vitiki © CHIG / Soraya Exquis

“Vitiki is part of the family”

The relationship between Yuri Mansur and the horse closest to his heart is founded on tenderness, kindness and the strongest of bonds. Though his injury woes are a source of no little concern for his rider and owner and have made him something of a “beast of sorrow”, the beautiful chestnut Vitiki is an undoubted star in the arena.

vitiki © CHIG / Soraya Exquis

“I knew from the very first jump it was different,” says Yuri Mansur. “I tried a lot of horses that day. I didn’t pay much attention to him when they brought me to him, but when we cleared that first obstacle…” That jump was the start of a love story between the yellow-jacketed rider and the chestnut, who was nine at the time and had no wins to his name. That did not worry Mansur, who quickly formed a telepathic understanding with the horse. The feeling was there, no question, and the results were immediate. “When I bought him, in late 2017, he’d only jumped 1.30m courses, but the following May we went and won the Nations Cup in La Baule. The progress was so fast I decided to go to Aachen.”

From despair…

No sooner had the pair begun hitting the heights, however, than fate dealt them an unfortunate blow. After completing a clear round in the Grand Prix at the CSIO 5* Aachen, the chestnut stumbled at an obstacle in the jump-off and fractured a phalanx. The diagnosis was grim and Vitiki’s jumping career looked to be over. However, the vets reckoned without the tenacity of this star horse, a fighter in and out of the arena, and his partner, who was driven by an insatiable desire to save him. “It was a drama on a sporting and emotional level, because we had such high hopes of him and because he was part of the family and I was so attached to him,” adds Mansur. Against all expectations, Vitiki slowly but surely and calmly recovered, as his rider explains: “He stayed in his stable for the best part of eight months, but he was as sweet and gentle as ever. He’s a very intelligent horse and he knows when to save his energy and when to use it, in competitions for example.”

Having weathered the storm, Vitiki returned to competition, though Mansur felt he was some way short of his peak form. As it turned out, there was good reason for that, with the horse having developed a cyst on his nose and needing to undergo extensive surgery. After being sidelined for two months, the chestnut made another comeback, to the delight of his rider. The pair placed in virtually every World Cup event they took part in, falling just short of the podium at the World Cup Finals in Omaha this April, though not before another injury scare. “A fortnight before we travelled to the USA, Vitiki suffered a cut in the elbow area that required 12 stitches and left him with a huge swelling. I never imagined he’d recover in time for the finals. Then, three days before the vet was due to visit, my groom sends me a photo of a chestnut horse’s front leg with seven stitches in it. It was April Fool’s Day and I thought it was a joke, but no! Vitiki had been kicked getting off a lorry, though he recovered incredibly quickly once again and we went on to have an amazing final.”

… to hope

Vitiki’s health remained an issue as 2023 dawned, as he picked up a hoof infection that took a while to respond to treatment. Things seem to be looking a good deal brighter now, however. “This is the first time since May that his frogs have looked really good,” reveals Mansur. “I’m hoping to get Vitiki back on track, and if he can reproduce his form of the start of the year, he’ll be in with a shout of making the Olympic Games. I’m managing the deadlines between my three top horses (Vitiki, QH Alfons Santo Antonio, and Miss Blue-Saint Blue Farm) to make sure they’re ready and fresh when decision time comes for the Games. If he doesn’t go to Paris, I’d love to ride him one last time at Aachen before giving him a lovely and well-deserved retirement at home.” Before that comes a CSI 5* CHIG debut for Vitiki and his rider. We wish them the very best.

Sophie Lebeuf

vitiki © CHI / Photo Bujard

Vitiki in brief

Born on 14 March 2008

Studbook Hannovrien

By Valentino 240 (KWPN) out of Finja by For Expo 2000 (KWPN)


Vitiki outside the arena: kind and gentle

Vitiki in the arena: a warrior, intelligent, a trier

Main shortcoming: injury prone


Winner, Nations Cup, La Baule 2018

2nd, Grand Prix, CSIO La Baule, 2022

4th, Grand Prix, CSI 5*-W Leipzig, January 2023

3rd, Grand Prix, CSI 5*-W Amsterdam, January 2023

4th, World Cup Finals, Omaha, April 2023

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