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Part Two: Jumping through 2015 – highs and lows, thrills and spills

Friday, 01 January 2016

Photos (c) Jenny Abrahamsson and Dirk Caremans.
Photos (c) Jenny Abrahamsson and Dirk Caremans.

World of Showjumping takes you through the highs and lows, thrills and spills, of the showjumping year that was 2015. Here is part two as we sum up the last six months of 2015.


Steve Guerdat with Nino des Buissonnets. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
July was Steve Guerdat's nightmare month. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

The biggest news of the month came when the FEI announced that three Swiss jumping horses, including Steve Guerdat's Nino des Buissonnets and Nasa, had tested positive for prohibited substances at the CSIO5* event in La Baule. Guerdat and his horses were provisionally suspended, but Guerdat’s suspension was lifted shortly after by the FEI. Nino remained under suspension though, which costed the reigning Olympic Champions the chance to compete at the Europeans in Aachen – a huge loss for the Swiss team. It was the start of a nightmare process for Guerdat, who later in the autumn was cleared of any wrongdoing by the FEI.

During the year, several horses and riders parted ways. Some horses got new riders, others were sold. In July, two established partnerships came to an end as Ireland's Darragh Kenny and Imothep went their separate ways and that was also the case for Germany's David Will and Colorit. 

Kenny lost the ride on Impothep, the 13-year-old stallion he ended 7th with individually at the 2014 World Championships as his co-operation with Hyperion Stud finished with their horses moving on to Japan's Taizo Sugitani. 

Will saw Colorit leave to his compatriot Christian Ahlmann. With David in the saddle, the 13-year-old stallion won the 2013 World Cup in Den Bosch as well as the 2013 Grand Prix in Munich, the 2013 Grand Prix in Mannheim and the 2015 Grand Prix in Hagen. 

July was also the month where the Dutch team silver medalist from the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Sterrehof’s Tamino was being retired from the sport at the age of 15. 


August: Jeroen Dubbeldam adds two more gold medals to his collection. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
August: Jeroen Dubbeldam adds two more gold medals to his collection. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

August was Jeroen Dubbeldam's month. After being crowned double World Champion in Normandy in 2014, Dubbeldam made the seemingly impossible possible when he managed to take home both the team and individual gold at the European Championships in Aachen on Zenith S.F.N. N.O.P. Dubbeldam, also Olympic Champion from 2000, said after: “This one was missing, so I was of course really, really sharp for this (…) You can only dream that it comes true.”

In Aachen, three more countries qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio following their classification in the team final of the European Championships: Switzerland, Great Britain and Spain. Later on the same month, Australia and Japan also qualified at the special qualifier in Hagen. 

August was also the start of a long battle between the FEI and Horse Sport Ireland, which finally would end up in a hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne. The hearing was a result of an on-course incident during the team final at the Europeans in Aachen, in which a member of the arena fence crew ran across the track as Ireland’s team member Cian O’Connor was in a turn between the 10th and 11th fence with O’Connor’s horse Good Luck hitting the fence at 11 to complete the course on four faults – which cost the Irish team qualification for the Olympic Games in Rio. The conflict is still not settled, and the parties are now waiting for the decision from CAS. "All we are looking for is fair play. We are convinced that if this incident had not happened, the Irish showjumping team would be going to the Olympics," said Horse Sport Ireland Chairman Pat Wall.

It was also the month were some of the world's best horses were announced to be sold at online auctions; Aymerick de Ponnat's top horse Armitage Boy and Constant van Paesschen's rides Citizenguard Cadjanine Z, Citizenguard Taalex, Citizenguard Million Dreams and Citizenguard Toscan de Sainte Hermelle were all among those to go under the hammer. In the end, they all remained unsold. 


September: Scott Brash makes history winning the Rolex Grand Slam title. Photo (c) Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping/Kit Houghton.
September: Scott Brash makes history winning the Rolex Grand Slam title. Photo (c) Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping/Kit Houghton.

September was the month were Great Britain's Scott Brash made history by becoming the first and only rider to win the three equestrian Majors consecutively, the Grand Prix competitions in Geneva (2014), Aachen (2015) and Spruce Meadows (2015), claiming the Rolex Grand Slam of Showjumping title and a €1,000,000 bonus together with his amazing four-legged partner Hello Sanctos. "For me winning the Grand Slam is a dream come true,” Brash said after.

It was also the month were Steve Guerdat, whose horses Nino des Buissonnets and Nasa tested positive for prohibited substances in July, was cleared of any wrongdoing by the FEI. The FEI accepted that the positives were caused by poppy seed contamination, putting an end to some very painful weeks for the Swiss rider.

In September, Belgium went on to win the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Final in Barcelona after also topping the series’ Europe Division 1 following the qualifications during spring and summer. Ironically, the Belgian riders did not manage to qualify for the Olympics – which caused a debate abut the Olympic qualification system and whether it rewards consistency.


2015's best horse: The fantastic Hello Sanctos! Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
2015's best horse: The fantastic Hello Sanctos! Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

The final 2015 WBFSH Rolex World Ranking List for breeders of jumping horses was published in October, and it came as no surprise that Hello Sanctos topped it for his breeder Willy Taets. Rank two was Admara 2, bred by A. van Nuland, while Thomann Wilfried’s breeding Casall Ask finished third on the ranking.

October also saw the end of a 10-year-old partnership between Ukraine’s Alexander Onischenko and his team member Katharina Offel, as the latter issued a statement saying she would go back to her roots and compete for Germany from 1st of January 2016. “This is a choice I feel very happy and relieved to finally have taken,” Offel said after. The nationality change went through in December, and Offel will return to the ring under the German flag in 2016.

It was also the month where Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum's success horse Checkmate 4 was retired at the age of 20. The gelding won team gold at the 2010 World Championships with Meredith in the saddle, as well as taking the team bronze at the 2009 European Championships.


Luciana Diniz and Fit For Fun en route to victory in Doha. Photo (c) Stefano Grasso/LGCT.
November: Luciana Diniz and Fit For Fun win the Longines Global Champions Tour Final and overall title in Doha. Photo (c) Stefano Grasso/LGCT.

Portugal's Luciana Diniz ended her 2015 season perfectly when she together with the fantastic chestnut mare Fit For Fun went on to win the Longines Global Champions Tour Final in Doha, also taking home the overall title of the tour following an unbelievable season that included winning the LGCT Grand Prix competitions in Vienna in September and in Madrid in May aboard Winningmood – and at the very beginning of the year winning the five-star Grand Prix in Basel on Fit For Fun. "It’s true, if you ride with love and you believe in what you do it makes your life easier," Diniz said after her win in Doha. 

November also saw the famous stallion Diamant de Semilly on top of 2015's Rolex WBFSH Showjumping Sire Ranking. Last year's number one - Kannan - dropped one position to rank two and Cornet Obolensky - that was second last year - ranked third. 

It was also the month of sad news, as Léon Melchior - founder of the famous Zangersheide stud farm and stud book - passed away, at the age of 88. “The world of show jumping and horse breeding, has lost one of its greatest friends and most generous supporters with the passing away of Leon Melchior,” FEI President Ingmar de Vos said.


Bertram Allen and Romanov. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
December: Bertram Allen causes the internet to explode after being disqualified from the Grand Prix at Olympia. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

It was Bertram Allen who stole the head lines in December, but for all the wrong reasons. After winning the Grand Prix at Olympia aboard Quiet Easy, Allen was disqualified by the Ground Jury, The Ground Jury justified its disqualification under Article 242.3.1 of the FEI Jumping Rules. During the mandatory post-competition boot and bandage control a FEI steward reported to the Ground Jury that Allen’s horse, Quiet Easy, had blood on the offside right flank.

The disqualification sparked a heated online debate, with huge support for Allen who is known for his extremely light way of riding. Pictures of Quiet Easy's flank were posted in social media, and made many question the decision that had been made by the Ground Jury. A support group was even created for Allen, to clear his name. The FEI later spoke out and took their officials in defense, in the most unsurprising press release of the year. 

On a more positive note, Steve Guerdat got his ultimate pay-back when he on home soil took an extremely popular win in the Rolex Grand Prix of Geneva riding Nino des Buissonnets. It was an emotional Guerdat who could lift the Rolex trophy. After his win, the Swiss rider paid tribute to Nino saying: “He is a special horse, he is a genius!”

Another highlight in December was Kent Farrington winning the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final in Geneva after a magnificent performance aboard Voyeur.

At the same show, the curtains closed for Marcus Ehning’s success horse Plot Blue that was thanked off by the crowds after a phenomenal career. It included victory in the 2010 World Cup Final in Geneva as well as winning team gold at the 2010 World Championships in Kentucky, and team bronze at the 2009 European Championships at Windsor.

Going into the New Year, the FEI also continued to battle it out with the Global Champions League (GCL) – in a conflict that had been running through the year. In December, the FEI President Ingmar De Vos again confirmed that the federation’s position on the GCL remained unchanged. “The GCL is still an unsanctioned event which is not approved by the FEI and we are still seeking a full annulment of the decision,” Ingmar De Vos said of the Belgian Competition Authority’s interim measure-ruling that enabled the 2016 launch of Global Champions League.

So, lets see what 2016 has in store!

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