In a true thriller of a jump-off, Luciana Diniz and Fit For Fun were the unbeatable pair in the Longines Grand Prix of Rotterdam. The level of horses and riders was unbelievably high in the Kralingse Bos and today’s sport already raises the expectations for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August. “I woke up this morning and I said to myself: I am on my way to the Olympic Games and whatever result comes out today, it will be part of my journey towards Rio,” Luciana Diniz said after her win.
The fully-packed stands at CHIO Rotterdam were shaking when 17 riders completed the daring and tricky jump-off course. After a very technical first course built by Louis Konickx with many choices for the riders to be made, some of world’s best combinations made it into the jump-off. From the five Dutch riders, Gerco Schröder had to start first with his scopy mount Glock’s Cognac Champblanc N.O.P. (Clearway x Caretino), delivering a clear round in 45.87 seconds. Going clear over the delicate jump-off course was not as easy as it seemed, especially not since the riders had to take a very tricky turn after the original fence number 6 towards vertical number 15. Gerco Schröder turned beautifully in front of the open water, but for instance Jeroen Dubbeldam and Carusso LS La Silla (Montebello La Silla x Joost) broke a rein in their try and had to retire.
Marc Houtzager – the last Dutch winner of the Grand Prix of Rotterdam back in 2012 – took over the lead after a great round with the only 9-year-old Sterrehof’s Calimero (Quidam de Revel x Libero H). Their time of 44.06 seconds seemed to be a good one, but was beaten with a difference of more than a second by compatriot Harrie Smolders. The wonderful stallion Emerald N.O.P. (Diamant de Semilly x Carthago) did not had a fence down in either the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup or the Longines Grand Prix, and took over the lead in 42.89 seconds. His lead would not keep up long, since Luciana Diniz was to go right after.
Fit For Fun (For Pleasure x Fabriano) jumped like never before, and confirmed her status as one of world’s best horses at this moment. Being a naturally quick horse, Fit For Fun finished faster than Harrie Smolders: 41.49 seconds. “I am very happy with this victory and I am truly proud of my horse! The whole course felt like a flow, words cannot explain it. It just happened!”
Shortly afterwards, USA’s Kent Farrington entered the arena with his 9-year-old Creedance (Lord Z x Notaris) – a Dutch bred gelding who won many classes and Grand Prix competitions lately, but with not so much experience at five-star Grand Prix level. The extremely careful Creedance showed what he is worth and looks like a real machine of a showjumper. “I never like it when I don’t win, but I have to say, Luciana is a very worthy winner today! It has been a great competition all around and I just hope to be on top in a couple of weeks in Brazil,” Kent smiled.
Harrie Smolders finished third with Emerald N.O.P., but he had to share the step of the podium with someone else. World number one McLain Ward and HH Azur (Thunder van de Zuuthoeve x Sir Lui) lived up to their reputation again and finished on the exact same time as Harrie. They even looked to be faster than Luciana Diniz, but they missed out on the turn in front of the open water after fence 6. “It was a difficult turn and both Kent and Luciana did it beautifully. That is why they were faster today,” McLain explains. Harrie Smolders could be happy with his shared third place. “Being third here with world’s best horses and riders is not a shame at all! It has been a thrilling jump-off and the atmosphere has been amazing.”
Text © World of Showjumping by Peter van der Waaij // Pictures © Jenny Abrahamsson
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