Olympia, London 21 December 2013 – Maikel Van der Vleuten made history at Olympia, The London International Horse Show when he matched his father Eric’s achievement in 2009 by winning the Longines FEI World Cup qualifier presented by H & M.
The packed house was treated to a thrilling 11-horse jump-off which built to the dream finish – the very last rider into the arena pulling off victory. Riding VDL Groep Sapphire B for The Netherlands, Maikel beat Belgium’s Francois Mathy Jr on Polinska des Isles by the tiny margin of 5/100th of a second.
Britain’s Daniel Neilson, riding in Olympia’s international classes for the first time, produced an inspired performance on Varo M to take third place.
Penelope Leprevost (FRA) on Nice Stephanie and Lars Nieberg (GER) on Leonie W also produced double clears to finish fourth and fifth.
Scott Brash (Hello Ursula Xll, sixth), Michael Whitaker (Viking, seventh) and Peter Charles (Murka’s Odie de Frevent, 10th) kept home hopes alive by making it into the jump-off but they all faulted.
An enthralled audience had their hearts in their mouths as Michael made an audacious switch-back turn to the fifth fence, a move which gave him the fastest time of all, but the gallant Viking unfortunately hit the upright black-and-white Longines FEI World Cup fence.
It was a first Longines FEI World Cup win for Maikel, the fifth Dutch winner since 1979, and he and Eric are the first father-son combination to win this class at Olympia, described by the FEI’s World Cup Director John Roche as “one of the jewels in our crown”.
“It’s a super atmosphere here, a beautiful place to win,” he said afterwards. “Everything happened very fast in the class and I relied on my Dutch colleagues to tell me what to do in the jump-off.”
Of his 14-year-old grey mare by Mr Blue, he commented: “She is always brave yet careful. She keeps developing in the right way and she always wants to do a clear round.”
Daniel Neilson, 23, is one of Britain’s brightest young prospects and is now running his own business in Brentwood, Essex. “Riding at Olympia is something you aim for at the start of your year,” he said. “There isn’t a crowd like it anywhere else in the world.
“British show jumping is on a high and it’s great for young riders like myself as it makes you push forward. I had a good feeling when I walked the course here, as my horse is naturally fast and also very careful. I have saved him especially for it.”
Portuguese course-designer Bernardo Costa Cabral pronounced himself a happy man. “I am very pleased,” he said. “It was all about detail, and there was pressure on riders to make the time on that final turn which is why the planks [fence 11] was so influential.”
The Longines FEI World Cup series moves on to Mechelen (BEL) with Britain’s Scott Brash still heading the Western League rankings and Maikel Van der Vleuten now in third place at this halfway mark.
Please find a copyright free audio link with:
Maikel Van der Vleuten (NED) – http://www.lloydbell.co.uk/access/client_zone/VDL.MP3
and in Dutch – http://www.lloydbell.co.uk/access/client_zone/VDL_dutch.MP3
For details of the final placings in the Longines FEI World Cup Qualifier, please click: http://eventcontent.hippoonline.de/857/docs/WC_J_London.pdf.
For more information, please visit the website at www.olympiahorseshow.com.
Olympia, The London International Horse Show
Throughout the week of 16 December, the Olympia Exhibition Hall, located in West Kensington, London will play host to packed timetable of all things equestrian and boasts a total of over 80,000 visitors. The show mixes top class equestrian action including FEI World Cup Jumping, Dressage and Extreme Carriage Driving with family entertainment, such as The Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art display and the Osborne Refrigerators Shetland Pony Grand National which raises money for Great Ormond Street Hospital. Olympia Horse Show celebrated its 100th Anniversary in 2007 and is regarded as one of Europe’s oldest equine competitions. Olympia Horse Show’s official charity for 2013 is veterinary charity, the Animal Health Trust, which works behind the scenes to monitor equine disease around the world and undertakes extensive on-going research to minimise the risk of injury to sport horses. The evening performance on Wednesday 18 December will be dedicated to the Animal Health Trust and 50p from every seat sold will go to the charity.
For more information, please contact Hannah Grissell, Revolution Sports + Entertainment
Tel: +44 (0) 207 592 1207