Rising Stars Praise ‘Amazing’ Opportunities for Development at Tops International Arena

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Tops international arena credits photo

Leading U25 rider Michael Pender and many Longines Global Future Champions’ riders have praised the ‘amazing’ facilities at Tops International Arena and opportunities for young riders on this world-class stage on the final day of competition this weekend.
Talented Irish rising star Michael Pender spoke of the unique environment for development of young riders, and said “It’s an amazing show and a really good opportunity for young riders, there are not many opportunities like this, to be able to compete at such a top quality venue. It’s incredible for young riders to compete in the same arenas as the 5* riders. You can really feel the atmosphere of a 5* competition when you ride in the main arena.“
Michael also praised his horse: “Calais is quite big so excelled in this huge grass arena. I was second this morning so I didn’t want to be second again!“
Michael epitomises the opportunity for progression from Longines Global Future Champions to the world stage of the Longines Global Champions Tour and GCL and today took the win in the 1.50m U25 Grand Prix on HHS Calais.

U25
The victory in the 1.35/1.40m went to the Czech Sara Vingralkova and her 8-year-old Zangersheide gelding Damocles From Second Life Z (Diamant De Semilly x Caretano). The 19-year-old Sara was very pleased with her victory: “Yesterday I came second so this victory feels really good.“ It is her debut in Valkenswaard: “It is beautiful here, such nice arenas and a great course designer and courses. It’s fantastic here and hope to come back again.“
Successful Irishman Michael Pender came second with HHS Catwalk (ISH, Cit Cat x Clover Echo). Mexican Ruben Dario Ramirez Zilli finished in third place with the KWPN gelding Identiek (Corland x Kigali).

Young Riders
Four of the 22 competitors in the Young Rider Grand Prix managed to stay clear in the first round to qualify for the jump-off. First to go was Belgian Bart Jay Junior Vandecasteele with the grey Mac Jack Courtier (VDL Indoctro x Cartier van de Heffinck). His hope for a fast and clear round and an eventual victory was dashed at the third fence when a pole fell. American rider Tali Dejong took no risks and went for a clear round. She delivered a beautifully controlled ride in 46.18 seconds with her KWPN mare Heavenly Star (Van Gogh) that ultimately brought her victory.
Hannes Ahlman from Germany had four faults with the Holsteiner mare Caracas (Casall x San Patrignano Cassini) and finished in third place. Ireland’s Robyn Fagan seemed to be heading for victory with Fernhill Holly Chay but had an unfortunate fault on the last fence and finished in fourth place.

Czech Sara Vingralkova won the 1.35/1.40m for Young Riders with Joyride (KWPN, Verdi TN x Heartbreaker). They stayed clear in this direct on time competition in 65.54 seconds. “I never thought I would start here and then win, it’s unbelievable. I’ve never seen such a beautiful grass arena.“ She has been riding her horse Joyride for four years now. “We have won a lot together like the national championships and we participated in two European Championships.“
Second place was for Sara’s compatriot Katerina Tomanova with the mare Divine des Vergers Z. They crossed the finish line in 66.42 seconds. German Max Haunhorst came third with the mare DSP Contanos (Courtier x Lordanos) in a time of 66.77.

Juniors
What an exciting Grand Prix for the Juniors! No less than 12 combinations qualified for the jump-off this Sunday afternoon at Tops International Arena. Dutch rider Emma Bocken was the first to go and rode a nice fast round until the last fence. There the pole went down and that resulted in four faults. German rider Max Paschertz had a fault on the third fence, a vertical. The first clear round was for Germany’s Lisa Maria Funke with Coeur de Lion (Hann, Carenzo x Sao Paulo). A beautiful and very fast round, which put her in the lead. A few good attempts followed from, among others, Helena Beyers (GER) with Matonge of Colors (BWP, Elvis ter Putte x Eros Platiere), Anthony Philippaerts (BEL) with Ginger Ale (Holst, Mylord Carthago HN x Diarado) and Bart Jay Junior Vandecasteele (BEL) with Esprit de l’Esprit Z, who eventually finished third. Inigo Lopez de la Osa Franco and Galaxy (KWPN, Arezzo VDL x Corland) and Tabitha Kyle (GBR) with Desterly (KWPN, Tolan R x Murano) also stayed clear but fell short of speed. It was the last competitor, the Czech Mariana Michlickova who showed that it could be faster. She stopped the clock at 37.57 with Leeve Jung (Meckl, Lazaro 10 x Converter 2). A wonderful victory for the 17-year-old rider who recently finished sixth with her team at the European Championships for Juniors in Vilamoura.
The very last class of the Longines Global Future Champions 2021 was a 1.20/1.25m against the clock competition for Juniors. The Belgian Rik Nauta won with the BWP mare Monchhichi (Emerald x Cascadeur). The 16-year-old from Asse crossed the finish line in 57.01 seconds. Friday, they were second in this class. Dutch Alicia Bocken came second with Dinka (Holst, Diarado x San Patrignano Cassini) with a time of 59.51. Third place was for Germany’s Nathalie Fichtner and the KWPN gelding Clooney (Cardento 933 x Voltaire).
Children
The Grand Prix for Children saw 14 combinations return to the jump-off where they fought fiercely for victory. Amy Helfrich was the first clear with the Holsteiner stallion Leon (Loran x Calido I) in a time of 42.90 and so took the lead. But that was only for a short time, as the British Noora van Bülow made a very sharp turn towards the last fence and saved a lot of time. She stopped the clock at 41.13 with the SWB mare Lucky Lisa (Heartbeat x Lux Z). No combination managed to beat the time until the last rider, Dutchman Daan Adams with Ginette vd Kempenhoeve (Non Stop x Quorum de Laubry) entered the arena. He too made the same sharp turn towards the last fence and was more than a second faster than Von Bülow: 40.11. A great ending to his debut at the Longines Global Future Champions.
In the 1.20m class against the clock, Germany’s Amy Helfrich secured her fourth victory. She rode a very fast clear round with her Holstein gelding PSS Can (Canstakko x Landgraf I): 59.84.  Fellow countrywoman Antonia Häsler came second with Lainy-Lou B (Westf, Levisonn) with a time of 65.82, followed by Yoni van Santvoort for the Netherlands with Kinky Girl (KWPN, Alano x Zilverstar VDL): 68.22.

Ponies
The Grand Prix for pony riders with obstacles of 1.25/1.30m had a great and exciting jump-off. All eight competitors, including five British, one German, one Czech and one Dutch combination, made for a super pony final.
It is always difficult in a jump-off to be the first in the ring, but that was not the case for the British Tabitha Kyle. She flew through the course and stayed clear in 35.42 seconds with Atomic du Bary. It turned out to be a super good time that all participants after her bit down on. Elissa Herrmann had a small problem with the first obstacle of the double and lost some time, but her time was good enough for third place with Lapislazuli. Hopes of victory came to an end on the second fence for Henry Squibb (GBR) and Kilcurry Dawn. Phoebe Farman and Teach Mor Joey did not take too much risk, which earned them a clear round and fifth place. The Czech Kristyna Vitek remained clear and finished in fourth place with Kamirez by Orchid’s. Dutch rider Renske van Middendorp came last in the ring. She and her pony Bosvallei’s Tiego were determined but needed just 1.01 seconds more to cross the finish line. But she did finish in a well-deserved second place. Tabitha had a good day because a little later she also won the 1.15/120m. “It’s a super day for me with two victories and a great experience to jump at this fantastic place. It’s nice that an event is organised here for the young generation where they can gain experience and enjoy the atmosphere.“ She thought her ride in the jump-off of the Grand Prix was her best ride “I had to start first in the jump-off so that gave some pressure.“

Britain’s Tilly Bamford and her pony Dizzy Rascal repeated their victory of Friday in the 1.10m direct time. A nice international debut for this 13-year-old rider. Second place was for yesterday’s winner, Germany’s Amy Helfrich with Fiorello followed by Czech Anna Marie Vitek with Mateo di Belle in third place.

The 1.15/1.20m class was won by Tabitha Kyle and Gangnam Style II. They crossed the finish line in 55.24 seconds and were almost 8 seconds faster than the second placed Noora van Bulow with Delflip. Irishman Robert Russell came in third with TJ Butterfly. Eight seconds faster that’s quite something “Yes but I knew Henry Squibb was coming after me so I gave everything I had.“
Pony show classes
On Sunday morning, there was fierce competition in the show classes for pony riders. All competitions were against the clock so speed was of the essence if you wanted to win. In the class with obstacles up to 0.60m, the decision was made very quickly. Wimpie Vos started second with Jolly and rode such a fast clear round that no one could improve on that. The British Annabel Widdowson came close with her two ponies Nanthelyg Carlo and Little Shannon, but had to settle for second and third place.

The 0.80m class remained exciting until the very end. Josephine Rodenburgh took the lead with her Rodenburgh’s Hamtaro until Amy van de Pol entered the ring. Amy and her pony Wee Spot managed to beat Josephine’s time with 0.93 seconds. The second last starter Phileine Stroot showed that it could be even faster and stopped the clock at 44.36 with her speedy pony Simply Brown. A great victory for this combination, who are clearly well used to each other.

The 1.00m combinations closed the competition series and also here was a fierce battle for the victory and again it was the second last combination that ran away with it. Suzette van Esch rode an unreal fast round with her super jumping First Rate de Tinmont. They managed to beat the time of the second placed Italian Ginevra Saluzzo Madafferi by 1.52 seconds. Madafferi finished in 51.74 with Darjeeling de la Bata. Third place was for Donna van der Donk and Givaro.

HSJ | Tops International Arena | Photo Credits Tops international arena

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