King Edward Reigns Supreme in Slovenia and O’Brien Takes Final British Group One
The Longines Champions Tour for showjumping had its final championship round over the weekend held at Samorin in Slovakia. Meanwhile the final Group 1 race for the season at Doncaster saw eight runners line up for the coveted 2 year old mile contest. As the yearling sales in Europe stutter to a finish, the market has been astonishingly resilient.
The Longines Global Champions Tour Final
This Longines Global Champions Tour is for the top 30 riders on the FEI showjumping athlete rider list, held at various prestigious venues throughout the summer, culminating in a final where the champion is crowned. This year at Samorin in Slovakia was a particularly exciting final as there were two who could take the championship and with it the huge prize money of 300,000 euros – Ben Maher of Great Britain and current Olympic champion riding Explosion W and Peder Fredericson of Sweden with H & M All In.
The competition was the brainchild of Jan Tops in 2006 and it takes the top 30 riders in the world, each able to compete in one of the 16 rounds held mainly in Europe but also the USA and Asia. The winner of each round, which is a 5 star FEI CSI competition, is awarded points as are the 24 riders behind.
The winner of a round gets 40 points and each rider gets less number of points the lower down the order they come. In its 16 year history, the title has been taken by Great Britain on four occasions, twice with Ben Maher and twice with Scott Brash. Germany has won it twice, once with Marcus Ehning and the current holder Daniel Deusser. Edwina Tops-Alexander for Australia has won it twice and The Netherlands have also taken it twice, once with Albert Zoer and 2017, Harrie Smolders.
Quite normally, the championship has already been decided by the time the final comes around as a rider has accumulated so many points that they cannot be beaten, but this year it is different. Fredricson should have already been in that position before the start of this weekend’s event, but in the last round he had a pole down which did not provide him enough points to be crowned. Going into this round, Ben Maher was on 228 points and Peder Fredricson on 249 points. Fredricson started in pole position as he would have to be placed eleventh or worse and Maher would need to win to take enough points on the season to be crowned champion. A tall ask!!!Ben was going for his third crown as Champion whereas Peder was looking to win his first. In previous rounds this year, both riders have one two separate Grand Prix rounds, but Fredricson has scored higher low level points in other rounds than Maher. Neither, Edwina Tops-Alexander for Australia on 223 points nor Olivier Robert for France on 232 points can win, but both certainly vied for as near the top as they can for the prize money and prestige.
In the Uliano Vettani designed course, there were 13 jumps with 16 jumping efforts required, and all in a short time of just 73 seconds without collecting jumping time faults. Fence 6 was a treble and fence 9 was a double and there were two water jumps. The top height and spread was set at 1.60m. The German rider Philipp Weishaupt was the trail blazer riding Coby and he ended up by retiring, along with eight other riders during the first round. There were only five clears in the first round, and none of those clears were won by any of the top protagonists for the champion’s tour title. Peder Fredricson had two poles down and Ben Maher had three, but Ben was the fastest of all the horses in the first round. As it happens, both Edwina Tops-Alexander and Olivier Robert collected faults with poles left on the ground as well. The first of the clear rounds came with the second rider in, this time from Brazil, Marlon Modolo Zanotelli riding Like A Diamond Van Het Schaeck. The next of the five clear rounds came with Harrie Smolders from the Netherlands riding Monaco, and he was the eleventh in. The third clear came in the very next round with Pieter Devos for Belgium riding Mom’s Toupie De La Roque. The 23rd horse in out of the original 32 starters was Maurice Tebbel for Germany riding Don Diarado, and he provided the competition with the fourth clear. The final clear came at the very end of the first round with Henrik Von Eckermann riding King Edward for Sweden.
All jump offs in top competition are exciting, but this one was slightly tarnished as the overall Longines Global Tour Champion was by now already decided. In this event, Henrik Von Eckermann on the beautiful and talented King Edward won with the Brazilian in second place and Germany’s Maurice Tebbel in third. The fourth quickest over the jump off course was Belgium’s Pieter Devos and Harrie Smolders for the Netherlands came fifth.
So the final standings for this Champions Tour; the winner, for the first time Peder Fredricson on 251 points and he collected the 531,000 euros in total prize money for the season. As Ben Maher had such a disappointing day in the office on this occasion, his placing from second slipped to fourth with a total of 230 points. With this victory, Henrik Von Eckermann jumped to the runner’s up spot, earning himself 234 points throughout the championship. Olivier Robert, for France took the third spot with 232 points. In the final analysis, this was a very close championship tour for the placed riders with only 6 points dividing the runner up place to fifth. The fifth top rider was Edwina Tops–Alexander on 228 points. With this first and second place and several other international competitions won, Sweden, without any doubt is the country with the most successful riders of 2021.
Racing and Yearling Sale News
At Doncaster the final Group 1 race of the year was run – a race for two year olds only over the straight mile, The Vertem Futurity Trophy Stakes. This is a race which has been won by several horses which have gone on in their three year old career to win the Derby and other classic races, so is always seen as a good pointer for future equine glory. This year’s renewal saw Aidan O’Brien, have a last throw of the dice to get a two year old Group 1 winner this season, and he put Luxembourg up as his last chance. Winner of his first and only two races including The Beresford Stakes at the Curragh, Luxembourg stripped looking very immature, so whatever he did in this race, he was likely to improve on next season with some furnishing up of his body. Royal Patronage, trained by Mark Johnston, who surprisingly has never won this race took the eight runners along for the most of the race, and at the 2 furlong marker, the jockeys all got to work, particularly Ryan Moore on Luxembourg, the odds on favourite. He had to work at it but pulled clear at the furlong marker wining by a good length. The next few came across the line very close to one another with Sissoko coming second home trained by an O’Brien son, Donnacha and ridden by Wayne Lorden and the third Bayside Boy was perhaps slightly disappointing, ridden by David Egan and trained by Roger Varian. The winner is by Camelot, who also won this race in 2011 before going onto win the Derby the following year. He was 150,000 gns purchase and is the fifth foal out of his dam Attire by Danehill, Dancer, so certainly looks to have a pedigree to suit the classic distances next year. Sissoko is by Australia and Bayside Boy is by popular first season sire New Bay.
Following our report on the October Yearling Sales Part one at Tattersalls earlier in the month, the rest of October has seen further yearling sales most days of the month. The Tattersalls parts two, three and four yearling sales were markedly up on the 2020 version of events. Part Two was a stronger catalogue than usual as the number selected for part one were down on previous years, which meant that the standard of part two was always going to be higher with yearlings previously in part one demoted to two. Part two saw an increase in the average from 75,922 guineas in 2020 to 83,865 gns this time around. The median for the sale was up a massive 12,000 gns on 2020 standing this time at 62,000. This was a record breaking sale, as were parts three and four, but part two saw the aggregate come to over 50, million guineas for the first time ever together with the highest average and median prices ever seen for this sale.
Part Three continued in the same vain as the first two parts of this two week long sale bonanza. Although the quality of yearling on offer was not as high as the earlier sales, records were still broken in all stat departments. The sale took a total sum of over 10 million guineas for the first time and the average was up from 16,051 last year to over 20,000 at 22,491 in 2021. Similarly, the median price was equally spectacular, up 40% to 18,000 gns. Part Four followed and as always, is the sale frankly for the dregs of the yearling market, those yearlings whose address had to be changed as their prospects are considered almost beneath contempt. Even so, there was a strong market for these individuals with the average up from 3,600 gns to 4,000. It has to be said though, that this particular part of the October Sales is rather a waste of time as there were only 98 horses catalogued with 74 of them turning up; and to label all of them as useless is firstly very unfair to those vendors and also the horses themselves as quite a few of them do go on and win. Surely it would be far better for all concerned for Tattersalls to dump this sale and incorporate these poor unfortunate yearlings into the part three, where they may actually be taken more seriously and may even command better prices?
In Deauville, Arqana staged their version of the October sales, and again had some terrific results. The sale saw 753 lots catalogued of which over 84% found new homes. This sale, like it Newmarket counterpart broke all previous records. The whole sale aggregate was over 27 million euros, up a massive 46% from 2020. Of the 694 yearlings to go through the ring, 582 sold and with both the average and median prices up over 40% for the median and 47% for the average, the sales for yearlings ended their record breaking season in fine form.
It was quite surprising that buyers from the United States were out in force at all the major European Yearling sales and this certainly helped push up the figures, particularly needed as many vendors told us because the news the Shadwell Farms wood not be buying this year, was a deep cause for concern. Even last year, when figures were depressed due to the pandemic, Shadwell still spent over 8 million guineas at the Tattersalls October Part two sales alone. There were buyers from around the globe present at all the sales making the season a truly international jamboree. It just goes to show that despite everything going on in the world, there are people still with huge sums of money available for indulgence on basically luxury items; and that the European bred yearling is still the much prized item for racing around the world as it has always been, despite some countries making huge advances in their own thoroughbred breeding programmes in recent years.
Images courtesy Julian Finney, Facebook and Gearpatrol