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Zanotelli shows Extra zeal in Friday night showdown

Friday, 10 November 2017
CSI5* LGCT Doha 2017

Photo (c) LGCT/Stefano Grasso. Marlon Modolo Zanotelli with Extra van Essene. Photo (c) LGCT/Stefano Grasso.

Marlon Módolo Zanotelli (BRA) powered to a phenomenal second win of the weekend with Extra van Essene (Diamant de Semilly x Gotthardsen) at the Longines Global Champions Tour of Doha. In an evening of enthralling competition Zanotelli fought off stiff competition to take the win from Harrie Smolders (NED) and Lauren Hough (USA) who finished in third. 

A delighted Zanotelli said: “The horse is jumping amazing - he’s fantastic and so careful, and he can really gallop. He makes my life easier! Harrie is one of the fastest riders in the world - to see him go was a chance for me to watch, and then I just hoped for the best!”

The 1.45/150m CSI5* class proved to be a real riders’ competition: Uliano Vezzani’s course was technical with time a key factor, the Italian maestro providing some options on the lines to get the world’s best thinking. The trickiest of the combinations was the final line, featuring two huge oxers along the grandstand, and a gappy vertical to finish. Unusually the course also featured two doubles, one after another, and the galloping track made full use of the AL SHAQAB’S magnificent sand arena. 

Of the 40-strong field Germany’s Daniel Deusser was the first to go clear with Tobago Z (Tangelo vd Zuuthoeve x Mr. Blue), after the time allowed was extended to 87 seconds. He was soon followed by Janika Sprunger (SUI) with the expressive 12 year old stallion Aris CMS (Bmc Nassau x Amethist) who delighted the crowd, clearing the final fence with a flick of his tail.

Young talent Kevin Jochems (NED) impressed with a careful clear on the 10 year old gelding Captain Cooper (Namelus R x Corland), and Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS) looked on phenomenal form with the young 9 year old gelding Inca Boy van T Vianahof (Diamant de Semilly x Cash) who showed copious amounts of scope to join the jump-off.

The threat of time faults came true, with a few miscalculating the time. Cindy van der Straten-Marie (BEL) and Chacco R (Chacco-Blue x Arpeggio) were the first to pick up one agonising penalty, as did young rider Nicola Pohl (GER) with Copain HD (Tangelo vd Zuuthoeve x Lupicor) - the pair pulling out all the stops to deliver a clear round. Joining them would be Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Coco Bongo (Caretino x Calido) who picked up two faults - a steady but careful round, with tomorrow’s final clearly in mind.

One man who looked to be on flying form after his win yesterday was Maikel van der Vleuten (NED) who delightedly punched their air as he and VDL Groep Quatro (Quaprice Bois Margot x Caletto I) went clear. Speaking afterwards, van der Vleuten said: “Quatro is always a horse who really gives all his heart and it’s nice to ride that kind of horse. It was hard work today but we made it! It’s an impressive arena for many horses, the light is very good but a few horses can be spooky so experience is welcome here. I’ll give the jump off a try! They are quite big fences today, so we’ll see."

Joining those clear would be Longines Ambassador of Elegance Jane Richard Philips (SUI) with Dieudonne de Guldenboom (Nabab de Reve x Gibramino), Marlon Módolo Zanotelli (BRA) with Extra van Essene, Christian Kukuk (GER) with Limonchello NT (Lord Caletto x Calido I) and Gregory Wathelet (BEL) with Leicester (Larimar 7 x Capitol I).

As the floodlights beamed, the tension rose in the vast arena as the crowd waited for the first rider to enter the jump-off. Daniel Deusser (GER) had the unenviable task of laying the gauntlet, however lit up the track with the small but mighty Tobago Z to set the time to beat at 54.87s.

The pressure was on for the field to come, and Janika Sprunger (SUI) responded by setting off like a rocket. But Deusser’s time forced errors, and Sprunger had two down despite her blindingly fast time of 50.51s, showing there was space for bravery and improvement on Deusser. Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS) put together a beautiful round with the elastic Inca Boy van T Vianahof, but kept it cool to jump double clear, picking up time faults but saving her 9 year old gelding who is undoubtably one to watch.

Dutch talent Kevin Jochems (NED) turned up the heat, picking up the pace with Captain Cooper towards the second half of the fast-paced course. Jochems skilfully shaved off the milliseconds in the final turns, pushing Captain Cooper to the last to take the lead with 53.12s.

He was quickly topped by Lauren Hough (USA) and Waterford (Coolcorron Cool Diamond x Julio Mariner xx) who gained momentum throughout the course, taking the final distance at a flat out gallop to squeeze ahead on 52.22s. All eyes turned to LGCT Champion Harrie Smolders (NED) with his speedy mount Zinius (Nabab de Reve x Kannan) who set off at a Formula 1 pace. Daring Zinius to the last, Smolders took a second and a half off the top, with the bar raised to 50.75s to beat and the crowd on the edge of their seats to see if his time could be bettered.

Compatriot Maikel van der Vleuten (NED) had the potential to take a second win of the weekend, however Smolders’ pace was too much - van der Vleuten and Verdi took out the first part of the double, ruling them out of contention. The huge stride of Jane Richard Philips' (SUI) Dieudonne de Guldenboom couldn’t help their cause, and an early couple of poles saw the Swiss rider elect to retire. The first part of the double also caught out Jos Verlooy (BEL) and his 9 year old chestnut horse Igor (Emerald van't Ruytershof x Nabab de Reve), while Christian Kukuk (GER) also fell short of a podium position with a fault on Limonchello NT.

Temperatures shot through the roof as Marlon Módolo Zanotelli (BRA) with Extra van Essene put in a stylish ride - the pair winners from the curtain raiser at the Longines Global Champions Tour of Doha. The tall, long-striding horse was neck and neck on time with Zinius, but made up fractions of a second on the final gallop, lighting up the timesheets with a blistering time of 50.42s.

Gregory Wathelet (BEL) also set off like a rocket to try for the win, but Leicester stood off at the Qatar Foundation plank, jumping it almost from a standstill and kicking out the top rail as he tried to clear it. So it would be four faults for Wathelet, with the win going to Zanotelli, the second of the weekend, with his brilliant horse Extra van Essene.

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

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