The Jumping Verona winners
Profiles and biographies
Born in Germany in 1981, in 2012 he became the main rider for Stephex Stables in Wolvertem, Belgium. He won the 2014 FEI World Cup™ in Lyon Final CSI-W Final riding Cornet d’Amour and was 2nd in Las Vegas WC final whit Air Jordan Z and 3rd in Göteborg WC final whit Cornet d’Amour. He also won the silver team medal in Rio de Janeiro Olympics Games and three European Champioship silver team medals: Rotterdam 2019; Aachen 2015 and Herning 2013.
Maikel Van der Vleuten
Born in 1988 to a horse-riding family, he is a landmarks in Dutch teams, winning a silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics, gold at the 2014 World Equestrian Games in Caen and gold at the 2015 European Championships in Aachen. He also won other medals – one gold, two silver and two bronze – in European Junior Championships. In 2016 he competed in Rio de Janeiro Olympics Games.
Born in Egypt in 1989 but permanently resident in Belgium since 2000, Abdel Said is currently the only non-European rider to have won the World Cup Grand Prix in Verona. His great passion for riding – he started riding at only three years of age – so marked his life that his family, after a training-holiday in Holland, decided to move to Europe when he was 11 years old. Given his talent, at 14 he joined the Team Harmony, the stables of Princess Haya of Jordan. After working his way up over the years, he began to travelling to compete events doing everything on his own, even without a groom, and in 2010 he managed to implement the project for his own stables. In 2014, he competed at the WEG of Caen and his career so far includes bronze and silver medals at the 2007 and 2011 Pan-Arabic Games. He is married to Belgian Sanny Leenknecht.
French rider Simon Delestre was born in 1981 and began riding at five in the stables of his father, Marcel, himself a fine rider and for decades manager of the French national youth teams. His mother was also a fine rider and equitation instructor – creating a family background that inevitably contributed to his training as a successful rider. Delestre won his first National Pony championships in 1994 and 1995, before becoming junior champion of France in 1999. After taking part in two European Junior Championships with a bronze at Münchwilen in 1999, in 2000 he won a team gold medal for young riders in Hartpury. As a senior, on the other hand, he won the European bronze in 2016 championships in Aachen riding Hermes Ryan. He has competed in four World Cup finals, one Olympics (London 2012) and WEG 2014 in Caen, Normandy, where he won the silver medal riding Qlassic Bois Margot. Through the early months of 2016, he was number one in the world ranking. He is married to Magali and they have two children.
Born in 1995, Irish rider Bertram Allen soon ceased being an ‘enfant prodige’ to become one of the most talented riders in the world. Despite his youth, has competed in the Caen World Championships in 2014 (the youngest competitor taking part in the tournament, finishing seventh) and a World Cup final in Las Vegas in 2015, where he came in third riding Molly Malone V. He competed in three European Youth Championships, winning the title at Bishop Burton 2010, as well as the team silver medal. He then won team gold at Ebreichsdorf 2012 and in individual silver in 2013 at Vejer de la Frontera. As a senior, he took part in the European Championships in Aachen 2014. He comes from a family where horses have always been a shared passion. He started riding at eight years old on ponies and moved to live in Germany when he was 16. At 19 years old, in 2015, he was the youngest rider to win the World Cup Grand Prize in Verona!
Show jumping was and still is the speciality of the Ahlmann family. At 11, Christian also began riding just like his father George, brother Dirk and many young friends, and the following year he won his first event. Born in 1974, this was how the German rider started his career that for some considerable time saw him rank as ‘number one’ in the world show jumping world. His international debut dates back to 1990, when he not yet 16, at the European Junior Championships in Berlin where he immediately won bronze medal. He then took four medals as a young rider – two golds and a team bronze team (Spangenberg 1993, Millstreet 1994 and Babenhausen 1995) and an individual silver at Millstreet 1994. Two golds (individual and team) came at the 2002 European Championships in Donaueschingen, as well as team silver for Germany at Mannheim 2007, Herning 2013 and Aachen 2016 European Championships. Competing in four Olympics, he won two team bronze medals at Athens 2004 and Rio de Janeiro 2016; as well as a team gold for Germany at Weg in Aachen 2006. Riding Taloubet Z, he also won the Leipzig World Cup finals in 2011. Ahlmann is married to Judy-Ann Melchior, herself an international show jumping rider from Belgium and director – after the death of her father Leon – of the renowned Zangersheide breeding stables. Together they have a son.
Sergio Alvarez Moya
Spanish rider Sergio Alvarez Moya was born in 1985 and started riding when he was seven his brothers, encouraged by their uncle. As a junior, he won the 2001 European title in Gijon and continued thereafter to post important achievements. He moved to Belgium 2003-2009 before returning to Spain where he bought stables near Madrid. He competed at Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics, as well as three World Championships (Aachen 2006, Lexington 2010 and Caen 2014); four World Cup finals (best results: 4th individual with Carlo in Gothenburg in 2013; 5th with Arrayan at Omaha 2017); and five European Senior Championships, in addition young rider events youth (best result: 6th individual in Aachen in 2015 with Carlo). His brother Julio is also an international rider. He has a son.
Flag carrier for Holland at the Opening Ceremony of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016, Jerome Dubbeldam was of Olympic Champion in Sydney in 2000 and took two gold medals (individual and team) at WEG in Caen 2014 and the Aachen European Championships 2015 and is deservedly part of the history of equitation. Born in 1973, Dubbeldam was “encouraged” to ride by his father (despite preferring football …) who continued to support him, making sure he always rode good horses so that he would not give up. One of these horses – De Sijem – took him to gold medal at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. In 2014, in Caen, he became the first Dutch rider to win an individual gold medal in a World Show Jumping Championship and, after winning the Aachen 2015 European Championships with SFN Zenith, only second rider in the world to win all three of the most important equestrian events. His career top spots also include gold medal at Weg in Aachen 2016, gold medal at the European Championships in Mannheim 2007, individual bronze in San Patrignano 2005, team bronze in Hickstead in 1999, third place in the Leipzig World Cup finals in 2011 and, as a young rider, the individual European title and team bronze in 1994 in Killarney. His wife, Annelies Vorsselmans, was also show jumping rider of international calibre. They have three children (two boys and a girl).
One of the great legends of equitation, British rider Michael Whitaker was born in 1960 into a family of farmers. His mother was a passionate lady rider and Michael followed in the footsteps of his older brother, John, who had already begun to compete. Michael Whitaker competed in his first events at seven years old, riding the pony he and his brother used to deliver milk. His international debut dates back to 1976 and since then he has posted an endless succession of victories. At 20 years old, he won the most prestigious of the top events. The 1980 Hickstead Derby – and he is still the youngest all-time winner. His career is utterly remarkable. Five Olympics: Los Angeles 1984 (team silver riding Overton Amanda), Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000 and Rio de Janeiro 2016. Six World Championships: Aachen 1986 (team silver with Warren Point), Stockholm 1990 (team bronze with Mon Santa), The Hague 1994, Aachen 2016, Lexington 2010 and Caen 2014. Twenty-two World Cup finals (best results: third place in Gothenburg in 2001 and second with Portofino in Las Vegas in 2005). Fourteen European Championships with 11 Medals: 4 gold (all team), 5 silver (2 individual and 3 team) and 1 bronze (team). He is married and all three children – Jack, Molly and Katie Jane – ride ad compete in show jumping events.
Born in Germany in 1964, Alois Pollmann-Schweckhorst grew up among horses. His father, Aloys, was a good rider, and encouraged Alois to ride with his brother Elmar. Both have achieved impressive levels in show jumping: Alois in competitions and Elmar in training horses and young riders. In 1985, with the national young riders team he won bronze medal at the European Championships in Fulda and thereafter was a regular member of German teams. During his career, he has ridden for the stables of two great horsemen – Hans Günter Winkler and Paul Schockemoehle – winning several Nations Cups, many Grand Prix including Washington and New York. In 2004, he won the German title of ‘Champion of Professional Riders’ taking silver and bronze in the German National Championships in 2008 and 2010.
2007 e 2005
With two wins (2005 and 2007) in the saddle of the legendary Okidoki, Albert Zoer holds a so far unmatched record at Verona. Born in 1975, the Dutch rider comes from a family that has always been involved in the world of horses. Jenny, as well as his older sister Gina, has competed in high-level show jumping events. Albert Zoer began riding at seven years old and at fourteen was a member of the Dutch team that took gold medal at the European Pony Championships in 1989; in 1993, he took bronze at the European Junior Championships. He also won gold medal at the European Championships in Mannheim 2007 and the bronze medal at Windsor 2009. He won gold at WEG in Aachen in 2006, as ever riding Okidoki. Albert Zoer took third place in the 2009 World Cup finals in Las Vegas and won the Global Champions Tour in 2007.
Dutchman Gerco Schröder was born in 1978 and began riding the family pony at 7 years old, convinced by his twin brothers Wim and Ben. The three made a pact: Gerco would ride mounted at least until the local riding school championship. Yet he won a rosette and thereafter was unable to stop riding. Not a bad start since he was the Dutch Equestrian Federation named him ‘Rider of the Year’ in 2005, 2006, 2012 and 2013. His prestigious career boasts innumerable victories. He has taken part in three Olympics: Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012 where he won two silver medals (individual and team). He has also competed in two World Championships: Aachen 2006 (team gold riding Berlin) and Caen 2014 (team gold riding London). He has competed in as many as seven European Championships taking four medals (team gold at Predazzo 1996, team silver at Moorsele 1997 and individual and team golds at Munchwilen 1999) won as a young rider, team gold medals won in Mannheim 2007 and Aachen 2015. He is married with two children.
Toni Hassmann was born in Germany in 1975 and is married with one daughter. He was one of Germany’s ‘enfant prodige’. Individual silver medal at the European Junior Championships in 1993, as a young rider he also won the continental title and team bronze at the 1995 European Championships in addition to a team bronze in 1996. He boasts many prestigious Grand Prix victories over his career, such as the CSI5* Vincenzo Muccioli Challenge at San Patrignano in 2009 riding Lolita H. Special mention must be made of three consecutive Hamburg Derby victories (2004, 2005 and 2006) riding Collin, the only rider ever to do so in this prestigious competition together with Brazilian Nelson Pessoa (1992, 1993, 1994 riding Vivaldi). Even his younger brother, Felix, is an international rider.
German rider Lars Nieberg was born in 1963 and was for many years a landmark in Germany’s first team. In particular with two horses, Esprit FRH and stallion For Pleasure, taking team gold and bronze at the European Championships in Mannheim in 1997 and Arnhem in 2001, gold at the World Championships in Rome in 1998 and two team Olympics gold medals at Atlanta in 1996 and Sydney in 2000. He began riding at just ten years old and, in addition to being a highly successful rider even with young horses, he is also a breeder and coach. In particular, he keeps an eye on the technical improvement of his two sons, Gerrit and Max.
A Brazilian “son of art” – his father is the great Nelson ‘Neco’ – Rodrigo Pessoa was born in 1972 and grew between stables and courses. His remarkable, predestined career began at just 12 years old. Barcelona 1992: he competed in the first of six Olympics where, as regards equestrian sports, he was the youngest participant. At the Games in Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000, he won team bronze medals, while in Athens 2004 he took the individual gold. He became World Champion in Rome in 1998 riding Baloubet du Rouet and between 1998 and 2000 he won three consecutive World Cup Finals, the first rider to do so in the saddle of the same horse. In 2017, he became coach for Ireland. He is married to US lady rider Alexa Weeks and has three daughters.
Stanny Van Paesschen
Born in 1957, the Belgian rider is one of the pillars of international equitation. He has competed in countless Nations Cups with many victories over a career spanning thirty years. He has competed in three Olympics – taking a bronze medal in Montreal – and four World Championships, winning a team bronze medal at Jerez de la Frontera. He has also worked as a technical director for the Belgian Federation. He is currently a coach in Saudi Arabia, achieving impressive results: above all, the bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics. As for sport in the saddle, he passed the baton to his youngest son, Constant, who quickly became one of the top international show jumping names.