La dolce vita for Van der Vleuten and Verdi in Verona
Three down, 10 to go! After opening stages in Oslo and Helsinki, World Cup Show Jumping qualifying shifted south to Verona, Italy for its third leg this past weekend. And ‘v’ was the letter of the day as Dutch rider Maikel van der Vleuten and his 15-year-old stallion VDL Groep Verdi claimed victory over Italian and Belgian rivals Alberto Zorzi and Pieter Devos.
The elite Show Jumping riders are now full-on into Western European league qualifying for next year’s Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final, scheduled for mid-April, 2018 in Paris. And after the two opening stops in Scandinavia and one in Italy, the series heads to Lyon, France next weekend, followed by competitions in Stuttgart, Madrid, La Coruna, London, Mechelen, Leipzig, Zurich, Bordeaux, and Gothenburg (Washington, DC is also listed as a potential qualifier in the competition calendar).
Great Britain’s John Whitaker and Comme Il Faut had to retire from the Class, as did leading German rider Daniel Deusser (with SX Hidalgo VG). Italy’s Lorenzo De Luca with Halifax van het Kluizebos took fourth.
After the win, van der Vleuten spoke glowingly about his powerful partner:
“I started with Verdi as a young horse, it took us quite a long time to get the right control and to get him stronger and everything and now he is so fast in a jump-off,” he said. “It’s just the experience they need to get through the years, just to keep doing it every time and this is a horse that wants to do it very well, and he still wants to learn. He also likes to win and that’s very important but he also has to be happy, not every day training in the same outdoor, I try to change the work, sometimes to go outside to the woods and I use the canter track, he is more happy to train over there.
Van der Vleuten added: “There are things to think about, for example four weeks ago in Rome I could feel he was a little bored. After the show in Calgary maybe it was a little bit too much for him so the last four weeks I got busy with making him happy and good again, and it worked out very well. He was playing with the jumps again and feeling good, and then the result comes as well!”
The Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final, which will be held alongside the World Cup Dressage Final at Paris’ AccorHotels Arena next spring, is one of the most prestigious competitions in equestrian sports. In 2017, American World No.2 McLain Ward and HH Azur soared to victory at the Final in Omaha, Nebraska, USA. Omaha was the two-time Olympic and Pan American Games gold medalist’s 17th attempt at a World Cup Final title.
All aboard: next stop, France!