Valkenswaard, The Netherlands – July 18, 2021 – In an afternoon of non-stop sporting drama Egyptian star Abdel Saïd (EGY) and Arpege du Ru faced down the heavyweights of show jumping to pull off an extraordinary win in the €100,000 Grand Prix of Valkenswaard CSI 4* at Tops International Arena.
A beaming Abdel Saïd (EGY) explained: “I am delighted and so happy with my mare. She is an incredible trier and naturally super fast. I took a lot of risk and I knew it was going to be close, especially with Laura Kraut (USA) after me.”
Talking about the huge grass arena Said said: “It is incredible, the first day I arrived and there was so much rain and the next day it was as if nothing had happened. It is just incredible. The team behind this show are fantastic and a massive thumbs up to the whole event.”
It was a perfect end to the second summer event in Valkenswaard as well as great preparation ahead of the Tokyo Olympics. Riding 11-year-old chestnut Selle Français mare (Arpege d’Adries Quat’sous), Said powered to the top of the leaderboard with ease as he flew around the expansive grass arena. USA’s Laura Kraut (USA) picked up second place just a fraction off the time to beat with Confu while the final spot on the podium when to local Dutchman Jack Ansems (NED) and Fliere Fluiter.
The crowd at the magnificent Tops International Arena were left mesmerised as some of the biggest names in the sport failed to make the grade in dramatic fashion. The likes of Eduardo Alvarez Aznar (ESP), Leopold van Asten (NED), Frank Schuttert (NED), Alberto Zorzi (ITA), Julien Epaillard (FRA) and Marlon Módolo Zanotelli (BRA) all getting caught out by Uliani Vizzani’s (ITA) testing 1.55m track and not making it into the jump-off.
It was a feast of show jumping talent for spectators and viewers on GCTV to enjoy in the power-packed 8 person jump-off. First to go Jens Baackmann (GER) and Caprice delivered an efficient round but was caught out by the first part of the double to finish on 4 faults.
There was drama when Marcus Ehning (GER) riding Priam du Roset backed off to the Stal Tops oxer near the entrance to the arena causing a miscommunication between the pair running through the fence and finishing with a total of 8 faults.
The first clear came from Darragh Kenny (IRL) and Great-Tikila J who gave plenty of extra room over the Adamus oxer stopping the clock in 37.14 and putting the pressure on the rest of the challengers.
Local Dutchman Jack Ansems (NED) quickly knocked Kenny off top spot with his stunning grey mare Fliere Fluiter. They took it all in their stride and flew through the finish line in 36.77 seconds to the crowd’s delight. Young gun Micheal Pender was lucky at the wall as one brick slid to the edge but stayed on. He then cut 2 seconds off the time to beat but there was heartache when the final fence came tumbling down from the lightest of touches to put him straight out of contention.
The jump-off got faster and faster when Abdel Saïd (EGY) entered the arena on Arpege du Ru. Making it look effortless the pair soared over the jumps and catapulted themselves up to the top of the leaderboard as they came home in a blistering time of 34.59 seconds.
Penultimate combination Laura Kraut (USA) and Confu gave it everything they had setting off at a flat out gallop before the first fence. They were within touching distance at the halfway point but couldn’t quite match the pace and finished a second slower in 35.78 seconds
It wasn’t meant to be for the final rider of the day Japanese talent Hikari Yoshizawa (JPN) with Conrato who finished with 12 faults and settled for 8th place overall.
Tops International Arena had another weekend of top sport and exciting action with more to come in the second half of the season. From 6 to 8 August Tops International Arena will be all about the talents of the future with the Longines Global Future Champions, immediately followed by the KWPN-Blom Cup (9 to 11 August) and as the absolute highlight, the third summer event, the Longines Global Champions Tour of Valkenswaard from 20 to 22 August.
Final Results – €100,000 Jump-off Grand Prix CSI 4*
1) Abdel Saïd (EGY) & Arpege du Ru – 0 / 0 – 34.59
2) Laura Kraut (USA) & Confu – 0 / 0 – 35.78
3) Jack Ansems (NED) & Fliere Fluiter – 0 / 0 – 36.77
Source: Press Release from TIA – Tops International Arena
Photo: © TIA