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Maikel van der Vleuten and Beauville Z win the CSI3* Allianz Grand Prix of Aachen

Sunday, 06 September 2020
CSI3* Aachen International Jumping 2020

Photo © World of Showjumping Maikel van der Vleuten and Beauville Z won the CSI3* Allianz Grand Prix of Aachen. Photo © Nanna Nieminen for World of Showjumping.


Text © World of Showjumping



This weekend, the beautiful show grounds in Aachen, Germany was the venue for the CSI3* Aachen International Jumping – taking place in the Deutsche Bank Stadium. With some of the world's very best horses and riders present, a weekend full of great sport came to a conclusion on Sunday with the 1.50m Grand Prix presented by Allianz. With 48 horse-and-rider combinations at start, a whopping total of 21 pairs jumped clear in the first round and joined the deciding jump-off over a shortened, eight-fence track. 

The jump-off came full of surprises, and it was especially the dark, wavy planks on the third upright as well as the penultimate narrow, purple-poled vertical – both on turns away from the in-gate – that caused headache. Several riders had miscommunications with their horses at these two fences, and the rollback to the penultimate jump was particularly troublesome. 

Half-way into the jump-off, Gregory Wathelet (BEL) was leading the way with Full Horse Ter Linden Z (Forever D'Arco Ter Linden x Cento) after bringing the time down to 47.44 seconds. Wathelet’s lead did not last long though, as Julien Epaillard (FRA) followed one rider later and showcased one of his trademark rounds – going full speed from start to finish to stop the clock at 46.18 seconds with Safari d’Auge (Diamant de Semilly x Papillon Rouge). Kevin Staut (FRA) and Vegas de La Folie (Gastronom de Hus x Ephebe Forever) gave it a good shot, but slotted in behind Epaillard and Wathelet in temporary third. As next to go, it looked as if Eric Lamaze (CAN) would take over the pole position – getting absolutely everything right down to the very last oxer, where the stride got too big for Chacco Kid (Chacco-Blue x Come On). Unable to clear the fence, the pair had to add four faults but their time of 45.29 showed it was possible to go faster than Epaillard. 

Maikel van der Vleuten (NED) has been on great form after international competitions resumed in June, winning Grand Prix competitions in both Grimaud and Lier. Today, he continued his winning streak – delivering yet another unbeatable round with Beauville Z (Bustique x Jumpy des Fontaines) to stop the clock at 44.77 seconds. Of the last four to go, only Henrik von Eckermann (SWE) managed to threaten van der Vleuten when moving Peter Pan (Perigueux x Escudo 19) into top gear to finish in a time of 45.38 – good enough for the second place ahead of Epaillard, Wathelet and Staut in third, fourth and fifth. 

Maikel van der Vleuten was happy with his win and full of praise for Frank Kempermann's organising team. "I think they have done a fantastic job, all riders enjoyed being here," the Dutch rider said. "The facilities are great, and we can be very happy to have a show here. We had super sport this weekend." 

Speaking of his winning ride Beauville Z, van der Vleuten said: "I got him when he was 7-years-old, and at first I took time with him to gather confidence – for both the horse and me. Over the last year, we have jumped all the way up until five-star level. He is a very sharp and competitive horse and naturally fast. Like today, I did not feel that I was going really flat out. Beauville Z knows his job, he knows what to do." 

Photo © World of Showjumping "Everyone is extra motivated to win here," Maikel van der Vleuten said about competing in Aachen. Photo © Nanna Nieminen for World of Showjumping.

When it came to his strategy for the jump-off, van der Vleuten did not pay too much attention to others. "I heard from a few other riders that I was the one who made the turn from the combination to the [penultimate] vertical the best," he explained. "But myself, I did not see the others so much. I asked Marlon [Zanotelli] a bit how it was going, but I was busy in the warm-up. It is not always easy being alone; you can't see what is going on. In the jump-off course, fences one, two and three went good and the oxer all the way behind we jumped so that already on the take-off we had a good turn. The turn from the combination to the penultimate vertical was also quick, and then I had a nice forward distance to the last," van der Vleuten analysed his winning round. 

"They could not have made it bigger; it was big enough,” van der Vleuten commented on the first round and the many clears. “Somehow the course rode really nice and the level of horses and riders was quite high; all the good riders were here with the good horses. It is not easy when it has to stay a three-star." 

Van der Vleuten was also touched by the special Aachen-atmosphere: "It always gives a good feeling to take the last exit when you are driving here," he said. "You always feel the pressure, everyone is extra motivated to win here. Even if there were only 300 people in the audience, the atmosphere was great." 

CHIO Aachen event director Frank Kempermann was also happy with the event. "Congratulations to the artists, you did the show and we were happy to organise this for you," he said to the riders. "We only had this idea two months ago. The start list was amazing, we had fantastic sport. I want to thank our sponsors and note that we had a full house three times. Even if we were "full" with 300 people in the audience, it was good. We had a nice atmosphere, and I believe it was good for the sport. It is good for your heart to see the sport here again and we now look forward to CHIO Aachen 2021 in 290 days.”

Second placed Henrik von Eckermann was beaten today, but not disappointed. "Of course you want to win here, there is no doubt about that – but I think I was lucky today so I am happy to come out as the runner-up. We did have two big touches but the poles stayed up.”

"For me, when you are here in Aachen, and the speaker and the music is the same, you do get this special feeling. I hope this was the only year CHIO Aachen is not going," von Eckermann – visibly happy to be back at the Soers' show grounds – said. 

Despite a quick round, third placed Julien Epaillard admitted that this was not his most competitive day. "My horse Safari is 15-years-old now and normally he is my speed horse," the French rider explained. "This was his first big class that he jumped in a year, so it was not our most competitive jump-off – but I am really happy to be here. It is always a pleasure to ride here in Aachen, and especially now it was great to find the same atmosphere." 

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