As last to go in the jump-off, Mikel Aizpurua Quiroga made it a home win in the CSI2* Grand Prix presented by CHG at the Spring MET IV 2018. With his victory, the Spanish rider got the hosts a great finish to the first of the two last weeks at this year’s edition of the Spring MET.
With no less than fifteen of the 52 riders in the class moving on to the jump-off after producing clears over Javier Trenor’s first round track it was bound to become a race against the clock in the beautiful Oliva Nova grass ring that was covered in sun this Sunday afternoon.
World class riders such as Sergio Alvarez Moya (ESP), Bertram Allen (IRL) and Pedro Veniss (BRA) made it to the jump-off, so the crowds were in for a treat as the riders got ready to battle it out for the 30,000 Euro on offer in prize money as well as important world ranking points. Using most of the big grass ring for the shortened track set for the jump-off the riders had to go all in to win, but still stay in balance in the roll-back to the combination at 12ab before two more jumps were left with a last gallop along the short-side to the final upright that asked the horses to remain careful until the end.
As the jump-off got underway the clears kept ticking in, with the riders going faster and faster. It was however Jaime Guerra Piedra (MEX) and Zamia 3 (Aljano 2 x Dream of Glory) that gave an indication on how quick one could go, when crossing the finish line in 31.96 seconds. One rider later, it was time for Clem McMahon (IRL) and Pacato (Pacino x Cavalier Royale) who set off in top gear with the big striding stallion covering a lot of ground easily. Shaving off 0.20 seconds on the leading time, the Irish pair took over the pole position.
Those to come desperately tried to catch up with McMahon, but failed in their attempts. Jessica Geurts (BEL) and Harkito van den Berg (Darco x Calvados/Sable Rose) put on a great performance though, finished in 32.10 seconds after a race to the last and slotted into third. Bertram Allen also gave it a good go with his top horse Hector Van d'Abdijhoeve (Cabrio van de Heffinck x Utrillo van de Heffinck), but could not really get a perfect shot to the last jump and went into fourth with a time of 32.13.
For the top four it was not to last though. As the final rider in the ring, Mikel Aizpurua Quiroga blasted around the shortened track to push the time down to 31.15 seconds – bringing the Grand Prix win home to the hosts for the first time this MET-season.
The winner himself was lost for words after taking the top honours: “I did not really have a plan for the jump-off, I don’t have that much experience at this level but wanted to give it a try since I was last to go. When I crossed the finish line I was hoping to be in the top three, but then I realized that I had won! I could almost not believe it and still can not… I am very, very happy!”
Mikel Aizpurua Quiroga was full of praise for his 13-year-old French bred mare, saying: “She is simply a fantastic horse, and she really pushed me to the win today. She has been on very good form lately, and recently also won a ranking class in Sevilla.”
It is not the first time Aizpurua Quiroga is at the Mediterranean Equestrian Tour, and it will for sure not be the last either. “I always like to go here for two or three weeks. The facilities are great, and the organization too – it is always fantastic to be here,” a very happy winner closed off.
Photo credit © Hervé Bonnaud / www.1clicphoto.com