Holland’s own Maikel van der Vleuten made it a home win in the Ricoh Grand Prix in Den Bosch tonight. Aboard Sergio Alvarez Moya’s former ride Kisby (Kaiserwind x Lohberg), the 25 year old produced two impressive clear rounds to take home the win against a strong field of 37 riders. This pair is a match made in heaven – and Maikel rides the 11 year old mare beautifully. For the van der Vleuten-family it was a good evening on home soil, as Maikel’s father Eric also was double clear on the stallion Wan Architect – ending 7th.
The track was demanding enough, and nine riders went on to the jump-off. The twelve fence course included a combination at 9a and b with a triple bar to a vertical, and a triple combination towards the end at 11a, b and c. It was the latter that caused the most trouble – and many of the riders ended with a pole down here. Some were really unlucky, such as Harrie Smolders who had a wonderful round on the impressive Emerald (Diamant de Semilly x Carthago) – but had one down in the triple combination. The same went for Jur Vrieling who had the final oxer down on Zirocco Blue (Mr. Blue x Volataire), and the same happened to Scott Brash on Hello Intertoy Z (Interadel x Centauer).
Those who produced clear rounds did it in style, and the talented David Will on his relatively new ride Juvina (Cassini I x Grannus) was the first to do so. Then followed Judy-Ann Melchior who did a rhythmical and lovely round on Aragon (Askari x Kolibri), before Eric and Maikel both went clear – with Rolf-Göran Bengtsson also leaving the fences intact in between on Casall La Silla (Caretino x Lavall I). Penelope Leprevost, Simon Delestre and Kevin Staut made sure the French force was noticed by making it to the jump-off – and they were joined by Edwina Tops-Alexander on the lovely Erenice Horta (Diamant de Semilly x Parco).
The jump-off was bound to be fast with these riders in it, and the crowds got value for their money. David and Judy-Ann both rode clear again, and when Eric van der Vleuten put up the tempo to take the lead the crowds went wild. It didn’t last though, as Rolf shaved off 0.38 second on Eric’s time after a great turn to the penultimate combination and then a race to the final oxer. Penelope did a super round on Nice Stephanie (Cardento x Ralme Z), with a fantastic time of 28.75 – the fastest of the day – but unfortunately the super stylish rider had a vertical down mid-way.
Maikel was next; perfect turns – especially to the combination and a race to the last which saw him flying over the oxer turned out to be the winning recipe at 28.85 seconds. The crowds exploded and the atmosphere reached a peak so far this weekend. Nobody could catch him, although Kevin came real close on his runner-up from the Dortmund Grand Prix last weekend Quismy des Vaux (Dollar dela Pierre x Super de Bourriere). The French rider was only a little behind at 28.95, and ended second – leaving Rolf to third.
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