Elite riders' focus switches indoors
Published 14/10/2015 | 02:30
With the summer show jumping season just concluded in Ireland, attention has moved indoors. Many of Ireland's top competitors are now focusing on the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Western European League which gets underway in Oslo, Norway next week.
As the biggest indoor competition for senior show jumpers, this 11-leg series attracts the best of riders from across Europe, while this and another 15 leagues held worldwide will all culminate in the final which takes place in Gothenburg, Sweden next March.
One Irish rider who has already earmarked several early shows to chase points and aim to better his third placing in the final last year is Bertram Allen.
Having suffered a broken collarbone from a fall in late August, the 20-year-old returned to his winning ways in Los Angeles 10 days' ago and is now on target to take in qualifiers in Lyon, Verona, Stuttgart and Olympia in the coming weeks.
"Molly Molone has had a few weeks off and will take in Lyon before going to Doha for the final of the Global Champions Tour next month," commented the young rider who last year came so close to creating history for Irish riders at the final in Las Vegas.
Currently in 14th place in the GCT series, Allen is fortunate to have a top string of horses and both Romanov and his Los Angeles winner Quiet Easy 4 will be aimed at the other World Cup qualifiers in the run up to Christmas.
Eagerly looking forward to making his World Cup debut with his top Irish-bred mount MHS Going Global is Tipperary-based Greg Broderick.
Having had a summer to remember when joining Allen on the podium for winning the Nations Cup on home soil, the recently-turned 30-year-old will line out for Ireland at the third leg in Lyon, France later this month (October 28-November 1).
"I am really looking forward to heading to Lyon with MHS Going Global as I heard it's a fabulous show and the big indoor arena will suit him," Broderick said of the nine-year-old gelding by Quidam Junior I.
"The horse jumped fantastically all year but was not himself after the Nations Cup final in Barcelona so we took his bloods thinking it was a bug. He's now on a tonic and in flying form again.
"It will be nice to get away as this time of year is always busy for me with customers for young horses. We've had a good few clients in from Canada and America in recent weeks."
Well-known for his talent at producing young horses, Broderick gained much attention this year for his successes on board MHS Going Global, not least for the double clear jumped at the Dublin Horse Show in August.
Having impressed all before them when making their Nations Cup debut as a combination only a few months earlier in Lummen, Belgium, the pair quickly became the 'ones to watch' and, after Dublin, offers for the horse came flying in from all corners of the globe.
"He's still not for sale," Broderick stated. "I am blessed to have him and have great owners," Broderick said of Canadian Lee Kruger of Caledonia Stables who earlier this year confirmed that the horse would remain indefinitely with Broderick at his base near Thurles.
In addition to MHS Going Global, for the Lyon show Broderick will also take along MHS Automatic, who coincidentally is another sired by Quidam Junior I and bred at Mill House Stud in Kilkenny by Ita Brennan.
Owned by American woman Elizabeth Shiah, the 10-year-old RDS winner will be mainly aimed at the speed classes in France. "He's a brilliant speed horse and is a great addition to the team," Broderick added.
Flying the flag for Ireland at the opening leg in Oslo next Sunday and also in Helsinki a week later will be Shane Breen and Billy Twomey. Both will have had a quick turnaround after their appearances at the Horse of the Year Show in Birmingham this past weekend.
Amongst others, Twomey is expected to take along the Irish-bred stallion Ardcolum Duke. Owned and bred by Joe Flynn, the 11-year-old has racked up multiple wins this past summer, including the €50,000 Millstreet Grand Prix in August.
While Irish-bred show jumpers are scarce on the world stage on this side of the Atlantic, one horse who has been flying the ISH flag with aplomb in the US and beyond for many years now is Rich Fellers' stallion Flexible.
Winners of the 2012 World Cup title, the pair won the opening leg of the North American West Coast League in August and were expected to continue their quest for points in the coming weeks, but Fellers has yet to confirm his participation with the 19-year-old stallion son of Cruising.
"Flexible is never sharp coming out of the winter, and I think it might have something to do with his testosterone and that he's a stallion," Fellers explained.
"I know the Finals are in March so that makes it a little more unlikely (in terms of timing).
"At this stage he's feeling great though, and craving competitions. As long as that's the same, I'll keep carefully picking and choosing where he competes. I'm into 'simple.' That's how I evaluate everything (for Flexible)."
Meanwhile on the other side of the USA, Florida-based Irish rider Richie Moloney is enjoying his recent good run of form which saw him land the second leg of the East Coast League in New York last month.
Riding the 12-year-old stallion Carrabis Z the Kilkenny native provided the only clear round from six in the jump-off to net the €215,000 class and 20 valuable points for the league table.
Though the World Cup was not in the original plan for the 33-year-old, this win prompted him to look ahead to the spring with optimism.
"I went to World Cup Final this year in Vegas, and I saw how hard it was and I wasn't sure I had a horse, or two horses, that it would suit. We'll see. You never know by the time the end of April comes."
"My goals are to try and be competitive and that's kind of it, really," he added. "Long term, I have a few very nice horses, and it would be nice to do Europe next summer and maybe a few Nations Cup classes."