unday’s CSI2* Grand Prix presented by Suzuki winner Niall Talbot and Caracter Ph. Herve Bonnaud/www.1clicphoto.com
The Irish came strong in force for Sunday’s CSI2* Grand Prix presented by Suzuki at the Autumn Mediterranean Equestrian Tour with Niall Talbot delivering an incredible jump-off round to snatch the victory as second last in the ring aboard Caracter.
It was another beautiful day in Oliva Nova, with sunny autumn weather – which provided the perfect conditions for the third CSI2* 1.45m Grand Prix of this year’s Autumn MET.
“The conditions here are fantastic; all the horses are jumping really well on this ground,” said Talbot about the Oliva grass ring that hosted the Grand Prix.
With eighteen out of the nearly 80 competitors qualified for the jump off, and seven of these being Irish – the chances were pretty good that the victory would end up in Ireland. As second last in the ring, Talbot took all the risk needed to bag the win – leaving out strides nearly everywhere around the shortened track. The clock stopped on 37.06 seconds, and with this Talbot pushed his compatriot David Simpson on the 12-year-old mare Chessy 17 (Cellestial xKolibri) down to the runner-up position with 0.52 seconds separating the two.
“The course for the jump off really suited my horse, because it was long and open,” Talbot detailed after his lap of honor. “I left a stride out from the first to the second fence already, to open up his gallop. Then, in the first round the five strides after the triple combination to the vertical was a bit short for my horse because he is quite big – so in the jump-off I went for one less [from the combination] and did four strides, and that worked out good. To the last, they were mostly going on eight and I went down there in seven – and I think that is where I won it.”
Talbot’s winning mount, the 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding Caracter, (Carano x Liatos) is like a part of the family.
“I have had him since he was eight, and he is owned by my father in law. This year he has won some national Grand Prix classes, but today was his first international Grand Prix victory – so we are really happy about that,” shared Talbot.
The first round track resulted in several clear rounds, leading some to analyze the difficulty of Round 1, but Sunday’s winner thought the class was a great representation of the talent present.
“There were almost 80 starters, so around 25 % were clear. It was quite a few, but in a Grand Prix like this you have some more experienced riders and some less experienced ones and it has to be fair for everybody. It was a nice, fair course in the first round – but perhaps the time allowed could have been a little tighter.”
With six riders producing second clear rounds, the Grand Prix turned out to be difficult enough however and accompanying the two Irish riders for the top three was Switzerland’s Edwin Smits on one of his best horses Copain du Perchet CH (Conteur x Ragazzo) with a time of 38.27 seconds in the jump off. Thomas Ryan continued the success for Ireland to finish fourth, while Germany’s Kai Schäfer ended fifth.
As one of many Irish riders that have chosen to come to the Autumn MET this year, Swiss-based Niall Talbot explained that it is not only the weather that makes them all chose Oliva as their destination.
“It is a great tour. We have been coming since the beginning, from the first year. People are starting to talk more and more about Oliva, and the good conditions here. The surfaces are fantastic, the facilities, the stabling and the organization – everything is really good. And for sure the nice weather helps! It’s build up a really good reputation, so a lot of people are starting to come here.”
Full results can be found here.