LGCT Valkenswaard: Frank Schuttert scores surprise home win

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Schuttert, a tall 25-year-old Dutchman making his only appearance in the LGCT this season and only the second of his career, won an 11-horse jump-off on Chianti’s Champion.

His clear round, in a time of 39.89 seconds, was just one-hundredth of a second faster than the experienced German Marcus Ehning on Cornado NRW.

Christian Alhmann, also of Germany, was third with a time of 41.01 seconds with Tokyo.

“I’m speechless,” Schuttert said after winning the 14th leg of the 16-leg competition. “My first five-star grand prix win, I was really waiting for this moment, and then in front of a Dutch crowd…It’s just amazing, my horse jumped fantastic and it is a dream come true.”

Starting after Schuttert had set the pace, former Olympic champion Ehning had been ahead of the Dutchman for almost his entire ride, only to fall behind by the smallest of margins on the last fence.

“You can see Frank is bigger than me and he was already at the finish,” joked Ehning at the press conference after the jump-off. “But my horse jumped amazing and I have a few good weeks behind me.”

Jos Lansink

Schuttert was born into a show jumping family. His brother, Hendrik Jan, and father Jan are also professional riders. Still, when Frank was growing up, he preferred to play soccer, before getting bitten by the horse bug when he was six years of age and started riding ponies.

At the age of 20, Schuttert quit his business studies to focus on riding. Instead of training at his parents’ stables, Schuttert decided to go his own way, opting to ride for the Belgian stables of Jos Lansink, a winner of team gold for the Netherlands at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

Schuttert won the 2013 European Championship for young riders before clinching the Dutch national championships in 2016 and again this season.

Jan Tops, a former Olympic gold medalist and LGCT founder and president, was full of praise for his young compatriot.

“It’s fantastic,” Tops said. “To win against these kind of riders is amazing. That’s what it is all about.”

Prague

His win means Schuttert has qualified for the inaugural Longines Super Grand Prix in Prague at the end of the season, where he will be riding against the very best in the world.

“I never expected that, because it is the only Global I jumped this year,” Schuttert said. “I got he opportunity from my chef d’equipe to jump here because it’s the show in Holland. I am not in a Global team, but maybe after next year, it will be nice. I’m just over the moon.”

Klinsmann

Also in the crowd to watch the showjumping was former German soccer star Jurgen Klinsmann, who was attending the event to see his 16-year-old daughter riding in the juniors. She had been doing a camp in Germany with four-time Olympic champion Ludger Beerbaum..

“The whole camp came here to see the competition, which is amazing,” Klinsmann told CNN. “As all parents do they follow their kids, they want to see what they’re up to. To see this place here is amazing. I’ve been to quite a few facilities, grand prix before but this is a very special place. I’m enjoying it.

“I think every sport really has its own fascination, has its own little world. And the horse jumping world is super interesting to learn about.”

“The precision, the riders, they have to deal with so many unknown factors like the horses,” added Klinsmann, a former coach of the American soccer team. “There is so much attention to detail in that world, it’s super interesting. You can always learn from other sports.”

Maher overall leader

With two more events to go, Britain’s Ben Maher remains the overall LGCT leader with 270 points, followed by defending overall champion Harrie Smolders of the Netherlands with 234 points. Italy’s Alberto Zorzi moved into third place with 233 points after he finished sixth in Valkenswaard.

Edwina Tops-Alexander, a two-time overall winner from Australia, tumbled three places to No. 6 after she failed to reach the Valkenswaard jump-off and finished 24th.

Team Event

With only two more stops to go before the Prague playoffs, Constant van Paesschen of Belgium and Brazil’s Marlon Módolo Zanotelli both put down two clear rounds over two days to secure the win for Rome Gladiators in the Global Champions League (GCL) for teams.

Valkenswaard United were second with four penalties, followed by Doha Fursan Qatar.

London Knights remain the overall leaders, despite the team finishing in 17th place, with 304 points, followed by Valkenswaard United with 286 points and Rome Gladiators with 225 points.

“We made a big step forward and we are still fighting to be No. 1 this year,” said Ehning of Valkenswaard United.

The next leg of the Longines Global Champions Tour will he staged in Rome between September 6 and 9, followed by Doha, November 8 and 9, and the Prague playoffs which will be held between December 13 and 16.



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