The inaugural edition of the Winter Masters at Equestrian Centre de Peelbergen (NED) entered its second day of competition on Friday, with the highlight being the 1.50m Milestone Farm Prize worth 25.000 Euro and valuable world ranking points.
World-class course designer Frank Rothenberger (GER) had built a demanding track for the first round in this Grand Prix qualifier. Twelve fences waited for the 83-horse-and-rider combinations in the class, and it included both a combination and a tricky triple combination consisting of an oxer-upright-upright – the latter with optical difficult black planks on top. Eventually, thirteen pairs managed to produce clear rounds to move on to the jump-off.
The main hall at the Equestrian Centre de Peelbergen was filled to the brim today, with the crowd creating a fantastic atmosphere for this Friday night feature class.
As third to go in the jump-off, home heroine Lisa Nooren (NED) and her wonderful stallion VDL Groep Sabech d’Ha (Qredo de Paulstra x Talent Platiere) got the crowd all excited with a beautiful and fast round to take the lead when stopping the clock in 39.92 seconds. However, a couple of riders later, Douglas Lindelöw (SWE) managed to bring the time down to 39.82 seconds after a heart-stopping turn to the vertical by the in-gate aboard Cheldon (Chacco-Blue x Baloubet du Rouet).
With two long stretches open for some proper racing towards the end of the shortened course, it was a great jump-off to watch with the riders chasing each other. The next to go all in was Leopold van Asten (NED) who left the brakes by the in-gate on his feisty 12-year-old mare VDL Groep Miss Untouchable (Chacco-Blue x Aldatus), tightening the turns everywhere and going flat out on the open stretches to bring the time down to an incredible 37.94 seconds.
It looked like it would be impossible to catch the Dutch 42-year-old rider, who represented his country at the Olympic Games back in 2004 and is now ranked 78thin the world. Rodrigo Giesteira Almeida (POR) and Kafka vd Heffinck (Calvaro x Diamant de Semilly) came close though, when giving it a good try to take over the runner-up spot with a time of 38.69 seconds.
However, as second last to go, the young talent Eoin McMahon (IRL) and the 13-year-old gelding Chacon 2 (Chacco-Blue x Aventyno) snatched the win from the hosts when flying around at the speed of light while the audience cheered them on in their pursuit of the leading time. When crossing the finish line in 37.85 seconds, McMahon had succeeded with the seemingly impossible – pushing Leopold van Asten down to second place.
“To be honest I thought I had no chance to catch Leopold,” McMahon said after the class. “I just tried to do my own round and go as fast as I could with my horse, and everything just worked out so smooth. I could not really believe that I was faster. I thought I did a good round, but I know Leopold’s mare is crazy quick so I thought the clock must be broken or something!” laughed the 23-year-old Irish rider.
“My boss Ludger Beerbaum rode the horse before and had a lot of success with him in five-star Grand Prix classes. Then Philipp Weishaupt took him over, and he also won some good classes with him like the Speed Challenge in Hong Kong. So, I was very lucky that I got him when I came to Ludger last summer – he has been such a good horse for me,” McMahon said.
“I have been at Equestrian Centre de Peelbergen many times to the two-star indoor shows, and now the organisation of the Winter Masters has done a phenomenal job here – the ring looks great! The Dutch always do the best shows though. The atmosphere was fantastic, we heard the audience to the warm-up. You get wound up, that’s for sure! Everyone wants to win then!” McMahon finished off.