Itot Towers over Grand Prix field
An early morning start was required of the GCT riders because of fitting in all the main arena classes before the Grand Prix and it was early bird Eric Lamaze who won the opening speed class. Riding nine year old mare Take Off, who has only recently returned to action after a slight injury and a two month lay off Eric beat 45 other starters to win. His time of 54.33 snatched the lead from Jessica Kurten and another mare, Castle Forbes Cosma, whose time of 54.37 held the top position for most of the class. Bernado Alves was third on Kingly du Reverdy, striking another blow for mares in GCT classes.
But the 15'000 strong crowd was waiting for the VDL Group sponsored Grand Prix, which at first looked as if course designer Uliano Vezzani might have over done it after three of the first five retired. The double in front of the grand stand at four was undoubtedly the bogey fence although a bicycle shaped upright at eight was nearly as troublesome. Despite this there were still 14 clear rounds that made it through to the second round and these included such names as Marco Kutscher, Meredith Michaels Beerbaum, Jessica Kurten and Michel Robert not forgetting the current Olympic and World champions, Eric Lamaze and Jos Lansink respectively.
The changed course in the second round looked deceptively simple but soon whittled down the 18 who had made it thus far. Marcus Ehning was the first to go clear and must be ruing his first round mistake on Noltes Kuchengirl which left him on four faults. Countryman Marco Kutscher was the first to go double clear on Cornet Obolensky and he was soon joined by Jos (Valentina Van T'Heike) , Eric (Hickstead), Meredith (Shutterfly), Edwina (Itot du Chateau), Michel (Kellemoi de Pepita) and to Dutch delight Piet Raijmaker (Van Schinjlers Rascin). It was a related distance from one to the second on a curving line that had proved the toughest challenge in this phase, and stopped both Kevin Staut (Le Prestige de St Lois) and Leon Thijssen (Tyson) amongst others, getting any closer to the prize.
The jump off started with a safe clear from Marco Kutscher but his grey stallion was not that slow and although leaving room to be bettered, 38.99 certainly was quick enough for some pressure to be put on the rest. Piet Raijmaker could not quite match his other two rounds and dropped a rail but then the really big guns entered to fight it out for the 95'000Euro winners purse. Shutterfly, doubtless the favourite in most people's minds, did indeed jump like the legend he is and despite several mistakes later admitted by his rider, finished in a speedy 35.81, which all the remaining riders knew would take some doing to beat. Jos Lansink conjoured up another clear from his horse despite a breastplate breaking en route but was slower in 37.56. Michel Robert, showing the same panache that got him on the podium in Arezzo, nearly caught Meredith but could not find quite the stride he wanted to the last and had to make an adjustment which probably cost him the half second he failed by, but 35.95 was going to be good enough for third. That left two to go. Edwina, who had been rather disappointed with her mistake in the first round at Rio, set off as if the hounds of hell were after her and Itot du Chateau, who could barely see over some of the fences, looked as eager as she to win. It was probably the handbrake turn into the fourth fence that won the day although the other turn at six was equally audacious. There was a hushed silence as everyone looked at the score board and saw she was four tenths of a second faster than Meredith. The crowd were over joyed, because as a Dutch resident Edwina was probably the next best thing to one of their own winning. But there was still the small matter of Eric Lamaze on another small horse with a big heart to beat. Hickstead though, was just not quite able to turn as quickly as his rivals on the grass surface and finished on 36.43; this time fourth would have to do.
Not exactly a home win but as Edwina is based at Valkensward with partner and trainer Jan Tops who was as delightd as Edwina. “I am thankful we have such good sponsors as VDL, CN, Rolex and Miracle Africa International Foundation which has enabled us to run this show for so many years and hopefully for many more to come. It really was top sport today.”
Edwina is also the leader of the GCT Rankings and the top 25 riders who have qualified for the GCT Final in Doha can be found on the attached PDF document.
In other news Jessica Kurten officially retired her long time partner Lady Georgina Forbes' Quibell, who jumped clear in the first round but faulted twice in the second to a standing ovation from the fans. Yesterday she had admitted this was her plan and said she had wanted to go out with a good performance which Quibell, ever consistent, duly delivered.
1.Eric Lamaze (CAN), Take Off, 0,54.33.
2.Jessica Kurten (IRE), Castle Forbes Cosma, 0, 54.37.
3.Bernado Alves (BRA), Kingly du Reverdy, 0, 54.78
Class 2- VDL Group Grand Prix
1.Edwina Alexander (AUS) Itot du Chateau, 0,0,0, 35.49. Euro95'000
2.Meredith Michaels Beerbaum (GER) Shutterfly, 0,0,0, 35.81. Euro57'000
3.Michel Robert (FRA) Kellemoi de Pipita, 0,0,0, 35.91 Euro38'000
4.Eric Lamaze (CAN) Hickstead, 0,0,0, 36.43 Euro21'850
QuotesEric Lamaze- “This is a good horse (Take Off) and it is really pleasing, she has only really jumped at Spruce since her time off. As for this show, I am really enjoying it. It is just like the ones back home, lots going on, lots of people teaching and training as well as jumping, it has been good fun.”
Edwina Alexander “ Last time in Rio, I knew I made a mistake but I was faster than than Eric, I was just hoping the same would happen today. It might have looked easy but the courses were tough and Uliano is a genius, for building such an amazing course.”
Meredith Michaels Beerbaum- “I have to admit, I have ridden better, I was all over the place but my horse is super, he got me out of trouble. He is a great horse even with a rider only half there!”
Michel Robert- “ today as it was Edwina's home, it was only polite to let the ladies go first but in Doha, I will not be such a gentleman....!”
All pictures by www.tempsdeposes.be
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© Cyberhorse 2009 Lulu Kyriacou