The equestrian world witnessed an exhilarating moment of triumph as Sanne Thijssen, with her incredible horse Con Quidam RB, secured a heart-stirring victory at the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Valkenswaard. Emotions ran high as Thijssen, riding on home ground, redeemed her second-place finish in 2021, overwhelming the sold-out crowd with an electrifying performance that will be etched in history forever.
The atmosphere within the Longines Tops International Arena was nothing short of magical, cheers, applause, and heartfelt roars that beat through the stands. As she soared over the final jump, crossing the finish line with a smile on her face, she pointed at her horse and unleashed a tidal wave of emotions to fans around the world.
A slightly astonished Thijssen likened her win today to her win in the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Madrid in 2022. She said: “The crowd was unbelievable, as many as were in Madrid, so the feeling was almost the same. My horse truly jumped unbelievable.”
She went on to add: “I said to my groom, ‘I really want to win this one today’, but the chance that everything works out and you win it is so small… but we did it!”
Collecting her Golden Ticket to the GC Prague Playoffs LGCT Super Grand Prix aboard her horse of a lifetime, Sanne tried to put into words just what her four-legged partner is like: “He is almost impossible to describe, he is from another planet - Frederik [de Backer] said already ‘he’s an alien!!’. In Round One, we had a little miscommunication to the double, he sometimes is so motivated he wants to take over the control which makes it very difficult for me to ride him, and I thought it’s not possible to get out of that double… and somehow he did it and that’s what I think is so special about him.”
Just over half a second slower Max Kühner and Up Too Jacco Blue collected second place in the €300,000 Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Valkenswaard. The final spot on the podium was secured by first to go Ben Maher and Dallas Vegas Batilly finishing in a time of 39.33s.
Relatively green at 5* Grand Prix level, Ben Maher’s mount Dallas Vegas Batilly proved she has what it takes to face up to the best in the world. Ben commented: “She’s incredible, she’s only 10 so she is still learning a little bit at this level. We didn’t have a great day yesterday which meant we were first to go today, but I used the big stride she has… and Sanne’s little horse was quicker in the end.”
An imposing Ulliano Vezzani built track promised top tier sport, with the best in the world competing for podium honors. Second place getter Max Kühner commented on what the starting list of 40 riders faced at the home of show jumping in Valkenswaard. He said: “When I walked the course I saw it was one of the more difficult courses - in the end we had 10 clear, but we had some good competitors. I think it was a very good class, a very good competition, and a very good jump off.”
After the 13th stage of the 2023 Championship and with just two events left, Harrie Smolders jumped into the lead on 252 points while fellow Dutchman followed closely behind on 238 points. Simon Delestre and Christian Kukuk remain in third and fourth on 217 and 210 respectively, as the battle heads to Rome.
Uliano Vizzani built one of the toughest LGCT Grand Prix tracks this season but proving just how high the standard of horse and rider combinations are there were 10 clears that made it into the sensational jump-off.
First to go in the electric jump-off Ben Maher and Dallas Vegas Batilly had nothing to loose. They stepped up their game after qualifying in last place for today’s LGCT Grand Prix and gave it their all. They set the pace for the remainder of the field to come going clear in 39.33s.
Bouncing back from injury, Peder Fredricson and Catch me Not S didn’t hold anything back. Aiming to secure his golden ticket, the well known combination had an early fault crushing their chances even though they set one of the fastest times of 38.02s.
Wilm Vermeir put on an epic display for the crowd on Joyride S, but opting for the double clear he finished as the slowest double clear of the day collecting 5th overall. Riding a wave of clear rounds with Fellow Castlefield, Edwina Tops-Alexander didn’t disappoint as she set off before the word go. The pair flew with ease around the 1.60m jump-off, keeping all the fences up to land herself 4th place in a highly competitive jump-off.
There were no words for Sanne Thijssen and Con Quidam RB in round 1 after they managed to go clear even after a miscommunication to the double. But her jump-off round was next level as the pair did everything they could to make sure they secured the win after having to settle for second place in 2021 to Daniel Deusser. The crowd erupted as she punched the air crossing the finish line over a second faster than Maher proving just how extraordinary the combinations are.
World number one Henrik von Eckermann had the crowd on the edge of their seats. He was full gas from fence one on Glamour Girl and finished faster than Sanne but the penultimate fence fell putting 4 faults on the board as one challenger remained.
Last to go, Max Kühner and Up Too Jacco Blue were no match for Thijssen and her 17 year old stallion. Kühner took all the risks taking strides out where possible in the huge grass arena. Stopping the clock in 38.84s they handed the win to the young talent in front of her home crowd.
As the sun set on the in Valkenswaard, the crowd's cheers continued to resonate, carrying with them the echoes of a remarkable victory. Sanne Thijssen and Con Quidam RB's triumph will remain an inspiration to the world, a reminder that dreams do come true.