27 OCT 2018
In a jump-off that had spectators clinging to the edges of their seats, The Netherlands’ Leopold van Asten and VDL Groep Beauty claimed victory ahead of Swiss superstar Steve Guerdat and Alamo in tonight’s Premio Franco Tucci at Jumping Verona 2018.
Uliano Vezzani’s first course was no walk in the park, but with such a quality field of horses and riders there were 12 through to the second-round jump-off over a shortened track, and the crowd were treated to a thriller. From the moment Frenchman Kevin Staut set the early target at 37.14 seconds with Viking d’la Rousserie, it just kept getting faster and faster.
World No. 1, The Netherlands’ Harrie Smolders, raised the bar when crossing the line with the smoothest of rides with Don VHP Z in 37.09 seconds but they only held the lead for a moment as Germany’s Daniel Deusser and the lovely 10-year-old stallion Tobago Z sliced through the track in 35.38 to really put it up to the rest of them. Some of the spectators thought that was as fast as it could get, but there was plenty more to come…..
Frenchman Simon Delestre looked set to challenge with little Hermes Ryan who has the heart of a lion, but when the clock stopped on 35.99 seconds then Deusser was still out in front. However Van Asten and his feisty grey mare were next into the ring and, taking all the tightest lines and a breath-taking turn to the final vertical, they broke the beam in an incredible time of 34.55. That seemed to put the result beyond doubt but Sweden’s Petronella Anderson wasn’t intimidated, very nearly overtaking the Dutchman with a heart-stopping run that saw her through the finish in 34.68 seconds with Eclatant to slot into runner-up spot.
She had to settle for third in the final analysis however because Swiss supremo Guerdat, the man who took individual bronze at the world championships just a few short weeks ago, looked set to oust Van Asten from pole position with a brilliant ride with Alamo that was just 0.13 off the Dutchman’s time but plenty good enough for second spot.
Van Asten said afterwards that he knew he had to give it everything he’d got to win this one. “There were a few already very fast so I knew there was only one way to win it, and that was to really go for it from fence number one. I got the angles good, I could stay in the rhythm and my horse VDL Groep Beauty is naturally very fast and I think that was the advantage today” he said. He couldn’t bring his winning mare into the prizegiving however because she gets much too excited.
“It’s dangerous with her to do the prizegiving actually, she gets very excited and she goes blind from the noise and everything so I always try to get another horse so that she doesn’t have to go through that” he explained.
Asked how his mare can concentrate on her jumping yet get so anxious when the competition is over the Dutchman pointed out, “the thing is that horses know their job and they focus on what they have to do. She is also difficult in the warm-up, like here where the people are all around she’s very tense, and a bit hectic, so I was very happy that today they also put fences in the second warm-up where it’s much quieter. That’s just how she is, and she’s been like that all her life, even from a young horse she was not the most easy one to deal with, but we always knew she had great potential and she showed it this evening!” he said.
And so his plan for tomorrow’s Longines FEI Jumping World Cup qualifier? “I will compete with VDL Groep Miss Untouchable - she’s 11 years old by Chacco Blue. I have a big belief in her, she’s a very good horse, not the most experienced at this level, so I’m curious how she will go tomorrow” Van Asten concluded.