CSIO Rome Piazza di Siena 2023
by Louise Parkes for Equi Equipe
It was a German one-two in the Loro Piana Grand Prix at the 90th anniversary CSIO Rome – Piazza di Siena 2023 today when Richard Vogel and Cepano Baloubet pipped compatriot Jana Wargers and Dorette in an exciting 17-way jump-off against the clock.
With places in tomorrow’s €500,000 Rolex Grand Prix still up for grabs the competition was hot in the first round and fences down proved very costly, with the penultimate double proving particularly influential on the 13-fence track.
It was Wargers who set the target in the second round with a brilliant run with her 14-year-old mare that stopped the clock on 37.92 seconds. But her advantage was short-lived when, two horses later, Vogel shaved three-quarters of a second off that when racing home in 37.16.
Vogel’s ride was dramatic however, because coming out of the all-important rollback to the vertical third-last Capano Baloubet drifted left and caught the standard, almost dislodging the poles which somehow stayed in place.
In the end he couldn’t be ousted from pole position despite the best efforts of the rest of the field, Italy’s Michael Cristofoletti and Everest DR coming closest to the German duo at the head of affairs to slot into third place in a time of 38.73. Switzerland’s Niklaus Schurtenberger and Lireu (39.75) slotted into fourth, The Netherlands’ Kim Emmen and Island VG (39.95) into fifth and Italy’s Lorenzo de Luca and Curcuma IL Palazzetto (39.96) into sixth.
Winner Vogel was thrilled with his win with such a young horse but knew that fortune favoured him today.
“He’s obviously a very nice horse, I’ve had him six he was six years old and was German champion as a seven-year-old so he’s been a promising horse for some time. I’m very happy that family Tracy from the USA have bought the horse to secure it for me for the future”, he said.
Like many other European riders he likes to compete in Florida circuit in America from January to March each year “because it sets the horses up for the rest of the season and this horse was there this year and won the last Grand Prix there”, he explained.
“Today I felt he went really well, it is my first big class on grass with him so he’s a bit inexperienced on grass, and he handled it very well. I know I was very lucky in the jump-off, but as my grandfather always says “nobody wins with bad luck” and today good luck was on my side!”, he added.
Vogel will line out in tomorrow’s Rolex Grand Prix finale and will be a serious contender with his top ride, the 11-year-old stallion United Touch with which he finished eighth at this year’s World Cup Final in Omaha, USA.
A total of 50 horse-and-rider combinations will compete for the prestigious title that was won 12 months ago by Denis Lynch and Brooklyn Heights. The 47-year-old Irishman, also previously a winner in 2008 with Lantinus, is back to defend his title this year riding the horse that helped seal victory for Ireland in yesterday’s Intesa Sanpaolo Nations Cup, the 10-year-old stallion Vistogrand.
Italy’s Bicocchi shares Loro Piana Six-Bar win with British legend John Whitaker
In a truly entertaining conclusion to the third day of competition at CSIO Rome Piazza di Siena 2023, British legend John Whitaker and Italian star Emilio Bicocchi shared the honours in this evening’s Loro Piana Six-Bar challenge.
From the outset this was no walk-in-the-park, with the final fence already standing at 1.60m in the first round and raised significantly in every subsequent round.
By the time it came to the third jump-off with four big fences still to be tackled there were just three left to battle it out over a massive 1.95m, and Bicocchi produced another stunning performance from the 13-year-old stallion Flinton who still didn’t look under any great pressure.
The last fence came down for Switzerland’s Alain Jufer and Kosimo MM but, last into the ring, John Whitaker crossed the line with a big smile when his 13-year-old horse Green Grass soared over the the colossal final pole without flinching.
It might have come down to a two-way face-off between Italy and Great Britain over a new height of 2.05m, but the two riders wisely decided to share the win instead, more than happy with the performances they had produced from their brave steeds.
A great heart
“Flinton has been with me for more than four years and he has a great heart!” said 46-year-old Bicocchi who has represented Italy in two World Championships during his successful career. “This was his first Six Bar – we thought we would try to see what he could do and we made the right decision”, added the Tuscan rider who tonight posted his ninth win for at CSIO Rome Piazza di Siena.
John Whitaker’s horse was also a Six Bar first-timer. “He’s normally ridden by Paul Barker who bred him, I just borrow him sometimes!”, said the Yorkshireman. Paul Barker is son of David Barker who competed for Great Britain at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 1964.
He was really pleased with how Green Grass rose to the occasion tonight – literally.
“He’s really brave, he just took it on! It’s his first Six-Bar and he’s never jumped anything near that height! Paul jumps him in national 1.45m or 1.50m classes and he’s competitive. I just jumped him for experience in the first two rounds and he felt so good the third time I thought I’d go again. He’s very game!” said the 67-year-old Briton who is himself a true legend in the sport.
Admired all around the world he had the crowd right behind him tonight. Asked what it felt like to be called “Il grande (the great) John Whitaker” every times he comes into the ring at Piazza di Siena he smiled and said “it’s actually very nice, I like it!”