Modolo Zanotelli and his long-striding horse Extra van Essene clinched
their second win of the week after the pair won the feature class of
yesterday’s Global Champions Tour.
Under the lights at the magnificent Al Shaqab arena, Zanotelli and his 13-year-old gelding Extra van Essene made it two in a row clinching the CSI5* 1.45/1.50m, to go with Thursday’s win in the 1.45 two-phase competition.
The pair once again pushed the Netherlands’ Harrie Smolders and Zinius to second palce, who had also finished runner-up the previous day. Lauren Hough of USA and the 14-year-old Waterford, took third spot.
Zanotelli was the last to go in the 11-strong jump-off, who made the cut from 40-rider field. The Brazilian had a mountain to climb after the 2017 GCT overall champion Smolders had thrown down the gauntlet with a 50.75secs round with his 13-year-old gelding Zinius.
But Zanotelli was immaculate with his jump as Extra van Essene seemed to have taken the liking to the Al Shaqab arena, clearing the hurdles with ease. The winning time was 50.42secs, just .033secs better than Smolders, who had a wry smile after being pipped for the second time in two nights by Zanotelli.
“The horse is jumping amazingly. He’s fantastic and so careful, and he can really gallop. He makes my life easier!,” said Zanotelli, who pumped his fist repeatedly in delight after the triumph.
“Harrie (Smolders) is one of the fastest riders in the world – to see him go was a chance for me to watch, and then I just hoped for the best,” added the 29-year-old.
Qatar’s Olympic rider Sheikh Ali bin Khalid al-Thani had a disappointing night, finishing 39th with Armstrong van de Kapel.
The big one – CSI5* 1.60m Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Doha will be held tonight, with the feature class carrying a total prize money of €400,000. Despite Smolders’ title triumph, the riders are set for a captivating battle for the overall ranking places in the last stop of GCT season.
Only 15 points split the second to sixth-placed rider. Italy’s de Luca is currently in second place on 260 points just three ahead of Germany’s Christian Ahlmann. Italian Alberto Zorzi is two points away on 255 points, while Dutch rider Maikel van der Vleuten and two-time GCT champion Scott Brash of Britain are on 247 and 245 points respectively.
GCL set for thrilling finale today
Meanwhile, the second season of the Global Champions League team event is set for a nail-biting finish today. With just 17 points difference between the Hamburg Diamonds and defending GCL Champions Valkenswaard United, the battle for the overall League title has reached a new intensity.
On Thursday, the big guns came out in full force for the first round of the GCL at Al Shaqab, with Mexico Amigos taking pole but there was high drama in the battle between championship contenders Diamonds and United.
Setting up an unmissable finale to the GCL season, both the Diamonds and United pulled out all the stops to keep their title dreams alive. United rider Bertram Allen - who teamed up with Alberto Zorzi in Thursday night’s first round said: “We’re delighted with our horses’ performance today and knew we had to go double clear to be in with a chance. The Diamonds are strong but for sure we’ll be fighting until the end.”
Thursday night’s competition hinged on clear rounds and three teams produced double clears under the lights at Al Shaqab. Mexico Amigos lead the way into today’s finale as the fastest of the faultless trio, with the Paris Panthers and defending champions Valkenswaard United heading the pack of 18 teams.
“We are in the best position,” said Henrik von Eckermann of the Mexico Amigos after their pole position. “Both horses jumped really well. If we win, we are third (in the overall championship) so that is what we are trying for.” His teammate Evelina Tovek added: “I’m really happy to produce a clear round for the team.”
Coming in to the final leg, it was the Hamburg Diamonds who held the best cards and just need to finish in the top eight today to claim the title. However, a surprise nine-fault total puts them in 11th place with a fight on their hands if they are to soar ahead of their rivals United to be crowned GCL champions of 2017.
Bassem Hassan Mohamed for the host team Doha Fursan Qatar, who were sitting seventh in the overall championship, boosted his team’s chances with a clear on the scopey Gunder after Sheikh Ali’s six-fault round on First Devision. They sit one ahead of the Lions in ninth.
Class CSI5* 1.45/1.50m (Table A: Against the Clock with Jump-Off)
1. Marlon Modolo Zanotelli (Brazil) Horse: Extra van Essene; Time: 50.42secs. Prize money: €30,360
2. Harrie Smolders (the Netherlands); Zinius; 50.75secs; €18,400
3. Lauren Hough (USA); Waterford; 52.22secs; €13,800
9am: Hathab National Class 1.20/1.30m Two Phase (QR25,000)
11:30am: Hathab National Class 1.30/1.40m Two Phase (QR35,000)
2pm CSI5* 1.55/1.60m Global Champions League Final (€160,000 to individual class winner + €200,000 to team winner)
6pm CSI5* 1.60m Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Doha (€400,000)
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