The second week of Spring MET II 2023 concluded on Sunday with the CSI3* 1.50m CHG – Construcciones Hispano Germanas S.A – Grand Prix, and just like last week it was Nicolas Delmotte (FRA) and his 11-year-old Citadin du Chatellier (L’Arc de Triomphe x Diamant de Semilly) taking the top honours.
A total of twelve horse-and-rider-combinations out of the 44 pairs at start cleared the first-round track and joined the deciding jump-off. As number four out, current world number three Julien Epaillard and the 11-year-old Callac de Cyrmanol (Quintago I x Burggraaf) looked to be unbeatable, cruising around the Oliva Nova arena in 37.85 seconds – but, just like in last week’s CSI2* Grand Prix, the final fence fell for the French pair, leaving them outside the top five.
Dutch rider Marc Houtzager and the 11-year-old Holy Moley (Verdi TN x Warrant) were next out, clearing the fences in 40.84 and taking over the lead. Houtzager’s lead was short-lived though, as Delmotte and Citadin du Chatellier had an extra gear – powering through the course to finish in 39.09. With his round, Delmotte pushed Houtzager to second and Roger-Yves Bost (FRA) and Cassius Clay VDV Z (Calvino Z x Wolfgang) to third. Those to follow could do nothing about Delmotte’s leading time: As the last pair out, France’s young talent Jeanne Sadran and Kosmo van Hof Ter Boone (Calvino Z x Wolfgang) posted a steady clear in 42.20, slotting into fourth place ahead of Philippe Leoni (FRA) and Miss Marie van’T Winnenhof (Edjaz Van T Merelsnest x Toulon) in fifth in 43.98.
“This week he just jumped Friday’s Longines Ranking class, which we won, and then we jumped the Grand Prix today,” Delmotte – who within the past two weeks at Centro Ecuestre Oliva Nova has recorded seven wins – told about Citadin du Chatellier’s week leading up to the Grand Prix. “He is a very fast horse, so if I let him go ahead naturally, he will always be placed within the top. My plan for next week with him is that he will only jump one 1.40m class and then again, the last CSI3* Grand Prix next Sunday. He needs to gain more experience in higher classes, and now I feel that he is ready for it. Therefore, we will only do a small class next week in the build-up for the Grand Prix.”
“It was really technical, so you had to ride very carefully,” Delmotte commented on today’s course designed by Isabel Fernandez de Canete. “However, I really enjoyed jumping this Grand Prix: The course designer had built a real three-star Grand Prix class. The most difficult part of the course was the triple combination, while the time allowed wasn’t extremely short, as it was a technical course.”
Speaking about his plan for the jump-off, Delmotte said: “I made two turns with more strides than I had expected; Citadin was feeling too excited, so to avoid any faults I preferred not to push him. Today I was lucky, but for the next competitions – if I want to be closer to Epaillard – I should remove those extra strides.”
Marc Houtzager, the Dutch runner-up, had a good week in Oliva Nova. “I am here to build up my horses for the summer season,” he said. “Sterrehof’s Dante jumped fantastic in yesterday’s Longines Ranking class, it was a quick jump-off and we won. Today, Holy Moley also jumped really good. In the jump-off I was fast, but I knew when I came out of the ring, with all the French top jockeys and fast riders coming after me, that someone would be quicker. However, I am really happy with how my horse was jumping today. It was a good three-star Grand Prix, and I think the course builder did a really great job. It was a nice course, with fair distances everywhere, the triple combination was delicate with the two white verticals coming in. The time was long enough, but for the rest it was super course building.”
“It is really nice here, I have been coming here since the beginning,” Houtzager said about the venue in Oliva Nova. “The footing is good, the material for the jumps is nice, and thanks to the size of the venue it is easy to follow all the competitions.”
Spring MET II 2023 now moves onto its third and last week with competitions up to CSI3* level. Ending on February 26, Spring MET II is followed by Spring MET III, running from 7-26 March and Spring MET IV from 4-23 April 2023. For more information and last-minute bookings for MET III and IV, visit metoliva.com.