A total of nine riders made it to the jump-off after a intense round of competition, which saw 48 riders taking part
Dutchman Maikel van der Vleuten and his 15-year-old VDL Groep Verdi TN won the feature event in a thrilling fashion as the Global Champions Tour kicked-off at the Al Shaqab arena yesterday.
Van der Vleuten beat the time of his nearest rival Belgian rider Gregory Wathelet with Forlap by just .08 seconds to clinch the 1.50/1.55m CSI5* class. Brazilian Eduardo Menezes with Poden Farms’ Galip finished third.
A total of nine riders made it to the jump-off after a intense round of competition, which saw 48 riders taking the field. Van der Vleuten was in right sync with VDL Groep Verdi Tn as the pair took out strides to cross the finish line in 37.73 secs.
Wathelet and Forlap quickly found top gear. But a slip on the turn back to the vertical – despite a quick recovery – would mean they would be a fraction behind, finishing on 37.85 and Wathelet ruing his hard luck. Menezes and Galip put in a strong round, jumping clear but were not quite quick enough to stop the clock on 38.99s.
“The first round [Verdi] jumped nice, we had a smooth round and it was quick enough to win the class today. At the moment [Verdi] feels very good, and very happy. I can use his big stride in a big arena like this so it suits him. We put our focus on Saturday for the Grand Prix,” said van der Vleuten, who got richer by 30,360 Euros on the night.
In the Global Champions Tour opening event, Brazil’s Marlon Modolo Zanotelli registered a sensational round on the 13-year-old Extra Van Essene to win the CSI5* 1.45m class, which carried a total prize money of 92,000 Euros.
In what turned out to be a fast-paced thriller, Zanotelli finished just 0.3s ahead of 2017 overall GCT champion Harrie Smolders (the Netherlands) on Zinius, with Henrik von Eckermann of Sweden taking third on Cantinero.
“It was fantastic, I’m very happy with my horse,” said Zanotelli, who took home 30,360 Euros for his effort. “I watched Maikel (van der Vleuten, who finished sixth) and he went fast. My wife said there was one less stride to the last and luckily it worked for me. He’s a fantastic horse, very kind and he’s always fighting for me. It’s a fantastic facility here in Doha and all the support we have here from the crowd is very nice,” the Brazilian added.
A magnificent field of elite riders, including 17 of the world’s top 20 riders, lined up for the opening CSI5* class. Great Britain’s Ben Maher took an early advantage with some deadly accurate turns on MTF Madame X in a time of 27.12s, but the leader board immediately reshuffled.
Sweden’s Peder Frericson and H&M Zaloubet rocketed home in 26.48s before Dutchman Maikel van der Vleuten and VDL Groep Quatro showed all their agility at high speed to take the lead in 25.60s.
But Zanotelli beat the competition with his long-striding 13-year-old Extra Van Essene. The duo showed tremendous team work, scorching home clear in 24.35secs.
Smolders, who made history this season by winning the 2017 tour outright at the penultimate leg in Rome, threatened to beat Zanotelli’s time with Zinius. But the pair, despite a blazing round, fell 0.3secs short of the winning time to settle for runner-up spot. Von Eckermann and Cantinero put in some brave manoeuvres, but had to be content with third place finish.
CSI5* 1.50/1.55m Table A: Against the Clock with Jump-Off
1. Maikel van der Vleuten (the Netherlands) VDL Groep Verdi Tn. Time: 37.73 secs. Prize money: 30,360 Euros
2. Gregory Wathelet (Belgium) Forlap 37.85 secs. 18,400 Euros
3. Eduardo Menezes (Brazil) Galip 38.99 secs. 13,800 Euros.
CSI5* 1.45 m Two Phases: A + A, Both Phases Against the Clock
1. Marlon Modolo Zanotelli (Brazil) Extra van Essene. Time: 24.35 secs. Prize money: 8,250 Euros
2. Harrie Smolders (the Netherlands) Zinius. 24.65 secs. 5,000 Euros
3. Henrik von Eckermann (Sweden) Cantinero. 24.83 secs. 3,750.
10:45: National Class 1/1.15m Against the clock (QR10,000)
13:15: National Class 1.20/1.30m Against the clock (QR20,000)
15:00: CSI5* 1.45m Two Phase (€25,000)
17:30: CSI5* 1.50/1.55m Global Champions League Round 1 (€92,000 individual class winner)
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