The 2012 Noelle Awards will be announced tomorrow…

HRH Prince Abdullah el Saud

One of the top photos of the Year

The 2012 Awards will be announced tomorrow on the dawn of the new year. Noelle composed a jury of international riders, grooms, owners and major heads of our sport to informally vote on who would be awarded the honor of our first Annual Awards. Next year the list will expand to include honors for the best Horse show and the top ranked Rookie, among others. This year recipients received canvassed work from the year. Photos and details to come.

Tomorrow we shall announce the recipients of the:

  • 2012 Rider of the Year
  • 2012 Horse of the Year
  • 2012 Groom of the Year
  • 2012 Owner of the Year



Sunday afternoon in Mechelen…

Standings after 8th leg of the World Cup in Mechelen…

sergio alvarez moya

Rolex FEI World Cup Jumping 2012/2013

Standings after Round 8 at Mechelen (BEL)…

1. Sergio Alvarez Moya ESP – 75 points
2. Kevin Staut FRA – 69 points
3. Pius Schwizer SUI – 46 points
4. Roger-Yves Bost FRA – 39 points
5. Jens Fredricson SWE – 37 points
6. Christian Ahlmann GER – 37 points
7. Marcus Ehning GER – 36 points
8. Jeroen Dubbeldam NED – 35 points
9. Luciana Diniz POR – 33 points
10. Penelope Leprevost FRA – 33 points
11. Malin Baryard-Johnsson SWE – 32 points
12. Steve Guerdat SUI – 30 points
13. Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum GER – 29 points
14. Scott Brash GBR – 26 points
15. Marc Houtzager NED – 25 points
16. Edwina Tops-Alexander AUS – 24 points
17. Denis Lynch IRL – 24 points
18. Hans-Dieter Dreher GER – 23 points
19. Maikel van der Vleuten NED – 23 points
20. William Funnell GBR – 23 points
21. Marco Kutscher GER – 23 points

Hendrik van Eckermann wins World Cup in Mechelen….

hendrik van eckermann

Hendrik van Eckermann and Gotha for Sweden

What I love the most about this World Cup series is that you just never know who will win each leg. From the beginning of this Western European World Cup season, it has been action-packed and spontaneous and this afternoon was no exception. It was so lovely to see the lively Hendrik van Eckermann win today’s World Cup aboard the equally lively mare, Gotha.

The story of these two is a great one. Hendrik trains and works with Ludger Beerbaum in Germany and that is where he bases himself when he is not on tour. Gotha is the daughter of Ludger’s prize stallion and well known champion Goldfever. Ludger had been riding Gotha earlier this year with high hopes. He eventually decided to pass the scopey mare onto his star pupil and confidant, Hendrik, because he felt that the two could possibly make a stronger combination. Well today, Ludger’s foresight and wisdom was proven right!

It was a tricky track with plenty of 4 faults. In fact to be exact, a total of 20 horse and rider combinations out of 40 riders in total had a disappointing 4 fault result. The first two riders, one for South Africa and one for Austria, had some difficulties, but we didn’t have to wait too long for the first clear round. That first clear round came from yesterday’s winner of the Landrover Masters, Francois Jr. Mathy and D’Atlantique Royal. Francois, who has had a wonderful week in Mechelen, rode to a grand applause from the home crowd.

The course proved to have several taxing lines but it was the last part of the triple combination, in particular the back rail, that proved most frustrating for so many. The second clear came from one of Belgium’s pride and joys, Jos Lansink and Cavalor Valentina van’t Heike, who jumped one of my favorite rounds of the day. Valentina is a true tribute to Jos’s expert touch and it was a treat to watch the pair attack the course with ease. So it was confirmed, we were to have a jump off and so far it was between two of Belgium’s finest.

hendrik van eckermann

Gotha is the daughter of Ludger’s prized stallion Goldfever

Hendrik’s fellow Swede, Jens Fredricson and the one-and-only Lunatic were also able to clear the track. Just as soon as Jens was out of the ring, France’s top jockey Kevin Staut would match the difficult feat with his eight year old mare Estoy Aqui de Muze.

Last year’s winner Gregory Wathelet had 8 faults while Italy’s Juan Carlos Garcia, the Netherland’s Harrie Smolders, Germany’s Daniel Deusser and Ireland’s Denis Lynch all suffered the same fate with a frustrating 4 faults. We were particularly disappointed for Ireland’s Denis Lynch whose full bodied bay, All Star, had been jumping incredibly well all week. It was as though he could never touch a pole but alas it was the back rail of the wide oxer, set at the end of the triple combination, that would dash Denis’ hopes of a win.

Olympic Champion Steve Guerdat showed everyone how it was to be done with his lovely mare Nasa. It would be back-to-back textbook performances, with Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann and Ludger Beerbaum’s Gotha FRH displaying plenty of ease and athleticism despite losing his stirrup after the triple combination. Even though Hendrik was unable to regain his stirrup for the remaining course, him and Gotha finished fault free.

Many of us were betting on Scott Brash, who was riding his reliable gelding Hello Sanctos, but unfortunately it was again the frustration of the triple combination that would dash the hopes for this year’s Olympic Team Gold medalist. But Scott, along with Roger-Yves Bost and Nippon d’Elle, would leave the ring with 4 faults.

laura renwick

Laura Renwick and Oz de Breve

However, another clear round was on the way. The 7th clear round came from Britain’s very own Laura Renwick with Oz de Breve. She was overjoyed with Oz and patted the little chestnut gelding over and over. Sure enough, the 8th clear round was close behind with Switzerland’s Pius Schwizer and his bay gelding Verdi III. Pius is currently number four on the overall Western European World Cup standings, and after today’s performance he will have likely secured a place in the final in Gothenburg this spring.

More four faults would follow for Olympic silver medalist Maikel van der Vlueten, Olympian Ludo Philippaerts, Rik Hemeryck and Germany’s Hans-Dieter Dreher. Christian Ahlmann, who sported his new Rolex armband, would be second to last with a very fast 4 faults. Fast enough to secure him 9th place aboard the stallion Taloubet Z. Christian received his new Rolex leading rider armband just today and fashioned it for the last Rolex World cup of the year.

With changes afoot, and the new Longines sponsorship with FEI, we will no longer see the Rolex name fastened to much of what we saw today. An official release will be issued by Rolex on the 15th of January, so we can expect more details to follow.

So it would be 9 horses and riders to follow through to the jump off. It would be an entertaining jump off with plenty of possibilities. Francois Mathy Jr. would certainly look to continue his strong streak with D’Atlantique Royal. Steve Guerdat looked very determined, as he usually is, and many did wonder whether Pius would make Mechelen his second World Cup win of the season.

The first of the nine riders was Belgium’s very own Francois Mathy Jr. who rode a clean and fast clear round. He stopped the clock at 35,89, so we wondered would that be enough? Second to go was the highly acclaimed Jos Lansink. The 2006 World Champion was sure not to fluster his mare too much. Jos kept a strong but steady rhythm and finished on four faults with the time of 40,19 seconds.


Gotha looking very much like her father

We could not say the same about Jens Fredricson on the other hand, who clearly wanted to chase Francois’ time. Surprisingly enough, the Belgian crowd cheered him on. As usual, Jens and Lunatic were fast and tight and everyone seemed assured that the speedy Swede had taken over second place. But alas, as Lunatic lept across the finish line, we all glanced at the time of 36,08 seconds. Indeed, Francois had been faster then many of us had expected and he would remain in lead despite Jens attempts. What a weekend for Francois, who won Saturday’s Masters class and finished second in today’s World Cup.

The man who has been much talked about this year, Steve Guerdat, rode Nasa to a strong clear, but were unable to take over the lead with a time of 37,77 seconds. They would finish fifth in the end.

Henrik once again proved his brilliance and exactly why Ludger has entrusted the lovely Gotha to his expert hands. Henrik steered Gotha around the shorted track with confidence and ease and took over the lead with a time 0.6 second faster then Francois Mathy. As Hendrik glanced up at the scoreboard and saw his time of 35,29 seconds, he fashioned a big smile and punched the air with incredible exuberance. And rightly so, for it would only take the short time to wait through 3 more riders to add to this exuberance.

Laura Renwick gave it her all, as we all expected. Laura is infamous in England and abroad for her speed. Many often say, that if Laura jumps clear, her time is rarely beaten. But today would be the exception to the rule. Oz de Breve jumped very well, but her time of 37,00 seconds would not be the leading time of the day.

Hendrik stood at the in gate in anticipation as Switzerland’s Pius Schwizer entered the ring with Verdi III. But alas, it would not be a double win for Pius Schwizer today. Verdi would unfortunately touch two fences and Hendrik would express a sigh of relief. Simon Delestre was last to go, but despite being the Leading Rider of the Show, today would not be his first World Cup win of the 2012/2013 season.

A very happy Henrik von Eckermann threw his hands up in the air and celebrated his first and much deserved World Cup win. Congratulations Hendrik!

Walking the World Cup…

Mathy Jr. wins Mechelen Masters….

francois mathy jr

Well sure enough, it was the cream of the crop last night in Mechelen. Ten riders, amongst a great collection of talent here in Belgium, were selected to compete against one another for a brand new Landrover and the title of the 2012 Mechelen Landrover Master. The course was short, only 7 fences in total, with modest height to start with. But as the class progressed, the jumps became bigger as each rider was required to select one fence in each round to raise. So naturally, you had a great advantage if you started at the beginning of the order.

There were seven Olympic riders amongst the collection; including two of this year’s Gold medalists. Team Gold medalist Scott Brash was riding Ursula, a horse previously ridden by Tina Fletcher, and Olympic champion Steve Guerdat was riding his grey gelding Chips. Belgium’s World Champion was also amongst the proven talent to grace the start list, he was riding his bay gelding Once De Kreisker. Father-son combination Ludo and Nicola Philippaerts were amongst the five riders representing Belgium.

It was a class that started slowly but picked up plenty of pace, as the jumps got bigger and bigger. Belgium’s top ranked rider, Gregory Wathelet, was the only rider not to make it through to the second round. The second round proved to be uneventful as every rider kept the fences up and moved on to the third round.

In the third round it was only Nicola Philippaerts with Vadetta vh Mettenhof who knocked one fence down. Eight riders remained for the fourth round as the course kept getting bigger and bigger. Unfortunately for family Philippaerts, Nicola’s father Ludo would follow his son with four faults aboard Denver van’t Goemanshof. Seven riders remained.

For the fifth and final round, it was time for the jump-off. Everyone revved up their engines, for it was time to jump the same track but with minimal time. Dutchman Harrie Smolders and Exquis Walnut de Muze were first to go and as expected, Harrie did not tap the breaks once. Doing so, gave him the fastest time of the day at 35,68 seconds, but the second element of the double combination would be the result. France’s leading lady, Penelope Leprevost and Quelmec du Gery followed, also with four faults.

Our Olympic champion, Steve Guerdat, entered the ring looking determined as ever. Sure enough his determination paid off! Chips VI jumped quick and easy, leaving all the fences up and clocking in a time of 36, 64 seconds. Steve was in the lead as reigning World Champion Philippe Le Jeune entered the ring with Once de Kreisker. Talk about heavy hitters!!

Unfortunately for Philippe, Once de Kreisker grazed the first fence as well as the second element of the combination to rack up a disappointing 8 faults.

Then there was three!! Scott, Francois and Denis…

Scott Brash was sure to go fast but after a misunderstanding in the turn to the combination, Ursula refused and Scott had to circle. They jumped the combination successfully on their second try before Scott chose to retire. Fashioned in red, Belgium’s Francois Mathy Jr was next with Polinska des Isles and it was clear that Francois had ever intention of winning for the home crowd! Sure enough, the roof nearly blew off as the Belgian crowd erupted with applause. Francois took over the lead with a time of 36, 30; 0,36 seconds faster than Steve Guerdat.

So it was Ireland’s Denis Lynch and Julia Hargreaves Vedor who were last to go. The lights were dimmed as he entered the ring, but surprisingly they stayed dimmed.

Huh!! Was this a malfunction or would the lights remain dimmed for Denis’ entire round? Sure enough, it seemed that the lighting director was rooting for Francois as the lights remained dimmed; it was almost too dark to see. Denis would need to ride in the dark and attempt a time faster then Mathy Jr.. You could barely see the second fence; a grey vertical flush against the rail. But no matter, Denis would not be phased as he picked up a steady pace to the first fence. Denis cleared the entire track and tried his best to chase the leading time but his time stopped at 30,69 seconds which placed him just behind Steve and Francois at number three.

A big congratulations to Francois for his super effort last night. The 2012 Landrover Masters Champion!!!