Flying Dutchman Harrie Smolders has won the Longines Global Champions Tour ahead of the finale in Doha, Qatar in November after securing second place in the Grand Prix of Rome CSI 5* aboard stallion Don VHP Z.
He was one of just three riders to advance to the jump-off in the capstone event in Italy, ultimately missing another title victory by a full second to a relatively unknown up and comer, Evelina Tovek of Sweden aboard Castello 194. Marcus Ehning (GER) and Funky Fred were third.
In order to secure the win this weekend in Rome, Harrie would have to have a podium finish and several riders on his heels would have to be out of the jump-off, including Christian Ahlmann, Lorenzo de Luca and Alberto Zorzi. As it turns out, that’s exactly what played out.
“It feels great to be Champion. You see the previous winners, the horses and riders are exceptional – so to see my name on the trophy is special,” said Harrie. “It’s a big achievement for all my owners, our staff and everyone who works in our stable, from flat riders to the grooms – it’s also for them. In the end I have to finish but they all achieve this with me. The flexibility [of horses] is my strength – we have so many shows, but that’s why I can sometimes use Don VHP Z and sometimes use Emerald. They did an unbelievable job.”
“My horse loves this venue, which is why I brought him out here again. It worked out fantastic today – I was not expecting to win [the Championship] today. It’s been an incredible season for me with my top horses Don and Emerald – it’s also thanks to my partners Copernicus and Eurohorse behind me. Our goal was not to be the fastest today, but I wanted to keep clear.”
To secure the season win before even setting foot in Doha, Harrie won the Grand Prix in Chantilly, had podium finishes in Paris, Hamburg and Rome, and top five finishes in London, Shanghai, and Miami Beach. This season, he has won just shy of half a million dollars in prize money: $483,676 to be exact. (Lorenzo de Luca and Scott Brash had higher winnings this season than Harrie, not counting the prize money for winning the title.)
“I think Harrie had an incredible year,” said LGCT founder Jan Tops. “He was six or seven times on the podium. Second in the European Championships. It is really well deserved. It is the first time it is not decided in the last leg. Doha is a fantastic event, amazing place and the best riders and horses will be there, and for the GCL there is big pressure on to win the championship.”
The Championships in Doha will be November 9-11, and you can bet we’ll be covering the action here! Congratulations to Harrie and his team, and Go Jumping.
Season Ranking, Longines Global Champions Tour