h. www.1clicphoto.com/© Herve Bonnaud
The third week of the 2016 Spring MET II concluded on February 28th with a thrilling CSI3* 1.50m Grand Prix presented by Oliva Nova Beach and Golf Resort. France’s Laurent Guillet started off the second part of the 2016 Spring MET with a Grand Prix win aboard Sultan du Chateau, and on Sunday he finished it in the same way. Once again, it was Sultan du Chateau – the half-brother of the legendary Itôt du Chateau – that showed off his amazing potential.
“Sultan du Chateau is feeling really good here in Oliva,” Guillet said after his second Grand Prix win in three weeks. “He has been jumping excellent on the grass, but also in the other rings. It is a great place for him!”
Sunday’s CSI3* Grand Prix had only six clear rounds, out of a field of 60 riders and horses. “The Grand Prix was very difficult with a couple of tall verticals and a tricky triple-combination. I was 23rd to go and I was the first to produce a clear round,” Laurent commented on the track of the day.
Laurent Guillet’s Sultan du Chateau (Kannan x Galoubet A) played around with the 1.50m high obstacles though, and later on in the jump-off he did the same. But Laurent and Sultan had some tough competitors to go against: reigning Olympic and World Cup Champion Steve Guerdat, France’s world-class rider Roger Yves Bost, Belgium’s highly talented and last week’s Grand Prix winner Constant Van Paesschen, Italy’s Alberto Zorzi riding for Stal Tops and the experienced Dutch rider Yves Houtackers.
“I was first to go in the jump-off and all the other riders are very, very fast. But luckily my horse is also quick! I really tried to win and I knew it was possible with this horse,” Laurent said about his winning round.
And indeed, no rider could match his time of 36.75 seconds. Dutch rider Yves Houtackers gave it a good try on Abrisco V (Sam R x Karandasj) as second to go, but finished on 37.68 seconds. Steve Guerdat and Bianca (Balou du Rouet x Cardento) got a rail down on the penultimate fence, while Alberto Zorzi and Fair Light van ‘t Heike (Vigo d’Arsouilles x For Pleasure) could not better Laurent Guillet’s time finishing on 38.85 seconds. Last week’s Grand Prix winner Constant Van Paesschen and the Casall-son Compadre van de Helle came the closest, finishing as runners-up in 36.99 seconds.
Dutch rider Yves Houtackers got a well-deserved third place aboard Abrisco V, a horse normally ridden by Norway’s Line Raaholt. “Line gave birth to a baby last Monday, and I got to ride a couple of her horses while she was pregnant,” Yves explained. The European team gold medalist from 2005 and World Cup Final-competitor from 2001 isn’t too ambitious about his own riding career though. “I took four of Line’s horses to train for her while she was pregnant, and they will go back to her when she is able to ride again. Although I get ambitious riding horses like this, I am also realistic,” Yves laughed.
“We have been competing in Oliva for three years now and it really is a lovely place to work”
For the third year in a row, Yves and his students are competing in Oliva. “We are here with a group of 35 horses and eight students. I am riding five horses myself: a young horse called Chantal, bought by Catherine Pasmore through the Dutch Sport Horse Sales, and four horses for Line. We have been competing in Oliva for three years now and it really is a lovely place to work. Everything is compact, the facilities are great and that makes my life as a trainer much easier.”
Although Yves Houtackers still has got what it takes to make it to the podium at international Grand Prix level, his focus will remain on training his students. “When my students compete around twenty horses a day, there is not so much time for me to be in the ring. My business is training, so that is what I will focus on.”
The 2016 Spring MET now takes a break, and resumes with part three of the tour on the 15th of March.
Top Five CSI3* 1.50 Grand Prix presented by Oliva Nova Beach and Golf Resort:
1. Laurent Guillet (FRA)/Sultan du Chateau 0-0 36.75
2. Constant Van Paesschen (BEL)/Compadre van de Helle 0-036.99
3. Yves Houtackers (NED)/Abrisco V 0-0 37.68
4. Alberto Zorzi (ITA)/Fair Light van ‘t Heike 0-0 38.85
5. Steve Guerdat (SUI)/Bianca 0-4 37.08