Menthago PS, the new 6YO Belgian Champion
There was a lot of talk last week about the Belgian Championships in Lier. The critics had descended on Gesves which had to face capricious weather, but finally, we realized that the parking lots of these big Belgian complexes can quickly fill up in spite of the Belgian Championships being split in two, but especially, many realized that for such events, it was necessary, above all, to have a course designer that was up to the challenge and one that was a bit of a magician and able to ensure final rounds with the desired number, without breaking horses along the way. Last week in Lier, a lot of riders found themselves facing courses that were often intractable, high and sometimes too difficult. In Opglabeek, Eugène and Bernard Mathy, father and son, found their places again... and so had the show. 36 starters in the 6-year-old class and 43 in the 7-year-old class, bravo!
The schedule was unusual: the 6-year-old final began at 10am. There were 13 combinations that qualified for the jump-off, and after being crowned the 6-year-old Belgian Champion last year, Manuel Thiry was the first to start in this jump-off. For his last competition under Steve Tinti’s colors before joining Grégory Wathelet’s stables, the rider from Liège wanted to leave on a good note. The pair started in a good tempo but unfortunately a rail fell at the end of the round. So there will be no double for him this year!
Walter Lelie was finally able to complete the first double-clear round in this final with O Music (Diamant de Sémilly x Nabab de Rêve), who is out of a maternal half-sister to Fantomas de Muze.
For his first participation in a Belgian Championship, Frenchman Tom Favede distinguished himself with the Hanoverian gelding Menthago PS (Messenger x Centadel), turning in a clear round in 35.18 seconds. The rider from the Tinti family’s ST Stables put pressure on his competitors to come.
After him, they tried to go fast but it didn’t work. Louis Wauters just managed to come in between the two leaders with Obama vh Ostaayen (Etoulon VDL x Chacco Blue), and the young rider was quite happy with his round.
Of note was the very fine performance from the very powerful Izecœur de Bellignies (Diamant de Bellignies x Ogano Site) who achieved a double clear round under the saddle of Bertran Genin, securing a nice 5th final place.
"I haven't been riding him for very long. In fact, during the first cycle, my friend Bruno Villani got hurt and asked me to ride him as a favor while he heals. We jumped everything clear in the classic cycle, except for the last round where we notched up 4 faults in the jump-off. He’s really a very respectful horse but is abnormally powerful! I think that he is really a horse with a future for the highest level of the sport. You just have to think about his body today which doesn't yet allow me to go fast with him, but he is so respectful and so focused in the arena that in the end, it's easy to turn in the clear rounds. The jump-off was really fast today. I really had to stay inside the lines, whereas personally, I had to sit quiet when entering the double... but you can see that in the last line, he did the six strides quietly while the others really had to push to achieve them. We'll see what the future brings, of course, Bruno will now take over the ride on him again... even though there was a lot of interest around him, unfortunately, we can only lament the lack of commercial activity during these Championships," said Bertrand Genin.
ST Stables keep the 6-year-old Belgian Champion title in their stables. The Belgian connection of Paul Shockemoehle hit the bullseye once again as this was the third horse bred by the German legend to win the Belgian Champion title! After Chacco's Cherry won the 7-year-old Championship in 2018 and Conmitage won the 6-year-old Championship in 2019, it’s now Menthago PS’s turn to win the title of the 2020 6-year-old Belgian Champion!
"He's a horse we've had in partnership with Paul Schockemoehle for six months now. He has competed in the cycles leading up to the final and turned in a lot of clear rounds and he has now been crowned Champion. We had the same situation happen two years ago with Chacco's Cherry, while last year, Conmitage was born at Paul's but we had bought her in the meantime. It's a partnership that works well. They have a very good breeding farm with great horses. We've been working together for 4-5 years and I can only hope it will continue. We go there regularly to try horses and try to forge a long-term partnership when we see something we like. The goal is not to sell a horse right away. I think a horse like Menthago will be able to perform at a very high level, even if you can never truly be sure of that.
Tom just arrived here three months ago. He’s a very talented rider who has been given a big opportunity. I hope he’ll stay with us for a long time. Certainly, when riders start to win it makes them want to go out on their own or try something else. As such, I would really like to thank Manuel Thiry who is here doing his last competition with us and who has done a great job during all these years with us. I hope that, as in the past, he will eventually come back to us.
My instructions before the jump-off were just to turn in clear rounds and do the best possible round and of course, in the jump-off, I prefer that my riders give it everything they’ve got and if it works out, that means it was our day," Steve Tinti explained with great calm.
It was a calm that was shared by the winner of the day, Tom Favede, a young Frenchman who arrived at Steve Tinti's after a detour to Switzerland and who comes out of this Championship as a true revelation. "I arrived at Steve Tinti’s in June. I had previously worked in Switzerland with a Swiss trader, Jürg Notz, for a year. After that, I wanted to see what was happening elsewhere. I knew Steve Tinti and I knew he was looking for a rider... so I came for a test ride which went well... and I stayed. I found that I was stagnating a bit in France. I come from Nîmes in the South of France where my parents own the riding school, Le Centaure, which is a big family organization. I wanted to discover something a little bit different about the world first and I’m very happy with how it’s going, even though there is no doubt that one day I will return to Nîmes to take care of the club with my sister and my parents. Nevertheless, I think it's interesting to see other things, and first and foremost to see how the business works while improving myself on horseback. I took part in the Young Riders Championships last year with my good mare who also competed in 1.45m ranking events. I'm really happy that I have won my first Championship here in Belgium, especially with this horse which is really extraordinary. He has always given me everything since he was entrusted to me. I didn't come to these Championships thinking I was going to win, that would have been pretentious... but of all the horses I ride, he was probably the one I knew had the most potential to win. After the two clear rounds from the first two days, I told myself that we were going to give it our all in the final!
In France, I didn't ride young horses at all. I rode some in Switzerland... but there, the level is a lot higher than in France. There are more horses, it's much more technical, it's harder... and because of this, there are quality horses that come along with that! We had a magnificent competition with very beautiful arenas to ride in that are very well built. These finals were wonderful," concluded the young Frenchman.