Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2023

S&L Waikiki Surfs To The Top Of The Young Jumper Championships Eastern League Final

This 5-year-old and her rider may be new to the U.S. scene, but they made a big splash at the Hampton Classic.



This 5-year-old and her rider may be new to the U.S. scene, but they made a big splash at the Hampton Classic.

When Roul Koopman tells Sam Edelman he’s got a winning horse for him to buy, Edelman doesn’t think twice. After all, each of the 25 horses that the Dutch horseman has tracked down for Edelman over the past 20 years has outperformed his expectations.

So when Edelman’s phone rang two years ago with a call from the Netherlands telling him to drop everything and write a check, he didn’t hesitate.

“He called and said, ‘Sam I’ve found you your next great one. Would you buy her from me on my word?’ ” recalled Edelman. “I was prepared to give her away the next day if I didn’t like her.”

But Koopman didn’t steer his old friend wrong. That mare, S&L Waikiki, proved herself at the Hampton Classic, Aug. 23-30, winning the $20,000 SHF Enterprises 5-Year-Old Young Jumper Championships Eastern League Final in Bridgehampton, N.Y.

The Dutch Warmblood mare (Matterhorn—Olivia, Holland) ticked just one rail over four rounds and outran Zen Rose and Kate Gerhart in the jump-off to claim the title.

“She’d never seen anything like that grand prix field,” said Andrew Bourns, who has had the ride on the S&L Farm entry since this winter. “Normally she can be just a little spooky, but today she was amazing. She rode like she’d been there all her life.”

Bourns, 26, may be a newcomer to the U.S. scene, but he’s ridden young jumpers from his home country of Ireland at international championships. In the winter of 2008, Bourns loaded up five horses from his home in Ballinasloe, County Galway, to try his luck selling horses in Wellington, Fla. After all five disappeared from the barn he picked up the phone and asked to have two more sent over, and they also found new homes by the end of the Winter Equestrian Festival.

Bourns paired up with Edelman and S&L Farms in Sherman, Conn., after fellow Irishman Darragh Kerins suggested he join the team. He credited both Edelman and Kerins for the success he’s enjoyed.

“The whole team is fantastic,” he said. “Darragh has helped me refine my riding. For sure I could ride a 1.50- or 1.60-meter class before I got here. He taught me how to ride it clear. He really brought my level of riding up a notch.”

When Bourns first took over the ride on S&L Waikiki, Edelman suggested that Bourns get the horse fit by taking her out on the nearby Oblong Trail Association’s paths.


“When Sam told me to do it, I didn’t believe it,” he said. “But the day I took her on a trail she turned a new leaf. It’s a very Irish approach, and it works well. I think it’s nice for a 5-year-old, especially, that you don’t drill them every day and kill their spirit. I have her so she’s working to fight for me, rather than against me.”

Trying His Heart Out

When Chris Kappler saw VDL Dundee during last year’s Hampton Classic he knew he was watching something special.

“I loved him from the moment I saw him,” said Kappler. “Amanda Flint had brought him to the farm to school, and I knew immediately he was fantastic.”

Kappler’s intuition proved right when he saddled up the gelding for this year’s $30,000 Split Rock Farm 6-Year-Old Young Jumper Championships Eastern League Final, winning the title for Sand Castle Farm.

The chestnut Belgian Warmblood (Calvados—N Ruberth 9, Wolfgang) led the 6-year-old standings heading into the championship by a commanding 25 points. He stayed fault-free over four rounds, edging out Alexa Lowe and Westham, who took second.

“He tries his heart out every time he goes out, especially in the jump-off,” said Kappler. “He’s been a good horse all year, just a lot of fun. He has the right mentality—he wants to do the test in every class he goes in.”

Rain Friday evening and Saturday morning raised concerns about whether to keep the final round of the championship on the grand prix field or move the class to another sand arena. But for Kappler the decision to keep the class on the grass was the right one.

“We came this morning and everything was pretty much dry,” said Kappler, Flemington, N.J. “If the young ones don’t learn now, when are they going to learn? You go to Aachen [Germany], you go La Baule [France]—you just don’t have many classes in America that go on grass. It was beautifully sanded, and [course designer] Conrad [Homfeld] moved the jumps so they were in good shape.

“I think you have to learn now how to handle these conditions: you can’t wait until the jumps are 4’9″ and 5′ to jump in wet grass,” he continued. “The horses have to learn now how to handle themselves, and you have to learn how to handle yourself as a rider.”

VDL Dundee’s owners, Dennis and Marsha Dammerman, came to Bridgehampton to cheer on Kappler and their young protégé.


“I couldn’t be more thankful to the Dammermans for buying him for me,” said Kappler. “It was difficult economic times, but they came through when I really needed them to.”

XM Tunes In To Win

When McLain Ward describes a horse as “super talented,” you know he’s talking about a special animal. And his faith in his latest top youngster proved well founded when XM topped the $30,000 7- & 8-Year-Old Young Jumper Championships Eastern League Final.

XM, owned by Ward and Blue Chip Bloodstock, stayed clear all three rounds, then showed off his footspeed, beating out last year’s 6-year-old champion, Merlin, and Jeffery Welles by 11⁄2 seconds in the jump-off.

“He’s just a big winner,” said Ward. “I didn’t pound him too much this year. I made sure he was qualified and then didn’t push it. He went great the whole time.”

Ward started the bay gelding (Heartbreaker—Oceane du Chene, Darco) in the young jumper program last year, finishing third in the 6-year-old championship. As a 7-year-old he and Ward have dabbled in the classes, while taking a turn in some open jumper classes as well. At the Devon Horse Show (Pa.) this year, XM won both the 7- & 8-year-old classes he entered, as well as topping a $20,000 gamblers choice class.

“He really put it all together this weekend,” said Ward. “Our goal is always to take nice young horses and produce top show jumpers, and this one has really proved that he’s the real thing.”

In addition to his success with XM, Ward took another blue with Goldika in the $30,000 FENDI Cup and topped both the $50,000 Spy Coast Grand Prix Qualifier and the $250,000 FTI Grand Prix CSI-W aboard his top partner Sapphire. (see “Sapphre Wears Nothing But Blue At The Hampton Classic.”)

“When the week started out I was suffering from a little bit of ‘four-faultitis,’ ” he joked. “I kept having just one down.

But I brought my A string here, and this weekend has been fantastic. They’ll have a week off before [the Spruce Meadows Masters (Alta.)], and then they’ll be done for the year.”




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