Our friends at www.worldofshowjumping.com are going to be bringing us monthly updates about all the happenings in European show jumping, not just who wins what, but all the biggest news.
Onishchenko’s Horses Seized And Sold
The story that caught everybody’s eye in February was about Ukrainian oil billionaire and show jumper Aleksander Onishchenko, who has been under investigation for money laundering. This is a man whose fame is related to buying top show jumpers more than his performances on them. He also has convinced various European riders of other countries to change nationality to the Ukraine, such as Belgian rider Gregory Wathelet and Germans 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.
In 2011, Onishchenko bought top horses such as Vivant and K Club Lady in addition to several others. But by the end of February, Onishchenko had to see three of his horses go, although not voluntarily!
It all started back in 2007 when Onishchenko was arrested with a suitcase full of cash at the Belgian airport of Liege-Bierset. The police suspected him for using his horse business for the purpose of money laundering. Onishchenko bailed himself out, but it didn’t stop there. Belgian authorities seized three of his horses following a court decision. This month, two of the seized horses—Belfast Knight and Bario van't Martendonkerf—were sold at a public auction by the authorities. The last of the three seized horses—Offel’s former ride Nike—unfortunately broke his leg in Brussels and had to be put down.
The Loss Of A Promising Horse
Everybody’s thoughts went out to Belgian rider Dirk Demeersman who in the beginning of February lost the 8-year-old Belgian stallion Ugano Sitte (Clinton—Ialta Sitte, Avontuur) after a tragic incident. The stallion broke his leg while he was being longed at the trot, and as the injury turned out to be serious, the owners decided to put the stallion down. Ugano Sitte was a really promising horse that was just in the beginning of his international career.
Awards For Irish Riders
Irish riders Jessica Kürten and Billy Twomey were awarded for their show jumping achievements. Kürten won the Irish Times/Irish Sports Council Sportswoman of the Month Award for January following her Grand Prix win at Jumping Amsterdam. Twomey was given the The Irish Field Senior Show Jumper of The Year Award.
New And Exciting Partnerships
Following the frantic change of ownerships ahead of the Olympic ownership deadline of Dec. 31, 2011, many new partnerships have been out and about in February. Marcus Ehning got a new Olympic prospect right before the new year when he took over the ride on Gregory Wathelet’s World Cup-qualifier winner Copin van de Broy (Darco—Queen, Brownboy). This could for sure be a new superstar for Ehning; in February they had clear rounds in Bordeaux (France) and Gothenburg (Sweden) and also made their World Cup-qualifier debut together at Gothenburg, having two rails to finish out of the money.
Edwina Tops-Alexander’s wonderful new ride Erenice Horta (Diamant de Semilly—Berenice of Colors, Parco) is probably a bit too young for the Olympics at 8, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if this is her horse at the 2016 Olympic Games. This lovely gray mare jumped in her second five-star show with Tops-Alexander in Bordeaux and was clear in a 1.40-meter class and placed with 1 time penalty in a 1.45-meter class as well as notching up a good score in a 1.50-meter accumulator class. Erenice Horta is definitely one to watch, and is a great match for Tops-Alexander!
The Rolex FEI World Cup Qualifying Ends
February was the month of the last two legs of the Rolex FEI World Cup qualifiers in the Western European league for the 2011/2012 season. The Rolex FEI World Cup Final will take place on April 19-22 at ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands.
Kevin Staut topped the World Cup-qualifier in Bordeaux on home French turf with Silvana HDC (Corland—Donate, Widor). Silvana was in danger of being sold abroad late last year, but the Haras des Coudrettes stepped in and secured her for Staut. Her former owner suffix of “de Hus” changed to “HDC.”
Marco Kutscher claimed the top spot in the final qualifier in Gothenburg on Satisfaction FRH (Stakkato—Cecile, Calypso II). It was Marco’s second World Cup-qualifier win in a month; the German rider also won in Zürich (Switzerland) in the last weekend of January on Cornet Obolensky (Clinton –Rabanna van Costersveld, Heartbreaker).
Watch a video of Kutscher and Satisfaction FRH's jump-off round at Gothenburg...
Kutscher was very surprised by the win as the class was Satisfaction FRH’s biggest to date; “This was my first World Cup competition with this horse and my last chance to make sure that he could compete at the Final, so I’m delighted with the way things have worked out,” Kutscher said.
Staut took the overall win in the Western European league with 88 points. “It’s nice to be on top. It shows consistency throughout the season,” he said after securing the top of the standings for a second year in a row. The top 18 riders of the Western European League qualify to compete in the Final. Interestingly, three-time World Cup Final winner Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum did not make the cut, finishing 23rd in the standings. Should five in the league choose not to attend, she could still compete.
Final Western European League World Cup Standings:
- Kevin Staut FRA – 88
- Rolf-Goran Bengtsson SWE – 79
- Denis Lynch IRL – 77
- Marco Kutscher GER – 73
- Patrice Delaveau FRA – 60
- Pius Schwizer SUI – 55
- Steve Guerdat SUI – 51
- Ludger Beerbaum GER – 49
- Malin Baryard-Johnsson SWE – 49
- Nick Skelton GBR – 48
- Edwina Tops-Alexander AUS – 47
- Luciana Diniz POR – 46
- Marcus Ehning GER – 45
- Philipp Weishaupt GER – 44
- Scott Brash GBR – 43
- Ludo Philippaerts BEL – 42
- Harrie Smolders NED – 42
- Emilie Martinsen DEN – 41
- Ben Maher GBR – 40
- Maikel van der Vleuten NED – 36
- Katharina Offel UKR – 35
- Dermott Lennon IRL – 35
- Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum GER – 35
- Angelika Augustsson SWE – 34
- Rik Hemeryck BEL – 30
- Alvaro de Miranda BRA – 29
- Nina Fagerstrom FIN – 27