Michael Pender & HHS Ocala Lead All-Irish Podium Amongst 5-Year-Olds at the World Championship

Lanaken, Belgium – September 24, 2023 – Under a radiant sun and in front of packed stands, this morning the start signal was given for the denouement of the FEI WBFSH Jumping World Breeding Championship for Young Horses 2023! Traditionally, it were the 5-year-old horses that were the first to enter the ring on this ‘Super Sunday’ and the Irish riders once again lived up to their name by taking care of the entire World Cup podium.

Course designer Bernard Mathy and his team had provided a course consisting of 13 obstacles with 16 jumps for this first final of the day, in which the obstacles at a maximum height of 1.30m. Of the 39 combinations that managed to qualify for this final, 11 managed to stay clear in the basic round and tso secured a place in the jump-off.

Michael Pender (IRL) & HHS Ocala

In recent years, Irish riders have won numerous medals during the FEI WBFSH Jumping World Breeding Championship for Young Horses and were well represented again this year. Of the 11 combinations that managed to advance to the jump-off, no fewer than 6 had the Irish nationality. In the jump-off, the competition was again at the cutting edge and it was Michael Pender (IRL) who jumped to the victory with the Irish-bred gelding HHS Ocala, a son of Urano de Cartigny and Wandor van de Mispelaere who was bred by Bravo Hughes LTD. Pender and HHS Ocala started as the 4th combination and with a finishing time of 37.22 seconds, Pender secured his first world title after having already won twice silver and three times bronze in the past.

Michael Pender: “In the past I was very close to it a few times, but I was always just not fast enough. I’m very happy that everything came together today. I would also like to thank my entire team who helped make me to make this possible. HHS Ocala is a very careful and competitive horse and I think he is really a horse for the future.”

Niam McEvoy (IRL) & Boleybawn Alvaro

But the other podium places also turned green/white/orange during this final for the 5-year-old horses. The silver went to lady rider Niamh McEvoy (IRL) and the Irish-bred stallion Boleybawn Alvaro, a son of Dominator 2000 Z and Crown Z who was bred by Ronan Rothwell and who comes from the same dam as the GP mare Boleybawn Aasha (Dignified van ‘t Zorgvliet). McEvoy and Boleybawn Alvaro entered the ring 2 combinations after Pender and HHS Ocala, but fell exactly half a second short of the world title with a finishtime of 37.72 seconds.

Gerard O’Neill (IRL) & Ballyshan B F Hero

After he won the final for the 5-year-olds last year, Gerard O’Neill (IRL) was good for bronze this year. He was sitting in the saddle of the Irish-bred gelding Ballyshan B F Super Hero, a son of Celtic Hero B Z and Lux ​​Z who was bred by Gary Doherty. O’Neill and Ballyshan B F Super Hero started their jump-off excellently, but unfortunately lost some time in the turn from fence 2 to fence 3. They eventually managed to stop the clock in 39.21 seconds, meaning O’Neill secured a podium place for the second year in the row.

The Belgian rider Walter Lelie (BEL) with the Zangersheide gelding Keep The Music Z (Kannan x Emerald van ‘t Ruytershof – B: Walter Lelie) and the Portuguese rider Bernardo Ladeira (POR) with the KWPN mare Noblesse (Falaise de Muze x Corland VDL – B: M. Hageman) complete the top 5 of the rankings.

Final Results – FEI/WBFSH World Breeding Jumping Championship final for Horses of 5 Years of Age Final

1) Michael Pender (IRL) & HHS Ocala – 0 / 0 – 37.22

2) Niamh McEvoy (IRL) & Boleybawn Alvaro – 0 / 0 – 37.72

3) Gerard O’Neill (IRL) & Ballyshan B F Super Hero – 0 / 0 – 39.21

Source: Press Release from Zangersheide

Photos: © Zangersheide / Sportfot