America’s Jessica Springsteen left the rest floundering in her wake when galloping to victory with Volage du Val Henry in the Prestige Speed event at Jumping Verona this afternoon.
With a field of 50 starters this was never going to be an easy one to win, but the 27-year-old rider who lies 74th in the latest world rankings, threw down an incredible time of 55.69 seconds with the 10-year-old chestnut mare Volage du Val Henry and, try as they did, the rest couldn’t catch her.
“My horse is amazing, she’s so good at these types of classes and my plan was to be a bit smooth and then I was really fast to the last jump, so I was thrilled to win!”, Springsteen said afterwards. Going fifth she had no time to learn anything from those jumping ahead of her, but she knew she could trust her horse to give it her best. “I was early (to go) but I know her so well by now, I know how she’s going to land and where I can leave a stride out and when I can add a stride. She’s competitive, she really wants to do the right thing, she’s an incredible mare!”, she explained.
Springsteen is something of a specialist against the clock, a superb combination of balance, pace and good judgment bringing her very close to winning last weekend’s World Cup qualifier in Lyon, France where, partnering her top mare RMF Zecilie, she was only just pipped by Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs who is reigning European champion and second in the world rankings.
“I learned how to go against the clock at a younger age doing Children’s Jumpers and Junior Jumpers – it’s so much fun for me, such an adrenalin rush and I do enjoy it a lot!” she said.
This weekend she is bringing out a new horse for Sunday’s World Cup qualifier, the 10-year-old stallion Don Juan van de Donkehoeve. “I’m jumping him tonight actually and we’ll see how he goes and if he feels good enough for Sunday. It will be his biggest class to date”, she explained this evening.
Italy’s Alberto Zorzi and Vauban du Trio came closest to Springsteen’s winning time of 55.69, the 30-year-old rider and his 10-year-old chestnut gelding breaking the beam in 55.74 seconds to slot into second place. And the crowd were treated to a masterful ride from the great French horseman, 70-year-old Michel Robert who announced his retirement from the sport in 2015 but who changed his mind and has returned to the top end of the sport, finishing third today with the 10-year-old mare Emerette when just 0.07 seconds slower than Zorzi.