Italian riders have made something of a habit of stealing the limelight on the opening day at Jumping Verona down the years, and today was no exception when Lorenzo De Luca steered the nine-year-old mare Dirka de Blondel to victory in the opening Prestige Two-Phase competition as the 21st edition of the hugely popular event got underway.
Staged within the framework of the world-famous horse fair, the Fieracavalli, this 5-Star fixture has once again attracted the superstars of the sport of showjumping and, ninth to go of the 39 starters, 35-year-old de Luca who finished individually 13th at this summer’s World Championships in Denmark, scorched through the timers in 27.49 seconds to set the rest a target time they simply couldn’t beat.
His nearest challenger was newcomer Jennifer Hochstadter from Liechenstein who has only just turned 19. Partnering the 10-year-old Tinka’s boy chestnut gelding CSIO Bel with which she posted a fourth-place finish at the recent CSI4*-W in El Jadida, Morocco she stopped the clock in a super-quick 27.88 seconds to clinch runner-up spot ahead of Austria’s Gerfried Puck and Equitron Ornaat V who broke the beam in 29.59 seconds for third place.
Frenchmen Edward Levy (Catcher Mail) and Simon Delestre (Enjoy d’Eole) finished fourth and fifth while Brazil’s Marlon Modolo Zanotelli (Zy-Zento) lined up in sixth.
A total of 24 riders jumped clear in this opening competition and amongst them was tenth-placed Victoria Gulliksen from Norway who is currently heading the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2022/2023 Western European League leaderboard.
Verona hosts the fourth leg of the prestigious Longines series next Sunday.