Jumping at Hickstead – Classics at Churchill Downs and Swedish Dressage
In recent days, Hickstead managed to stage its scheduled national showjumping behind closed doors, the world rankings were published for September, racing of the classics, The Kentucky Derby and Oaks at Churchill Downs finally took place and in dressage, one of the few National Championships took place in Sweden.
Yesterday saw the final day of the four day national show at the All England Jumping Course at Hickstead, their first and only show this year. The Science Supplements Grand Prix over 1 m 40 was the highlight event of the show. Every class at the event was oversubscribed within one hour of the entries opening which just shows how show lock down has affected riders, both professional and amateur. In the Grand Prix, there were76 starters, among them some of the top British riders and their horses, out to stretch their legs. The time allowed in this grand prix was 82 seconds and with the huge water jump, the course designer put in an alternative, two skinny type jumps next to the water, for those who wanted it. It was rather odd that they also put a jump in the middle of the water, presumably to help the horses jump the whole water with the extra jump, but all the extra clutter had the effect to put a lot of horses off and there were several refusals at the jump as a result. In general, horses seem to be very ring rusty and were making mistakes that they would not normally, had they had a full season behind them. That said, there were only seven clears in the first round and six of those went onto have a second clear. The winner was top British rider Holly Smith riding Fruselli in 45.11 seconds. She beat Shane Breen riding Can Ya Makan into second place who got round in 45.78 seconds. In third was David Simpson on Foudre F in 48.67 seconds. It has to be said that all in all, this was a rather disappointing Grand Prix, particularly as it will end up being one of the top Grand Prix held in the UK this year when the history of the year comes to be written.
The top international meeting was at Aachen, rescheduled following the cancellation of the CHIO Festival of the Horse in June. This was a 3 star CSI. The Grand Prix attracted 48 starters from 15 nations jumping a maximum height of 1m 50. Twenty one of the runners went clear in the first round at the famous Deutsche Bank Stadium. In the second round, there were seven further clears with Maikel Van der Vleuten riding Beauville Z from Holland winning on 44.77 seconds. Sweden’s Henrik Von Eckermann riding Peter Pan was second and third was Julien Epaillard from France riding Safari D’Auge.
The World rankings for showjumpers was also reviewed this week with the top three remaining unchanged with Steve Guerdat at number one with fellow Swiss rider Martin Fuchs at two with German Daniel Deusser at three.
Churchill Downs in the USA staged two of the top US races over the weekend – The Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks. Both races were run on dirt with The Derby having 15 runners and 9 for the Oaks. The Derby was run over 1 mile 2 furlongs the Oaks run over 1 mile 1 furlong and both races were only open to 3 year olds only. The track also hosted the Group 1 Distaff Stakes for 4 year old mares and fillies up over 7 furlongs. The Kentucky Derby was unexpectedly won by Authentic trained by Bob Baffert, ridden by John Velazquez. The hot favourite Tiz The Law was beaten by 1 ¼ lengths into second place with Mr Big News coming third. The Oaks was won by Shesthedeveil trained by Brad Cox and ridden by Florent Geroux keeping on well in the final furlong and winning by 1 ½ lengths. Swiss Skydiver was second with Bob Baffert’s favourite for the race Gamine third.
In France, the Group 1 Prix du Moulin de Longchamp was run with 6 runners for 3 year olds and up over 1 mile. There were some decent horses in this race including Siskin, this year’s Irish Two Thousand Guineas winner, Persian King, previous four time Group winner this term, Circus Maximus from Ireland, and the much talked about a ‘wonder horse’ two year old for 2019, Pinatubo. Circus Maximus went off in the lead but weakened two out to end up third. The favourite Pinatubo was second after challenging for the lead but also weakening in the final furlong which left Andre Fabre’s colt Persian King to take the honours with Charles Boudot in the saddle.
In the UK, at Haydock Park, The Haydock Sprint Cup, Group 1 had 13 runners over six furlongs. Again there were some decent winners in this race, but with the soft to heavy ground, it was by no means a clear cut race. Dream of Dreams, trained by Sir Michael Stoute was sent off favourite and duly obliged beating outside Glen Shiel with the three year old Golden Horde in third. At Kempton Park on the dirt, Enable was put through her paces n preparation for the Arc in France on October 4th where she is trying to beat the record of any horse ever to win three Arcs. She ran a smooth race with none of the others able to keep up and looked fitter and tighter than we have seen her so far this term.
For the first time since March, the FEI have released their world rankings for dressage riders and horses. German riders hold the top three spots in the new list, Isabell Werth remains at numbers one and two, but Jessica Von Bredow-Werndl has taken the third placed rider for the first time. Both riders have had some good results lately. But with rider restrictions applying throughout Europe, for example the British are unable to get to Europe without going through France – so if they do attend a show in Germany let’s say, they would potentially have to totally isolate for 14 days following their return, it could be said that the latest rankings are not truly representative.
Swedish Dressage is one of the few countries to stage their normal National Championships over the weekend when Patrik Kittel took the championship for the seventh time. He rode Delauney OLD to win the Grand Prix and the Grand Prix Freestyle. Johanna Due Boje was reserve champion with Marina Mattsson third.
In other dressage news, Stephanie Peters has been appointed the important and prestigious job of Aachen Dressage President, the first female to be given the job. The 47 year old has been involved with dressage at Aachen CHIO for many years and has ridden at the German venue twice. Also in Europe, Waregem CDI in Belgium, which was due to take place in late September has been cancelled.
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