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victory for Maikel van der Vleuten, Lily Attwood second

  • The closing competition at the London leg of the Longines Global Champions Tour (LGCT) resulted in a five-way thriller against the clock and, with two British riders in the mix, the home crowd had plenty to cheer about.

    But the evening belonged to Dutch showjumper Maikel van der Vleuten and a third-generation home-bred Elwikke, a 10-year-old mare who oozes class.

    “She’s a real winner,” said Maikel, fresh from his bronze medal-winning performance at the World Showjumping Championships last week riding Beauville Z, where he was also part of the Dutch squad which claimed team silver.

    “It’s important she believes in herself and she does at the moment,” said Maikel of the mare, whose great grand-dam Jikke was a top horse for his father Eric van der Vleuten.

    Elwikke is by Eldorado Van De Zeshoek TN and her dam Wikke is by Quick Star. She made her five-star debut with Maikel last year and won a two-star grand prix at Kronenburg in the Netherlands earlier this season.

    “She’s very competitive at this level – she’s done a few 1.60m classes but isn’t very experienced yet,” said Maikel.

    London LGCT concluding class: five-way jump-off

    Just five riders in the opening round of Sunday evening’s Champagne Piaff 1.55m jump-off class produced clear rounds, Uliano Vezzani’s track catching riders out everywhere.

    “Uliano produced a very delicate class again and the double of verticals at the end was difficult for horses to jump clear with a difficult distance going into it,” said Maikel. “We had a good jump-off, but it was a tricky class again today.

    “I didn’t expect to win, it was my day today. This is a beautiful show, great location and brilliant atmosphere.”

    Finishing in the runner-up spot was British rider Lily Attwood with her great partner Cor-Leon VD Vlierbeek Z, with whom she won a CSI2* class at the London LGCT last year. But with only half a second separating her and the winner on Sunday, the 20-year-old rider was left ruing her choice of striding to the second fence.

    “I’m pleased, but I know I could have won it today. My horse is so naturally fast and I should have done one less stride there,” explained Lily, one of Great Britain’s rising stars. “Turning back on the left rein is his weakness, but I should have ridden that turn better. I threw it away at the turn from two to three.

    “It was my mistake – my horse jumped fantastically. But it’s great to have a placing in front of your home crowd.”

    Lily began riding the gelding three years ago and joined GCL team Stockholm Hearts as their under-25 rider this season. She recently represented Great Britain as part of the young rider team at the European Championships.

    “At the beginning, I didn’t know if he’d have enough scope for a five-star grand prix,” revealed Lily. “But he really stepped up at the end of last year with some World Cups then this year doing some of the Globals; he’s just so brave and takes it in his stride.

    “It was a tough course today – lots of tricky lines, especially at the end those four long strides to the double of verticals caught a lot out. At the beginning some were adding to make five, some were doing four and neither one was working, so you just had to go off your own plan.”

    The remaining three jump-off riders all faulted, with another young talent, Belgium’s Zoe Conter finishing third riding Dawa De Greenbay Z. They produced the fastest time, but the final fence fell. Fourth went to pathfinder Daniel Deusser on Jasmien VD Bisschop, while the other British contender Harry Charles took fifth on Borsato.

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