Harrie Smolders & Don VHP Z at the 2017 LGCT of Rome. ph: LGCT/Stefano Grasso.
At the Longines Global Champions Tour of Rome on Saturday, September 23, 2017, Harrie Smolders of The Netherlands accomplished a feat that no rider in the history of the LGCT had been able to previously do.
With a 2nd place finish in the LGCT Grand Prix of Rome CSI5*, Smolders secured enough points to prematurely win the championship title ahead of the series final in Doha, Qatar, set to take place from November 9-11, 2017.
The Dutch rider entered the grand prix leading in the overall standings with 268 points. After piloting the 13-year-old Zangersheide Stallion Don VHP Z (Diamant de Semilly x Voltaire) to a podium placing, he now has 278 points and cannot be displaced from the title-holding position.
His phenomenally consistent scorecard throughout the circuit include a grand prix win in Chantilly, podium finishes in Paris, Hamburg and Rome, and top ten placings in London, Shanghai and Miami Beach.
“It feels great to be champion,” said Smolders. “You see the previous winners, and the horses and riders are exceptional – so to see my name on the trophy is [special]. It’s a big achievement for all my owners, our staff and everyone who works in our stable, from flat riders to the grooms – it’s also for them. In the end I have to finish but they all achieved this with me. The flexibility [of horses] is my strength – we have so many shows, but that’s why I can sometimes use Don VHP Z and sometimes use Emerald N.O.P. They did an unbelievable job.”