Danielle Goldstein pulled off her first-ever Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix win with her “amazing” chestnut mare Lizziemary on Saturday, July 9, 2017 in a fast-paced jump off in Cascais, Portugal.
Goldstein, of Israel, won the €300,000 Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Cascais CSI5* by taking a stride out early on before jumping a double of verticals and making a great turn back to the water tray fence. Her acceleration over the big oxer with Lizziemary was followed by a determined gallop to the last. Goldstein said that she knew she had to go all out in the five-rider strong jump off, and the win was “a dream” as “everyone wants to win a Global Champions Tour Grand Prix”.
Dutch champion Maikel van der Vleuten and VDL Groep Arera were pushed into second place, over a full second behind Goldstein. It was to be a night when young talent shone on the Atlantic coast of Portugal, as in form Martin Fuchs of Switzerland finished in third place on Clooney with Bertram Allen of Ireland and Molly Malone in fourth and Belgium’s Jos Verlooy finished in fifth. The young guns, some of the sport’s biggest speed stars, pulled out all the stops but could not beat Goldstein. Young American Jennifer Gates finished in an impressive seventh place on the impressive grey Luftikus S. The order of 24 qualified to compete in the grand prix by their performances in the Global Champions League Final class, held immediately prior to the Grand Prix.
Goldstein bought Lizziemary last October from Billy Twomey, who won the 2016 King George Cup at CSIO5* Hickstead with the talented 11-year-old AES mare (Cabri d’Ellle x Acord II). Since then, Goldstein and the chestnut mare have been consistent competitors on the LGCT circuit, but this was their first, podium finish.
“We come out and we work every day, so it’s a dream to win, it feels amazing,” Goldstein commented. “I’m thrilled. We clicked right away [with Lizziemary] – even when I tried her I knew right away that she was my kind of horse, so we’ve been building. We’ve been close a couple of times, so to pull it all together was great. I took a shot at the last but she was with me today.”
Frank Rothenberger made full use of the foot-perfect grass arena, with a time allowed of 81 seconds. The 1.60m track in the 110m x 70m grass arena on the Estoril coast was to prove seriously testing for the world class field. First to go clear was young Verlooy with Caracas; Verlooy was visibly delighted with his grey stallion’s performance, the course suiting the large striding horse. van der Vleuten soon created a jump-off after a perfect round from VDL Groep Arera C.
The Longines triple combination caught out a few of the top riders, including Roger-Yves Bost of France with top horse Qoud’coeur de la Loge who collected a tally of 12 faults over the tough track. The crowd cheered in appreciation as home hero Luciana Diniz entered the arena with Lennox. But it was not to be the popular former LGCT Champion’s night, with 8 faults from the pair ruling them out of the running.
Van der Vleuten and VDL Groep Arera C were the first to go double clear in the jumpoff, with the mare twisting herself over the fences, and putting all her effort into going clear. The pair had a couple of lucky rubs, but raised the time to beat with 47.03s overall.
“It’s my [fourth podium] this season,” van der Vleuten said. “I can’t complain so far, I had a few weeks behind me which were a little unlucky. My horse gave me the feeling that she gave everything again.”
Goldstein set off at pace with Lizziemary, making a phenomenal turn back to the oxer to shave off the seconds. The crowd roared as they stopped the clock in 45.56s, almost two seconds faster. Danger would come in the form of Fuchs and Clooney, with the pair blazing around the arena. But the penultimate vertical caught the pair out, dropping them down the order.
Final rider to go Allen had the crowd on the edge of their seats. Flat out through the start, Bertram powered around the fences looking set to take over the lead. But an unlucky rub meant the pair paid the price, out of contention and off the podium.
So Goldstein took the win under the spotlight in Cascais, as Harrie Smolders keeps hold of his overall ranking lead. The Dutchman now sits on 207 points overall, with van der Vleuten leaping up to second with 185 points. Ahlmann drops to third place with 180 points, but with all three will be in action for LGCT Chantilly next week, and all eyes will be on the Championship battle as round 10 kicks off in France.
“I’m aware my average has to go up to finish on top of the leaderboard,” Smolders commented. “This weekend I was actually here for the [Global Champions League] team, as I was a substitute for John Whitaker. Capital did a fantastic job, he jumped very well. I’m in Chantilly next week and I’ll ride Emerald there.”
See the complete results list at this link.