PLUS: RYAN’S RAVE, TRAINING FOR PREPARATION WITH ROGER FITZHARDINGE, KAITLIN COLLESS
CHARTS HER OWN COURSE, REDUCTION’S EXPANDING EVENTING CAREER, LIPIZZANERS IN AUSTRALIA, A CLASSICAL DRESSAGE TOUR IN PORTUGAL, HORSE SAFARIS IN AFRICA, HEADS-UP FOR A HEADSHAKER, A VET’S LOOK AT ANHIDROSIS & SUZY JARRATT ON ‘MISTY’ THE MOVIE.
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JAN / FEB 2024
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A Few Words
FROM THE PUBLISHERS
THIS YEAR IS ALL ABOUT PARIS
BY HEATH RYAN
GANGSTER’S LEAP OF FAITH
BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE
PATIENCE PAYS OFF FOR MONTANA & ‘DAVE’
BY ADELE SEVERS
A MASTERCLASS WITH VANESSA WAY
BY DR KERRY MACK
ON CLOUD NINE IN PORTUGAL
BY AMANDA YOUNG
‘MISTY’ & THE SALTWATER COWBOYS
BY SUZY JARRATT
KAITLIN COLLESS CHARTS HER OWN COURSE
BY ADELE SEVERS
ANHIDROSIS, WHAT IS IT?
BY DR MAXINE BRAIN
AFRICA IS CALLING YOU
BY EQ LIFE
HEADS-UP FOR MY HEADSHAKER
BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE
PREPARATION, PREPARATION, PREPARATION
BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE
Off the Track
REDUCTION’S EXPANDING EVENTING CAREER
BY ADELE SEVERS
EVERY LIPIZZANER COUNTS IN AUSTRALIA
BY NIKKI HARDING
Tom McDermott on Cooley Gangster. Image by Michelle Terlato Photography.
Too quirky and obstinate to become Tim Boland’s next dream eventer, he recognised Cooley Gangster’s jumping potential and offered him to Tom McDermott to take him on as a project – with stunning results.
Cooley Gangster has quite a story behind his determined growth in his equestrian endeavours to make it to the elite level and success that his ability so deserves.
Cooley Gangster started his life in Ireland and grew into a very tall and leggy bay horse that was gelded early in his life. He is by Sligo Candy Boy, who is an Irish-bred stallion, out of an Irish Sport Horse mother, Kilminchy Chance (Cruising). Gangster, as he was named, was in the yard of the very well-respected horse dealer Richard Sheehan, who is renowned for his well-appointed competition yard where he has top riders producing competition horses for sale that are highly regarded around the world.
Tom McDermott and Cooley Gangster at the Sydney World Cup qualifier, where they sealed the overall Australian League FEI Jumping World Cup series title. Image by Oz Shotz
Tim Boland is an eventer of great repute with great success and outstanding wins, and a rider who has great empathy and understanding of horses. He now runs a huge and successful pre-training yard near Wyong on the Central Coast of NSW and had been looking for an exciting new eventer. Not having any luck finding what he wanted, he went to Richard’s yard in Ireland. After viewing all that Richard had for sale, he still saw nothing that he really fancied.
As he was leaving, Richard said: “Wait, I may have one other that I wasn’t going to sell but you may like him.” Great line! Sounded like a gimmicky Irish horse dealer’s last desperate line! Gangster was brought forward. Tim had dealt with Richard before and knew this was no gimmick! Gangster was a good mover and although a little green on the flat, he had all the jump and athleticism any Olympic eventer would need. Tim was impressed and the sale proceeded.
Gangster was brought back to the wonderful stables in Wyong where he continued with Tim in training as a potential top eventer. He sure as hell had all the attributes, but his determined and somewhat arrogant nature, physical strength and steely mental attitude did not make it easy training for the dressage phase. Gangster was quirky on the ground and on his back, and had an amazing imagination about what was going to happen or get him. Tim persisted as Gangster was such an athlete, and sometimes that quirk was of benefit. He competed him several times for average dressage scores but amazing jumping phases.
Tim had some truly great eventers, including Waratah and Limitless, and had been the travelling reserve for the 2012 Olympics with GV Billy Elliot, a small whip of a brave horse who had a wonderful, albeit excitable, attitude. He had the goods and was a real trier, a real athlete with a big heart and a super dressage star who was often well in the lead after the dressage phase! Tim adored Billy and wanted to replicate him, but it was apples and oranges trying to find another like him.
“Tim had some truly great eventers…”
Tim Boland and GV Billy Elliot. Image by Michelle Terlato Photography.
Gangster was a lot taller than Tim’s usual preference, and his quirkiness on the flat did not really suit him. Tim is a bit of a softie; Gangster is the opposite. His forte was jumping. He had the heart of a lion, was an individual and a uniquely spirited yet spooky horse in a good way, if that makes sense.
Tim, who has an innate ability to link the best with the best, thought his friend Tom McDermott would be a good match to take Gangster towards World Cup level show jumping. Tom has had a great working relationship with Tim, and they respect each other.
QUIRKY AS EVER
Tom took on the challenge. Starting out in 1.10m classes, there was no question that Gangster’s talent was obvious. It was about trust and confidence. Gangster was a horse that needed to trust in his own ability and not to feel that it was being thwarted by his rider. Not always easy but his uncanny ability to be brave and leave the fences up was worth persevering with.
“Gangster is brave, expansive and expressive in his jump.”
Tom didn’t drill him on the flat but was consistent in his attitude to keep him on the straight and narrow. It was simple and basic and not about any fancy stuff. To have his trust to travel easily from fence to fence was all that was needed. His talent would see him through. Tom spends two days in the arena with simplistic control on the flat, two days simply hacking out to keep him interested, and one day a week jumping, which is Gangster’s favourite.
Cooley Gangster has an exciting career ahead of him. Image by Michelle Terlato Photography.
Now in their third year together, he agrees that Gangster is quirky and all that Tim had said about him was true. But Tom is making the most of the horse’s talent as a jumper. Gangster is brave, expansive and expressive in his jump. Tom admits that his quirk is somewhat extreme… some days he couldn’t work out how to get into the wash bay, and sometimes he would roll 50 times as if he had colic… yet did not! The list was endless. To ride, he was just as quirky. Spooky was an understatement. In the long term, brave and spooky can work together in a show jumper and this was to prove true.
Tom respects the fact that he was given Gangster as a truly international proposition, and there was no question he was.
“Tim is so professional, and I so admire him for his belief in me, and the honesty between the two of us in relation to the end result is not even spoken of,” says Tom.
“There are no expectations, but we simply make the most and do the best we can with the talent we have. It’s an amazing symbiotic working friendship and it works! We simply progress with interest and positivity, no matter what happens as we all know horses are horses and that’s what we love and accept. Gangster is the goods, and we know him and believe in him, and Tim leaves me to his progression. It’s so easy and it works so well!”
Tom and Tim decided that 2023 would be the correct timing to put Gangster, aged 11, to the test of World Cups. It was the absolute correct call and the culmination saw Tom McDermott win the overall Australian League FEI World Cup Jumping series, earning him the right to compete at the World Cup Final in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia this year. Cooley Gangster was awarded the Golden Grand prize for the best performed horse over the course of the eight-leg-series. He won the qualifiers at Tamworth and Werribee (Dressage & Jumping With The Stars), and was second in several others. He was always consistent and up at the top of the placings at every show.
The decision is that Gangster will not be travelling to the final, but instead will compete in the World Cup classes at Shepparton and Dressage & Jumping With The Stars, followed by Sydney Royal Easter Show, before heading to Europe to see how he and Tom fare in the lead-up to the Olympics.
What a journey with the most passionate and knowledgeable people! Tim Boland and Tom McDermott. Genuine, passionate and competitive, always with the horse’s wellbeing at heart. What a story so far and this would seem to be just the beginning of Gangster’s career!