Day of Five Star Showjumping at Royal Windsor
Words by Amy Powell.
In the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee year, showjumping’s elite lit up the arena once more at Royal Windsor Horse Show. Saturday hosted no less than two 5* classes delighting the packed crowds with a truly international list of competitors.
Kicking off proceedings was a 27-strong field contesting the CSI5* 1.50m Falcon Stakes – a Longines ranking class. The tough first round track saw no less than 17 combinations fall by the wayside including serious contenders such as Scott Brash riding his Tokyo Olympics partner Hello Jefferson. Just 12 went through to the second round with an incredibly strong Belgian contingent making up four of the qualifying riders.
First of the Belgians, Wilm Vermeir laid down the gauntlet early on with the 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare Linguini de La Pomme, completing a blistering round in a seemingly uncatchable time of 39.83. This proved to be the only sub-40 clear until the very last rider to enter the arena, compatriot Jos Verlooy riding Fts Killossery Konfusion tore up the track to stop the clock less than two tenths of a second quicker (39.64) to take the title with the 12-year-old Irish Sports Horse.
Taking third spot was 2012 Olympic Champion, Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat on board the 9-year-old Selle Francais mare, Dynamix de Belheme on a time of 40.83, followed by Italy’s Lorenzo de Luca posting the only other clear round with a steady clear in a time of 45.87 riding his seasoned campaigner, 14-year-old KWPN gelding, Don Vito.
Later that afternoon, the Kingdom of Bahrain Stakes for The Kings Cup – a 1.55m, two-round class proved tricky to make the time, with half the class incurring at least one time fault and knocking themselves out of the following round, including former European Champion Roger Yves Bost who stopped the clock just 0.08 seconds over the optimum time of 71 seconds.
After first into the ring, Lorenzo de Luca and Cash du Plessis posted a seemingly easy clear, it took until the end of the class to see Great Britain’s Holly Smith riding the exuberant jumping Fruselli to stop the clock 1.5 seconds inside the time, swiftly followed by Belgium’s Abdel Said with 10-year-old black mare, Casalor.
Setting the time to beat, Lorenzo de Luca and the 10-year-old stallion took on the 8-fence course, galloping down the final line to jump the oxer for a time of 33.63 seconds. Entering the arena with a plan of her own, Holly took an extraordinary line to the fifth only just missing the wing whilst turning the 12-year-old KWPN gelding in the air to take a stride out approaching the only combination fence on the course which remained in place. Finishing on a time of 32.17, the crowds went wild in their support of the British result. Last into the arena, Abdel and Caselor, a pair renowned for posting fast rounds jumped round to keep all the fences up, finishing less than a second behind Holly to take second place in a time of 33.31 seconds.
When asked about her unorthadox approach to the fifth fence, Hollys response was “I knew I was close, I could see it under me!” she laughed, “but I know Abdel can put in a really quick round so I just had to come in and give it all I’ve got – at worst I was going to come third so it was all to play for.” This is the second time that Holly has had her name put on the trophy for this class, and when asked about winning on home soil, she beamed “it always means so much more winning in Britain and the crowds are so amazingly supportive, it’s great to win here again.”
The win sets Holly up nicely to compete in Sunday’s £500,000 Rolex Grand Prix riding Fruselli once more, we can only wait and see whether this has given them the perfect setting to take the double.
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