You don’t get to the no. 1 spot by chance, and The Netherlands’ Harrie Smolders showed exactly why he is top of the world rankings when producing an exquisite speed round to win the Loro Piana Trophy at CSIO Rome - Masters d’Inzeo at Piazza di Siena this afternoon.
With 11 through to the jump-off it was always going to be fast and furious, and it was Emanuele Gaudiano, a member of yesterday’s victorious Italian team in the Nations Cup, who set the pace when stopping the clock in 35.40 seconds with Chalou.
Smolders started eighth and smashed that target time when racing through the timers in 34.14 seconds which was always going to be near-impossible to beat. However Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat and the super-handsome black gelding Alamo gave it their best show when slotting into runner-up spot after breaking the beam in 35.04 and demoting Gaudiano to third.
Smolders’ 11-year-old gelding, CAS 2, was bought from Irish rider Cameron Hanley 18 months ago. “He was one of Cameron’s really promising horses for the future, and at first he was ridden by Audrey Coulter (USA) but when she decided to stop riding because she got a big job opportunity then Copernicus Stables gave me the horses to ride, and that’s why I’m in the position now to be so successful” Smolders explained. “CAS is very brave, very careful and very competitive, and now we know each other very well so he’s faster in the jump-olf and understands the game better”, he added.
Smolders may be top-of-the-world but he’s not a man to lose his head, remaining grounded and humble as he demonstrated today. “The reason I am where I am is because my horses are at the right age with the right experience and I feel very lucky. This is the first time in my career to be in this position - I now have five or six horses for top sport. I have a good string and I enjoy every moment I can be with them because I know there will be difficult times in the future. And it’s a time for our stable to be proud because at the end of the day this is all a team effort!” the Dutchman said. Ph CsioRoma - MGrassia