A super-fast round from young British star Jodie Hall McAteer and Kimosa van het Kritahof in the 1.50m ENI Speed class brought the first day the 90th edition of CSIO Rome - Piazza di Siena 2023 to a thrilling close this evening.
The 23-year-old was the third first-timer to taste victory in Rome today, following Brazil’s Pedro Veniss who won the Jump-Off competition staged at the Galloppatoio in the morning riding Cadum de Champloue, and world number two Julien Epaillard from France who partnered Dubai de Soie to pin Hall McAteer and Catoki into runner-up spot in the MAG Two-Phase.
It was quite a day for Hall McAteer, but this cool character took it all in her stride. “It can’t get better!”, she said this evening before climbing onboard for her second prizegiving ceremony.
Game of two halves
This competition was literally a game of two halves however, with biblical rain changing the grass footing which held up superbly but was very different to the dry going experienced by the first tranche of riders.
A storm arrived just as a 10-minute arena maintenance break began after the first 34 of the 67 competing horse and rider combinations had taken their turn. By then Hall-McAteer had set the target at a fast 64.52 seconds and, at the end of the day, that just could not be beaten while Belgium’s Nicola Philippaerts and Dhalida Diamant vd Krekebeke Z who were fifth-last to go before the break held on to second place with their time of 66.14.
Thunder and lightning rolled in, but the early riders in the second half still took their turn before rain completely stopped play. However even when the sky cleared and a more peaceful climate returned it just wasn’t possible to match the pace set in the first half, although Hall McAteer’s compatriot Ben Maher gave it his best shot.
The reigning Olympic champion has only just returned to top sport following a nasty fall three months ago but he has clearly lost none of his focus, setting out at a determined rate with the 14-year-old gelding Exit Remo and only hampered in his bid to oust the two ahead of him by a slip on the turn to the Loro Piana vertical at fence six.
Crossing the line in 66.36 he finished third ahead of Austria’s Gerfried Puck and Equitron Melody vd Smidshoeve (67.25) in fourth, last man into the ring Omar Karaevli from Turkey riding Maurice in fifth (67.43) and Switzerland’s Bryan Balsiger and Chelsea Z in sixth (68.45).
Ph. Jodie Hall McAteer © Sport e Salute/Simone Ferraro