Valkenswaard, The Netherlands – July 16, 2021 – It was a perfect kick-off to the second summer event at Tops International Arena as speed merchant Marlon Módolo Zanotelli (BRA) set a blistering time to beat on Urban de Rohan in today’s CSI 4* 1.50m speed class at Tops International Arena. In final preparations before the Tokyo Olympics many riders brought out their top horses to this competition and the calibre of sport was second-to-none.
Speaking about the grass arena after 24 hours of rain in the Netherlands Zanotelli explained: “It is amazing, the whole team here in Valkenswaard did a brilliant job to keep everything okay for today. The ground was perfect today and I must say the footing feels amazing.”
He then smiled and said: “I am very lucky to have the chance to ride such quality horses from Cindy van der Straten. This is only my third show on him but he knows his job and is very careful, scopey and quick. The team has made my job easy and I can just go into the arena and enjoy it.”
Out of 38 starters, fourteen combinations jumped flawless clear rounds on the foot-perfect grass arena in the heart of Europe at Valkenswaard demonstrating the world-class field in this exciting class. Marcus Ehning (GER) entered the first on the experienced and well known Misanto Pret A Tout but it wasn’t their day today and they came home with 12 faults on the scoreboard.
The first clear round was produced by Stal Tops rider Alberto Zorzi (ITA) and Clarina but in a slow time of 77.25 that would drop him outside of the top 10.
Looking to do one better than his second place in the first CSI4* class earlier in the morning Marlon Módolo Zanotelli (BRA) wasn’t holding back at all on Urban de Rohan as they flew over the final plank to stop the clock in 62.48s and put the pressure on the rest of the field.
There was disappointment for on form and recent Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Monaco winner Darragh Kenny (IRL) as he had a run-out early on in the course picking up penalty-points overall and putting them out of contention for the win today.
It looked like Jessica Springsteen (USA) was opting for a smooth and steady clear until she picked up the pace and pushed at a flat out gallop to the last to finish in a respectable time of 66.80 seconds. It was a gut-wrenching finish for German rider Tobias Meyer (GER) and Mia and Me-H when they got too keen to the final fence and it came crashing down along with their hopes for a podium position.
Midway through the field and it was clear Marlon was forcing everyone to go flat out which caused poles all over the course but the second to last fence proved the boggy jump falling the most.
Top class action continued as Sergio Álvarez Moya (ESP) took centre stage with Kardenta van ‘t Meerhof. The pair were just a fraction behind the time to beat crossing through the finish in 62.61 seconds. The Roelofsen oxer fell once again this time for Laura Kraut (USA) and the stunning grey Confu who excels in the grass arena at Tops International Arena while Carlos Hank Guerreiro (MEX) put in a slick clear to slide into fourth place overall on H5 Sunshine.
The only one to challenge the time was Wilm Vermeir (GER) and Hotshot but they jumped to the right over the Tulip oxer causing the second to last to fall and leave Zanotelli in the lead.
Flying Frenchman Julien Epaillard (FRA) is known for his speed and didn’t disappoint today on 9 year old stallion Calgary Tame. Looking on track for the win the pair flew with ease over Vizzani’s course until the first part of the double fell right across the middle of the arena and they had to settle for the fastest on 4 faults.
It was a battle of the best right up until the final few riders as Gudrun Patteet (BEL) and Sea Coast Pebbles Z put in a great effort from start to finish. They couldn’t quite match the pace of the early leader Zanotelli (BRA) and took third place on the podium in 63.14 seconds.
Final Results – €25,400 Speed Challenge CSI 4*
1) Marlon Módolo Zanotelli (BRA) & Urban de Rohan – 0 / 62.48
2) Sergio Alvarez Moya (ESP) & Kardenta van ‘t Meerhof – 0 / 62.61
3) Gudrun Patteet (BEL) & Sea Coast Pebbles Z – 0 / 63.14
Source: Press Release from TIA – Tops International Arena
Photos: © TIA