Tétouan, Morocco – October 08, 2023 – Italy’s Emanuele Gaudiano (ITA), one of the Morocco Royal Tour‘s most loyal riders, has won a respectable number of classes in Tetouan over the last ten years (as last Thursday and Friday with Jaja!), but he has never won the Grand Prix. This is now not the case anymore, thanks to his powerful 10-year-old Belgian stallion Nikolaj de Music.
Thirty-five pairs were at the start, which meant that nine of them were in with a chance of winning the second round. The debate was almost exclusively European, with only Morocco’s Vincent Zacharias Bourguignon (MAR) getting in on the action with an excellent clear round from his very young “Zangersheide” gelding, Junius Vd Heffinck Z. A perfect round that was only to be penalized by two points for time overrun, which in any case ruled him out of the battle for victory.
This was to come down to the seven clear rounds of the first round, with three Italian riders in the mix. Statistically, the Squadra Azzura had the best chance of winning. And the facts proved it. The first of them, Roberto Previtali (ITA) (Conthargo-Blue), signed the first clear round of the second leg, setting the tone (azzura, of course)! But would his time be enough?
Belgium’s Cyril Cools (BEL) and (GER) proved him wrong, taking over the lead temporarily after a penalty-free jump-off effort in 41.15 seconds.
However, the lead would be chanllenge by an European Champion, Germany’s Andre Thieme (GER), who came close to overtaking the Belgian with Conacco, falling short due to their final time of 41.15 seconds.
The last Italian cartridge, and the last to go in this “second round-jump-off”, Emanuele Gaudiano then came to put Northern Europe to rights with his athletic son of Kannan, leaving Cyril Cools (BEL) and Milton Z (a grey horse, it goes without saying) almost two seconds behind him!
“I made the difference mainly between the penultimate two obstacles, where I asked Nikolaj to take four strides, whereas the others took five, and then I went very fast to the last fence,” explained the Italian, who paid tribute to Nikolaj: “He wasn’t an easy horse. I’ve been riding him since he was 4 years old, and he’s indeed very strong (smile), but now he’s a good 4 and 5* horse, and this isn’t his first 4* Grand Prix victory”.
This Grand Prix was particularly pleasant to watch, very fluid, with few faults actually, but subtly distributed over the entire course: “When I design a course,” explains Olympic course designer Gregory Bodo (FRA), “I take into account the horse line-up, of course, but here I also had to take into account the large crowd, which reacted strongly and brought this event to life for each horse. My idea was to propose a World Cup course, a Grand Prix designed for the horses in forward movement, with a concern to protect them. It was a course that was open to everyone, and the proof is in the number of 4-faults courses” (twelve exactly, editor’s note).
Final Results – €98,000 H.R.H The Crown Prince Moulay El Hassan Grand Prix CSI 4*-W
1) Emanuele Gaudiano (ITA) & Nikolaj de Music – 0 / 0 – 39.33
2) Cyril Cools (BEL) & Milton Z – 0 / 0 – 41.15
3) Andre Thieme (GER) & Conacco – 0 / 0 – 41.41
Source: Press Release (edited) from Agence R&B Presse for Morocco Royal Tour
Photos: © Morocco Royal Tour / Agence R&B Presse / Adèle Renauldon / Thomas Reiner