As the last rider in the ring in Saturday night's 1.55 class in Den Bosch, Simon Delestre took the win aboard Napoli du Ry (Baloubet du Rouet x Silvio I). It was an incredibly fast jump-off in the class – that together with yesterday's big class served as the qualifier for Sunday's Rolex Grand Prix. In total fourteen riders went on to the jump-off after producing magnificent clear rounds over the thirteen fence first round track. Loaded with top riders, it was bound to be a fast second round.
Christian Ahlmann opened up the jump-off on the lovely Cornado II (Cornet Obolensky x Acobat), and put pressure on those to come with a super clear round in a time of 39.94 seconds. Next in was home rider Leopold van Asten who also went clear on the impressive VDL Groep Zidane (Heartbreaker x Calando I) and although a little bit behind when he landed after a third last oxer he still caught Ahlmann with 0.17 seconds to take the lead.
Michael Whitaker was the next one to go clear, following a four fault round from Rolf-Göran Bengtsson who was back in the ring after a break due to injury. The British legend rode a tremendous round, going flat out to the third last oxer on Valentin R (Heartbreaker x Indorado) with the crowds cheering him on before he cleared the combination to make seven flying forward strides to the final oxer shaving off an amazing 1.87 seconds on Leopold's time. It looked like the winning round, but it would turn out that it was not as Jos Lansink as next to go did the seemingly impossible on Zerlin M (Berlin x Concorde) to cross the finish line 0.43 seconds faster to take the lead to wild applause from the Dutch crowd.
Then followed eight riders who all tried, but who could not catch up with Lansink. Sjaak Sleiderink was clear on Zhivago (No Limit x Kigali) but unfortunately lost a little time after a hairy moment on the second vertical – eventually ending fourth, a great result for this talented young rider. Patrice Delaveau had two down, Marco Kutscher went for a steady clear version – while Jur Vrieling and Nicola Philippaerts had one down each and Gerco Schröder two. Katharina Offel suffered the same faith as Gerco, but had the second fastest time of the day at 37.27 seconds on B Once Z (Baloubet du Rouet x Lavaletto). When Piet Raijmakers Jr. also had one down, it was all up to Simon Delestre.
And the French rider did not disappoint. He went all in from the start on his longtime partner Napoli du Ry hunting every little fraction of time, racing down to the third last oxer and also going for the seven strides to the last – and when he crossed the finish line Simon could celebrate the victory as he was 0.87 faster than Jos, pushing him down to second and Michael down to third.
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