Alberto Zorzi riding Fair Light van T Heike for Italy. Ph ©Mette Sattrup/FEI
Italy’s Alberto Zorzi turned the form-book on its head when winning the first leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2016/2017 Western European League on Sunday, October 16th, 2016 at the Telenor Arena in Oslo, Norway, riding the 11-year-old chestnut BWP mare Fair Light van T Heike (Vigo d’Arsouilles X Darco).
From a starting field of 39 that included 13 of the top 20 riders in the world, it was the 27-year-old rider who lies 109th in the rankings who clinched it. And, even more remarkably, he succeeded despite being first to go in both the opening round and the jump-off.
Runner-up was three-time World Cup title-holder Marcus Ehning riding the 11-year-old Westfalian stallion Funky Fred (For Pleasure X Pilot) for Germany while Belgium’s Pieter Devos slotted into third with the 13-year-old BWP gelding Dream of India Greenfield (Gem of India X Night and Day).
With 20 going clear over the first course set by The Netherlands’ Louis Konickx it was never going to be an easy one to win, but Zorzi followed the advice of his boss, Dutchman Jan Tops, and gave it everything he had as the pathfinder against the clock. “Jan said you have to try hard because there are so many in it, and my horse jumped amazing!” said the man who hails from Padua and who has been riding for Tops for the past year.
He set the jump-off target with a brilliant round in 36.93 seconds, and as it turned out none of the rest could beat him, with 11 collecting fence penalties, two picking up time faults and six jumping clear but unable to match his speed. A series of tight turns proved the undoing of many, with several faulting at the wide oxer three from home. Not even the masterful Ehning could overtake him, having to settle for 2nd when stopping the clock on 37.34 seconds ahead of Devos who broke the beam in 38.10. Defending Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping double-champion, Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat, was last to go but finished equal 4th with Italy’s Piergiorgio Bucci when the pair posted exactly the same time.
“This was a dream!” said Zorzi who now heads for the Global Champions Tour Final at Doha, Qatar before lining out in his home leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2016/2017 Western European League at Verona in November.
He stands top of the leaderboard going into the second qualifier at Helsinki (FIN) next weekend.
Find the full results here