Katharina Offel unbeatable to take back-to-back Grand Prix Victories at Spring MET III
Just like last week, it was Germany’s Katharina Offel that took the top honours in the CSI2* Grand Prix at the Spring MET III – but this time around it was with a different horse: Amarit d’Amour.
The 30,000 Euro Grand Prix presented by CHG had a huge field of riders in it, 81 in total – and some very strong combinations at start to battle for important world ranking points. They were all up against a challenging thirteen fence track build by Gregory Bodo, and in the end sixteen managed to clear it to move on to the jump-off. “The course today was technical, big enough and very fair,” Offel said after. “With so many riders in the class I think the course designer did a great job with the number of clears that came through.”
It was on-form Yannick Jorand (SUI) and Cipetto 2 (Contagio x Contender) that took an early lead as second to go in the jump-off, producing a very fast clear round over the shortened seven-fence track that made full use of the huge Oliva Nova grass ring. Packed with spectators outside The Club, both upstairs and downstairs, the atmosphere was on top as the crowds cheered and whistled the riders on – encouraging them to go faster.
For a long while, it looked like it would be Jorand – winner of Saturday’s Gold Tour 1.45m – going off with the win. None of those following him could catch up, however hard they tried. That was until Offel entered the ring as last-to-go though, with her 9-year-old gelding Amarit d’Amour (Ashby x Damiani). A heart-stopping turn in the roll-back to the penultimate vertical made a few gasp for air, before Offel set off in full speed down the last stretch to the final oxer – shaving off 0.09 seconds on Jorand’s time to celebrate her second Grand Prix victory in a row at the Spring MET III.
Third place went to Stefanie van den Brink (NED) on Baronescha (Verdi TN x Concorde) , who was almost a second behind Offel’s winning time while Jenny Rankin (IRL) finished fourth and Maurice Tebbel (GER) fifth.
“First of all, I am super happy right now! » Offel said after her win. « That I could go in and do it for the second week in a row, and also with another horse – that makes me very proud. I was lucky to go in last in the jump-off, and got the chance to see Yannick’s round so I had at least an idea what I had to do to beat him.”
“My horse Amarit d’Amour is a naturally fast horse, and I knew that if I could just keep my rhythm and be a bit lucky in the rollbacks to the two verticals there could be a chance even without rushing too much. I did not really want to go full speed around as he still is inexperienced at this level, and especially against the clock. He gave me everything today, and I am incredibly happy with him!”
Offel’s winning horse Amarit d’Amour came to her when he just turned seven, and has been produced by the German rider up to Grand Prix level. “It’s been a long way to get here with him. In the beginning, it was quite difficult with him because he has so much blood, is quite hot and back then he was also very green. We had our ups and downs during our first year together. I always believed in him though, and that is why I have taken my time with him and kept him a bit back in the classes. Now I feel that he is ready, and the time I spend on him really pays off: He trusts me 100 % and gives so much back to me. It was a great feeling today,” Offel said.
After winning two out of three world ranking Grand Prix classes at the Spring MET III, the question is which horse Offel will choose for next weekend as the third part of the Tour concludes? “I am in the lucky position that both my two top horses are on great form and won a Grand Prix each here, so I think I have to sleep on it for a few nights and then decide,” smiled the happy winner.