The jumping events of the Olympic Games in Tokyo are scheduled to kick off on the 3rd of August.
The deadline for entries is the 5th of July, the day after the CSIO Rotterdam. Which Z horses are eligible, are on the shortlist or have already been selected for Tokyo? We are going to unravel it all for you…
Clockwise of Greenhill Z, selected for Tokyo
The first Z horse that has its Olympic ticket in the pocket is Clockwise of Greenhill Z (Clearway x Caretino), with Uma O’Neill from New Zealand. Uma’s family name is a reference to the well-known sportswear brand.
Clockwise of Greenhill Z was born in Limburg at Philip Gysbrechts’ yard. He is an osteopath by profession, breaking in and schooling horses is his hobby, breeding his passion: ‘Uma O’Neill personally informed me of her selection. She had already been shortlisted for a while and was obviously very happy with her selection. It brought tears to my eyes. Uma is 26, Clockwise was seven when she bought him, now seven years ago. They have found each other and advanced together, with this Olympic selection being their high point. How big, or rather, how small are the chances of breeding an Olympic horse? This cannot be expressed in words, it still renders me speechless’, Philip Gysbrechts says.
Clockwise of Greenhill Z & Uma O'Neill
The broodmare that changed his life was Gala, a daughter by Caretino out of Corlanda III (Landgraf I). With the exception of her last foal she has carried all her sons and daughters herself. Eleven in total, eight of them jumping internationally, from Nation Cups to World Cups. As is so often the case, an exceptional horse comes with an extraordinary story. Philip Gysbrechts was totally smitten with Cassini I but since those foals were too expensive he purchased a noble, unknown mare which was in foal by Cassini I. A gamble, bought unseen. For a long time Gala stayed under the radar. She lived to be 26 and died a few years ago.
‘From early childhood on I was crazy about horses. But there wasn’t much time in our family life to ferry my brother and me back and forth to the riding school. My parents are divorced, my father is a cardiologist. A friend of my mum’s took her daughter to riding lessons and one time she took us with her. I was six at the time and so badly wanted a horse of my own, but that was no option. I read all magazines and studied all pedigrees. When I was fourteen my father finally bought a horse, a 2-year-old. At least now I could go on hacks in the forest. I joined the local riding school in Schoot, they came with tractor and cattle trailer to pick me up to go to competitions.
I had to plod and toil to make riding possible’, says Philip Gysbrechts, who later did an internment with Ulrich Kirchhoff: ‘My mother is an interior designer and had a German customer from Lanaken. It was via him that I came to Kirchhoff. It took as long as five years before I was allowed to go. I schooled horses at home only to sell them later. For me that was the only way to keep riding and it’s still that way today. Because of Corona I now have two 8-year-olds, which is a first. For me it’s unusual to keep the horses to that age.
Ambitions for the sport have always been there, but how can you realise those ambitions without support, knowledge and experience? I sent applications to renowned stables, but without success. And for my parents it was not an option. My father paid the livery costs for my horse, but if I stopped studying he would withdraw his financial support. So I found myself with my back to the wall. My parents wanted me to go to university and not just any study: either medicine or veterinary sciences. I opted for veterinary college, but preferred riding. I lived in digs for about one month and was on the verge of leaving for Ulrich Kirchhoff with my horse, wanting to follow my passion. That night my horse kicked me and I couldn't stand on my feet. That same evening my dad and I had our first, good conversation. He wanted me, with the best of intentions, to study medicine or veterinary sciences. I understood him, but wanted something different. We found a compromise, I would study physiotherapy, with equine osteopathy looming in the back of my mind.’ About how the kick of a horse can define somebody’s life! ‘Otherwise I might have been a rider somewhere in Germany now? Or was the conclusion that I’m not a top rider? Or was I too optimistic and was a job as a rider not on the cards for me? It’s a coincidence and fate decided differently. So I studied physio and before and after lessons I schooled young horses. By now it had dawned on me, that if you know how to school horses then you can earn a living with it. That gave me certainty and I always kept doing that.
As a 5- and 6-year-old he took part in the WC Young Horses with Philip Gysbrechts.
‘The first horse I remember was Cassini I, I saw all videos about him. I was absolutely charmed with him, so I travelled to Germany to look for Cassini I foals. To buy one. Alas, too expensive for me. Cassini foals sold for prices upwards of € 12,500. In my search my eye was drawn to a mare, Gala, by Caretino x Landgraf I x Cor de La Bryere. And she was in foal by Cassini I. I only saw her on a picture and bought her, just like that. It was a pure gamble. That specific foal, Chaplin, was born in 2006 and turned out pretty well. Her second foal is Clockwise of Greenhill Z (Clearway), the third is Carreau of Greenhill Z (Clintissimo Z). Those first three all jump 1.60m. I schooled them myself and sold them.
Clockwise learned the ropes from Philip. As a 3-year-old he came fourth in the freejumping at the Z-Festival. A few months later Clockwise was approved as a stallion by Studbook Zangersheide.
As a 5- and 6-year-old he took part in the WC Young Horses with Philip Gysbrechts. As a 7-year-old Clockwise was sold to Paul Schockemöhle just a few months before the WC. ‘Clockwise clearly stood out when a 7-year-old. After his win in Bonheiden I was contacted by Schockemöhle who asked me if I would be interested in showing my stallion to him? I felt honoured, although the request took me by surprise. Paul was correct: if we don’t buy him we’ll give you €1,000 for expenses, he told me. So off I went to Germany with Clockwise. They tried him, that went well because Clockwise was sent straight on to the clinic for a vetting. No remarks there either. Next I was invited to go to the accounting department where they asked me for my bank account number. I had planned to go on competition that weekend but I never made it. I drove home with an empty horse trailer. I had not expected that and shed a few tears. A few months later I ran into Paul Schockemöhle at the WC in Zangersheide and I enquired after Clockwise. He was not amused and said that Clockwise was not as good as he had thought. Meanwhile he had sold him to Uma O’Neill, who bought two horses from him. I’ll tell you what I think makes the difference. For me Clockwise was the king and Uma O’Neill treats him in the same way. She bought Clockwise when he was 7 and she was 19. They were both green and inexperienced and have taught each other everything. And now look where they are! What a fine course they have accomplished together.
Uma calls him a ‘once-in-a-lifetime horse’. They live in California and we keep in regular contact. She even came over to view some other offspring by Gala in the past. Uma now has a foal by Clockwise. His main feature is his big heart. If you can win him over he’ll do anything for you. He’s smart too, he’s good at solving things in the arena. I’ll be glued to my screen when he comes into action in Tokyo!’
Tuesday the 3rd of August: individual qualification
Wednesday the 4th of August: individual final
Friday the 6th of August: qualification Nations Cup
Saturday the 7th of August: final Nations Cup