical, and then also inside to the next upright – but the risk also came at a price in the form of refusals or rails down.

“Actually, it was quite a difficult jump-off. On the first line from one to two it was seven strides in the first round, now you had to do six then directly turn back to a tall vertical. Then the inside turn to the next vertical was really hard, I am sure that vertical was 1.40-1.45 and 6-year-olds have not seen that before. Out of the double it was very careful, and then from the (penultimate) vertical to the last it was a big gallop. It was a very difficult course, and it took a really, really careful horse to stay clear,” concluded gold medallist O’Neill after. 

Photo (c) Haide Westring The podium: Gerard O'Neill, Harm Ladhe and Caroline de Laet. Photo (c) Haide Westring.

O’Neill’s Columbcille Gipsy answered all the questions though as no. seven into the jump-off, also when asked to go full speed along the short-side towards the penultimate vertical and then on the stretch to the final oxer – stopping the clock at 38.38 seconds.

With this time O’Neill took over the gold position, pushing Germany’s Harm Lahde on the Selle Francais stallion Oak Grove's Darshan (Diamant de Semilly x Baloubet du Rouet) down to the silver with 2.6 seconds separating the two – and that is where they stayed until the end as nobody could catch up with the top two. Belgium’s Caroline de Laet on the Oldenburger gelding Halland van de Mispelaere (Hasali van de Mispelaere x Landsleger I) followed O’Neill in the ring, and took home the bronze to the hosting country with her time of 41.56 seconds.

“Today was a brilliant result, to come back and win the gold medal again – it is like a dream come true. I did not think this morning it was going to happen, even though the mare is very good,” said O’Neill. “She has had a very good year, she won the final of the Breeders Classic which is the biggest class in Ireland worth 40.000 Euro and has been very consistent,” said O’Neill who also thanked Columbcille Gipsy’s breeder Eamon Murphy who was watching from at home.

Also, Lahde was both happy and surprised about his silver medal, commenting on Oak Grove's Darshan’s performance: “He has been going very well lately, and won the youngster final in Gross Viegeln. I am really happy, I was not expecting to be second today.”

Bronze medallist Caroline de Laet praised her horse Halland van de Mispelaere that she has been riding since July, saying: “He is a really nice horse. He gives a lot of confidence, is scopey and careful!”


Text © World of Showjumping // Picture © Haide Westring

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