MAIKEL Van der Vleuten made history at the weekend at The London International Horse Show at Olympia, when he matched his father Eric’s achievement in 2009 of winning the prestigious Longines FEI World Cup qualifier presented by H & M.
The packed house was treated to a thrilling 11-horse jump-off which built to the dream finish – the very last rider into the arena pulling off victory. Riding VDL Groep Sapphire B, Maikel beat Belgium’s Francois Mathy Jr on Polinska des Isles by the tiny margin of 5/100th of a second.
Britain’s Daniel Neilson, riding in Olympia’s international classes for the first time, produced an outstanding debut performance on Varo M to take third place- making him one to follow in the future.
Penelope Leprevost (FRA) on Nice Stephanie and Lars Nieberg (GER) on Leonie W also produced double clears to finish fourth and fifth.
Scott Brash (Hello Ursula Xll, sixth), Michael Whitaker (Viking, seventh) and Peter Charles (Murka’s Odie de Frevent, 10th) kept home hopes alive by making it into the jump-off but they all faulted.
An enthralled audience held its breath as Michael Whitaker made an ambitious switch-back turn to the fifth fence, giving him the fastest time of all, but his gallant horse Viking unfortunately had a penalty when hitting the upright black-and-white Longines FEI World Cup fence.
It was a first Longines FEI World Cup win for Maikel, the fifth Dutch winner since 1979, and he and Eric are the first father-son combination to win this class at Olympia, described by the FEI’s World Cup Director John Roche as “one of the jewels in our crown”.
This Longines FEI World Cup event achieved the highest calibre of performances, as is fitting for an event of this stature in world show jumping, and mesmerised the capacity crowd.