‘I had the right distance – the fence was in the wrong place!’ Harrie Smolders reacts to THAT epic World Cup save

  • It’s being billed as the most amazing comeback of the London International Horse Show and Harrie Smolders’ breathtaking recovery from a first-fence blunder in Sunday’s Longines FEI World Cup qualifier is certainly an example of never giving up.

    The Dutch showjumper and his great campaigner, the Evergate Stables-owned 12-year-old Monaco (Cassini II x Contender), set off with great determination in the 11-way jump-off for the London leg of the winter series. But their challenge almost came unstuck at fence one, a seemingly straightforward Longines FEI World Cup-branded vertical.

    On approaching the first obstacle, Monaco misjudged the take-off and then appeared to hover in the air, somehow using every muscle in his body to clear the poles at a very awkward angle – as you can see from the picture below.

    “I don’t know what happened. I think I had the right distance – but the fence was in the wrong place!” quipped Harrie after the class.

    Unbelievably, he and Monaco reached the landing side with their partnership still in tact and not a pole out of place. The pair then immediately accelerated into top gear and soared home clear and into the lead in a time of 36.77sec, knocking John Whitaker (Unick Du Francport) off the top spot on the leader board.

    Unfortunately for Harrie, the class eventually fell to young British talent Harry Charles with the great 11-year-old mare Stardust, competing in only her third five-star grand prix. They managed to stop the clock around three-quarters of a second faster than the Dutch contenders and Harrie was left pondering what might have been…

    This was Harrie and Monaco’s second feature class runner-up spot in a row after they finished behind Swiss rider Martin Fuchs and Leone Jei in last Sunday’s Rolex Grand Prix of Geneva.

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