Mikey Pender has continued the form that saw him claim a host of wins at last week’s Dublin Horse Show, by winning the first five-star Grand Prix of his career in the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Valkenswaard in The Netherlands at the weekend.
Pender and HHS Calais beat-off a top class international field to take the winners prize of €100,000. Nine of the 31 starters made it into the jump-off, and when Pender entered the arena as third last to go in the second round, American rider Bliss Heers was in the lead with Antidote de Mars after they posted a clear in 45.42.
Despite a slip when turning to jump the second last fence, a brilliant display of riding from Pender saw him cross the line clear in 41.23, knocking over four seconds off the target time. Germany’s Philipp Weishaupt and Coby came closest to catching Pender when last to go, but their clear in 42.71 still saw them finish well adrift of the Irish winners.
Speaking afterwards, Pender was thrilled to claim his maiden GCT and five-star Grand Prix victory:
“I can’t believe it. It’s my first ever five-star Grand Prix win so I am over the moon. HHS Calais has been so close so many times and he definitely deserved it. Marion [Hughes] said to make sure I was clear first of all as there were not many clears when I went in. I have a very fast horse and I just did my own round and luckily today it paid off.”
Pender’s win in Valkenswaard now qualifies him for the end of season Super Grand Prix final in Prague!