The uncharacteristically bad Italian weather did nothing to dampen the spirits of Harrie Smolders last weekend as he seized first place in the 13th leg of the Longines Global Champions Tour.
With the Grand Prix rescheduled due to adverse weather, the dramatic jump-off held on Sunday saw Harrie take home the top prize, snatching a win from his Dutch compatriot, Maikel van der Vleuten.
Maikel had set the benchmark in the final round, finishing with 34.07sec on VDL Groep Arera, whilst final rider Simon Delestre took silver, finishing with 34.00sec on Chesall Zimequest. But Harrie reigned supreme on Don VHP Z, a horse produced here in Britain, finishing on a time of 33.11sec.
“I’m very happy, I was very pleased with my horse. We were missing a victory at this five star level, but now we’ve got that too,” said Harrie.
Rolf-Göran Bengtsson takes the top spot in the current leaderboard rankings, just 5 points ahead of Edwina Top-Alexander, who had led the rankings since July. Christian Ahlmann and Bertram Allen remain in third and fourth place respectively.
Meanwhile the previous days’ Global Champions League competition was cancelled due to thunderstorms, as lightning and hailstorms threatened the safety of the horses and riders. The €200,000 prize for the competition was split between the 12 teams equally, while no points were awarded. This leaves Valkenswaard United as current leaders, with Antwerp Diamonds just 1.5 points behind.
Both series will resume next week in the penultimate leg hosted by Vienna.