Harrie Smolders has made history by winning the Longines Global Champions Tour (LGCT) before the final leg of the 2017 series.
The flying Dutchman was at the top of the leaderboard going into the penultimate leg in Rome, following a consistent performance with a win in Chantilly, podium finishes in Paris, Hamburg and Rome, and fourth and fifth places in London, Shanghai and Miami Beach.
His second place in Rome’s LGCT Grand Prix with Don VHP Z gave him an unassailable lead.
“It feels great to be champion,” said Harry. “You see the previous winners, the horses and riders are exceptional – so to see my name on the trophy is special. It’s a big achievement for all my owners, our staff and everyone who works in our stable, from flat riders to the grooms – it’s also for them.”
The LGCT Grand Prix of Rome was won by rising star Evelina Tovek. Aged just 24 the Swedish showjumper was the youngest of the field, but her phenomenal partnership with Castello 194 saw her produce an unbeatable round against the best in the world.
The jump-off featured just three riders, with Marcus Ehning and Funky Fred joining Evelina and Harry. Marcus was first to jump and pushed on against the clock, but unfortunately had one down to finish on four faults in a time of 47.90.
Harrie knew a clear would put him first or second, and he managed just that in a time of 52.43. This meant the pressure was on the young shoulders of Evelina, who faced the toughest jump-off of her career. The young rider flew around the course with Castello 194, to stop the clock on 50.71.
“It’s the biggest win of my career – it’s amazing,” said Evelina. “I know my horse is not so fast, but has big strides, so I asked a lot from the canter and in the end it worked! My trainer said ‘just have fun’ before I went in. For me Casello is the perfect horse, no fence is a problem, and I’m really happy to have him.”
Scott Brash and Hello Forever had one down in the first round, but were the quickest of the four faulters to take fourth place.