Longines FEI China League final: competitor feature.
Part II of our report from the China League final focuses on three riders competing at the event: Julian Hyde (JAM), Maikel van der Vleuten (NED) and Jan-Phillip Weichert (GER)
L to R: Jan-Phillip Weichert, Julian Hyde, Maikel van der Vleuten
Twenty-five year old Jan-Phillip Weichert has already competed at FEI 4* and 5* events in his native Germany despite his young age.
Flying high: Jan-Phillip in action in Beijing
The 2015 China League final was his third visit to Beijing, and he finished fourth in the qualifying event this year. He enjoys visiting China to experience new things and to see equestrian sport change and develop. He enjoyed riding his loan horse (the KWPN gelding Uriah) this year, but commented that the standard of competition in China has risen significantly – this year, a clear round was no longer enough to win or place.
Deep in thought: Jan-Phillip in the warmup ring
Maikel van der Vleuten is an Olympic Silver medalist and European team champion. He began riding at age six in his father Eric’s stable and was a very successful junior rider. He earned almost 300 000 Euros in prizemoney in 2014 and has competed in FEI 5* events all over the world.
Masterclass: Maikel competing in the Qualifying event on his Chinese loan horse A Termie
Maikel always dreamed of riding at the highest levels of the sport and he offered some inside knowledge of what it means to be one of the world’s best. He says that he owes his current success to hard work and his father’s mentoring. He did acknowledge how difficult it is to get to the top in showjumping and to stay there. You need top-level horses and if an up-and-coming rider doesn’t have the right finances or background, they need to find a good stable to make the right connections.
At this China league event, Maikel expressed his interest in meeting different people around the world and coming to Beijing to experience new things. His loan horse this year (A Termie) was not as well suited to him as the horse he rode to victory in 2014 (Ziema), but he enjoys the challenge of riding unfamiliar horses in competition.
Good boy: a pat for A Termie after their round is finished
Julian Hyde was the sole competitor at this event from Jamaica, a country not well-known for its equestrian program. He competed in the 1.30M class and finished with 12 faults.
Preparation: Julian warms up before his class while Maikel looks on
The 28-year old started riding when he was seven, although his family had little money to support his hobby. He works with FEI Level 1 trainer Betty Wates, a friend of his late mother. Julian found his borrowed Warmblood horse in Beijing quite unfamiliar, as he is used to riding and training off-track thoroughbreds back in Jamaica.
Team effort: Julian walks the course with his wife Anneka
Julian is the first Jamaican rider to be invited to ride at an FEI event in China, and he feels this opportunity will open doors for him and also encourage other Jamaican equestrians.
Coming soon! Our third and final installment from the 2015 Longines FEI World Cup China League event: Around Chaoyang Park