After an incredible jump-off that included a breath-taking turn to the very last fence, Adrienne Sternlicht (USA) and the 10-year-old mare Cristalline (Cristallo 1 x Caretello B) went to the top of the CSI5* 1.50m presented by INVEST MOBILE.
“Cristalline is out of this world, I am in awe that I get to be around her every day,” said the 25-year-old American rider. “My groom and I are her biggest fans I think, we talk about it every day that she just amazes us and keeps on improving. She is a very intelligent horse, just a pleasure to work with every day and to be around. We have a very close partnership, and I feel like we understand each other.”
Eleven riders returned for the jump-off in this 1.50m competition counting for the world ranking, and it was Sergio Alvarez Moya (ESP) that as second-to-go set the standard with a clear round in 39.32 aboard Luchino (Lucciano x Carthago).
It was not to last though, as Sternlicht entered the ring one rider later and following the advice of her trainer McLain Ward she took over the lead after taking all the risk and a daring turn to the last upright – shaving the time down to 38.50 seconds.
“McLain told me to take a long one at the first fence to establish my canter and my pace, and I definitely did that. Then he told me to protect her front hand a bit at the last fence, because a lot of the horses were having it down in front – just gap her and trust her carefulness and her scope,” Sternlicht explained about her plan for the jump-off.
“I’m used to jumping with five-star calibre riders at home, but I always find that when I come over to Europe it feels like it is a different atmosphere and there are so many incredible riders – so it definitely makes you up your game. Now it feels like we are settling in nicely,” Sternlicht – who is on the US shortlist for the upcoming World Equestrian Games in Tryon – smiled.
As third last to go Darragh Kenny (IRL) gave it a good shot on Balou du Reventon (Cornet Obolensky x Continue), but finished just behind Sternlicht in 38.87 seconds pushing Moya down to third. Best for the host nation was Gudrun Patteet (BEL) on Sea Coast Just The Music (Tornedo Fcs x Quidam de Revel), who finished fourth.
Earlier in the day, the home riders eventually had to see themselves defeated as Margie Goldstein-Engle (USA) won the CSI5* 1.45m two-phase class presented by ALBAM. Aboard Dicas (Diarado x Cassini I) the American veteran left a margin of 0.32 seconds down to Yuri Mansur (BRA) on Amor (Namelus R x Haarlem), who tied with Marcel Marschall (GER) on Crystal 17 (Carentan x Silvester) in runner-up position with exactly the same time.
In the morning, the five-star riders warmed up with a 1.40m class presented by STX where the Belgians continued their top form with Jos Verlooy taking home the victory aboard Cor-Leon VD Vlierbeek Z (Calvaro Z x Omar). Stopping the clock at 68.24 seconds in this speed class, Verlooy left world no. two McLain Ward (USA) behind him in runner-up position while Emma Augier de Moussac (CZE) finished third.