The first week of Spring MET II 2019 concluded with the CSI2* 1.45m Grand Prix presented by Oliva Nova Beach & Golf Resort. The best of the best are attending the second part of the Mediterranean Equestrian Tour’s spring edition, also in terms of course design. Sunday’s challenge set for the field of 62 horse-and rider combinations was built by Spain’s very own Santiago Varela, who has been appointed as the course designer for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. His demanding course today counted 13 obstacles and 16 efforts in the first round, with the time allowed set to 84 seconds.
A total of 16 horse-and-rider combinations cleared the first-round track and joined the jump-off over a shortened, eight-fence course. With the fully packed terrace overlooking the beautiful Oliva Nova arena, Sunday’s Grand Prix presented by Oliva Nova Beach & Golf Resort offered excitement to the very end. With only one pair left to go, it was Ben Maher (GBR) –2018 Longines Global Champions Tour overall winner and 2012 Olympic team gold medallist – leading the jump-off with a time of 41.14 seconds.
However, as last to go Stijn Timmerman (BEL) on the 9-year-old mare Katanga v/h Dingeshof (Cardento x Tornado) stole the show and took home the win – the biggest victory yet for both the horse and her 30-year-old rider. With a clear round in a time of 40.64 seconds, Timmerman pushed Maher into runner-up position.
Although Timmerman beat world-class rider Maher, he and the 9-year-old mare Katanga v/h Dingeshof are not an experienced couple at this level. “I have had her since May last year, and this is the first international show she has done,” Timmerman said about his winning partner. “Until October I did no shows, I only worked her at home because she was so special. Then I took her to a few shows, and this was the first ranking class for her.”
Timmerman works for the Philippaerts family and is mostly in charge of educating the younger horses. “This is the biggest win of my career so far,” Stijn, who is a first timer at the MET, said about his victory. “I had a very short turn behind the double, and I really got a forward distance to the vertical so I could do the five strides to the oxer – I think that is what made the difference today,” the winner said when analysing his jump-off.
Runner-up Ben Maher on the 9-year-old gelding F One Usa (Toulon x Tangelo van de Zuuthoeve), was pleased with his horse. “It was the first time he jumped a Grand Prix and the first time he went fast in a jump-off, so I am very happy,” Maher said after the class. “The last rider was just too fast today!” Maher laughed. “It was a fun class to watch for the crowd, and it is always a pleasure to ride here. The facilities to bring on the horses and the way the organising team looks after the riders and the horses is amazing. I am always happy to come here,” he continued. Talking about Santiago Varela’s course, Maher said: “It was difficult, with single jumps to start and the water was very early on. I thought it would cause more trouble, but the horses jumped very good in this big arena.”
Tim Wilks (CAN) on the 9-year-old gelding Knock Out Van’T Paradijs (Breemeersen Adorado x Carabas v/d Wateringhoeve) took the third place with a double clear in a time of 41.26 seconds in the jump-off, while Dayro Arroyave (COL) on the 12-year-old mare Handy Van HD (Tinka’s Boy x Nabab de Reve) placed fourth. With the very last fence falling to the ground, Marlon Modolo Zanotelli (BRA) on the 10-year-old gelding VDL Edgar M (Arezzo VDL x Marlon) had to settle for the fifth spot after recording the fastest time of the day – 38.41 seconds.
The Spring MET II 2019 continues on the 12th of February and runs until the 24th, followed by MET III in March and MET IV in April.