Pato Muente: How I Won the Hamburg Derby

Since 1920, the historic Hamburg Jumping Derby has challenged horse-and-rider combinations from around the world, proving to be one of the most difficult jumping tracks with its spooky natural obstacles and the infamous derby bank slide. It’s no surprise that there have only been one-hundred and fifty clear rounds produced since its inception—four of those added this past weekend.

This year’s 88th Jumping Derby of Hamburg CSI4*, presented by J.J. Darboven, proved to be one for the record books as Slovenia’s Pato Muente produced not one, but two clear rounds over the difficult track. Aboard the stunning 10-year-old Holsteiner mare, Zera 23 (Cero x Calato), the pair was unstoppable and took home top honors, beating out two previous Hamburg Derby winners, Nisse Luneburg and Gilbert Tillmann, in a three-horse jump-off.

After placing 9th in the 2016 Hamburg Jumping Derby, 43-year-old Muente returned this year determined to etch his name in history—and that he did! We sat down with the Germany-based rider to discuss his tactics on tackling the course, keeping his cool in front of 25,000 people, and how he prepared his superstar mare for the challenge. The Hamburg Derby is arguably one of the hardest tracks in the world—what was your tactic in tackling the course?
Pato Muente:
I went to the Derby knowing that I had done everything to try and be successful. I did the two qualifications where Zera 23 jumped fantastic but I didn’t give her a fair ride like I wanted to. On Sunday, I tried to jump every jump as if it were fence one—I never changed my rhythm so she wouldn’t get tired and things started to come along. When I finished Round 1, I thought I had a chance of getting a good ribbon, I never expected to win. But I had a feeling that Zera wanted to be famous on Sunday and she wanted to do it for me.

NF: You were the only rider to go clear in both Round 1 and the jump-off. On top of that, you went first in the jump-off. How did you keep your cool?
I knew going into the jump-off the worst that could happen is I place 3rd. For me, that was good enough. I said to my team and to Ingala and Harm Thormallen, who are the breeders of the mare, I will try to go clean and try to put a little pressure on the other two riders. When I walked into the ring, I tried to keep my cool and tried to go a little bit forward to put pressure on the other riders. Most importantly, I tried to ride every jump carefully so I wouldn’t have a rail down. I’m still afraid to look at the video now —I’m nervous that a rail will come down! But it’s done, we won it! 

NF: Tell me about your winning mount, Zera 23.
The mare is only ten years old. She started her career when she was six because she was a broodmare due to her fantastic bloodlines. She had three babies, one of which recently had a baby, so she’s already a grandmother. Zera started her jumping career with Phillipp Baumgart, and when she turned seven, she was given to me. What can I say, the mare is extremely noble and extremely easy in every aspect. I always knew one day she would be famous because she deserved it. That’s one of the biggest reasons this win makes me happy— she finished the Derby not even stressed, had a good round, enjoyed it, and now she’s famous.

Pato Muente goes down the Idee Klatte Derby Bank. Ph. via Hamburg Derby

NF: How did you prepare Zera 23 for the Derby?
We made a plan going to the Derby on how to train and planned every month for the past three months, always thinking how to get there with the best horse. I have an amazing team and that has a huge impact. We started by going to Spain for the Mediterranean Equestrian Tour—the rings are very big so it was a good for Zera to gallop and show, and do work on the beach. Coming back, we did a lot of fitness around the farm where we live in Germany. There’s a lot of riding out, so she did many kilometers just trotting and galloping. Then we did a speed derby two weeks ago where she jumped clean. Finally, right before the Derby, we went to Carsten Otto Nagel’s yard. He has all the natural jumps similar to the derby so we brought Zera there to see how she would react.

NF: This is your second time competing in the Derby—what keeps you coming back to this famous course?
Last year was my first year competing in the Hamburg Derby and there were no clear rounds. There were nine four-faulters including me. We went into the jump-off where I had two rails, so I finished in the ribbons. Even though I was happy, I was sad I couldn’t deliver in the jump-off. We received the Style Award, which made me happy, but winning this year with a double clear was special. Especially in Hamburg in front of 25,000 people—my family, my friends, my team. The sport here in Germany is big and the Derby is one biggest of the classes to win, so I’m happy we did it.

The environment and the crowd is quite intimidating even though they are all horse-related people. The crowd claps and screams a lot when you come down the bank, but Zera never worried about any of the cheering. In between jumps she kept her cool and was always looking for the next jump. Somehow I didn’t even think about the crowd, I just thought, okay, the next jump is coming and I need to make it happen because there’s so many ahead of me and if I start thinking about the crowd, I’m going to lose it.   

NF: What’s the best advice you would give to riders competing in their first Hamburg Derby?
No matter what, the best thing you can do is keep your rhythm. Nobody will know if you are deep, long, or have a good distance. If you keep your rhythm, nobody will notice anything and the horse won’t get stressed. Don’t worry so much about distance, worry more about rhythm.

NF: Will we see you back next year at the Hamburg Derby to defend your title?
I hope so. In this business, there’s always a lot of demand for good horses. Zera is a fantastic horse and I hope I can keep her until next year. I would love to be able to defend the title, why not? It’s really a dream and I’d like to do it again.

Watch Pato and Zera’s amazing clear round right here via ClipmyHorseTV:

Pato Muente Hamburger Derby

Der Sieger des diesjährigen Hamburger Derbys ist Pato Muente! Als einziger Starter blieben er und die Holsteiner Stute Zera (v. Cero x Calato) im Umlauf und im Stechen fehlerfrei und konnten so das 88. Deutsches Spring- und Dressur-Derby Hamburg gewinnen. 3 Reiter absolvierten den Parcours fehlerfrei und im Stechen bekam er es dann mit zwei Derbysiegern zu tun. Platz 2 belegte am Ende Gilbert Tillmann mit dem erst 8jährigen Claus Dieter mit der schnellsten Runde im Stechen, aber einem Abwurf, und Rang 3 ging an Nisse Lüneburg mit Cordillo, der ebenfalls einen Abwurf hatte.

Posted by ClipMyHorse.TV Deutschland on Sunday, May 28, 2017

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