The biggest highlight of a busy show jumping week was a New Zealand horse getting 10th in the AIG $US1million class in Southern California. Kiwi Iron Mark (above), ridden now by Jeffrey Fields from the USA, had just one rail and one pesky time fault. What a tremendous effort by the 12-year-old gelding who was bred and produced here, and is still owned by his New Zealand connections.
The challenging course was built by Alan Wade and only three out of the 33 made it through to the jump-off, all from the home side.
The first to go, Chill R Z ridden by Charlie Jayne, showed everyone how it could be done but it was a while before the next clear round was recorded: McLain Ward on Rothchild. Jonathan McCrea on Aristoteles V was the last combination to qualify to jump off. Eric Navet (France) and Andrew Thieme (Germany) each had a single time fault. Four horses recorded four faults, with Kiwi Iron Mark on five.
In the jump-off, all three went clear with McLain the fastest on 37.648. Charlie was second on 39.829 with Jonathan third on 40.410.
Kiwi Iron Mark is listed on the FEI database as being owned by Katie Laurie, the McVeans, Tapioka Javala and June Berrington. Katie won the final Grand Prix class at the World Cup in Las Vegas last year on this lovely chestnut. He is by Kiwi Ironclad and was bred by Graeme Hart at the famous Fernhill Stud in Hawke’s Bay. The horse was produced by June’s daughter, Melanie Purcell, a good friend of Katie’s. Sadly, Melanie died of cancer in 2011, aged just 24.
Mark’s new rider, Jeffrey Fields (32) hails from Riverside, California and, like Katie, was born into an equestrian family. There’s a strong Kiwi connection too: Jeff spent some time training with Duncan McFarlane and through Duncan, met his wife Rachel Yorke, daughter of New Zealand 1976 Olympic equestrian, Joe. Rachel has lived in the US for many years, originally based with Butch, Lu and Guy Thomas, and competing at Grand Prix level. Jeff and Rachel operate from Sandhaven Farm, named after Rachel’s parents’ farm in Manawatu.
The AIG $1million class was held at HITS Desert Horse Park near Palm Springs. The weather conditions were testing – with temperatures up in the mid to late 30s. There was some controversy when nearly a third of the field rode in brightly coloured polo shirts rather than the normal jumping attire. While some saw this as a mark of disrespect, in fact riders were given the choice of wearing the sponsor-provided polos. For the record, a traditional jacket was worn by the winner.
More Kiwis in action abroad
Meanwhile in Florida at the Winter Equestrian Festival, ex-Wellingtonian Sharn Wordley on his good horse Baretta finished third in a CSI3* Grand Prix. Kent Farrington on Creedance won the final class (1.50m Jumper Classic) in this Palm Beach festival, with Darragh Kenny (Ireland) on Picolo second, and Abdel Said (Eqypt) on Luron S Z third.
Closer to home, Lisa Cubitt had a very good win at the Sydney Royal Show on Bates Amaretto MVNZ. She had consistent placings throughout the show but the big highlight was a clear win in the EFA Perpetual Cup, a 1.45-1.6 metre class. Lisa had to beat Billy Raymont on two horses, Stardom and Anton, but did it easily in the end, just over four seconds faster. Lisa and her husband Sean are now based in New South Wales.
Another New Zealander now based over the ditch is Bridget Hansen. She had some good placings on her horses Toulon NZPH and Shakespear NZPH.
Also doing well at the Sydney show were some New Zealand-bred horses. Clem Smith won the Winning Appliances Grand Prix on Delilah, bred and produced by the McVeans. Another well-performing horse from that Mystery Creek source was Yandoo Zenzel HBC.
Europe-based New Zealand show jumpers also had some good results on the Sunshine Tour in Spain. Samantha McIntosh and Check In II were 16th in a 1.60m Grand Prix and 14th in a 1.50m class. On Caltona, Bruce Goodin was fifth in a 1.35m class and 11th in a 1.4m class. Bruce also had good placings on Cormann and Baloppi.
We have covered the fabulous show jumping in Paris in a separate article with incredible images. What a stadium to jump in! James Arkins, fresh from competing at our Horse of the Year Show, had his first start there in his European campaign, aboard the NZ-bred Rosthwaite Vigilante II (by Voltaire II) and his trainer, our very own Vaughn Jefferis, was with him at the event. You can read more about that show on this link.
World Cup Final
Jumping fans will now turn their attention to the World Cup Final which starts on March 23 at Gothenburg, Sweden. Thirty-eight athletes from 18 nations will compete. New Zealand doesn’t have a starter this year; while Katie won the right to compete, her pregnant state ruled that out. Helen McNaught could have competed as second-place getter, except she can’t ride as a New Zealander (she’s British). So the World Cup will continue without us in it this year, but we will be closely watching.
Steve Guerdat (Switzerland) is the defending champion. Marcus Ehning will be going for a record-breaking fourth win in the competition, and two 20-year-olds are competing: Jos Verlooy from Belgium, who is a young rider with a big future, and the age-defying horse Flexible, who will be ridden by US veteran Rich Fellers.
The first round is a Table C (speed class) over a 1.50 track. On Friday there is a Table A class 1.50-1.60 over two rounds with a jump-off. The third and final class is on Sunday and is a two-round competition over a 1.50-1.60 course; the first round is open to the top 30 competitors (plus any ties) from the first two classes. Then, the top 20 go forward to the second round.
Points from all rounds are taken into consideration, so the eventual winner will have the best overall ranking after all classes. In the event of riders having the same amount of penalties, there will be a jump-off.
FEI TV will be running live-streaming of the event. Meanwhile here at home, there are two big shows left in the season: the Continental Cars Audi North Island Championships at Woodhill Sands over Easter weekend, and the Copthorne Glistening Waters series finals at Masterton from April 8-10.
And if you’re interested in learning more about McLain Ward’s Rothchild, the ‘little horse that could’, there’s a great article here from The Chronicle of the Horse http://www.chronofhorse.com/article/rothchild-was-little-horse-who-could-world-games