Constant Van Paesschen & Isidoor Van de Helle. Ph. Hervé Bonnaud / www.1clicphoto.com
The €46,000 CSI3* Grand Prix sponsored by Suzuki on Sunday, February 26, 2017 at the Spring MET 2017 saw Belgium’s Constant Van Paesschen on Isidoor Van de Helle (Canturo x Qredo de Paulstra) on top. The rider and the 9-year-old stallion are in tremendous form; they were also victorious in the CSI2* Grand Prix last Sunday.
Out of the 54 riders in the 1.50m Grand Prix, six produced clears in the first round over the track set by world-class course designer Frank Rothenberger (GER) to join the jump-off in the big grass ring at Oliva Nova Equestrian Center. With lovely weather, and afternoon sun the conditions were perfect as the horses got ready to compete against the clock in this Grand Prix that concluded Spring MET II.
“I was actually hoping for a big, technical and delicate track today,” said Van Paesschen after his win about this competition that also served as a qualifier for the 2017 European Championships as well as the 2018 World Equestrian Games. “I was speaking with Sam McIntosh before the class, and as we both have horses that maybe are not the fastest we wanted a demanding course. And it turned out like that, and with six in the jump-off it was perfect.”
First to go in the jump-off was Sam McIntosh (NZL) on Check In 2 (Böckmann’s Cordalme Z x Lord Pezi), who opted for a steady clear – keeping the door open for those to come. Eventually the performance was more than good enough, and the couple finished in third place. While Daniel Neilson (GBR) – fourth in last weekend’s CSI2* Grand Prix – had one rail down half-way around the track, Philippe Leoni (FRA) on Shana de Kerglenn (Diamant de Semilly x Quito de Baussy) kept the shortened track intact benefitting from his 11-year-old mare’s huge stride to take over the lead with a time of 47.66 seconds after a brave gallop on the long stretch to the final oxer.
Neither Stefanie van den Brink (NED) nor win-machine Harold Boisset (FRA) could match Leoni’s clear round, although the latter was lightning fast on Quolita Z (Quasimodo Z x Ramiro) to stop the clock at 42.01 seconds eventually finishing fourth with the fastest time of the jump-off but unfortunately with a score of four penalties.
Van Paesschen – who for big parts of the autumn and winter season has a base for his young horses at the Oliva Nova Equestrian Center – was last in the ring and took full advantage of this starting position. Confident from several top results during Spring MET II, Constant set off in a high pace on the lovely stallion and although he lost a bit time in the turn to the penultimate fence it was more than good enough for the win as the pair crossed the finish line in 46.29 seconds.
“Isidoor van de Helle is a great jumper,” Constant commented. “In a jump-off you can just keep on coming, and he backs off by himself. He is really careful, and has a lot of quality. That gives you confidence when you go in the ring.”
Van Paesschen now returns home for a couple of weeks, as does Isidoor Van de Helle that will compete in Dortmund the coming weekend. “Then I will give him some time off. I also have other good horses – several from the Stoeterij Van de Helle – so I don’t put too much pressure on him. I want to take it step by step.”
The Spring MET 2017 now takes a short break, and resumes with part three of the tour on March 14.
Full results can be found here.