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Dutchman Smolders wins Longines FEI World Cup jumping in Belgium

Xinhua,December 31, 2017 Adjust font size:

LONDON, Dec. 30 (Xinhua) -- Dutchman Harrie Smolders captured the title of the ninth leg of the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping 2017/2018 Western European League at Mechelen in Belgium on Saturday.

Riding the 13-year-old gelding Zinius, he set an unbeatable target with a fearless run when fourth to go in a seven-horse jump-off.

Sweden's Henrik von Eckermann finished secodn and soared to the top of the league table. Italy's Luca de Lorenzo settled for third.

"I never won before at Mechelen and I really wanted to do it, so I was totally focused," said the 37-year-old Smolders. "When I got into the jump-off I just wanted to win, I was never riding for second place so I took the risk by taking a stride out to the last."

Smolders, who helped his country win the Nations Cup three months ago in Barcelona, added, "This is very special because I came here with all my family - my kids, my wife and my parents - it was an unforgettable moment and I'm very thankful to the crowd. The atmosphere here is always really intense and it gives us even more of a push to show what we can do."

As 2018 begins and with just four of the 13 Western European league qualifiers remaining, the next taking place in Leipzig, Germany, on January 21, Smolders has 25 points on the board and is 22nd on the standings.

"I wasn't planning to go to the Final in Paris but now we might have a meeting and set some new goals," he said. "I will do a few qualifiers anyway and I want to get Emerald out to a few shows, maybe get him ready by Gothenburg (in February) if I can. We will see, but this win is the perfect end to a great year for me." Enditem