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Eric Van Der Vleuten Wins $60,000 ‘Ricoh’ Big Ben International Challenge

Dutch rider Eric Van Der Vleuten closed out the 2004 Royal Horse Show with a victory in the $60,000 ‘Ricoh’ Big Ben International Challenge held Saturday, November 13, at the Royal Horse Show in Toronto, ON.

Amid ‘Closing Night’ ceremonies, the $60,000 ‘Ricoh’ Big Ben International Challenge marked the conclusion of the international show jumping division. The capacity crowd of 6,500 spectators enjoyed the sport at its best, seeing six of the top horse-rider combinations in the world advance to the jump-off over the track set by Olympic mastermind Leopoldo Palacios of Venezuela. The second rider back in the jump-off, Van Der Vleuten laid down the challenge, making handy work of the jump-off course in a time of 28.89 seconds. His speedy partner was Audi’s Jikke, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare he has been riding for the past six years.

“It was a pretty hard course, all of the fences followed one another very quickly,” said Van Der Vleuten, who was named the Leading International Rider just as he had been two years ago at the Royal Horse Show. “The Royal is a very traditional event, you see all sorts of things you don’t normally see, and it attracts a lot of spectators. It is good fun to be here.”

Finishing second was Kevin Babington of Ireland who stopped the timers at 29.25 riding the Irish-bred Carling King, owned by Saly Glassman. The winner of Wednesday night’s $60,000 CN World Cup Grand Prix, Todd Minikus of Wellington, FL, finished third this time out. Minikus gave the crowd a thrill by flying around the ring on Flier, but his time of 29.90 kept him out of the winner’s circle.

Canada was well represented by Mac Cone of King, ON. Riding Melinda, a 10-year-old grey mare, Cone was also clear in the jump-off with a time of 32.71 seconds to place fourth. Cone, a 1996 Olympian, was awarded the Leading Canadian Rider while Melinda was awarded the All Canadian Cup as the Leading Canadian Horse.

Clocking in at 28.29 seconds, Great Britain’s Michael Whitaker had the time to catch Van Der Vleuten, but one rail down dropped him to fifth place. The first rider on course, Schuyler Riley of the United States, also incurred four faults but in a slower time of 32.62 seconds to place sixth.

The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair concludes on Sunday, November 14. Royal Horse Show featured events include the Junior/Amateur Canadian Championship as well as numerous hunter championship competitions. Tickets for all Royal Horse Show performances can be purchased through Ticketmaster at tel: 416 872-7777 or by visiting www.ticketmaster.ca. For more information on the Royal Horse Show, including complete schedules and results, please visit www.royalfair.org or call tel: 416 263-3400. Live results from the show jumping competition can also be found at www.equiman.com.

$60,000 ‘Ricoh’ Big Ben International Challenge – Final Results

Rider Hometown Horse Faults Time
1. Eric Van Der Vleuten The Netherlands Audi’s Jikke 0:0 28.89
2. Kevin Babington Ireland Carling King 0:0 29.25
3. Todd Minikus United States Flier 0:0 29.90
4. Mac Cone King, ON Melinda 0:0 32.71
5. Michael Whitaker Great Britain Portofino 0:4 28.29
6. Schuyler Riley United States Ilian 0:4 32.62

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