Top five slots from Tom Tarver and Lily Tootill in the big class on the final day of the Eschweiler Jumping Festival 2020 in Germany have buoyed the two as they look towards the Nations Cup competition in Prague next week.
Sixty-three started the CSI2* 1.45m international with 13 coming back for the jump-off where the top eight were all double clear. Tom and Popeye flew home in 34.21 seconds to take third behind Michael Duffy (IRL) aboard Zilton SI Z who stopped the clock in 32.96 seconds with Jack Ryan (IRL) and Guminka second in 33.46. John Whitaker (GBR) and Unick Du Francport was fourth in 35.78 seconds with Lily and Ulysses NZPH fifth in 37.17 seconds.
The jump-off came down to who could execute the two roll backs the tightest and the open line to the last fence the best.
Tom has only been back in Europe for two weeks, basing in North Germany with his fiancé Lucia Voss. He paid full credit to Lucia and top German rider Thomas Voss who had been working Popeye for the past five months.
The Kiwi combo were first out in the jump-off and Tom knew a careful clear was never going to be enough. “Being first you never know how fast to push but I do know you have to push hard otherwise you are down that list,” he said. “I am lucky that Popeye has a good eye and covers the ground well. I felt he had a good shot at it.”
It had been a big 12 months for the 10-year-old New Zealand-bred grey and Tom felt he had benefited from the break. “The reset has been good for him. His flat work has really been established and he is a lot stronger.”
Last night, Tom says his focus was to get another good start under their belts. “We had a good show last weekend and it is all about preparation for Prague and the Nations’ Cup.” The show is held at the property of New Zealand jumping chef Helena Stormanns and Tom said it was important for the Kiwis to go well. “It is all part of the high performance plan to get some of us here and competing. It was good to get great tips from Helena – she really is super for us.”
Tom was hugely appreciative of the ongoing support he and the other New Zealand jumpers received from home. “It means a lot to us all. It is a big world over here, so great to get that sort of support.”
Lily, who has been based offshore for 16 months now, was also keen on doing enough to impress the selectors for next week’s Nations’ Cup team. “I wanted to jump clear, but double clear is even better,” she says. “I wasn’t expecting to be so high up in the placings. I was fast enough but didn’t want to be too fast. At the moment it is important to be good for Prague. We ended up with a nice happy medium – fast but not crazy, he jumped well and we won a bit of money.”
Lily and Ulysses NZPH are based in the UK but head to Europe for four to five weeks at a time to do a string of shows. “I am absolutely loving it out here and feel really lucky to have great friends and support,” she says. “It is really good to be competing and placing alongside such big names – it is the stuff you think about as a young rider and laugh at yourself . . . but it actually is possible.”
Ulysses NZPH is 13 in November and his doting rider thinks he is just getting better with age. “He is a very special boy . . . a little trier and always very consistent.”
The horse details:
Popeye – owned by Tom Tarver and Lucia Voss
Ulysses NZPH – owned by Theresa Gattung and Lily Tootill – Tootill Equestrian
By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison