When it comes to the second-string talent in a top level program, it is important to give credit where credit is due, especially when their progression is on par to that of their first-string counterparts. In the case of Harrie Smolders’ Zinius, the the 14-year old KWPN bay gelding has quickly surpassed his underdog status.
Originally purchased as a back-up horse to top mounts Emerald N.O.P and Don VHP, who have taken a deserved respite before the start of the outdoor season, Zinius (Nabab de Reve x Kannan) has, by all accounts, seamlessly and successfully stepped into the shoes of his stable mates quickly making a name for himself on the international circuit.
If the last two months’ impressive results in Mechelen, Leipzig, and most recently Bordeaux are any indication — 1st in the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Victory at Mechelen CSI5*-W, 2nd in the World Cup Qualifier, 3rd in the Longines FEI World Cup Grand Prix of Leipzig CSI5*-W, and 1st in the Prix French Tour Generali at Jumping Bordeaux CSI5*-W— “Zinius the Genius” is a horse that will soon advance as a Smolders’ string front runner.
- Fellow Dutchman, Doron Kuipers, brought Zinius up through the ranks in the rated circuit.
- Smolders took over the reins on Zinius at the end of 2016. With his competitive spirit and experience in the ring, Smolders thought he would be a strong second horse on the Longines Global Champions Tour.
- Zinius has since jumped eight legs of the 2017 LGCT Tour.
- “This past summer, he was my second horse everywhere with good results. When Emerald and Don had a break, I used him for the big classes and he stepped up unbelievably. It surprised us how easily he picked it up.”
- With Harrie in the irons, the pair also later took a win at X-BIONIC Sphere Indoor Masters CSI4* in November, and the Credit Suisse Geneva Classic at CHI Geneva CSI5* in December.
- This past month, Smolders and Zinius picked up a 1st place win in the Longines FEI World Cup at Mechelen CSI5*—a longtime goal for Smolders.
- “He can be a bit shy and doesn’t need to be in the spotlight.”
- “He’s cool-minded and very competitive—he’s a fighter.”
- “Compared to my other horses, he’s very light and a little small, but very athletic. He can jump anything from a slow speed. He’s naturally fast.”
- “He likes to jump really big—you wouldn’t expect that from him. At home, he likes to jump bigger than Don and Emerald. From the outside you wouldn’t expect that, I certainly didn’t expect it.”
- “He’s the kind of horse that always has to be on stand-by—he loves that because he doesn’t like to be at home for long. He gets too fresh and a bit too spooky and loses his focus. He’s very tough and definitely not a sissy.”
- At CSI5* Mechelen, he picked up the nickname, “Zinius the Genius”.
- “After CSI5* Bordeaux, Zinius will be my first horse and after that we have to make a plan and feel out how he’s doing. If he’s feeling tired, I’ll give him a break, but if he’s still feeling motivated, we will definitely keep going.”
All photos ©Thomas Reiner