Under surprisingly good conditions despite the heavy rain in Falsterbo on Sunday morning, Rolf-Göran Bengtsson took a popular home win after a near perfect jump-off with Clarimo Ask (Clearway x Caletto II) in the Longines Grand Prix of Falsterbo. Bengtsson won by nearly two seconds down to Eduardo Menezes (BRA) with Quintol (Quintender x Cento) in second place while Darragh Kenny (IRL) and Go Easy de Muze (Vigo d’Arsouilles x For Pleasure) followed in third.
Bengtsson was of course very happy with his win, and taking it in front of his home crowd in Sweden made it even more perfect. “This is the best result ever for Clarimo Ask. He has won a small Grand Prix once, but this is his biggest achievement so far,” Bengtsson said to the press after the class.
The class counted 44 riders and 12 qualified for the jump-off, but at the other end of the result list several riders also retired.
“Today we were tested a bit more [compared to the Nations Cup],” Bengtsson explained at the press conference. "And the time also played a bigger role. I was a bit nervous about the time today, but I was just inside. Others probably pushed it a bit to get inside the time and made mistakes because of it. There were also several riders with time faults. The surface was fantastic despite all the rain which gave everyone a fair chance,” Bengtsson continued.
Five riders were double clear, and the closest to catch Bengtsson was Eduardo Menezes and Quintol who was left out of the Brazilian team in Friday’s Nations Cup.
“It was the Chef d’Equipe’s choice to put the other four horses on the Nations Cup team and save my horse for the Grand Prix. which worked out well,” Menezes said with a laugh.
“Every Olympic year is important for us,” Menezes continued, “and this year is more important because it is in our own country. Right now I try and have my horse in the peak close to the Olympics, and so far I am glad to see that it is working out well.”
Earlier this year the Brazilian team appointed the American legend George Morris as their coach towards the Games in Rio. “It is amazing. He has a lot of experience and he gives us great confidence. We are very grateful to have him,” Menezes stated.
Menezes also commented on the equestrian facilities in Rio which in his opinion are “great”. “We already had the Pan Am Games in 2011 which was very successful. I think this is going to be even better.”
The closest to catch Bengtsson’s time was another Swedish rider, Henrik von Eckermann and Yajamila (Lux Z x Daimler), but one fence down placed them sixth.
“She fought as always and I felt her grow with every jump,” Eckermann explained at the press conference. “I did not have her that long, but with every show we have been to she has improved. I am very happy and satisfied with the plan we made for her not to do too much and not too little, but to try and prepare her for Rio as I thought she might be the horse that I could take there. This is the first show that I jump her both in the Nations Cup and in the Grand Prix and she was even better today than she was on Friday.”
Even with a super result for Clarimo Ask, Bengtsson was clear on the fact that it is Unita Ask who will travel to Rio. “Unita Ask has become better step by step. What she did in the final in Barcelona last year proved what she can do. It was a very difficult course which she jumped clear and with four faults. Later she has proven to be quite consistent while Clarimo Ask has been a bit the opposite. Hopefully he has reached a place now where we can keep him more where we want him.”
Text © World of Showjumping // Picture © Peter Zachrisson / RGBPictures.se
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