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VANGEENBERGHE VICTORIOUS AS TRESOR LIVES UP TO HIS NAME...........Louise Parkes reports from France for PhelpsSports.com
Cannes, FR – June 9, 2006 – The Ukraine's Jean-Claude Vangeenberghe won the big international class, the Prix Eleclerc Le Cannet Rocheville, on the eve of the second leg of the Global Champions Tour at Cannes in France tonight.
Riding Osta Rugs Tresor he came off best in the six-horse jump-off when last into the ring pipping Switzerland's Beat Mandli and Ideo du Thot while Austria's Thomas Fruhmann and The Sixth Sense finished third. And Vangeenberghe, who previously rode for Belgium but transferred nationality at the end of last year, slated the Belgian national federation with whom, he said tonight, he was "very mispleased - they had a chance to keep myself and Gregory Wathelet in the team but they didn't do it".
French course designer Serge Houtmann set a tough 12-fence first-round track that stretched many horses with tricky distances, particularly between the oxer at fence six and the following double, and also on the final vertical-to-oxer line. America's Kim Prince and Cinnamon were amongst the 12 combinations to collect just four faults while Candice King and Femme Fatale and Georgina Bloomberg with Lancelot both collected eight but Saint-Tropez Grand Prix victor Michael Morrissey left four on the floor with Crabamoli. Laura Kraut retired Joyous two fences from home when already carrying eight faults but Robin Sweely was eliminated for a fall when Tinka's Lad, a stallion son of the legendary Tinka's Boy, shot her out of the saddle at the oxer at fence ten.
French hopes were lying with Philippe Rozier and Jadis de Toscane as the jump-off began but with two fences down it was still wide open as Jessica Kuerten arrived into the ring. The Irish rider has been the focus of controversy following her early exit from the Samsung Super League show in Switzerland last week after she was not selected for the team with Castle Forbes Maike. Her form rides Castle Forbes Libertina and Quibell look on song this week at the lucrative French fixture however, although Libertina dropped a hind leg on the turn after the third fence on the jump-off track for four faults. Italy's Giuseppe Rolli and Haida de Castillon hit the first oxer and then Fruhmann's 10 year old gelding lowered the second part of the double so it was still all to play for as the final two took their turn. Beat Mandli, who finished third at the FEI World Cup Final in Kuala Lumpur in April, steered Gloria Theiler's Ideo du Thot into the lead with a lovely clear in 39.18 but, last into the ring, Vangeenberghe proved well up to the challenge when skating home more than a full second quicker to claim the €7,500 first prize leaving Mandli in second ahead of Fruhmann, Kuerten, Rolli and Rozier in that order.
The Ukrainian rider is very excited about his future now. "It's unbelievably better - all of us involved in the Ukrainian team are friends and I think we are the only team of friends on the whole circuit!" he exclaimed. "I had two motives when I decided to change nationality. Firstly I was not pleased with the Belgian team organisation - for instance Dirk Demeersman and myself tried so hard to keep us in the Super League last year and I rode my horses to death to try to do it. I did six clear rounds in the Super League and I don't think any other rider did that but there was no give and take in the team management" he pointed out.
"The second motive was because Gregory Wathelet had already transferred and I could see there was a good opening for me to do the same" he explained. Wathelet works for Alexander Onischenko, the Ukrainian businessman who is bank-rolling his national team and who is competing in Cannes in the Amateur division and Vangeenberghe has now signed up a seven year contract that will bring him up to the London Olympic Games
"Alexander Onischenko's dream is to ride at the London Olympics himself and my contract is like a football transfer - it has given me a lot of recognition" Vangeenberghe pointed out. He says his two top horses Osta Rugs Quintus and Osta Rugs Tresor are not stars "but they really ARE stars because they try so hard". Tresor is out of a mare that has produced a huge number of top horses including Shogun which was ridden by both Philippe Lejeune and Eric Navet, the great stallion Jus de Pomme, Osta Rugs Quintus and the well-known stallion Rich Bourg. "Quintus is by Pavarotti Van de Helle, a stallion that produces both dressage and jumping horses, and with him I have a perfect marriage. He is 13 now but has been so consistent for me winning many big competitions and in Aachen Grand Prix this year he had a clear in the first round and just one time fault second time" he continued.
Vangeenberghe believes that, together with Katerina Offel, himself and Wathelet will make a strong team but one more rider will also be signed up and that will be "another friend. It will be a really good rider that will fit into the team - he wants to be with us because he is a friend" - but Vangeenberghe was not prepared to say who this might be. He says that Tresor will be his team horse for the World Equestrian Games "so after this weekend I will slow down with him and let Quintus take over" he pointed out. He intends to compete in all of the remaining legs of the Global Champions Tour but first he has his sights set on tomorrow evening's Grand Prix and he is in a very positive mood. "When you have a great team spirit then it shows in the way you ride" he said tonight.....
For complete results from the Global Champions Tour stop at Cannes, visit: http://events.horses.nl/2006/cannes/results/results.ws
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