The incredible climb of Volver de la Vigne!
He's the revelation of these European Championships in Rotterdam. Volver de la Vigne (Diamond of Sémilly x Cumano x Place of Rampan) is a son of Nymph of the Valley who competed on the international circuit under the saddle of Patrice Delaveau, and she's now a broodmare at Lucien Villotte's studfarm (Elevage De La Vigne).
This weekend, under the saddle of Portuguese rider Antonio Matos Almeida, he was the revelation of the European Championships, with a double clear round in the Nations Cup, and just one time fault in the first round of the final, to finish a magnificent eleventh place individually. It didn't take much to attract adoration... so much so that he left directly for Ludger Beerbaum's stables!
"The week we unfortunately didn't start off very well, with Volver having a stop in the jump off. I was so disappointed... but afterwards, he was a lot better. It was difficult for us because Volver had never jumped at this level of difficulty.
We bought Volver 3 years ago from Luis Sabino. When we were trying him, my owner asked me to think about it, but in one afternoon I made my choice. Unfortunately, he was injured soon after during the Sunshine Tour, and it took a year and a half for him to heal. Then all of a sudden, we started over 1.40m at the beginning of the year in Vilamoura. He did it so easily that I entered him in the Oliva 2* Grand Prix... we finished 4th so I entered him in the 3*... where we finished 3rd. Then, another Portuguese rider couldn't get to the Lisbon Nations Cup and the Coach asked me if I could go. I told him I was going to try... and we finished double clear! I was then selected to go to the Global Champions Tour of Cascais, we knocked a pole in the qualifier for the Grand Prix and had three faults in the Grand Prix... but we knew that they were only mistakes due to inexperience. I was then asked to go to Athens and we finished 2nd in the Nations Cup... then we arrived in Rotterdam. If I'd been told that we'd have done all that at the beginning of the year, I wouldn't have believed you... so obviously, the performance of Rotterdam was even more magnificent.
I'm a fairly cool rider, and although soon there was interest in the horse, no one put pressure on me to sell him. I'm sad that I’ve had to sell such a horse, but a professional like me has to keep their owners interests in mind. They have invested in this horse and if the can get a return, then they'll be happy and will reinvest in another horse, but if you don't sell, you'll eventually lose your investors, then who will be the one who will end up disappointed. Two years ago, I had participated in my first European Championships in Gothenborg with Epicor de Gandarinha (Lupicor)... and he too sold on the spot. I said to myself: "It's over, I'll never have a horse like that again," but I was wrong because two years later, I was back, with an even better horse! So now, I hope to come back with more horses later on. It's difficult for Portugal right now because we're still trying to qualify for the Olympics… it’s going to be difficult.
For Volver, when I chose him, I liked his courage and his enormous ability... but honestly, I didn't dare hope for so much to happen!
Regarding these Championships, I'm obviously very happy, but I really appreciated the course designer's course, (Editor's note: Luis Konickx) because it was difficult throughout, but not huge. There weren’t any moments where you thought 'that combination isn’t jumpable' and you wonder how you'll get through it. These were very technical courses that required a lot of thought, which made things very interesting. For now, I'll continue searching for good horses and then I'll return to northern Portugal where I live and continue to train with Antonis Petris, and where I’ve been preparing for the Championships for a few weeks, to prepare for the future. Explains Antonio Matos Almeida.