Israel’s Daniel Bluman riding Gemma W triumphed in the $250,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Toronto on Saturday evening, November 11, in front of a sold-out crowd to close out the 2023 Royal Horse Show, held as part of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, in Toronto, ON.
British course designer Kelvin Bywater set the challenging track for the star-studded field of 20 riders representing seven countries. In his Royal Horse Show debut, Rene Dittmer of Germany delivered the first clear with Corsica X. Just a few rides later, Canadian talent Vanessa Mannix of Calgary, AB, thrilled the home crowd with a fault-free effort aboard Carmela Z. Then it was Kent Farrington of the United States, currently third on the Longines World Rankings, who added his name to the jump-off list with Greya, a nine-year-old Oldenburg mare (Colestus x Contender) owned by Kent Farrington LLC. Bluman with Gemma W, and young British star Jessica Mendoza, 27, with I-Cap CL Z, also managed to find the clear path, bringing the count to five to contest the all-deciding jump-off.
First to go, Dittmer, who has notched several top placings on his first North American indoors tour, had an unfortunate four faults, leaving the door open for the remaining challengers. Mannix once again left all the poles in the cups, crossing the timers in 36.29 seconds to the delight of the packed house. Farrington followed with a slick round and even faster time of 34.32 seconds to take over the lead. Knowing his target, Bluman pushed Gemma W to the limit, stopping the clock at 33.28 seconds. Mendoza gave him a run for his money, but when the time showed 33.60 seconds, it was Bluman who was victorious. Mendoza finished in a very close second, Farrington claimed third, and Mannix was the top Canadian contender in fourth.
Bluman has been knocking on the door of a big win indoors with Gemma W since 2022. They were second in the 2022 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Washington, second in last year’s Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Toronto, and second in the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Lexington held one week before Toronto. Now, they are Royal Horse Show World Cup champions and sit atop the Longines North American League standings.
“When you’re riding in an event that has this type of atmosphere it’s extra special,” explained Bluman, 33, of the significance of the competition at The Royal. “These indoor horse shows are very traditional horse shows in North America. We grew up watching them, and we grew up watching great names win these classes, so I certainly was a little bit upset last year that I couldn’t put my name on that trophy. I don’t know how many chances you get to win a grand prix like this one, and when you are given the chance, the minimum you can do is beat the time of the rider that went before you, so I’m happy that things went my way tonight and we ended up winning the class.
“I was really excited for the mare,” continued Bluman of the 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare (Luidam x Unaniem) owned by Blue Star Investments and Over the Top Stables LLC. “This is not an easy class for her to jump and a great class for her to win. Gemma is all heart; she will always give you everything. I’m very proud of her.”
For Mendoza, it was a memorable first experience at The Royal. Having produced I-Cap CL Z since the now 11-year-old Zangersheide gelding (I’m Special de Muze x Air Jordan) was four, Mendoza felt like the moment was right to let loose in the jump-off.
“He's amazing,” said Mendoza of the talented bay she owns in partnership with Sarah Mendoza. “I trust him completely. I know if I make crazy turns and I’m at a big angle, he’s going to take off, and he’s going to do his best to clear it. Honestly, I think I’ll be coming back to The Royal every year. It’s an incredible show and an unbelievable feeling to be in front of that crowd.”
For Farrington, his third-place finish put the exclamation mark on a fault-free week with both mounts, including victories with Creedance in the $38,500 Strength and Speed Challenge on Wednesday, November 8, and the $80,000 Canadian Open International Speed Challenge on Friday, November 10. With his World Cup grand prix mount, Greya, Farrington also enjoyed a second-place finish in Thursday’s $150,000 Mad Barn Big Ben Challenge.
“I’m really happy with my horses this week and thrilled with the result tonight,” expressed Farrington, 42. “This is a very prestigious show. It’s a very important event on our calendar because it holds the tradition of a knowledgeable crowd mixed with high-level riding. I think it’s the best we have here in North America. My hopes were very high that Greya would come and perform like she did, so I’m really happy with the horse.”
At the end of an exciting evening of world-class show jumping, course designer Kelvin Bywater was pleased with the outcome.
“For me, it’s a journey back,” said Bywater, who first designed at The Royal in 1991 alongside his mentor and 2012 London Olympic course designer, Bob Ellis. “To come back and design here this week has been something quite special. I had the initial plan for tonight’s course a few weeks ago, but you kick it around a bit, and then you kick it around a bit more, and then you watch these riders throughout the week, and you think, ‘Yeah, they are pretty good,’ so you kick it around a bit more. Eventually, you come up with something that you think is a fair test, and tonight we had great sport.”
Christine Reupke, Director of Equestrian and Breed Sport for the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, echoed Bywater’s sentiment saying, “We’ve enjoyed an incredible week of sport at the Royal Horse Show and tonight was the icing on the cake. Together with our fantastic partner, Longines, we welcomed the best riders in the world to Toronto to battle it out for the World Cup title. The result was a thrilling competition, and our Royal fans showed their appreciation by once again packing the Coca-Cola Coliseum and cheering on the feats of athleticism showcased by horses and riders alike.”
At the conclusion of the CSI4*-W Royal Horse Show, several prestigious titles were awarded. Farrington earned the Leading International Rider award while Amy Millar of Perth, ON, was named the Leading Canadian Rider, earning the Lt. Col. Stuart C. Bate Memorial Trophy. She also was presented with the Martha W. Jolicoeur Leading Lady Rider Award. Irish rider Daniel Coyle’s mount Legacy, owned by Ariel Grange of Cheltenham, ON, earned the All Canadian Cup, presented in memory of lifelong horsewoman Susan Grange, as the Leading Canadian-Owned Horse.
$250,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Toronto
Saturday, November 11
Rider / Nation / Horse / Faults / Time
1. Daniel Bluman / ISR / Gemma W / 0:0 / 33.28
2. Jessica Mendoza / GBR / I-Cap CL Z / 0:0 / 33.60
3. Kent Farrington / USA / Greya / 0:0 / 34.32
4. Vanessa Mannix / CAN / Carmela Z / 0:0 / 36.29
5. Rene Dittmer / GER / Corsica X / 0:4 / 36.07
6. Amy Millar / CAN / Christiano / 4
7. Beat Mändli / SUI / Dsarie / 4
8. McLain Ward / USA / Callas / 4
9. Daniel Coyle / IRL / Legacy / 4
10. Mario Deslauriers / CAN / Bardolina 2 / 4
11. Tiffany Foster / CAN / Northern Light / 4
12. Alex Matz / USA / Cashew CR / 8
About The Royal
The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair is the world’s largest combined indoor agricultural and equestrian event. The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair runs November 3-12, 2023, at Exhibition Place in Toronto, Canada. For competition schedules, live webcasting, results, and to purchase tickets, please visit www.royalfair.org.