Maikel van der Vleuten_Dana Blue Maikel van der Vleuten_Dana Blue

After an initial victory last week in the HUBSIDE JUMPING’s CSI4* Grand Prix, as high-level competition resumed in Europe, the Netherlands’ Maikel van des Vleuten was again the winner of a class comprising the greatest riders and also with the mare Dana Blue.

The 15th rider in the world rankings finished ahead of Germany’s Daniel Deusser, World No.3, with Killer Queen VDM, and Italy’s Emanuele Gaudiano, World no.25 with his unmistakable Chalou. During this weekend of the second round of the French local elections, there is one rider who has made sure that he is definitely in charge of the European capital of show jumping this summer: the Netherlands’ Maikel van der Vleuten, who at the beginning of the afternoon notched up his second victory in two weekends of 4* Grands Prix in Grimaud.

The rounds created by the French course designer Grégory Bodo seemed surprisingly easy for the combination formed by van der Vleuten and Dana Blue, who despite this, faced some tough competition. Sixteen jump-off riders, the cracks of the discipline! Only sixteen of the forty-nine combinations taking part went through to the jump-off after a first clear round.

Two of the circuit’s most talented lady riders also jumped the first round with no rails down, but went over the time allowed: France’s Pénélope Leprevost, the current Olympic team gold medallist, riding Vancouver de Lanlore and America’s Jessica Springsteen with Don Juan van de Donkhoeve.

After the unsuccessful round of Belgium's Gudrun Pateet, Normandy’s Titouan Schumacher rode a very fast jump-off round and had the first double clear, but he didn’t seem unbeatable, given the challengers to come. He didn’t have long to wait: the Netherlands’ Jur Vrieling, who made this Grand Prix his objective this week, having won several classes over the last two weeks, managed to improve the time to beat established by the French rider. His satisfaction was short-lived as France’s Mathieu Billot, the 2002 Junior European individual gold medallist, improved on his time.

For a few rounds the rider even began to imagine he might win this Grand Prix, as his competitors Alexandra Thornton (GBR), Emilio Bicocchi (ITA), Philippe Rozier (FRA) and Martin Fuchs (SUI), who are nonetheless the Olympic team gold medallist and the European individual gold medallist for the latter two, were unable to have a perfect round and go faster than Billot. The mare Dancing Queen Z, which was being ridden for the first time at this level by Ireland’s Bertram Allen, after his brother, went into the lead. Nicolas Delmotte, the rider from France’s Nord department didn’t manage to dethrone him, despite his double clear round with Ilex VP. The last six riders to go in this jump-off, all of whom are stars of this sport, represented the greatest threat!

No champion was able to unseat van der Vleuten The Irish rider’s pole position was short-lived, as Italy’s Emanuele Gaudiano had an incredibly quick round, half a second faster than Bertram’s. Following him, Maikel van der Vleuten went into the lead in the class and stayed there until the very end. Neither America’s Laura Kraut, the current World team gold medallist and the 2008 Olympic gold medallist, nor France’s Kevin Staut, the current Olympic team gold medallist, nor Germany’s Daniel Deusser, the 2014 winner of the Longines FEI World Cup Final, nor Belgium’s Pieter Devos, the current European team gold medallist unseated the rider who was already victorious last week in this same ring.

“Dana Blue is a mare which really likes competing,” explained the winner, van der Vleuten. “She has a fighting spirit: she fights for her rider but she fights for herself too; she really loves winning! It’s an essential quality in a jump-off like this one, faced with these types of riders: a victory depends on your mindset and your desire to win! She is also really fast naturally on the ground and that can also make all the difference. At the beginning of the week, after her victory last weekend, she rested, with a few simple exercises on Monday and Tuesday. I rode her again on Wednesday. On Thursday we took part in an easy class, so that she could warm up. She competed in the Grand Prix today and the result speaks for itself. I need to talk to my father Eric about next week: we always talk about each show’s schedules as a family. This week, my horses each only took part in two classes, an easy one and a big one. Despite this, I think that Beauville Z will jump in the CSI 5* Grand Prix.”

Next week’s CSI 5* event is already on everybody's minds. A show of this level, the highest in the Fédération Equestre Internationale’s hierarchy, has not been held in Europe since 15 March.

The HUBSIDE JUMPING is held with the presence of the public, in accordance with the health guidelines in force in France. Admission to the show is free of charge.

We look forward to seeing you on: 

From 2 to 5 July, for a CSI 5*, a CSI 2* and a CSI 1*,

From 9 to 12 July, for a CSI 4*, a CSI 2* and a CSI 1*.

All of the classes will be broadcast live on:

Full results here.

Video of the winning round here

Press release

© Marco Villanti pour HUBSIDE JUMPING, copyright of Grand Prix TV.