Lorenzo de Luca brought the Italian strike-rate to three wins when topping this afternoon’s Miasuki Small Grand Prix at Jumping Verona 2014. Riding the 10-year-old chestnut mare, Zoe ll, he produced a round of pure class when third-last to go in the nine-horse jump-off, and the popular 27-year-old was thronged by Italian supporters and fans after his significant victory.
Runner-up was Jane Richard-Philips with the game 12-year-old gelding Upanisad di San Patrignano while her Swiss colleague, Janika Sprunger, slotted into third with Uptown Boy. Course designer, Uliano Vezzani, set them a tough first-round course, and those with long-striding horses often found it difficult to leave all the fences intact. However two of the Italian contingent – Roberto Previtali (Lucaine) and Francesco Franco (Banca Popolare Bari Cassandra) – were unlucky to miss out on a place in the timed round when foot-perfect across the fences but collecting just a single time penalty each. Great Britain’s William Whitaker was first to go clear against the clock, breaking the beam in 39.97 seconds at the end of a slightly cautious run with Fandango. And he remained at the head of affairs when Ukraine’s Katharina Offel and Quebracho Semilly also opted for a smooth clear, but a little slower in 40.22.
Jane Richard-Philips raised the temperature considerably however when steering the plucky little Upanisad through a great run that saw them cross the line in 39.28 to put it up to the rest of them. But de Lorenzo wasn’t fazed, setting off at a scorching pace with his 10-year-old mare. The jump-off track tested the rider’s ability to gallop long distances as well as to twist and turn while always staying in balance, and Zoe never flinched from start to finish. Posting 38.50 the Itallian took over the lead and that time would not be bettered.
There was a long run down to the blue planks which were now third on the track and German ace, Marcus Ehning, went out of contention here when they came up all wrong for his eight-year-old, Singular LS La Silla. But, last to go, Sprunger kept a clean sheet with a great ride through the following double and the turn-backs to the following vertical before running left-handed down the final line. Her time of 39.83 slotted her comfortably into third behind Richard-Philips and in front of William Whitaker.
Lorenzo de Luca’s winning ride is owned by Mike Collins from Bermuda and The Netherlands’ Fonz de Vrind (NED). “We got her two years ago and we came along slowly together” said the young Italian tonight. He competed the mare on the Grand Prix circuit in Florida earlier this year and more recently jumped her indoors at Oslo and Helsinki. “She was in great form today, and I’m really delighted with her. She’s quite fast and the jump-off suited her, she did a lot for me in the distance at the double!” said the rider who is based at Neil Jone’s dealing yard in Belgium.
Runner-up, Jane Richard-Philips, took a break from her jumping career when pregnant with her son, Noah, who was born in 2011. She’s really pleased to be back at the top of her game again now with the horse with which she was previously winner of the Grand Prix at Hickstead and third in the Swiss Championship.
“This was a very competitive class with not too many clear rounds, and my horse gave his best for me” said the 31-year-old rider. “I’ve had him for four years and he’s 13 years old now. Today has made me very happy, I’ve been having one or two fences down for some time, so this is an important result for me today!” she added.
Today’s main-class winner de Luca is now looking forward to tomorrow afternoon’s Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping qualifier in which he will compete with his top ride, Elky van het Indihof which he partnered to help Italy to victory in the Nations Cup at Arezzo in September which earned his country a place in the elite Europe Division 1 Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ series next season. “Elky jumped great at the Furusiyya Final in Barcelona last month too, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow” the rider said tonight.
Source: Jumping Verona