Scott Brash and Hello Sanctos have won the Longines Global Champions Tour of London Grand Prix in spectacular fashion in front of a rapturous home crowd who would have raised the roof of Horse Guards Parade Ground if there had been one.
From the very beginning, the World number one and 2013 LGCT champion was hailed as the one to beat in the Qatar sponsored competition and he never faltered. With three LGCT Gold medals and a bronze under his belt so far this year, the Scotsman is well on his way to defending his Championship title for a second consecutive year.
Second place went to Ludger Beerbaum (GER) and Zinedine who executed three lovely rounds – the only other triple double clear of the class. Beerbaum said he was thrilled with the horse, as second place was the best he could have hoped for against Brash and his 2012 Olympic Gold medal-winning partner. Third went to Madrid Grand Prix winners Maikel van der Vleuten (NED) and VDL Groep Verdi who lowered a rail in the four-horse jump-off. Katie Dinan (USA) and Nougat du Vallet were the fourth combination to go forward to the final round, but in a race to catch Brash, a tight turn resulted in horse and rider parting company – the talented young rider was unhurt and happy to claim fourth.
Afterwards, Brash was full of praise for Hello Sanctos. “I’m a very lucky person at the minute, that sort of horse doesn’t come around too often. I think you get one in your lifetime, really.”
Crowds packed into Horse Guards Parade Ground for the feature class of the show to be greeted by gorgeous sunshine and the very best international showjumping in the world. The elegant VIP Hospitality suite was buzzing with the glamorous show jumping crowd who enjoyed a rare coming together of the world’s top 18 riders for one of the biggest and highly anticipated events of the show jumping calendar. Twenty-two riders went through to the second round, a testament to the incredible level of talent present for the 11th round of the series.
Uliano Vezzani’s first round course was a curling and twisty creation that rode much better than expected. The last fence in front of the vibrant VIP, the commemorative 1908 Olympic fence from London 2012, broke quite a few hearts – the front rail rolling gently off its cups for several big names. The second round was a tough ride with technical, angled distances running the length of the arena. Last year’s winning combination, Ben Maher (GBR) and Cella, were caught out by an awkward turn from the Longines combination to the GCT Oxer, collecting four faults in the second round.
The Championship Ranking Top 3 now sees two Swedish riders in the top two places heading into Round 12 in Lausanne. Rolf-Goran Bengtsson is at the top, followed by Henrik von Eckermann, with Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS) in the number three position on the same points as Eckermann but with fewer podium finishes. The chasing pack are gaining momentum while Beerbaum and Brash charge up to within pouncing distance of the leaders.
Lausanne, from September 12 to 14, will see the pressure rise again as the final in Doha approaches fast. Early in the season Brash voiced his intention to defend his LGCT title this year and he seems to be executing his plan of attack perfectly.
Michael Whitaker (GBR) and Elie van de Kolmen flew to victory in the Massimo Dutti Prix CSI5* speed class in front of a supportive British crowd who gasped and cheered as he dared his mare to turn tighter and faster.
Second place went to Scott Brash and Hello Annie, who led the competition from mid-way through the draw with an impressive round which looked like it wouldn’t be beaten. Third went to canada’s Tiffany Foster and Victor who had led the way from early on only to be pipped at the post by the two home stars.
• Friday’s feature class, the Sapinda Prix, was won by Harrie Smolders (NED) and Regina Z who put in their usual speedy performance to take the honours in this €90,500 class. Second went to McLain Ward (USA) with Rothchild, winners of the Longines GCT Antwerp Grand Prix at the start of the season, and third to leading lady rider Pénélope Leprevost (FRA) and Vagabond de la Pomme.
The first round of the Sapinda Prix welcomed some much-missed sunshine at Horse Guards Parade Ground. VIP Guests and spectators enjoyed the grand, imposing backdrop of Horse Guards and the London Eye, as grey clouds parted and blue sky peeped through. Top names from the worlds of business and culture, including Roman Abramovich and Bruce Springsteen, savoured the world-class equestrian sport from their VIP tables.