If you see a certain German standing ringside, quietly but intently, know he’s doing a bit more than just memorizing his course.

Twenty-five-year-old Richard Vogel lost his rookie status quite some time ago, He’s well within the top 100 riders on the Longines World Ranking list, finding success at the 2021 World Championships in Lanaken and in numerous FEI World Cup classes since then. Being a continued student of the sport, however, is a label he’s keen to keep. As he planned his jump-off track for Thursday’s Adequan® CSI4* WEF Challenge Round 10 at Wellington International, Vogel had his eyes on the veterans. McLain Ward (USA), in particular.

Ward returned to Wellington fresh off his 5* Rolex Grand Prix win in s’Hertogenbosch with HH Azur. For Week 10’s Challenge Cup the Olympic Gold Medalist campaigned 13-year-old Kasper Van Het Hellehof, and negotiated the Andy Christiansen Jr. designed track in a fiercely competitive 38.21 seconds.

“The plan was to start from the right so I that I would land on the left lead and do nine strides to the next, and I got there well enough thanks to his big stride. I slowed down in front of the oxer a little bit to get a good rollback to the next vertical. I got there in eight strides and I saw McLain, who was just before me, did nine so I knew I’d be a little ahead of him there,” said Vogel.

Ahead of Ward he was, and his one-less effort with nine-year-old Cepano Baloubet earned them a 36.02 on the clock, about two seconds faster. The win boils down to Vogel’s trust in Cepano Baloubet, a relatively young horse with only nine rounds at 1.50m to date, and his last minute ability to adapt his plan after watching more experienced riders. And, not only when they take a crack at the course.

“Riders like McLain have tremendous experience and you can learn a lot from them. I like to watch him a bit in the warm-ups, and then obviously also in the ring and where he makes up time in a jump-off. I think you can learn a lot just watching those kinds of riders,” explained Vogel.

This is Vogel’s second CSI4* win with Cepano Baloubet this season, and his stats are in an upwards trend. The gelding has a 44% clear round and 44% top ten finish average at 1.50m, and Vogel himself has an overall 48% clear round average, according to Jumpr App. The German rider has already accrued 926,524 euro in prize money, but with some big Grand Prix approaching he’ll look to turn that into a seven figure number.

Beyond the numbers, Vogel has a good feeling of direction he’s currently headed with his string, both with his young horses and veteran partners. Reflecting on some positive progress, he heads into Saturday’s $226,000 Horseware Ireland CSI4* Grand Prix on the right stride.

“I’ve had a great season and the horses are all jumping very well. I have some young horses that have been moving up the levels and have made great progress and then I have the older horses who are jumping very well also,” said Vogel.

Feature image: Sportfot