With his eyes filled with tears, a very emotional Alexander Zetterman received a standing ovation from the home crowds in Falsterbo – while R Kelly’s ‘The World’s Greatest’ roared out. It was easy to understand the hard-working Zetterman’s emotions; he has showed great form the last months – and today he nailed it in front of a Falsterbo-crowd still high on Friday’s second place for the Swedes in the Nations Cup. Riding Cafino (Cardento x Roderik), Zetterman also took the prestigious and traditional Grand Prix home to Sweden for a second year in a row – last year Jens Fredricson won. Not only that, he posted a hot bid for a ticket from his Chef d’Equipe for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
Nine riders went clear in the first round, and were joined by two riders on four faults. With two Swedish clears; one from Alexander and one from Niklas Arvidsson on Click and Cash 1155 (Cashandcarry x Capitol I) the spirits were high from the home crowd’s side. Two German riders were clear – Patrick Stühlmeyer and Andre Thieme – as well as two Ukrainians – Oleg Krasyuk and Katharina Offel – and two British riders Jessie Drea and Joe Clee as well as a sole Dutch – Jur Vrieling. Germany’s David Will and USA’s Ashlee Bond joined in for the second round on four faults – making the total riders for round two eleven.
The 1.60 track was a fair one; but still hard enough it would turn out – in the end there were maybe more faults than expected as the course was walked. With an open water followed by six short strides to a vertical, it unsurprisingly caused head ache for many that could not bring their horses back and the big triple combination towards the end also caught many as some horses ran out of fuel.
Ashlee Bond opened up the second round with another pole down on Chela LS (Chapultepec la Silla x Tlaloc la Silla), and was followed by David Will who steered the deceptively quick Mic Mac du Tillard (Cruising x Galoubet A) to a clear and fast round stopping the clock on 46.95 – in the end the fastest time of the day. With four faults from round one though, it was quite sure that somebody would pass him on the score board.
With Alexander next in the ring, the temperature rose – and you could hear a pin drop as he got going on Cafino. With some great recent clears under their belt from Rome, Geesteren and the Nations Cup here in Falsterbo – the confidence was clearly there and Zetterman went all in around the shortened track pulling a clear round out of the bag and crossing the finish line to wild cheers from the home crowds as they watched the clock stop on 47.44. It looked indeed very hard to beat. And with a stop for Arvidsson the second time around, it was only about hoping and praying that Alexander’s round would be unbeatable from the Swedish crowds’ side.
And for every rider, Alexander’s dream of winning became more and more a reality – and the tension rose in the crowd. Jur Vrieling added strides on the last line from a vertical to an oxer on Zirocco Blue VDL (Mr. Blue x Voltaire) to slot in almost three seconds behind the Swedish leader in second, before Andre Thieme on Contanga 3 (Catoki x Contango) pushed in between them on a time 0.15 seconds faster than that of Jur. And when Clee on Utamaro D’Ecaussines (Diamant de Semilly x Quidam de Revel), Krasyuk on K Club Lady (Calido I x Landgraf I) and Drea on Touchable (Touchdown x Irco Mena) all had one down – and Stühlmeyer two – it was only Offel on Quebracho Semilly (Le Tot de Semilly x Eyken des Fontenis) that could threaten Zettermann.
The crowds held their breath as Offel set off, keeping up a huge canter everywhere – and it looked indeed very good until the penultimate vertical fell as the Ukrainian rider lost a stirrup in a sharp turn losing a little balance. The Swedish audience started their celebration immediately, but Offel still smiled as she with her fast time of 50.14 slotted into fifth behind Zetterman, Thieme, Vrieling and Will.
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