With the official team season now done for 2019, attention turns to the individual jumping circuit with the first European round of the FEI World Cup series taking place in Norway at Oslo Horse Show this weekend.
The annual series, which involves both dressage and show jumping rounds, takes place over different divisions in a number of regions across the globe over the winter season, culminating in what is termed the FEI World Cup Final, which this time around will take place in Las Vegas in April.
Irish interest in the Norwegian round is provided by Denis Lynch, Eoin McMahon, and David Simpson. Simpson includes Gentlemen VH Veldhof, his recent winner at the fancifully named Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) in Birmingham.
“He has so much ability it’s incredible,” Simpson said after the HOYS win on what, for him, is a relatively recently acquired ride..
After Oslo this week Simpson will take in the Helsinki round the following week. Lynch will compete with GC Chopin’s Bushi and Rubens LS La Silla in Oslo, while McMahon partners My Kiwi and Chacon 2.
Riders can pick up points at each venue in a bid to earn a place at the final, though many compete on the circuit for the individual purses without necessarily planning to qualify for Las Vegas.
On the other side of the Atlantic, Conor Swail is eyeing a quick-fire double after Saturday’s win in the three-star Grand Prix at Tryon in North Carolina with GK Coco Chanel. The Co Down rider and his mount now target this weekend’s five-star Grand Prix at the same venue.
“This horse is very capable of winning again and it would be great to get the double,” said Swail.
The coming event carries a purse of $384,000, more than double the value of last Saturday’s contest, prompting Swail to quip that his victory had come a week early. Last year he won the bigger one when riding Rubens LS La Silla, now, as mentioned above, under Denis Lynch.
Swail and his mount were the only ones to come through the jump-off without a fault on Saturday. Fastest home was Brazil’s Luis Franciso de Azevedo on Collin, but four faults left them in second. The Brazilian’s mount is somewhat of a charm story on the circuit at this stage.
Bred in Europe, Collin was deemed to have no prospects and could have ended up in the slaughterhouse but for a friend of the rider’s who plucked him for literally a pittance.
De Azevedo spoke about how the horse described as “wild and difficult to ride” and “afraid of everything” responded to being allowed do things his own way. At his first show Collin jumped clear at 1.30m, 1.35m, and then 1.40m.
The pairing have won a number of times on the North American circuit, though Saturday’s Grand Prix second probably represented a new height in payday terms. “I just gave him a chance to arrive,” the Brazilian said after one of his earlier wins. “The quality is in the horse. I am really lucky to have him.”