Valkenswaard, The Netherlands – July 11, 2021 – The first ‘summer event’ at Tops International Arena on Sunday featured two Grands Prix and a Final that offered the audience and viewers at home great and exciting top-class sport.
And what a thrill, what a battle in the beautiful and exciting jump-off of the Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon. Of the 54 combinations in the first round, 14 came back in the jump-off. Germany’s top rider Christian Ahlmann was the first to go clear with the eight-year-old gelding Nachito v/d Ketze (Quality Time x Baloubet du Rouet) in a super fast time, 34.39 seconds, a time that seemed difficult to improve.
Egyptian Nayel Nassar (EGY) came close, stopping the clock at 34.40 seconds, with Coronado (Cassini I x Acord II). Teddy Vlock (ISR) demonstrated how to go faster with Volnay du Boisdeville (Winningmood x Jalisco B). Even though he needed a bit more space to the blue jump-off, he had such a high pace that he improved Ahlmann’s time by 0.23 seconds.
The experienced Marcus Ehning (GER) went even further, flying through the course with Cupfer (Casall x Landos) and dropping below 34 seconds: 33.98. The tension was palpable when Darragh Kenny entered the arena. He and Storiall Blue (Stakkato x Chacco-Blue) delivered an incredible performance and stopped the clock at 33.30. But that was not enough when Julien Epaillard raced over the finish line.
The Frenchman and his super fast and agile stallion Calgary Tame (Old Chap Tame x Kashmir van ‘t Schuttershof) flew over the last fence and stopped the clock at 32.09 seconds. There were still two combinations to go, Janika Sprunger and Caroline Devos-Poel (BEL). Could they still spoil things? Switzerland’s Sprunger almost succeeded with Carlotta, but had to settle for second place.
Winner’s Circle – Julian Epailard (FRA)
Epaillard had a successful weekend. “I am very happy. I started with two horses in the 2*. Yesterday, I won the 1.45m with Cheyenne d’Auge and today the Grand Prix with Calgary Tame. That promises a lot for the future. It is great that our young horses can gain experience here. Next year, they will be 10 and then I think they will be good Grand Prix horses.” Epaillard’s round was unprecedentedly fast. “It felt fast too, but I knew Janika was coming after me, so I rode as hard as I could.”
Final Results – €26,200 Grand Prix of Valkenswaard CSI 2*
1) Julien Epaillard (FRA) & Calgary Tame – 0 / 0 – 32.09
2) Janika Sprunger (SUI) & Carlotta – 0 / 0 – 33.20
3) Darragh Kenny (IRL) & Storiall Blue – 0 / 0 – 33.30
Source: Press Release from TIA – Tops International Arena
Photos: © TIA – Tops International Arena