Dutch rider Maikel Van der Vleuten made history at Olympia on Saturday night when he matched his father Eric’s achievement in 2009 by winning the Longines FEI World Cup qualifier presented by H&M.
The packed house was treated to a thrilling 11-horse jump-off which built to the dream finish – the very last rider into the arena pulling off victory. Riding VDL Groep Sapphire B for The Netherlands, Van der Vleuten beat Belgium’s Francois Mathy Jr on Polinska des Isles by just 5/100th of a second.
Britain’s Daniel Neilson, riding in Olympia’s international classes for the first time, produced an inspired performance on Varo M to take third place.
Penelope Leprevost (FRA) on Nice Stephanie and Lars Nieberg (GER) on Leonie W also produced double clears to finish fourth and fifth.
Scott Brash (Hello Ursula Xll, sixth), Michael Whitaker (Viking, seventh) and Peter Charles (Murka’s Odie de Frevent, 10th) kept home hopes alive by making it into the jump-off but they all faulted.
An enthralled audience had their hearts in their mouths as Van der Vleuten made an audacious switch-back turn to the fifth fence, a move which gave him the fastest time of all, but the gallant Viking unfortunately hit the upright black-and-white Longines FEI World Cup fence.
It was a first Longines FEI World Cup win for Van der Vleuten, the fifth Dutch winner since 1979, and he and Eric are the first father-son combination to win this class at Olympia, described by the FEI’s World Cup Director John Roche as “one of the jewels in our crown”.
“It’s a super atmosphere here, a beautiful place to win,” Van der Vleuten said afterwards. “Everything happened very fast in the class and I relied on my Dutch colleagues to tell me what to do in the jump-off.”
Of his 14-year-old grey mare by Mr Blue, he commented: “She is always brave yet careful. She keeps developing in the right way and she always wants to do a clear round.”
Third placed Daniel Neilson, 23, is one of Britain’s brightest young prospects and is now running his own business in Brentwood, Essex. “Riding at Olympia is something you aim for at the start of your year,” he said. “There isn’t a crowd like it anywhere else in the world.
“British show jumping is on a high and it’s great for young riders like myself as it makes you push forward. I had a good feeling when I walked the course here, as my horse is naturally fast and also very careful. I have saved him especially for it.”
Portuguese course-designer Bernardo Costa Cabral was pleased with the outcome. “It was all about detail, and there was pressure on riders to make the time on that final turn which is why the planks [fence 11] was so influential.”
The Longines FEI World Cup series moves on to Mechelen in Belgium with Britain’s Scott Brash still heading the Western League rankings and Mikail Van der Vleuten now in third place at this halfway mark.
On Friday, Laura Renwick raised the Olympia roof when she became the first senior British rider to win a jumping class this week.
Riding David Perry’s brilliant Oz de Breve, Laura won the Earls Court Olympia Christmas Cracker by just 0.23sec from the flying Swede Peder Fredericson on Thursday’s speed class winner H & M Sibon.
Renwick was drawn at exactly halfway down the 32-strong class and put up an immaculate round, meeting the final line of fences to perfection.
“I’ve had a few ups and downs this year and so to win here at Olympia has put me on a real high. I didn’t go into the arena thinking I’d win, but we met every fence on the right stride and I found myself where I wanted to be all the way round. It was very smooth.”
The honour of taking the first British win of the week went to young rider Jess Dimmock, who had the thrill of a lifetime when triumphing in the Under 23 British Championships, sponsored by Dodson & Horrell and The World Class Programme.
This class at Olympia is probably the most prestigious competition for young riders in the world – previous winners include the current world number one, Scott Brash. Riding her own Capella ll, Dimmock was first to go in the five-horse jump-off and produced a steady clear, which proved good enough to win. Scarlett Ward, who was carrying forward one time fault from the previous round, also went clear to finish second on Milena 8. Jessica Mendoza was third on Spirit T with one fence down.
Dimmock missed last year’s Olympia because Capella had to have colic surgery. “He is my horse of a lifetime and he nearly died last year, so for him to come back and win is a fairytale,” said Jess, who is trained by Tim Stockdale. “This means everything to me.”
1, VDL Groep Sapphire B (Maikel van der Vleuten) NED 0/0 37.07;
2, Polinska des Isles (Francois Mathy Jnr) BEL 0/0 37.12;
3, Varo M (Daniel Neilson) GBR 0/0 37.19;
4, Nice Stephanie (Penelope Leprevost) FRA 0/0 37.39;
5, Leonie W (Lars Nieberg) GER 0/0 38.57;
6, Ursula Xll (Scott Brash) GBR 0/4 35.23;
7, Viking (Michael Whitaker) GBR 0/4 35.29;
8, Lois (Beat Mandli) SUI 0/4 35.92;
9, Clintop (Max Kuhner) GER 0/4 37.26;
10, Marka’s Odie de Frevent (Peter Charles) GBR 0/4 37.78;
11, Chilli van Dijk NRW (Stefan Eder) AUT 0/8 35.86.
Standings after Round 5 at Olympia:
1. Scott Brash GBR – 52
2. Steve Guerdat SUI – 51
3. Maikel van der Vleuten NED – 40
4. Tim Gredley GBR – 36
5. Marcus Ehning GER – 36
6. Edwina Tops-Alexander AUS – 35
7. Francois Mathy Jr BEL – 34
8. Luciana Diniz POR – 32
9. Hans-Dieter Dreher GER – 26
10. Patrice Delaveau FRA – 23
11. Simon Delestre FRA – 22
12. Harrie Smolders NED – 21
13. Christian Ahlmann GER – 20
14. Michael Whitaker GBR – 20
15. Pius Schwizer SUI – 19
16. Athina Onassis de Miranda BRA- 19
17. Nicola Philippaerts BEL – 18
18. Kevin Staut FRA – 17
19. Daniel Neilson GBR – 15
19. Luca Moneta ITA – 15
19. Ludger Beerbaum GER – 15
19. Shane Breen IRL – 15
Another World Cup win to The Netherlands
Champion driver Ijsbrand Chardon linked speed, accuracy and boldness in an outstanding display of skill to win the FEI World Cup driving qualifier at Olympia.
Olympia is the only show in the world to host three FEI World Cup qualifiers: dressage, carriage-driving, and jumping. This is the seventh of nine driving legs, with a final in Bordeaux in February.
In a tense final round, Chardon beat his compatriot Koos de Ronde and German sensation Michael Brauchle, who dropped from second to third place in the final run-off. Britain’s Georgina Hunt, the first woman ever to be granted a wild card at a qualifier, put up a terrific show to finish seventh.
A shock result was the omission from the top three of world number one Boyd Exell, who was left an impossible margin to catch up after collecting two knock-downs.
Drivers and officials were unanimous in their praise for the organisation at Olympia. “The spectators are very close to us and their enthusiasm and support was amazing,” Chardon remarked. “The noise was deafening.”
Klaus Peppersack, president of the ground jury, said “the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I have been to all the qualifying events and would have to say that I have never experienced an atmosphere like it. It is quite the best audience in the world.”