In a thrilling final showdown at the Tops International Arena, Penelope Leprevost and Verite Une Prince powered to victory in the last class of the weekend in the Longines Global Champions Tour of Valkenswaard.
The last day of competition at the venue saw plenty of drama, but it was the lightning-fast French lady Leprevost who denied Abdel Said the win with Arpege du Ru, the popular Egyptian rider finishing second and just ahead of last to go Yuri Mansur with Ibelle ASK.
A delighted Leprevost praised her horse, saying: “Even after the rain the ground here is amazing. I am very proud of my mare, yesterday I had a stupid fault so I am happy today she can win. I thought I was too slow to the last but in the end, my mare is so fast.”
Uliano Vezzani’s final 1.50m course of the weekend featured a pale triple bar to start, an eye-catching bicycle fence, and a delicate Longines vertical. There were challenges all around the arena with all elements falling if riders were unable to get the perfect line to it.
It was an 11 strong jump-off with plenty of home stars featuring throughout as four out of the eleven riders were local Dutch heroes.
First, to return to the ring Leopold van Asten came back with plenty of confidence on VDL Groep Hutch. They put the pressure on the rest of the field delivering a smooth, faultless clear stopping the clock in a respectable 39.83 seconds.
Frank Schuttert and Latina van het Avenhof set off at a galloping pace but an early couple of rails meant they were sidelined from a top result today coming home with 8 faults on the board.
Local riders and 2019 winners Harrie Smolders entered the arena to cheers, always a dangerous contender with the ever fast Cas. The pair powered around the course but they couldn’t quite match the pace and stopped the clock in 40.04 seconds.
It was an unlucky four faults for Mike Kawai on Kahlua and Gerben Morsink and Carsey Z keeping them off the podium today.
Both Olivier Philippaerts and Jos Verlooy riding Zayado and Varoune gave it their best shot, cruising around the testing track and making it look easy. They picked up solid double clears but couldn't quite match the pace to fall just outside the top 5.
Having won in this venue earlier on in the year Abdel Said and Arpege du Ru looked at home on the expansive grass arena. They got a perfect stride to every fence and catapulted themselves into the top of the leaderboard for now as they kept all the fences up in a time of 38.99 seconds.
Said looked unbeatable until Penelope Leprevost and Verite Une Prince picked up the pace from the word go. Giving the fences just enough room and not wasting any time in the air the combination flew through the finish gates with a new time to beat of 38.71 just fractions faster than the Egyptian.
After an unlucky weekend of faults Marcus Ehning and Calanda were determined to make it their day but Ehning’s head fell when a pole tumbled to the ground once again knocking him out of contention.
Final rider to go Yuri Mansur and Ibelle ASK chased Leprevost throughout the whole course but a check to the final fence meant they crossed the finish in 39.80 fractions slower slipping into third place overall.
So it would be a win for Penelope Leprevost, with Abdel Said and Yuri Mansur in third. The Longines Global Champions Tour now looks to Hamburg, Germany, for the 11th leg of the 2021 Championship race.
My vision is clear. Only the best for the best.