The second week of the 2016 Spring MET II concluded on Sunday evening, and it was Constant van Paesschen who secured a Belgian win with his relatively new ride, the 9-year-old stallion Carlow van de Helle (Caretino x Corofino I). Van Paesschen finished the jump-off in 37.65 seconds, 0.12 seconds ahead of French runners-up Harold Boisset and Quolita Z (Quasimodo Z x Ramiro) while Sweden’s Rolf- Göran Bengtsson and Oak Grove’s Heartfelt (Heartbreaker x Rubens Du Ri D'Asse) finished third in 38.23 seconds.
“I am delighted with Carlow today. He was very quick, and I did not expect that he would be that naturally fast – so I'm very, very happy,” Van Paesschen stated after his win. “I have only had him since October last year and I took him straight away to the 2015 Autumn MET. Then he was second and third in the Grand Prix competitions, before he had a break until the 2016 Spring MET. Last week he was unlucky to have one down in the jump-off, but this week he won. I really believe in this horse!”
No less than 83 riders lined up for the C.H.G CSI2* 1.45 Grand Prix counting for the Longines Ranking, and 19 of them qualified for the jump-off where course designer Louis Konickx had set a seven-fence track with eight jumps including the combination from the first round.
“The time was tight today,” Rolf-Göran Bengtsson explained after the class about the challenges in the first round. “The faults spread out, but especially the last vertical caused problems as it was a very open fence coming on a long stride. I touched it, but luckily it stayed intact”.
The jump-off opened for some short turns before the last two lines made it possible to set up the speed, and gallop towards the last fence next to the tribune. “The atmosphere was really good today with the final fence placed next to the spectators. It is always extra fun when you can speed up and you feel the excitement from the crowds as you cross the finish line,” Bengtsson said after securing third place with Oak Grove’s Heartfelt.
World number one, Scott Brash was first to go in the jump-off with Hello Guv’nor (Diamant De Semilly x Papillion Rouge) and set the standard with a clear round but with a beatable time of 42.97. Last week’s Grand Prix runner-up Zoe Conter was next to go with her partner Soory de L’Hallali (For Pleasure x Pegase Gerbaux). The young Belgian talent rode another very good round, and took over the lead with the time 40.40 – a position she kept until in-form Harold Boisset and Quolita Z came six combinations later and reduced the leading time by 2.63 seconds.
One rider later it was time for Constant van Paesschen, and his determination was visible from the first fence. “I think I won the jump-off from fence one to two and between fence two and three,” van Paesschen commented after.
None of the riders to come, young or old, were able to steal the victory from the 22-year-old Belgian rider. Seven more riders produced clear rounds, but it was only Bengtsson who changed the top three on the leader board. “My horse felt super today. She has been jumping really good both weeks and this weekend she has been clear through all classes,” said the 2011 European Champion.
Both van Paesschen and Bengtsson have been visiting the MET in Oliva several years. “I originally chose Oliva because of the beach,” Van Paesschen said when asked about why he has taken to Oliva. “We love to go to the beach. It is really nice for the horses to go to the water and it gives them variation. I have been coming here for many years now, and it is also nice to come back and see the tour grow.”
While Van Paesschen is staying until the 2016 Spring MET III, Bengtsson will ride the last week of the MET II before he returns home. “I stay for one more week, but I have really enjoyed being here. The organizers keep improving everything. The rings are super to ride in, the fences are nice and it is more than enough space for everyone. I also like that things are not too big,” Bengtsson continued. “We have brought a lot of horses and students here, but luckily I don’t have to run too far to catch up with the ones who need me. They also don’t allow too many people to compete and this year I was able to bring seven horses, which is something I never get the chance to do during the rest of the year. The experience my horses get is very valuable.”
Source: Press release from the 2016 Spring Mediterranean Equestrian Tour // Picture © Hervé Bonnaud / www.1clicphoto.com.
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