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Evelina Tovek wins LGCT Grand Prix of Rome

Saturday, 23 September 2017
CSI5* LGCT Rome 2017

Photo (c) Stefano Grasso/LGCT. Evelina Tovek and Castello 194 won the LGCT Grand Prix of Rome. Photo (c) Stefano Grasso/LGCT.

Rising star Evelina Tovek (SWE) and her phenomenal 9-year-old gelding Castello 194 (Cristallo x Lifestyle) won Saturday's LGCT Grand Prix of Rome. 

It was Harrie Smolders (NED) stealing the spotlight however, after finishing second on Don VHP Z (Diamant de Semilly x Voltaire) to take the overall LGCT title for the season before the final leg in Doha in November. 

"My horse loves this venue, which is why I brought him out here again," said Smolders after winning the LGCT title for 2017. "It worked out fantastic today - I was not expecting to win today. It’s been an incredible season for me with my top horses Don and Emerald - it’s also thanks to my partners Copernicus and Eurohorse behind me. Our goal was not to be the fastest today, but I wanted to keep clear."

“It feels great to be Champion. You see the previous winners, the horses and riders are exceptional - so to see my name on the trophy is [special]. It’s a big achievement for all my owners, our staff and everyone who works in our stable, from flat riders to the grooms - it’s also for them. In the end I have to finish but they all achieve this with me. The flexibility [of horses] is my strength - we have so many shows, but that’s why I can sometimes use Don VHP Z and sometimes use Emerald. They did an unbelievable job."

Evelina Tovek, 24, was the youngest of the field to start the Grand Prix, but delivered a spectacular clear round to join Marcus Ehning (GER) and Harrie Smolders for the jump-off. 

First to go Marcus Ehning on Funky Fred (For Pleasure x Pilot) had the hardest task, throwing down the gauntlet to Smolders and Tovek. The pair galloped the course, eating up the long distances and powering around the corners. But it came undone at the oxer heading back to the in-gate, as Funky Fred agonisingly came in a little too deep and clipped the pole. Ehning would have to hope the pressure would get too much for the two remaining riders, with his time of 47.90s setting the pace.

Harrie Smolders returned to the ring with Don VHP Z, the pair knowing a safe clear would put them in first or second. Smolders guided the huge stallion around the course, deceptively quick around the sand arena, to stop the clock clear in 52.43s.

The pressure was well and truly on the young shoulders of Swedish talent Evelina Tovek. This would be the toughest jump-off of her career, and the question was whether to play it safe and guarantee second, or go for it and potentially steal the win. It would be a case of fortune favours the brave, as Tovek flew around the arena with Castello 194, up on Smolders’ time coming out of the Longines treble. It was clear the relationship between horse and rider was strong, and the pair galloped to the final fences with the win in sight. The crowd were on their feet as the duo stopped the clock in 50.71s, over a second faster and Tovek’s biggest career win to date. ​

“It’s the biggest win of my career - it’s amazing," said Tovek after. "I know my horse is not so fast but has big strides, so I asked a lot from the canter and in the end it worked! [Henrik von Eckermann, my trainer] said “just have fun” before I went in. For me Castello is the perfect horse, no fence is a problem, and I’m really happy to have him."


Source: Press release from LGCT // Picture © LGCT / Stefano Grasso

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