Dutch double-Olympians, 29-year-old Maikel van der Vleuten and his trusty 15-year-old gelding VDL Groep Verdi, won the nail-biting third leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2017/2018 Western European League in Verona, Italy.
With pin-point accuracy they raced into the lead when third-last to go in the 11-horse jump-off, and their time of 35.91 seconds couldn’t be bettered despite a brave attempt by Italian runner-up Alberto Zorzi with Fair Light van T Heike while Belgium’s Pieter Devos and Apart finished third.
“He doesn’t change, he is the same every day, in rain or sunshine and no matter where he is. He is very special, and most of all he is very honest!” Maikel van der Vleuten said.
Zorzi however had a big smile on his face when he learned that today’s result has raised him to the top of the League table ahead of the fourth leg of the series in Lyon, France next week.
There were four Italian contenders in the jump-off so the home crowd were on the edges of their seats. But 23-year-old rising star Luigi Polesello with Panama Tame and Emilio Bicocchi and Sassicaia Ares both had two fences down, and although Lorenzo de Luca was clear with Halifax van het Kluizebos his time of 38.00 seconds was only fast enough for fourth place.