Fortune favours the brave as Edwina Tops-Alexander takes home win in Valkenswaard

17 August - It was a case of fortune favours the brave as Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS) rode an absolutely stunning VDL Groep Prix with her bay 12 year old mare Lintea Tequila (Campbell x Corrado II) to a sensational win in the final CSI5* feature class of the Longines Global Champions Tour of Valkenswaard.

Edwina and Lintea Tequila stole the show riding a daring jump-off round, galloping to the last on a brave and well calculated angle, taking a stride out and winning the race against Tiffany Foster (CAN) who took second place overall. Third went to local rider Harrie Smolders (NED) who came home in 40.67s.

Delighted Edwina, who is based in Valkenswaard, described her victory as “amazing” and said: “Tequila was in great form. It was technical and not much smaller than the Grand Prix. "It’s a great end, so I’m very happy.”

Her triumph in the tough 1.55m competition was witnessed by her family who had travelled from Australia and by friends including Bruce and Patti Springsteen and their daughter Jessica who is trained by Edwina.

50 starters took to the first course, once more designed by Uliano Vezzani, which raised challenges to the very best horse and rider combinations in the world. The course favoured the big jumpers, with horses needing a lot of scope and boldness to finish clear. The time allowed over the big course was challenging and the double of water ditches caught out a few of the top combinations. And the final fence towards home, a big oxer with very narrow poles, produced several upsets.

Paola Amilibia Puig (ESP) was the first to ride clear with her bay 12 year old Diamant de Semilly-mare Prunella d’Ariel. As the round continued it was clear that even the world’s most experienced combinations were caught out by the complexities of the course. Steve Guerdat (SUI), Harrie Smolders (NED), Tiffany Foster (CAN) and Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS) were the names to join her and go through to the jump-off, with Edwina riding a stunning round in 78.71s to put her at the top of the time sheets and in pole position for the jump-off.

The jump-off looked set to be a thriller as the six riders took once more to the stunning grass arena. Crowds of fans and guests watched as the action unfolded before them for the final round of show jumping following this sensational weekend of top sport.

Paola Amilibia Puig (ESP) was once more first to take to the ring and set the pace at 41.72s and clear. The crowd cheered in delight as local rider Harrie Smolders (NED) rode a brilliant round with his 11 year old stallion Don VHP Z (Diamant de Semilly x Voltaire), upping the pace and galloping to the last in 40.67s. Tiffany Foster (CAN) put in some fantastic turns, crossing the line in 39.42s with her bay gelding Victor (Elmshorn x Grandeur), and pushing them up into the top spot, with just one rider left to go.

Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS) was the final rider to enter the ring, and the crowds quietened to silence as the bell rang for the round to start. With baited breath they watched as Edwina rode a simply beautiful round with her mare, who is a little horse with a tremendous spring. Turning to the last fence she was neck and neck with Tiffany Foster (CAN) but encouraged Lintea Tequila to gallop to the last on a brave and well calculated angle, taking out a stride and winning the race with the fiery Tequila to cross the line in 38.81s.


image: Edwina Tops-Alexander rounded of the event in Valkenswaard with a win in the VDL Groep Prix. Photo (c) Stefano Grasso/LGCT.