Alexa Stais (CYP) and Urhelia Lutterbach (Helios de La Cour II x VDL Emilion) won Sunday’s CSI3* 1.50m Grand Prix presented by Oliva Nova Beach & Golf Resort in Oliva Nova, Spain, as the second week of Autumn MET I 2022 came to an end.
The 1.50m course set by Christian Wiegand (GER) counted 13 obstacles and 16 jumping efforts and 16 pairs out of the 43 horse-and-rider-combinations at start produced a clear over the first-round track, joining the deciding jump-off. However, in the jump-off only the top five managed to deliver another clear.
As the eleventh pair to go in the jump-off, Stais rode a beautiful round on the 14-year-old Urhelia Lutterbach, crossing the finish line in 42.86 seconds. “I have been riding Urhelia since the beginning of the year, she is a very experienced mare. I knew that if I would ride well, she would jump clear in the first round,” Stais explained after her victory. “I was a bit nervous because there were so many clears, and she is maybe not the fastest horse. However, she is so good with her turns; you can turn her back to a vertical or an oxer without her even having to see it and she will jump from wherever. I think that really worked in my favour today.”
“She has a really big stride so I could drop a stride from one to two and then the seven were actually short for me to the last,” Stais continued to speak about her jump-off. “I guess everything just worked in my favour today. I was just so happy with how Urhelia jumped, no matter what the outcome was – if I was second, third or fourth, I still would have been happy. Obviously, Nicola’s horse is really fast, so I kind of expected him to maybe take the lead as last to go, but I would have also been happy with second today. I am very lucky to have Urhelia. She is special, she is very mareish, so you got to work with her mood, but we sort of clicked the last couple of months. I really love her and I think she loves me too – I think we make a great team.”
“I can’t really put it into words,” Stais – who works for Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Markus Beerbaum – said about her mentors. “Meredith was, and still is, my childhood idol, so to be working for them now and to be training with them every day is just unbelievable. Markus is a great trainer, I think he has proven himself over and over again, and I am very lucky to have him by my side. If someone had asked me in South Africa ten years ago, what will I be doing in ten-years-time, I would have never thought this – but it was always my dream,” Stais, who represents Cyprus, but originally hails from South Africa, smiled.
“I really love Oliva,” Stais said about the venue at the Mediterranean Equestrian Tour. “Everything is here!”
Last week’s CSI2* Grand Prix winner Michael Hughes (USA) had to settle for the runner-up position this time around when the clock stopped on 44.23 for the American rider and Melodie-K van’T Kattenheye (Cornet Obolensky x Kannan). Jason Foley (IRL) on Rockwell RC (Kannan x Guidam) took the third place, while fourth went to Jack Ansems (NED) on Fliere Fluiter (VDL Zirocco Blue x Animo) and fifth to Regis Villain (ISR) on Berline Cece (Ustinov x Quoglof Rouge). As last man out in the jump-off, Belgium’s Nicola Philippaerts clocked the quickest time of the day on H&M Luna van’T Ruytershof Z but had to settle for the sixth place in the end when a pole in the combination hit the ground.
The Autumn MET 2022 continues next week with the Autumn MET I concluding on October 16, followed by MET II that starts on October 25 and MET III that runs from November 22 to December 12. For more information, visit metoliva.com.
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