Horse of the Week….

Pacino

If you call Ireland home then you will know this beautiful bay Stallion. Pacino has skyrocketed onto the International show jumping scene with some serious performances at the tender young age of 8 years old. This Belgian stallion stands at 17.3hh and you can see when he enters the ring; he has quite a colossal presence.

Check out my full article in Horse of the Week…

Photos from Beervedle….

What a great show and some super parties!!!!

The VIP was kitted out and we had a great time on Friday with the ‘All White’ Party hosted by Mercedes Benz. Flanders Horse events certainly know how to put on a horse show. I was thoroughly impressed. Looking forward to the next one.

Here are some photos from Sunday’s Mercedes Benz Grand Prix

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Check out their website here

Olympic Profile: Steve Guerdat

Rides for: Switzerland

Birthdate: 10/06/1982

Age: 30

Ranked: 8th in the world

Olympic mount:  Nino Des Buissonnets

Trains with: Thomas Fuchs

International debut: 1997; Junior European Championships

Biggest win this year: 2nd in World Cup Finals

Previous Olympic attendance: Beijing 2008, Athens 2004

Victory Dedication: After earning 1st place on Jalisca Solier at the 2006/07 World Cup Western European League in Geneva in December 2006, he dedicated the win to his father, Philippe Guerdat, after the two had had a period of disagreement.

Rank Event Year Location
Olympic Games
3 Jumping Team 2008 Beijing, CHN
5 Jumping Team 2004 Athens, GRE
9 Jumping Individual 2008 Beijing, CHN
52 Jumping Individual 2004 Athens, GRE
World Equestrian Games
13 Jumping Team 2010 Lexington, KY, USA
97 Jumping Individual 2010 Lexington, KY, USA
World Cup Final
2 Jumping Individual 2012 ‘s-Hertogenbosch, NED
World Cup Northern Central European League
1 Jumping Individual 2011/2012 Bratislava, SVK
World Cup Western European League
1 Jumping Individual 2009/2010 Zurich, SUI
2 Jumping Individual 2011/2012 Stuttgart, GER
2 Jumping Individual 2008/2009 Geneva, SUI
2 Jumping Individual 2008/2009 Stuttgart, GER
2 Jumping Individual 2008/2009 Verona, ITA
3 Jumping Individual 2011/2012 Lyon, FRA

Day with Gregory Wathelet (BEL)

Gregory Wathelet’s stables in Liege, Belgium is simple and traditional. Kept very clean with lots of light shining through the aisles on a particularly hot day for Belgium. Gregory has started early and its Wednesday so he has Dressage lessons for 3 hours in the morning. Gregory has been working with Liege local Dressage trainer, Frederick Piermolin, for about 5 years now and Frederick has been invaluable in the transformation of Gregory’s Olympic mount, Cadjanine Z. The caramel colored mare was purchased from Belgian rider Patrick Spits by Gregory’s relatively new sponsors, Citizen Guard. The man behind Citizen Guard is a gentlemen by the name of Alain Van Campenhoudt, and he has certainly gotten into this sport of show jumping in a big way. This man has also been vital in Gregory’s path to the Olympic games in London next week. If it wasn’t for the full support of Alain Van Campenhoudt and Citizen Guard, it is unlikely that Wathelet would have the horse power to compete in Greenwich park on Saturday.

Even though Gregory is very much a Belgian, born and raised in Liege, he did ride under the Ukraine flag for 2 years under the request of his previous big sponsor, famed oil billionaire, Aleksander Onishchenko. The billionaire Ukrainian has been well know for convincing various European riders of other countries to change nationality to his Eastern European nation. Gregory was one, along with German Bjorn Nagel and Katharina Offel. The Ukranian team that finished fourth at the 2006 World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany, was composed of two former German riders and two former Belgian riders. Despite Gregory’s commitment and change of flag, this year’s London Olympics will be his first Olympic attendance. One to remember, I’m sure.

If you were at Mechelen last year, the famous Belgian Christmas show that starts on December 26th, you will remember the incredibly disappointing turn of events for Gregory. Wathelet and Copin Van De Broy (BWP 2002, Darco x Brownboy x Calmero) won the 2011 Mechelen Rolex World Cup class. Following his win, the talk of the show was how good the pair were looking for Olympic team candidates and how Belgium could have a strong combination for London 2012. Right smack in the middle of the hype and excitement of his WC win, it came out that Copin owner Fabian Schreiber had elected to move the stallion to Marcus Ehning’s stables. This was terrible timing for the Belgian, who was possibly watching his Olympic dreams fade, and fade fast. However, with the help of Belgian Chef d’Equipe Philippe Guerdat and Patrick Spits, an arrangement was made for Gregory to take over the ride on Cadjanine Z.

Now getting the horse was one thing, but as Gregory explained to me, when he first rode the mare, he could barely jump a cross pole. The combination didn’t exactly mesh in the beginning and prior to his trip down south to the Sunshine Tour in Spain, Gregory realized just how much work he was in for. Actions were taken to speed up the development process. What normally, the mare would be required to learn in years, she would have to learn in months in order for the pair to be considered for the 2012 Belgian Olympic team. Gregory elected to take Frederick, his Dressage trainer, down to Spain with him. Frederick and Gregory would work with the mare on the flat for 2 hours every day. That is in addition to jumping. But the work paid off, for you could see already the changes and improvements by the second and third weeks of the Sunshine Tour. Watching her go through her paces with Frederick, I could see already how much work has gone into the mare, for she was looking incredibly fit and relaxed.

Sure enough, the following months after Spain, we saw some good results for Wathelet and Citzenguard Cadjanine Z, with a 4th place finish in La Baules CSI5* Longines Grand Prix and a win for Team Belgium in La Baule’s FEI Super League Nations Cup. Following La Baule in May, the new pair showed promise in Hamburg and St. Gallen before taking some time off with a small performance strain. So London next week will be the mares first show since the Global Champions Tour in Cannes (not counting Moorsele CSI3* last week). I for one will be interested to see how the mare does with Gregory on warm up day, this Friday in Greenwich Park.

I spoke with Philippe Guerdat in Hickstead about the process in which he goes through to decide on horse/rider combinations for the Olympic Games. The stress of the process is clearly very intense because before Aachen, I never saw poor Philippe without a cigarette in his hand. However, has he explained to me in London last week, he picks the riders above all else. The horses can be less experienced but the riders have to be talented and composed enough to be up to the Olympic task. Philippe emphasized that often a rider can be good enough to go, without a doubt, but not have the necesarry horse power underneath him to make the trip. So it is clear, that despite the quick development of Cadjanine Z, Philippe is very confident in Gregory’s abilities and trust’s the true Belgian will stay composed for the Games.

I for one, can see where he is coming from. Gregory exudes all that is calm! The 31 year old French-speaking Belgian has energy one of tranquility and confidence, so naturally one can see how his personality is an advantage to his chosen profession. I enjoyed talking to Gregory very much, not only because he is an interesting guy but also because he was very patient with me; kindly explaining who he thinks is in the hot seat to earn podium spots and who thinks is likely to perform well in London. His favorite horses, expected to perform well next weekend in London, are Nick Skelton’s bay stallion Big Star and Meredith Michael-Beerbaum’s young mare Bella Donna.

Details…..

Schedule until London

Friday: Opening ceremonies; we took the train over to London in the afternoon for the big opening that evening.

Saturday: Horses head over to Nieuwpoort, to a special training facility set up for us there.

Sunday: in Nieuwpoort with the rest of the Belgian riders to trains and bond as a team. Philippe has arranged activities and training for all of us as a way to bond and get to know each other better. I know Dirk quite well because I’ve trained with him in the past but I’m looking forward to catching up with Philippe, Jos and Olivier. 

Monday: keeping quiet and focused. It will be quite relaxing only having one horse to worry about.

Tuesday: Training and exercises with Philippe in Nieuwpoort will be our main focus

Wednesday: Horses will arrive at Greenwich Park normally today. They say the horses have to be on the grounds by August 1st. But there has been some talk and I know some teams will wait until that very last moment to arrive on the grounds.

Thursday: settle into the Olympic village, which is apparently 40 min from the stables in Greenwich Park. There are two riders to a room and only Olympic athletes and trainers/ chef’s are allowed inside the Athlete’s village. Security is very strict. No one can have partners or family in the village with them at any time.

Friday: the warm up class, where reserve riders will be able to participate also. The Warm up class will be a great opportunity to check out the main arena and get a feeling for Saturday.

Saturday: The Big Day! First day of Individual and Team competition.

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For more information about Gregory and his horses, check out his website here

Olympic Profile: Rich Fellers

Rides for: USA

Birthdate: 03/10/1959

Age: 52

From: Marl, Germany

Ranked: 30th in the world

Olympic mount: Flexible

Trains with: George Morris

Biggest career win: Winning the 2012 World Cup Finals

International debut: member of the U.S. team at the Pan American Games in Havana, Cuba, in 1991

Previous Olympic attendance: None, Fellers will be making his Olympic debut next week

Did you know: He currently stands among the top all-time money winners at Spruce Meadows

Rank Event Year Location
World Cup Final
1 Jumping Individual 2012 ‘s-Hertogenbosch, NED
World Cup North American League – USA West Coast
1 Jumping Individual 2012/2013 Calgary, AB, CAN
1 Jumping Individual 2011/2012 Burbank, CA, USA
1 Jumping Individual 2011/2012 Rancho Murieta, CA, USA
1 Jumping Individual 2011/2012 Calgary, AB, CAN
1 Jumping Individual 2010/2011 Thermal, CA, USA
1 Jumping Individual 2010/2011 Burbank, CA, USA
1 Jumping Individual 2010/2011 Langley, BC, CAN
1 Jumping Individual 2009/2010 Rancho Murieta, CA, USA
1 Jumping Individual 2009/2010 Del Mar, CA, USA
1 Jumping Individual 2009/2010 Langley, BC, CAN
2 Jumping Individual 2010/2011 Thermal, CA, USA
2 Jumping Individual 2008/2009 Thermal, CA, USA

Olympic Profile: Christian Ahlmann

Rides for: Germany

Birthdate: 12/17/1974

Age: 37

From: Marl, Germany

Ranked: 16th in the world

Olympic mount: Codex One

Trains with: Otto Becker

International debut: 1989 for West Germany, European Championships (Netherlands)

Biggest career win: Winning the 2003 European championships

Previous Olympic attendance: Beijing 2008, Athens 2004

Recent news: Christian and Judy-Ann Melchior just had a son yesterday. They named him Leon.

Rank Event Year Location
Olympic Games
3 Jumping Team 2004 Athens, GRE
47 Jumping Individual 2004 Athens, GRE
 DSQ Jumping Team 2008 Beijing, CHN
World Equestrian Games
3 Jumping Team 2006 Aachen, GER
World Cup Final
1 Jumping Individual 2011 Leipzig, GER
World Cup Western European League
1 Jumping Individual 2011/2012 Leipzig, GER
1 Jumping Individual 2010/2011 Helsinki, FIN
1 Jumping Individual 2010/2011 Oslo, NOR
3 Jumping Individual 2008/2009 Mechelen, BEL

Olympic Show Jumping in Greenwich Park….

Riders from 40 countries on six continents will compete in the equestrian events of the London 2012 Olympic Games, which get underway on 28 July.

Continuing the Olympic tradition, Jumping is the strongest discipline with 26 nations represented.

Seven nations; Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the USA, will be represented by teams in all three Olympic equestrian disciplines of Jumping, Dressage, and Eventing. Four countries – Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and host nation Great Britain, have qualified the maximum number of 13 riders.

The Olympic equestrian events will take place from 28 July to 9 August at Greenwich Park.

JUMPING

26 nations: ARG, AUS, AZE, BEL, BER, BRA, CAN, CHI, COL, EGY, FRA, GBR, GER, IRL, JOR, JPN, KSA, MEX, NED, POR, RUS, SUI, SWE, SYR, UKR, USA

15 teams: AUS, BEL, BRA, CAN, CHI, FRA, GBR, GER, KSA, MEX, NED, SUI, SWE, UKR, USA

11 nations represented by individuals only: ARG, AZE, BER, COL, EGY, IRL, JOR, JPN, POR, RUS, SYR

75 riders in total

Final Count down….

With the commencement of the London Olympics with a beautiful opening ceremonies last night, we are now on the final count down to the show jumping, which starts Saturday, August 4th. I will start featuring short profiles on all the riders we expect to see under the lights at Greenwich Park.

Also, some talk of who is the favorites and who we can expect to stand on the podium….

I leave for London early next week and I have some great opportunities to meet with the world’s best.
Keep posted….