Last weekend, Angelica Augustsson Zanotelli and her husband Marlon Modolo Zanotelli competed together in one of the Rolex Grand Slams at the CSI 5* tournament in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. The pair did not perform as expected, with the Brazilian placing twelfth and the Swede twenty-eighth in the 1.60m Grand Prix. A few days before they would take part in this major meeting, the duo from Brie, Belgium held cross interview.
Are you happy to participate in the first Rolex Grand Slam this year?
Angelica: Yes, we are absolutely delighted. I am coming for the first time [à Bois-le-Duc]and being here with Marlon makes this experience even more special for me. I’m sure we’ll have a great weekend!
Marlon: I was looking forward to it because I did well here last year. My horse is in good shape, he should resume his prowess, at least I hope so. It’s great to be here with Angelica and have twice the chance of winning!
What are your projects and ambitions for 2022?
Angelica: The year looks good. New opportunities open up for me for the first time, as is the case with this weekend. I have never played in a Rolex Grand Slam Major before. I also qualified for the World Cup final for the first time and this is a prospect that I am very excited about.
Marlon: I can’t wait for the various Rolex Grand Slams to arrive. Winning a major would be a dream for me. I came very close to my goal last year. (running second at ‘s-Hertogenbosch with VDL Edgar M, editor’s note). The goal is obviously to win at least one, but three in a row is even better! We are also looking forward to participating in the World Equestrian Games. (in Herning, August, ed.) This year. As a driver, winning a major championship is one of my wildest dreams. In short, we are in for an interesting year!
Marlon, lately you have achieved outstanding results. What factors do you attribute this success to?
To the overall work of my team. The owners I work with are totally supportive and my home team is great. I just got back from a two week competition. (in Doha, in Qatar, ed.) but I know that our house grooms and riders take very good care of our horses in my absence. Angelica herself prepared the VDL Grand Slam for me to ride here this weekend. The people around me are the key to my success. I feel incredibly lucky to have such a close-knit and close-knit team.
What horses can you count on this year?
Marlon: VDL Grand Slam (BWP, Cardento x Heartbreaker)! Now he is eleven years old, and last season he added a lot. He jumped very well on Saturday night last year with a double jump that landed him fourth place.
Angelica: Kalinka van de Nachtegale (BWP, Epleaser van’t Heike x Cicero Z), a mare with experience and already achieved good results. This year she will be my lead horse. I also have a nine year old mare, Dunna R.J. (BH, quiz time x Candidus). She has less experience at this level than expected due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but she has a lot of potential and I can’t wait to see what she can do.
“I always let him win! (laughs)”, Angelika Augustsson Zanotelli
Do you compete on the track?
Marlon: I have a competitive spirit, but not only at work! I hate to lose, even at cards at home. However, I’m trying to cheer up Angelica…
Angelica: I always let him win!
Marlon: Angelica also has a competitive spirit and once on the track she always shines. I think we both have the will to win, but not necessarily at the expense of the other. We support each other and encourage each other to surpass ourselves.
How do you decide who gets to ride which horse?
Marlon: I would say that the horses choose us, not the other way around. We’re trying to see which horse is best for everyone. Sometimes we share a horse during the season, depending on where the competition is.
Have you ever argued about horses?
Marlon: Oh sure… [rires]. During Angelica’s pregnancy, I had to ride her horses. She was the most demanding owner I have ever had!
Are you following the same training program?
Marlon: Yes, and that’s actually one of the reasons I’ve made so much progress as a racer. For the past five years, Angelica has supported me and accompanied me every step of the way, even though we haven’t experienced the same. Angelica, for example, lived in Germany for many years. We help each other grow and develop, and this is our strength.
Angelica: We are incredibly lucky to be able to do our work together. Every day we train together, exchange ideas. We are a very good team. This is a situation that many professional racers envy.
What is the main asset of another, in your opinion?
Angelica: Marlon has many assets at his disposal. He has a great talent, he understands his mounts like no other. He has an extraordinary ability to connect with horses with whom he develops in complete synergy. He also has a competitive spirit. Whatever the horse. his goal is to win, and he often succeeds. Marlon really has a natural gift for working with horses.
Marlon: Angelica is also very knowledgeable about horses. She is very patient and listens to them, which is sometimes very difficult to do. You just have to see how much her horses improve when she starts working with them. She devotes a lot of time to them and works very well on the flat, as well as in show jumping. She is a very experienced rider and talking about her daily life allows me to learn a lot.