The featured event of Saturday’s Gróf Széchenyi István Memorial was the 140-160 cm competition for the prize of the Ministry of Human Capacities. The prize money of the competition reached 50,000 Euro and riders could collect Longines World Ranking points. Due to the pandemic situation many qualifying competitions were cancelled and in the near future there will be very limited possibilities to take part in any other of them. A very strong field gathered so in the National Riding Hall in order to secure their places in the Gothenburg World Cup final.
After Thursday’s semi-final, the top 50 riders qualified for the competition with eight representing Hungary. The parkour was extremely technical even for such a strong field. Nevertheless, the public could see world-class horses and riding performances. Faults were varied and occurred at all the fences. Eventually, seven riders managed to complete clear rounds, so a jump-off had to decide the podium and places.
Friday’s winner, Laura Renwick, had to ride first in the jump-off but that didn’t seem to bother her. The permanent member of the British national team had to prove her mettle in numerous prestigious competitions, so she gave the maximum in this situation, too. The experienced rider completed the track not only clear but in such a fast time that was hard to beat.
Only the last starter, Swiss Alain Jufer, was able to achieve a shorter time. He was the only one who rushed through the course in less than 35 seconds and won the gold medal ahead of Laura Renwick. The Swiss rider, by the way, is a childhood friend of Steve Guerdat, the number one in the world rankings, and he trains in Guerdat’s stable since last year.
There was a fight for the places as well since six of the seven competitors of the jump-off rode a clear round and had very slight differences in time. After the exciting last round, the bronze went to Johnny Pals from the Netherlands, followed by German Elisabeth Meyer and Brazilian Yuri Mansur. The latter is famous for being an exceptional trainer who brings young horses to Grand Prix level. Two horses prepared by him also took part at the Rio Olympics. This time in Budapest he rode Qh Alfons Santo Antonio, on whom he finished third this year in Wellington and sixth in the Grand Prix 5* in St Tropez.
Niklaus Schurtenberger from Switzerland captured sixth place. He was a member of the bronze medal team at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
Among the riders representing Hungary, Balázs Horváth achieved the best result with only a time penalty. He rode 10-year-old Laguilot Z, who started for the first time at this high level.
The current Hungarian champion, Zsófia Vándor, also performed well on Quintus, committing one fault at the last fence. Friday’s winning rider and horse pair, Gábor Szabó Jr. and XIXO Lord Classic, collected 8 penalty points, which is a great result, as Lord Classic is a newcomer at this level.
The riders were congratulated by Gyula Budai, Ministerial Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Kristóf Szotyori Nagy, Vice-President of the Hungarian Equestrian Federation.
Those interested can also follow the event from the comfort of their home. Major competition events will be broadcasted on the Hungarian television channel M4 Sport. The competition events are broadcast live by Riderline:
Photo: CSIO Budapest / Hajdu Krisztina