Alberto Zorzi became the fifth rider in history to win The Turkish Airlines Olympia Grand Prix back-to-back when he produced an incredible burst of speed to outdo his four rivals in the jump-off and bring a brilliant five days of jumping to an enthralling close.
Last year, Zorzi, a member of the Italian army, also won on a mare (Contanga); this time it was the black 10-year-old Ulane de Coquerie. “It’s unbelievable! I am so lucky,” said Zorzi. “I know my horse is very fast, so I trust her and go with her. She’s one of the best I have ridden. I love this Show!”
In completing the double, Zorzi joins an elite band of riders: David Broome (with Philco and Sportsman in 1977-78), Nick Skelton (St James, 1982-83), Malcolm Pyrah (Towerlands Anglezarke, 1985-86), Franke Sloothaak (Walzerkoenig, 1988-89) and Ben Maher (Tripple X and Diva ll, 2013-14).
Only four went through to the jump-off, and Portugal’s Rodrigo Giesteira Almeida riding GC Chopin’s Bushi made a feisty start with a clear in 28.69 seconds. However, he was overhauled by the stylish Dutchman Maikel van der Vleuten on Idi Utopia, who came home in 28.64.
Scott Brash was the sole British representative, riding a masterful clear round on the youngster Hello Jefferson, but a tight turn proved too ambitious for the nine-year-old and he refused.
Both Zorzi and van der Vleuten felt the Grand Prix track was harder than that for the previous day’s FEI World Cup™. “Alberto’s horse had a shorter stride than mine and could move up more quickly to the fences,” explained van der Vleuten, who ended up as Leading Rider of the Show. “But finishing second, and as Leading Rider of the show, is a great way for me to finish the year.”
Ireland’s Darragh Kenny and Olympia newcomer Doron Kuipers from the Netherlands were second and third in the final rider rankings with William Funnell best Briton in fourth.