Competition at its finest is the best way to describe the second day of the Spring Event at Tops International Arena.
The main class, the 4* 1.50/1.55m against the clock, was won by Belgian top rider Jos Verlooy with the 12-year-old BWP mare Jacobien Dwerse Hagen. The 25-year-old from Grobbendonk was happy with the performance of Jacobien.
“I am very happy, my horse did a great job. I had a plan and it went like I wanted. You always get nervous when Marcus comes into the ring when you are leading. He came close, but today I was better,” he said smiling. “My horse is naturally very fast and I think I gained time on the vertical towards the double, but I rode a good pace everywhere.”
German Marcus Ehning was thus second with Calanda and young Bryan Balsiger finished in third place with Dubai du Bois Pinchet for Switzerland.
Jeroen Dubbeldam does it again
Jeroen Dubbeldam and his Forever SFN won the 4* 1.45 m competition presented by AMADUS for the second day in a row.
“Yesterday was more or less a warm-up with a very friendly built course. Today it was a bit harder and more demanding and it was a ranking test. My horse felt very good, just like yesterday,” he said. “I had seen Willem Greve riding and he took the lead. That put me on edge! My horse gave me a fantastic feeling and he cooperated very well.”
Jeroen liked the new format of a jump-off [immediately] after a clear first round. “All the adrenaline is still there from the first round. I would almost say that it is easier this way than a jump-off [after] the first round. You have to warm up the horses again then,” he said. “I think it’s a good format and it’s better for the horses.”
What are Jeroen’s plans for Sunday: “Of course I hope to win again, but tomorrow will be a bit tougher,” he said. “I don’t think I will start Forever. He has done a great job for two days now and tomorrow he can stay in his stable. Tomorrow I want to start Oak Grove’s Carlyle in the Grand Prix. He gave me a good feeling yesterday as well.”
Willem Greve and Highway M TN had to settle for second place and American Lucas Porter came third with Hope Street.
The Young Horses kicked off on Saturday morning and it was Britain’s top rider Ben Maher who eventually managed to set the fastest lap with the seven-year-old Point Break (SWB). The 38-year-old, who won the silver medal at the European Championships in 2019, was happy to be riding on the grass of Tops International Arena again.
“It’s always great here but now that there is grass again it gives a nicer feeling in such a big arena,” he said. “Entering an arena with such good conditions gives you a special feeling. Especially for the young horses, who are the new generation, it is great to see such a great arena.”
Maher has not been riding Point Break for long. “It was the first time I rode him on grass,” he said. “Charlotte (Rossetter) bought him for me at the end of last year and I have been able to ride him and get to know him the last few months in the USA. He is really growing here in this arena, I think he has a lot of potential for the future.”
Second and third place went to a Dutch combination: Remco Been with Jasper and Patrick van der Schans with Jager. Best six-year-old was Cabelensky Z who finished in fourth place with Marc Houtzager.
Irish rider Darragh Kenny was supreme in the 2* event. He repeated a Friday victory in the 1.40m class with an incredible fast round. He was over five seconds faster than second-placed Johnny Pals. He crossed the finish line in 57.16 seconds with the 14-year-old KWPN mare Cicomein VDL. A little later he also won the 1.45m class with the Holsteiner stallion VDL Cartello. Kenny runs his own training and trading stable Oakland Stables and gives training courses both in the Netherlands and the USA.
Dutchman Johnny Pals had saddled Excentriek for the 1.40m class and rode a clear round in 62.27 seconds. The third place was for the British rider Joe Clee and Ballinalard (63.14).
German rider Marcus Ehning came second in the 1.45m class with Cristy, just like Friday, followed by Brazilian Eduardo Menezes with H Big Action in third place.
Spanish rider Pilar Lucrecia Cordon also repeated her success and won the 1.35m class. She had the gelding Seawillow saddled and drove in the jump off, which had 14 combinations, in 29.62 seconds over the finish line. Second place was for the Dutch Teddy van de Rijt with Herma and third place went to Inigo Lopez de la Osa Franco with Rodin la Gaffeliere for Monaco.
The 1.35m class (against the clock) was won by Irish rider Diarmuid Howley. The 29-year-old, who is based in Grönwohld, Germany, rode a clear round with the eight-year-old Holsteiner stallion Clover VA in 59.41 seconds. Austrian Felix Koller came second with Nebraska van ‘t Vianahof in 0/63.84. Howley also took third place with Dafina VA.
In the 18-horse jump-off of the 1.25m competition, the 17-year-old Dutchman Stijn Testers had the fastest clear round with the KWPN mare Kyvana. Even though Stijn is still young, this is already his fourth season at Tops International Arena. British Tess Carmichael came second with Bangle SR and Teddy van de Rijt finished in third place with Hyon for the Netherlands.
British Imogen Beecroft won the 1.15m with Roscoe’s Amour with a super fast ride in 56.67 seconds. She was almost seven seconds faster than the second placed Alice Wachman. Beecroft managed to also win the 1.10m competition on Friday with the same horse. Wachman finished second with Cesha OLD and third with SIEC Cros.