Ashford Farm riders Stefanie van den Brink and Marlon Zanotelli ended their first week at the 2016 Spring MET III in the perfect way on Sunday, taking first and second place in the CSI2* C.H.G. 1.45 Grand Prix for their Belgium-based team.
Enda Carroll’s riders are regular visitors to Oliva, and this year is no exception. “This is our fourth time here,” explained Marlon Zanotelli. “I wasn't here last year, but the rest of the team were. The facilities for the horses are fantastic, especially with the possibility to ride on the beach – so it is super to start the outdoor season in Oliva. We will be here for three weeks for the third part of the 2016 Spring MET, and basically took all the horses we had at home so we have 25 horses here divided on four riders.”
It was a ten horse jump-off in today’s CSI2* C.H.G. 1.45 Grand Prix. The shortened track consisted of seven fences and included a combination, with a mix of short turns and long distances that opened for full speed.
Netherland’s Stefanie van den Brink, who joined Ashford Farm in January, entered the jump-off as number two to go and pulled off a beautiful round with the 10-year-old Verdi-daughter Baronescha to stop the clock at 40.30 seconds. Her team mate Marlon Zanotelli, representing Brazil, did his best to beat Stefanie but had to settle for runner-up position this time around as he was slightly behind in 40.67 seconds aboard Valetto JX.
“Baronescha is naturally quick, and she does not lose any time on the fences. When she lands she is fast straight away, and we got a great run to the last fence. Today everything fell into the right place,” Stefanie explained about her winning round. “It was really fun to be faster than Marlon, because that is almost impossible! We walked the course together and he gave me some great tip for the first round as well for the jump-off. He really is of great help, and the whole team
is also so supportive.”
Stefanie was also in Oliva last year, and ended second two times in the Grand Prix. “So it was really nice to start off with a win,” the 23-year-old smiled.
Baronescha belongs to Van den Brink’s father, and has been with the Dutch rider for the last two years. “When we got her she was doing 1.30 classes, and we have developed her from there. Here she is my only horse for the bigger classes so hopefully she will be able to jump the Grand Prix the next two weeks as well,” commented Stefanie.
Runner-up Marlon Zanotelli praised Swiss course designer Gerard Lachat’s work: “It was a nice jump-off course. We had two roll-backs and two long gallops – especially the one to the last fence. In general, I think it was very well build.”
“I definitely lost it to Stefanie in the first turn from fence two to three, but I don't have so much experience going fast with this horse as I only competed him a couple of times before. It is my boss Enda that normally rides him. Valetto is so fun in the ring, and always tries his best!” Marlon explained on his partner for the occasion.
The third place in this Grand Prix went to Austria’s Julia Kayser who is back in the ring after giving birth to her second child at the end of last year. Riding the 12-year-old Vigo d’Arsouilles-daughter Sterrehof's Ushi, Marc Houtzager’s wife produced two beautiful clear rounds to finish 1.59 seconds behind the winning time.
Source: Press release from 2016 Spring MET // Picture © Hervé Bonnaud / www.1clicphoto.com
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