Maikel van der Vleuten rides Verdi to Madrid GP win

Maikel van der Vleuten and VDL Groep Verdi.
Maikel van der Vleuten and VDL Groep Verdi.

Dutch rider Maikel van der Vleuten rode VDL Groep Verdi to victory with three clear rounds in the Longines Global Champions Tour of Madrid Grand Prix at the weekend.

Second place went to Marcus Ehning (GER) and Plot Blue, the only other combination to complete three faultless rounds. Third was fan-favourite Gerco Schröder (NED) and Olympic silver medalist Glock’s London, in their return to competition. London was among several horses in a foreclosure auction last month, and was secured by Glock holdings for €8.6 million.

In Madrid, Santiago Varela’s second round took no prisoners from the eleven clears that went through as part of the Top 18. There were clears from a few of the fastest four-faulters – Ben Maher (GBR) and Cella, Doda de Miranda (BRA) and AD Uutje, and Sergio Alvarez Moya (ESP) and Carlo. As first, it looked as though there would be no double clears, as another tight time allowed and a technical, twisty course saw Gerco Shröder (NED) and Glock’s London and pick up an excrutiating time fault, as did Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS) and Ego van Orti.

But recently crowned Dutch Champion Maikel van der Vleuten and VDL Groep Verdi made the tricky course look easy and the experienced combination of Marcus Ehning and Plot Blue put in a characteristically spotless round to force a two-horse jump-off.

As the sun sank behind the trees at the beautiful Club de Campo Villa de Madrid, Ehning was first to go in the deciding round, path finder in the final sweeping course, with a few potential tight turn-backs – he chose care over speed to go clear. With pole position of last to go, van der Vleuten could see exactly where he needed to make up time and executed a stunning performance, taking the gold medal position to rapturous applause.

Third placegetter Schröder said he was grateful to Glock family to be reunited with London, and was pleased with the horse’s performance after being out for several months. “I am very happy that I can ride London again. Our last show was in December, but today he felt fantastic. For sure, I would have liked to do the jump-off against these two, they were very fast, but I am happy for today.”

Schröder joined the Glock team on May 1.

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