Horse of the Week: Gotha…

ph. Stefano Grasso/Longines GCT
ph. Stefano Grasso/Longines GCT

This incredible mare has blazed into the 2012/2013 World Cup season with serious momentum. The fiery daughter of Goldfever is everything you expect when you think of a hot-blooded chestnut mare, willing to fight the fight at any cost.

DSC_5467
Hendrik and Gotha in Zurich for the 10th leg of the 2012/13 Season

The bond between Sweden’s Hendrik van Eckermann and Gotha was only sealed December last year. In fact, the World Cup in Geneva was the pairs first competition together since the mare was 6 years old. You see, Hendrik showed Gotha as a young horse so he knew the mare well when Ludger elected to pass the reins onto Hendrik.

How did that happen, you might ask? Well according to Hendrik, Ludger was happy with his horses, having great hopes for the 9 year old chestnut stallion Zinedine. With the sale of Hendrik’s top mount Allerdings to clients of the Schou brothers, Hendrik was in need of a top international mount and Ludger had just the one.

One horse show was all it took for this combination to fall into a groove before winning the last World Cup of the year in Mechelen, Belgium. Quite impressive, wouldn’t you agree?

As you may know, Hendrik is the sole Swede who completes one of the most dynamic and impressive training teams in Continental Europe. Ludger Beerbaum along with Marco Kutscher, Philipp Weishaupt and Hendrik van Eckermann encompass an impressive team of rider’s who have chosen to base themselves together, creating arguably the most concentrated collection of international talent in Western Europe.

The four men collectively work together in Germany and have been known to switch and share horses on occasion in order to ensure the best possible results. Hendrik describes the atmosphere as one of positive competitiveness, offering support for everyone. It is this that makes the fantastic foursome so unique and it is this that allowed the mare Gotha to find her way into the hands of one of Sweden’s most talked-about talents.

Hendrik and Gotha winning the World Cup in Mechelen, Belgium
Hendrik and Gotha winning the World Cup in Mechelen, Belgium

Hendrik rode the mare as a young horse but of course when she became eligible and ready for top international competition, the master himself, took over the reins from Eckermann and continued the mare’s great success with a long list of accomplishments. To start things off in her first year of international competition, Ludger and Gotha won the World Cup event in Stuttgart in 2009. Gotha, along with Carlina ridden by Pius Schwizer, was the youngest horse in the top 12 and winning the class showed the world exactly what she was capable of.

Daughter of the great Goldfever, Gotha stands as one of the most successful, if not the most successful, offspring of the great stallion. Made famous by his Olympic Gold medal win in 2000 in Sydney, Goldfever seems to have passed on the best of his qualities to his talented daughter. Gotha didn’t stop at her World Cup wins in Stuttgart, the feisty mare won the final Qualification in Geneva before finishing 2nd under Marcus Ehning and Noltes Kuchengirl in the 2009/2010 World Cup Finals. Not bad for her international debut year!

The mare would continue a competitive streak with her father’s world-class jockey, winning Nations Cup events in 2011 in Falsterbo and Rotterdam for Team Germany before winning the World Cup in Stuttgart again for the second time. Last year would prove to be another great year for the vivacious mare, winning the CSI5* Grand Prix in Rome on top of two World Cup wins for Team Germany in Rome and in Rotterdam. It seems this mare has that little extra something that has kept her in the top competitive circles since her international debut year in 2009.

So it’s clear from the mares records, that she had proved herself well before Hendrik had taken over the reins but it seems the young Swedish jockey has developed somewhat of a special bond with the feisty mare, who has a clear mind about everything, says Hendrik.

“She has a very strong mind, very, very strong mind. You must have her on your side, or else she can get angry and she will just go against you” says Hendrik, when I asked him about the daughter of Goldfever and her personality.“She really tries, when you have her on your side, she really fights for you.”

Hendrik explained that he liked the mare as soon as she stepped into the stables. She was bought as a 4 year old, and it was clear from the beginning that she had something special. Philipp Weishaupt rode her as a 5 year old and Hendrik took over the reins when she turned 6 years old. Eckermann continued successfully with the mare until half way through her 7th year, when Ludger took over and resumed competition with the daughter of his famed stallion Goldfever. To little surprise, the four-time Olympic medalist would enjoy success on the second generation of Goldfever blood.

Hendrik currently stands 8th on the FEI World Cup standings thanks to Gotha
Hendrik currently stands 8th on the FEI World Cup standings thanks to Gotha

“This was always the plan” explained Hendrik. There is a way of developing these horses and the famous foursome; Ludger Beerbaum, Marco Kutscher, Philipp Weishaupt and Hendrik have proven time and time again that they have something very special within this competitive-based brotherhood in developing young talent. They understand how to bring out the best in their horses, so developing Gotha’s talent was crucial from the very beginning.

Her talents were clear to Hendrik, who is the sole Swede in the group, from the outset. “The moment was always there, I always said she was a good horse. She was always very careful” says Hendrik, but she also has “always been a bit difficult” so you must “compromise a lot with her” laughs Hendrik as he confesses his clear admiration for the talented Hannovarian-bred mare. It is clear when you speak with the talented Swedish jockey, just how fond he is of this mare. It is very apparent that with the right rider, Gotha’s determination and competitive edge prevails through her stubborn nature and large personality or perhaps it is the latter that fuels the former.

Whatever it is that makes this mare so special, it is incontrovertible that the daughter of Goldfever has that very same “something” her father did. Like father, like daughter, Gotha has that extra bit of grit or competitiveness that puts her in the top echelon of the sport from one year to the next.

There is no denying, Gotha ha been a formidable force and one to be noticed since her debut in 2009.

After speaking with Hendrik, I really grasped a sense of Gotha’s character and the fight that lies within this incredible mare. After winning the World Cup event at their second horse show together, it is clear that Hendrik and Gotha have their sites set on the World Cup Final in Gothenburg and with the way this mare steps up to the plate, I wouldn’t count them out for a win.

Questions…

Ridden for: Sweden

Jockey: Hendrik von Eckermann

Owned by: Madeline Winter-Schulze (GER)

Breeding: HANN – Hannoveraner Verband e. V.

Bred by: Jan Minners

Famous Sire: Goldfever; ridden by Ludger Beerbaum at two Olympic games as well as two European Championships

DOB: 13/04/2001

Age: 12 years old

Goal for this year: World Cup Finals in Gothenburg, SWE

Last year: won two Nations Cup events with Ludger and Team Germany (Rotterdam and Rome) as well as the CSIO5* Grand Prix in Rome

Biggest moment this year: finished 2nd in the World Cup CSI5*-W Bordeaux

Recent win: the 2012 World Cup in Mechelen, Belgium with Hendrik

Currently WBFSH ranked: 83rd in the world

Loves: to be at horse shows

Hendrik will always: “try to ride her outside, as much as possible.”

Personality: “She has a very strong mind, very very strong mind.”

 

 

 


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