The FEI World Breeding Championships in Lanaken, Belgium

Monday 17 September 2018

The FEI World Breeding Championships in Lanaken, Belgium, witnesses some of the best young horses compete for coveted medals in highly-charged, hot competitions with mammoth entries of well over two hundred in each of the qualifiers.

Donald Whitaker came close to winning the gold medal in the 6-year-old final with Tom Williams’ big-jumping, scopey Chilli, a mare bred in the purple by the Cornet Obolensky son Colestus – a ride of Germany’s legendary Ludger Beerbaum – and out of mare by Colorit, a top 5* ride of Germany’s Christian Ahlmann.    

Forty-three from a massive original field of two hundred and seventy-three contended the championship with Donald taking second in the initial qualifier.  There were high hopes the mare would make a winning return after taking the gold medal in last year’s 5-year-old final, on that occasion with Pippa Goddard in the saddle.

The pair maintained their form on the final day, Donald guiding the mare to lead the way for the majority of the 16-horse jump-off, but they were beaten into 2nd in the late stages.  Belgium’s Jeroen de Winter on Mystic Van’T Hoogeinde wiped 0.94 seconds off their time to drop Donald into the silver medal position.  

“I actually thought and hoped that I’d won,” said Donald, who was nevertheless pleased with Chilli, a mare he has ridden since the beginning of the year.  “She’s truly exceptional.  We’d already won the finals at the Global Future Champions in Valkenswaard and I was looking forward to my first time here – to be able to debut with second place is nothing short of fantastic!”

Matthew Sampson – 4th in the qualifier – also featured in the jump-off with Harry Whall’s Happy-Fomia (Spartacus x Verdi) but four faults dropped them to 7th.  Alex Gill posted an initial clear with HVR Halfweg’s Hoop (Numero Uno x Cassini II) but faulted in the jump-off to drop to 15th place.

Laura Robinson was best of the Brits in the 5-year-old final with fifth spot on the British-bred Millfield Colette.  The consistent pair jumped clear each day in the preliminary rounds to be one of fifty-three – seven of them Brits – in the championship final.

Twenty-four posted clear rounds over a 1.30m track to access the jump-off with Laura and Millfield Colette providing another clear to finish 5th 3.38 sec adrift of the winning time.

The classy mare Colette was bred in Britain by Sue Jagger of Millfield Stud and is by the world-renowned jumping stallion Cornet Obolensky – a prolific winner for Germany’s Marco Kutscher – and out of a Clearway mare.

Lorraine Lock on the Cevin Z x Premium De Laubry gelding Artisan and Alex Gill with Irvington VDL (Dallas x Quick Star) also jumped double clears to finish in 8th and 9th places.

Ireland dominated the podium with British-based Richard Howley taking victory on Uppercourt Cappucino (Pacino x OBOS Quality 004) with just 0.17 seconds to spare over fellow Irishmen Darragh Ryan on CSF Sir George and Michael Pender with HHS Vancouver in silver and bronze.

It wasn’t the Brits day in the 7-year-old final.  Carron Nicol had started the week well with second place in the first of the qualifying classes on the scopey Diamant De Semilly x Sandro Boy stallion Galerius but eight faults in the final dropped them out of the running.

Germany’s Christian Ahlmann claimed gold in an 11-strong jump-off on Solid Gold Z (Stakkato Gold x Calvin Z) with The Netherlands’s Willem Greve in silver on Grandorado TN and Belgium’s Gudrun Pateet stood in the bronze position aboard Sea Coast Crystal De L’Eau.

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