Devin Ryan (USA) rode a blistering track in the $216,000 Longines FEI World CupTM Jumping New York at the CSI4* American Gold Cup on Sunday to top a five horse jump off that included reigning World Cup champion McLain Ward.
And he did it riding an eight-year-old gelding!
Eddie Blue is the same horse that earned Ryan a sixth place finish in the CSI5* Saugerties $1 Million Grand Prix just the week prior. Despite his young age, he’s proving a consistent performer.
Here’s what we know about Ryan’s promising young mount.
1. Ryan knew he had something special in Eddie Blue early on.
Originally dubbed “Ed Hardy,” Ryan acquired the Netherlands born gelding when he was four years of age and has brought him along in America.
“I knew since he was five that he had it all to jump the big classes,” said Ryan. “Eddie is a great horse.”
2. He’s biggest concern is the clock.
At this stage in the young horse’s career, Ryan’s main challenge with Eddie Blue is making the time allowed. The pair caught a time fault in both of the FEI ranking classes in Saugerties, NY the week earlier, but managed to squeak in under the 83 second time allowed in the first round of the World Cup, stopping the clock at 82.65 seconds.
“Always I worry about time allowed,” admitted the New Jersey-based rider. “He’s such a big jumper that he spends a little extra time in the air at times. But I think that there have been enough classes this season that I’ve proven it’s not an issue.”
3. Ryan has yet to find a jump Eddie can’t manage.
This year, Eddie Blue has shown in 20 FEI ranking classes at eight different shows, never pulling more than a single rail. (He jumped clear in 11 of those classes.)
“He jumps every fence great,” continued Ryan. “I haven’t seen a fence that is a challenge, [nor] a combination that’s been challenging for him. There’s nothing I’ve jumped that he’s not been able to conquer.”
4. The American Gold Cup marks the young horse’s first FEI World Cup appearance.
And his third ever 1.60m class. Ryan says he strategically chose Old Salem Farm for his World Cup debut because of it’s large Grand Prix field.
“I slowly built him throughout the season and used him as my second horse. I did him in the ranking classes, but the smaller ones,” said Ryan. “He’s been going so strong. He’s a very brave horse. A field like this suits him with his brig stride and big scope, and it gives us time to organize. The field fits the horse, and I thought it was a great place to step up and see what he brought.”
5. Ryan believes age is relative
While the KWPN gelding is among the youngest in the field, he was not the only eight year old on course posting clear rounds in Sunday’s World Cup Qualifier.
“I know there’s a lot of people out there who say, ‘Wow, he’s eight years old,’” said the 35-year-old rider. “Mario [Deslauriers’] horse is eight years old out there jumping great clean rounds. I think it really just depends on the horse. You have to feel your horse. They are no different than kids. You have to know when to put your kid out in the field or when to say hey, this might be too much. You have to really know the individual.”
6. They’re making a bid to qualify for the 2018 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final
“That’s my plan,” said Ryan. “I went to Bromont and things didn’t quite work out there. I didn’t get any points. I came here. My plan now is to go to Washington and Kentucky and see what happens.”
If he qualifies for Paris, it’ll be Ryan’s first World Cup Final appearance.
7. But he wouldn’t necessarily take Eddie Blue
“The World Cup Final is indoor and this horse has no indoor experience. I’m going to take him to Washington and Kentucky and use him as my second horse, just get his feet wet—see what he does indoors, see how he reacts to that atmosphere,” shared Ryan.
“If he reacts great in Washington, which is a much smaller ring, I might use him in Kentucky for the Sunday there. We’ll just have to see.”
With 20 points, Ryan is now tied with Isabelle Lapierre (CAN) and Conor Swail (IRL) for the lead Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping North American League—East Coast. In total, seven riders from the East will earn a spot at the Final in Paris, France next April. But with 11 more FEI World Cup Qualifiers to go in the North American League season, it’s still anyone’s game.
Stay tuned for Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Sacramento, October 4th–8th.