Canadian 5* Jumping Roster Bolstered by Tim Wilks

With Knock Out Van't Paradijs in the CSI2* at the 2018 Paris Longines Masters
Credit : Sportfot

Thursday 14 February - 14h12 | Equestrian Canada (edited)

Canadian 5* Jumping Roster Bolstered by Tim Wilks

Canada has added another 5* jumping athlete to its ranks: 24-year-old Tim Wilks of Henley-on-Thames, GBR, has switched his registered nationality with the FEI to ride under the Maple Leaf.

 - Canadian 5* Jumping Roster Bolstered by Tim Wilks

During the course walk for the 2* at the 2017 London Longines Global Champions Tour
Credit : Sportfot

“I grew up in the Isle of Man, which is a small island that is part of the British Commonwealth,” said Wilks. “It is situated in the middle of the Irish Sea between Ireland and northern England. My grandparents ran a riding school on the Island, and I started riding there and in the fields outside my back garden on badly behaved ponies, jumping branches, sticks, barrels, and anything else we could find.”

While Wilks grew up in the British Isles, he has also held Canadian citizenship since birth. His father is Canadian, and the paternal side of his family remains 5,847 miles across the Atlantic Ocean. In addition to the family connection, Canada holds a strong allure for Wilks because of its sheer size – with a land mass over 17,000 times larger than the Isle of Man, Canada offers much more to see and do, with the added bonus of four distinct seasons. For contrast, Wilks explained, “The Isle of Man is 14 miles wide, 32 miles long, and it is perpetually autumn!”

Wilks’ first event competing for his new nation was in September 2018 at the CSI 3* competition in Bonheiden, BEL. “I was incredibly proud, as I had dreamed of riding under the maple leaf flag for a number of years,” said Wilks of the experience. “Representing Canada has always been something that I’ve thought about and wanted to do. However, being born in the UK, riding under the British flag felt like the natural choice to begin my career. Up until a few years ago, the flag I was riding under didn’t play a huge role in my riding career because I wasn’t in the position to be representing either country. However, at this point, this feels like the right time to make the change and continue to progress and move up the ranks under the Canadian flag.”

The horse Wilks is focusing his efforts on is Quelbora Merze (Tarzan de Beaulieu x If de Merze), a 15-year-old Selle Français gelding owned by IN Showjumpers. They partnered together in January 2016, and just one year later were selected to represent Great Britain in nations cup competition. Wilks and Quelbora Merze jumped double-clear in the Lisbon, POR CSIO 3* and Falsterbo, SWE CSIO 5* competitions for an impressive nations cup debut. 

“He is the strangest, but most wonderful horse you will ever meet,” said Wilks of his chestnut mount. “He is incredibly sensitive; for him it is very important he has a groom that he likes and who loves him. Luckily for him, my amazing groom, Karin Andersson, loves him! He would follow her anywhere. In conformation, he looks more like a racehorse. He does not have amazing scope, but tries his heart out, has a very consistent technique, and is very light on his feet.”

In addition to Quelbora Merze, Wilks brings an equally impressive string of young talent to ride for Canada: three seven-year-old horses, an eight-year-old, and a nine-year-old he is currently competing with in the 2019 Mediterranean Equestrian Tour (MET) in Oliva, ESP.

After the MET, Wilks plans to attend several shows at the 3, 4 and 5* level in Europe over the summer, and eventually hopes to make his way overseas to compete at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, AB. His jam-packed schedule is a testament to his determination to earn a spot on the Canadian Show Jumping Team for nations cup competitions, and, with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics looming on the horizon, for major games.

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