Willem Greve and Carambole (Cassini I x Concerto II) made the RAI roof lift this afternoon when they won the CSI4* Sterrehof's Opium Grand Prix in Amsterdam. The pair came straight from Drachten, where they also won the CSI3* Grand Prix last Sunday – and continued their winning ways today with two rounds full of confidence in front of a sold-out house. Greve made the seemingly impossible possible, when he pushed Karim El Zoghby down to second after he had produced a very fast clear round on the flying Amelia (Cantos x Numero Uno) – which looked like it would be the one for the top of the podium. Willem wanted it differently though, and snatched the win from Karim to wild celebrations from the home crowds.
It was quite a dramatic opening to the class, with three of the first five riders retiring and one being eliminated. But, slowly the clear rounds started ticking in – and in the end it was thirteen riders that moved on to the jump-off which of three were Dutch. The first round 1.60 track was demanding enough, with the faults spreading out – but plenty got the grey RAI oxer at four down and the poles in the triple combination also fell frequently. For quite a few, they also had to see the back pole on the oxer out of the final combination fall to the ground – home rider Maikel van der Vleuten was among the victims here after being clear all the way until the very end and Sergio Alvarez Moy shared his faith.
The jump-off was all about turning tight, and then one stretch waited to the final oxer. Constant van Paesschen opened the ball with another clear round, quite steady – and eventually ended 6th on Citizenguard Taalex (Tangelo Van De Zuuthoeve x Alexis Z). The Belgian rider was quickly overtaken by Daniel Deusser on Carriere (Catoki x Contango) who was 1.94 seconds faster although a hairy moment caused by a stumble after the first fence stole some time, and the next two riders – Wout-Jan van der Schans and Ben Schröder – could not do anything about the man in the lead. This was also the case for Jos Lansink and Annelies Vorsselmans who like Van der Schans took down the front pole on the penultimate oxer, and also Julien Epaillard and Peder Fredricsson had to see a pole each hit the dust before Billy Twomey recorded eight faults the second time around.
Karim El Zoghby was next in, and set off in top gear from the very beginning. The eccentric Amelia is a handful, but knows exactly where her feet are and left every fence intact to take the lead with a time 1.63 seconds faster than that of Daniel. Pieter Devos had to work hard on Candy (Nabab de Reve x Etretat) – a very different type of horse than Amelia – but still managed to push into a temporary third.
With Willem coming in as the last Dutch hope, the temperature rose. The sympathetic Dutch rider kept his cool though. With perfect turns everywhere, and beautiful riding on the lovely eleven year old stallion Willem kept on chasing the fractions – and to the last oxer the pair was nearly lifted by the home crowds who cheered them on. When Willem crossed the finish line, he had managed to shave off an incredible 0.48 seconds on the leading time and to standing ovation he was celebrated like a king in Amsterdam. It was only one more rider that could threaten Willem, but Katharina Offel’s Quebracho Semilly (Le Tot de Semilly x Eiken des Fontenis) ran empty and had two down – leaving the home crowds to continue celebrating Willem and his amazing win.
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