Steve Guerdat’s Is-Minka is not a proven contender by any means.
At 11 years of age, the KWPN Warmblood mare had just 11 rounds at 1.60m under her hooves—three from this past month alone—heading into the penultimate leg of the Western European League of the FEI Jumping World Cup on Saturday.
It’s a not a new partnership nor a particularly sparkling one at the top sport. In the Swiss Olympic champion’s string since 2020, Is-Minka jumped her first 1.60m class in 2023. In 11 rounds at the height, the mare has just a 9% clear round average, according to Jumpr App.
But her stats at lower levels tell a different story. At her bread-and-butter heights of 1.45m and 1.50m where she’s jumped 25 and 35 rounds, respectively, Is-Minka’s clear round average jumps to 60%. At 1.40m (40 rounds), it jumps to 65%.
The grey mare logged her best finish to date last May with a 5* 1.55m win in Hamburg, Germany, followed by a 3* 1.50m Grand Prix win at Saint-Lô, France in August.
“She should have left me last year after she won a Grand Prix,” shared the reigning European Champion and world no. 4. “But thanks to my father-in-law, he secured her for me so she could stay and go the whole way with me.”
On Saturday, Is-Minka stamped her name on the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Bordeaux in France and her place in top sport.
Guerdat and KWPN mare (Mylord Carthaog x Flyinge Quite Easy) were the first of six pairs to qualify for Jean-François Morand’s 1.60m jump off at Jumping International de Bordeaux. Executing smooth and speedy rollbacks and a long gallop to the last, they set the standard at 40.34 seconds.
Five more gave chase. None came close. France’s Jeanne Sadran (22) and Dexter de Kerglenn logged the second fastest time with a double clear in 41.75. World no. 13 Harry Charles of Great Britain (24) and Sherlock finished third in 42.81.
“It’s so exciting, I’m really, really happy! We had a bit of bad luck with a lot of four faults in our first 5-Star Grand Prix, but today she showed what she’s capable of and I think it’s only the beginning of a very successful story with her!” said Guerdat.
A three-time World Cup Final winner, Guerdat has booked his ticket to the 2023/2024 Final in Riyadh with points on four different horses: Is-Minka, Double Jeu D’Honvault, Dynamix de Belheme and Venard de Cerisy. He’s spoiled for options come April.
The 14th and final leg of the Western European League will take place in Gothenburg, Sweden in three weeks’ time.