Maikel guides ‘fast’ VDL Groep Verdi Tn to spectacular win at Al Shaqab
10 Nov 2017 - 0:00
By Rizwan Rehmat / The Peninsula
Celebrated Dutch rider Maikel van der Vleuten yesterday saw VDL Groep Verdi Tn produce ‘fast strides’ to win the feature event on day one of the Longines Global Champions Tour (LGCT) at Al Shaqab Arena.
Van der Vleuten was a pleased man after clinching the top prize in the 1.50/1.55m class in the jump-off as ‘Verdi’ tilted the first Global Champions League competition in the Dutchman’s favour in a time of 37.73 seconds.
Gregory Wathelet of Belgium, astride Forlap, finished in second spot in a time of 37.85 seconds while Galip, who had Eduardo Menezes in the saddle, ended in third place (38.99 seconds).
“It was a good ride for me. Verdi showed fast strides on a surface like this at Al Shaqab Arena,” Van der Vleuten said after the competition. “We enjoyed the ride. It was a nice start here for us,” he added.
“The first round (Verdi) jumped nice and we had a smooth round and it was quick enough to win the class today. At the moment (Verdi) feels very good, and very happy. I can use his big stride in a big arena like this so it suits him. We put our focus on Saturday for the Grand Prix,” he added.
The Dutch star, an Olympic Silver medallist and World Gold medallist, picked €30,360 for his win while second-placed Wathelet got richer by €18,400. Third-placed Menezes took home €13,800.
American Lillie Keenan (Fibonacci, 39.94 seconds), the first ones to enter the field, and Swiss star Janika Sprunger (Bacardi VDL, 40.48 seconds) completed the top-five in the feature event of the day.
Earlier in the day, Brazilian rider Marlon Modolo Zanotelli guided 13-year-old Extra Van Essene to an error-free round to win the 1.45m two-phase competition on day one of the LGCT.
“It was fantastic, I’m very happy with my horse,” said Zanotelli after clocking a time of 24.35 seconds.
Zanotelli finished just 0.3s ahead of 2017 overall LGCT champion Dutchman Harrie Smolders (who was astride Zinius. Swedish rider Henrik von Eckermann finished in third place with Cantinero.
“I watched Maikel (van der Vleuten, sixth) and he went fast. My wife said there was one less stride to the last and luckily it worked for me. He’s a fantastic horse, very kind and he’s always fighting for me.
It’s a fantastic facility here in Doha and all the support we have here from the crowd is very nice,” Zanotelli said.
Zanotell picked up €8250 for his win while Smolders got richer by €5,000. Third-placed Eckermann received €3,750. A total of 45 riders featured in the two-phased CSI5* competition.
In a pleasing performance, Smolders did himself no harm with a sublime ride with Zinius who was only 0.3 seconds slower than the fastest time. Smolders made history this season by winning the 2017 tour outright at the penultimate leg in Rome
In another impressive outing, world number three Kevin Staut finished in fourth spot with eight-year-old Vendome D’Anchat HDC. Staut clocked a time of 24.91 seconds as Vendome D’Anchat HDC produced a smooth ride around the circuit at Al Shaqab Arena.