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January 8, 2013

European Show Jumping Scene Review: December

Henrick von Eckermann was re-united with Gotha FRH and took the World Cup Qualifier at Mechelen. Photo by Jenny Abrahamsson

Another protégé of the great Ludger Beerbaum is on the ascent. The Swedish rider Henrick von Eckermann, 30, won his first World Cup-qualifier at the Mechelen CSI (Belgium) on Dec. 30. Von Eckermann has worked for Beerbaum since 2002; top riders Marco Kutscher and Phillip Weishaupt are also part of Beerbaum’s team.

For the win in Mechelen, von Eckermann was re-united with Gotha FRH, a mare he developed as a 6- and 7-year-old, but then handed over to Beerbaum to show. Beerbaum did very well with Gotha, now 12, but handed the reins of the Hanoverian mare (Goldfever—Pia, Prestige Pilot) back to von Eckermann this winter. Von Eckemann spent many years training and showing young horses for Beerbaum, but has moved up to the grand prix level in recent years.

“I always liked Gotha, and to be honest I’m more of a ‘mares’ rider anyway!” he said. “When she’s on my side she does a bit extra for me!

“One of my horses is probably sold, and that is why Ludger and [owner Madeleine Winter-Schulze] allowed me to ride her,” he continued. “[At Mechelen], I had a very good feeling with her. I rode her in two small classes and she felt really good in the World Cup class. For the jump-off I know that I’m not the fastest rider, but Gotha is fast and she can turn so short that I could win here—she was fantastic!”

Von Eckemann is hopeful that he might qualify for this year’s Rolex FEI World Cup Final, which is to be held on his home turf in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Edwina Tops-Alexander hadn’t planned on aiming for the World Cup Final, but after scoring a World Cup-qualifying win in Geneva on Dec. 9, she’s reconsidering. “I wasn’t planning on it, but I just might have to go for it now!” she said. Tops-Alexander once again proved why she is the highest ranked woman in the world—currently No. 8—by winning the World Cup with her unbelievable partner Itot du Chateau. The little gelding jumps better than ever at the age of 16, and is certainly not yet ready to retire from the sport.

At the traditional show at Olympia in London the last weekend before Christmas it was once again Marc Houtzager’s turn to climb the top of the podium. Aboard Sterrehof’s Tamino, Houtzager won the World Cup class ahead of Malin Baryard-Johnsson and Peter Charles. As the World Cup circuit heads for Leipzig (Germany), Zurich, Bordeaux (France) and s’Hertogenbosch (the Netherlands) toward the final in Gothenburg in April, it is Sergio Alvarez Moya who is in the lead of the Western European League ranking at 75 points with Kevin Staut chasing him at 69 points. Pius Schwizer is in third place with 46 points; there is little doubt that these three riders will qualify for the final.

December kicked off with the wonderful Gucci Masters in Paris where Frenchman Roger Yves Bost took home the Longines Speed Challenge, German rider Christian Ahlmann won the Battle of the Sexes class and the Gucci Grand Prix went to Marc Houtzager of the Netherlands. All three riders can look back on an incredible 2012 season and it looks like they are bringing their good form on to 2013.

The weekend after Paris it was time for the Rolex IJRC Top Ten Final in Geneva, where Steve Guerdat was honored for his Olympic individual gold medal. But it was Ahlmann who took home the Top Ten win, and the Monday after he was presented as the new leader of the Rolex Rankings, pushing Guerdat down to No. 2 ahead of Marcus Ehning, Kevin Staut and Nick Skelton.

New Partnerships

There have been many horses changing hands as 2012 wound down. Beat Mändli’s former ride Colore is now with German rider Hans-Dieter Dreher while Penelope Leprevost has taken over Simon Delestre’s ride Armani van Overis Z. Reports say that Mändli instead has been given three talented younger horses bought by his owner at the PSI auction earlier this month.

Pilar Cordon has taken over the ride on Coriana van Klapscheut from Eric Lamaze, and Pius Schwizer now has the ride on Duc de Mariposa and and Gipsy Girl De Tiji which previously were with Abdel Said and Eva Ursin respectively.

Cian O’Connor’s partner from the Olympics this summer, Blue Lloyd, has been sold on to Austria and Frank Stronach, the director of the equestrian complex at Magna Racino. O’Connor only had the gelding for about a year, but that was long enough to win the individual bronze medal in London.

Jos Lansink once again has a new ride at his stable. This time it is the 8-year-old Ensor VDH Pleville that has moved to Stal Lansink after its owner approached Lansink for him to ride the stallion. Ensor VDH Pleville has previously been with Timothee Anciaume in France.

The Florida-based British rider Tim Gredley is preparing for the upcoming season in Wellington by buying four new horses. The most educated one is the 11-year-old Billy On Show. The grey gelding had been competed by British rider Daniel Moseley in 2012, and has also been with Canadian rider Courtney Vince. In addition to Billy On Show, Gredley has bought the 7-year-old gelding Newsflash, which has also been with Vince, the 7-year-old mare Armona and the 6-year-old gelding Boomerang.

Not All Good News

Alexander Onischenko’s Olympic ride Comte D'Arsouilles has tragically died after a colic attack. The 10-year-old gelding by Quasimodo vd Molendreef was taken to a veterinary clinic, but unfortunately there was nothing that could be done to help him.

Sylve Söderstrand has decided to not continue as Chef d’Equipe for Sweden after his two-year contract with the Swedish federation ran out at the end of 2012. The Swedish riders are not happy loosing Sylve and they are fighting to get him back.

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