She is steady, accurate and very focused. She has a great team around her and today it all came together. USA rider Beezie Madden romped off to an emphatic win in the VDL Groep sponsored Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Valkenswaard. Beezie claimed the win with a new team horse Cortes "C' that she has only had for a few months. This is just her second Global Champions Tour start this year and although Beezie has been competing on the Global Champions Tour since 2006, this is her finest result to date.
Course designing by Italian Uliano Vezzani was a delight for the spectators and riders. The 15,000 spectators were not kept away by the wet conditions and stood shoulder-to-shoulder ringside and the stands were packed. The VIP marquee was buzzing with activity from the 500 or so guests all involved in the spirit of the competition.
Round two presented a completely unique track with many new fences added and nothing resembled from the first round. Of the top eighteen combinations that travelled through to the second round, 12 were clear and it looked like too many at this stage. Three riders on one time fault also went through along with the fastest three riders with four faults.
At this point on calculation Australian Edwina Alexander would remain leader of the Global Champions Tour ranking as none of eighteen could come near her current ranking points of 195, even if she did not gain any points here. Although the second round didn’t look that tough, the eleven obstacles took their toll with only four going through to jump-off.
First on course, Dutch rider Jur Vrieling took the risks with the Baloubet du Rouet stallion ‘VDL Bubalu’. A tight turn up to the ‘Jaeger-LeCoultre’ oxer, the second last fence, resulted in a rail down before they headed home in a time of 35.92 seconds.
Itot du Chateau had shown formidable form over the first two rounds and as they covered the first part of the course all looked very promising. There appeared to be some miscommunication and Itot took off a stride too early to the ‘Triumph Project’ oxer. A very clever scramble back to the saddle and a circle to re-compose the pair came home with 8 penalties in 43.68 seconds.
Denis Lynch concentrated solely on his own concerns with Lantinus 3 (above) setting sail conscious of having to be clean yet knowing Beezie was to follow. The horse was really getting in the air and they crossed the line clear in a time of 38.92 seconds.
Sitting in prime jump-off position Beezie lost no time with Abigail Wexner’s Cortes ‘C’ and the duo jumped to victory in a time of 38.38 seconds.
With the 8th leg of the 10 round series put to rest, the tour moves to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil 2-4th September. The concluding round of the 2011 series will be held at the Al Forsan International Sports Arena.
Beezie Madden winner of the Global Champions Tour Grand Prix in Valkenswaard said her victory came as a surprise as she was riding her new horse Cortes. Speaking after her thrilling win in 38.38, the star American rider said: “It is a new horse for me. I have had him for several months and this was only my second Grand Prix with him, so I am a little shocked but very happy.”
Asked about runner-up Denis Lynch’s speedy clear round ahead of her Beezie said: “I saw him go and tried to match his round. I made up a stride at one of the fences and was a bit quicker to fence nine, so that is what made him do it.”
Denis Lynch, closely behind Beezie on 38.92, said: “I was very happy with the way Lantinus jumped. It was a really good course today and it is amazing how the ground put up with the conditions we jumped.”
When asked whether the frequent and often heavy rain affected the performance of horses and riders Denis quipped: “Not me, I come from Ireland and it rains quite a lot there!”
Dutch rider Jur Vrieling said he was pleased with his third place despite four faults in the jump off and said: “This is my first time in the Global Champions Tour and so I am really happy. I am really happy to be behind the top riders.”
Asked if the Valkenswaard show on home ground in the Netherlands was extra special, Jur said: “Absolutely. It is really nice to ride here and Jan Tops makes a really nice show and it is great to do this for your own public and sponsors.”
Edwina Alexander spoke of her delight at holding on to the top spot in the Global Champions Tour rankings despite a close call in the jump off.
Edwina, the world’s top ranked female rider, said she only just managed to stay on her champion horse Itot du Chateau: “He just lost the footing a bit and when I went to go forward he got a bit stuck so I had no chance. “I managed to stay on, but I don’t know how I did it. I had a lot of mud on my face, so I was pretty close to the ground. Of course I would have liked to have won. It was a great competition.”
Global Champions Tour President Jan Tops said the new high-tech surface with special drainage had worked superbly in the rainy conditions during the weekend. He said: “I was happy today with the ground which held up well in the rain.”
Jan and the riders heaped praised on course designer Uliano Vezzani saying: “Uliano knows how to build courses. “I think he did a great job getting four in the jump off.”
The GCT President and Founder also thanked the sponsors of the Valkenswaard show and said: “I want to thank our sponsor VDL, which has been our sponsor for seven years. We are very lucky to get this kind of prize money because without that we cannot get this kind of level for the sport.”
Yiannis Broustas, The Netherlands Managing Director of Global Champions Tour sponsor Jaeger Le-Coultre, explained why the prestigious Swiss watchmaker teams up with GCT. He said: “It is totally to do with the DNA of who we are. Luxury is not instant and winning an event like that is not instant either. It takes a lot of effort, a lot of talent and great passion. These are the values that we have and why we are very proud to be at this great event.”
Photos: Beezie Madden; Jur Vrieling; Denis Lynch and US Team celebration Photo credits' Stefano Grasso/GCT