It was five days of unmissable showjumping action at this year’s Nissan Winter Classic as riders competed in 39 hotly-contested events at Shongweni Club from 13 to 17 June – culminating in one of the biggest international FEI World Cup classes. And this year, the 1.5m Nissan FEI World Cup Qualifier was clinched by Limpopo’s Chris van der Merwe (25) riding Capital’s Chantilly.
This has been a stellar year so far for van der Merwe – sponsored by BB Auto Nissan Polokwane and Studs Clothing – who came into the Nissan Winter Classic having taken both the Nissan Easter Festival and Reonet World Cup titles earlier this year. This latest win adds to an already impressive 20-year riding career which includes two President Cups, an Outdoor Grand Prix, as well as the 1.35 and 1.40 SA Champs in 2017.
The Nissan Winter Classic has always been a favourite for Van der Merwe, having won the Young Rider’s Series on his horse, Little Big Time previously, as well as jumping his first ever World Cup Qualifier on Domino in 2014.
Going into this year’s contest, Van der Merwe stated: “Capital’s Chantilly is my best horse and one of the top three leading horses in the World Cup so far.” These words proved true as he managed to take the lead over renowned South African showjumper, Nicole Horwood (Kyalami) – four-time winner of the SA Showjumping Derby – riding Capital’s Don Cumarco.
In addition to taking the main title class, Van der Merwe was also one of a three-way tie in this year’s exciting Nissan 6 Bar Event. Van der Merwe – riding two-time winner of the 2018 and 2019 6 Bar contest, Capital’s Castigo – joined Team Nissan’s rider, Oscar Ncube (Kyalami) on Nelbie van Het Heyveld Z, and Leona van der Merwe on Capital’s Cascord, to clear the 1.95cm jump this year.
“Nissan would like to extend its congratulations to all the riders for putting on an incredible performance at this year’s event,” said Mike Whitfield, Managing Director of Nissan SA. “We would also like to thank all the spectators that came out to support the riders while enjoying the stalls and entertainment on offer. It was another spectacular showjumping event featuring the competitive spirit and camaraderie that is so in sync with the Nissan brand.”
The Nissan Winter Classic forms the third of five elite events that make up the South African leg of the World Cup Jumping qualifiers. This annual event is renowned for attracting the country’s best riders, among them husband-and-wife team, Barry Taylor and Lorette Knowles-Taylor (Gauteng); renowned international showjumper, dressage rider and instructor, Dominey Alexander (Gauteng); as well as the Triggol family (Gauteng) – Govett (winner of the 2019 Cup Qualifier at Stokkiesdraai) alongside son, Thomas and daughter, Cayleigh.
Grant Langley, Nissan Winter Classic event organizer and one of South Africa’s most respected riders, said: “A huge thanks you to our flagship sponsor Nissan who has been instrumental in developing the sport in KwaZulu-Natal across all levels of equestrian jumping.
“It’s a great team effort and we look forward to continuing to grow the event. It was fantastic to see such high class jumping. Our international course designer (Michel Ismalun from France FEI Level 3, assisted by Cape Town’s Kevin Sprately from Cape Town FEI Level 3) said this is the only country he has built in where he has witnessed such a tremendous growth in our riders and horses, and we have some fantastic young riders coming through which is very exciting for the future.”
Alongside the showjumping entertainment, visitors to the Nissan Winter Classic enjoyed family fun in the dedicated Nissan children’s zone, the popular Nissan vehicle display and test drive, and a range of quality market stalls.
The annual Nissan Winter Classic also gives back to the local community in the form of charitable donations aimed at improving the local educational facilities. Funds raised by Foresyte Shows & Langley Equestrian Centre in 2019 will continue to contribute to enhancing the facilities at Umthombomuhle School in the Hammarsdale area, benefitting more than 100 schoolchildren.
Nissan Winter Classic 2019 Winners
The 1.5m Nissan FEI World Cup Qualifier
1st: Capital’s Chantilly – Chris van der Merwe (Limpopo)
2nd: Capital’s Don Cumarco – Nicole Horwood
3rd: Eldo – Ashlee Healy
The Horsebox Equestrian Pony Rider 1.15m KZN Championship
1st: Silkwood Lickity Split – Bella Hackland (Eston)
2nd – My Irish Boy – Alexandra Ric-hansen
3rd: Rasta – Helen Criticos
The Horse Box Equestrian 1.20m Adult Championship
1st: Artav’s La Conda – Amy Engelbrecht (Summerveld)
2nd: Prism – Jessica Prince
3rd; Seeis Alioucoura – Christi Lyn Davis
The 1.40/1.45m Nissan Rider’s Grand Prix Tour
1st: Rivendell’s Chancellor – Matthew Morrison (Kyalami)
2nd: Mark White Nissan’s Capital’s Kronos – Nicole Horwood
3rd: Ultimo WC – Lara Neill
The Nissan 6-bar Event – at 1.95cm Its was a three-way tie for the Nissan 6 Bar!
1st: Nelbie van Het Heyveld Z – Oscar Ncube (Kyalami)
1st: Capital’s Cascord – Leona Van Der Merwe
1st: Capital’s Castigo – Chris Van Der Merwe
The Forsyte 1.50m Rider’s Championship
1st: Clyde Z – Cathryn Neill
2nd: Capital’s Chantilly – Chris van der Merwe
3rd: Counter Attack – Barry Taylor
For full results of the Nissan Winter Classic, check The Winter Classic 2019 and SA Showjumping on Facebook, visit www.foresyte.co.za, or contact Grant Langley on 082 859 2160.