Brazil’s Marlon Modolo Zanotelli clearly has an affinity for the Bolesworth CSI4* International. The rider, who who won more classes than any other competitor at the 2015 edition of the event, started off his 2016 Bolesworth campaign with a victory on Thursday.
Zanotelli took the four-star, two-phase class, sponsored by Equiline/Fearns Farm Partnership, on Rock ‘n Roll Semilly, landing a top prize of £6,400. In doing so, he underlined the rich potential that could easily be converted into an appearance at a home Olympics in Rio later this summer.
“The team looks good — Brazil has some good horses,” Zanotelli said. “I would say we have about seven riders with a chance of making selection, and they all look good. It is a good group together, and everyone is motivated.
“Hopefully, I will be selected. An Olympics at home — and my first one — would be special.”
Reflecting on his latest Bolesworth triumph after edging runner-up American Lillie Keenan (super Sox) into second, with Britain’s Chloe Aston (Kolibri Classic) third, Zanotelli added: “He jumped very well, he is always doing a great job. He can do the tight turns very well.”
Irish eyes were smiling at Bolesworth when Marion Hughes won the four-star speed class, sponsored by NFU Mutual.
A bumper field entered the afternoon’s feature event, and Hughes showed all her experience to guide Heritage HHS Fortuna home in a time of 63.93 seconds.
Britain’s Keith Shore, riding Zegreanne Z, led the chasing pack in second spot with a time of 64.16, and third went to another British rider — Douglas Duffin — on Chiquito Z.
“I was hoping that I would hold out for the whole class because there were a good few fast ones to go after me,” Hughes said.
“My mare is very fast. I didn’t do the inside routes — I just decided to just keep nice and flowing, and I think it paid off.”
Dutch showjumper Stefanie van den Brink, meanwhile, had a Bolesworth debut to savour when she landed the four-star opener — a two-phase competition sponsored by Harthill Stud.
And Bolesworth’s international appeal was highlighted by the fact that the first five riders represented five different countries — Holland, Egypt, Ireland, Britain and Belgium.
Riding Merida 8, van den Brink’s time of 24.49 seconds proved just enough to edge out Egypt’s Karim Elzoghby and Colour Girl, with Irish challenger Dermott Lennon (Fleur IV) third, Britain’s Harriett Nuttall (Silver Lift) fourth and Belgium’s Francois Mathy Jr (Falco van der Clehoeve) taking fifth.
Reflecting on her win, van den Brink said: “I followed my own plan, and it worked out well. We didn’t expect to win, but he went really well.”
Continuing the overseas feel, the Czech Republic had cause to celebrate when Emma Augier de Moussac took the young horse class on Thursday afternoon.
De Moussac revealed that her winning ride Brighton Bay had been something of a chance buy when she purchased him at auction.
The competition, for six and seven-year-old horses and sponsored by Dutch Flower Shop, saw her prevail in a two-phase contest from Italy’s Lorenzo de Luca with Jenny van het Waterblok and third-placed Sussex rider Nicole Pavitt, on Gemmarco 16.
“I am very pleased with him,” De Moussac said. “I have a lot of hopes for the horse.
“I bought him at an auction when I’d had a little to drink, so it was not meant to happen! But last year, he knocked only two poles down, and he has been so consistent again this year, so it was a real lucky shot.”