Germany’s Marco Kutscher and Van Gogh stunned the crowd with a jump-off time of 37.04 seconds to become the first ever winner of the new Longines Masters Series Trophy at the weekend’s Longines Masters of Los Angeles.
Sunday’s Longines Grand Prix was the culmination of the four-day event, with 36 of the world’s best riders competing for $450,000 in prize money, the largest purse in any United States indoor competition.
Kutscher and Van Gogh sped around the 1.60m course of 13 obstacles designed by Belgium’s Luc Musette. Six other horse and rider couples qualified for the jump-off, including 2012 Olympic individual gold medalist Steve Guerdat and Kavalier, Saturday’s two-class champion Patrice Delaveau on Lacrimoso, and more. John Whitaker and Argento entered the ring with hopes to claim the Masters Grand Slam Super Bonus following their victory in the Longines Grand Prix of Hong Kong, but were unlucky with a rail down.
World Number 1 Scott Brash’s run of dominance on the international stage looked set to continue as he and Hello M’Lady completed the jump-off with a time of 37.93 seconds. The US audience went wild when Kent Farrington and Voyeur came a mere 0.15 seconds from knocking Brash off his throne. But last to enter the ring, Marco Kutscher and Van Gogh, had a masterful round ride to claim top spot on the podium.
“I had a very good start to the jump off; the second part was maybe a little bit slower but anyway I’m super pleased with my horse because for the rest of the weekend nobody realized that I was here,” Kutscher said.
“So I took my chance and I’m very pleased, and very happy to go home tonight. Last year I was here, and I think this year, the crowd, the spectators, were even more than last year; the atmosphere is great and it’s fun to ride here. I would like to come back next year to see all you guys.”
Brash said he was delighted with his horse, just before he hurried off to the airport to fly to Beijing for the China World Cup League. “I was just annoyed at myself that I didn’t do a smoother round. Marco’s horse was so smooth and it was a joy to watch really if you weren’t sitting where I was. All credit to Marco; he’s done a great round,” Brash said.
Earlier in the day, Michelle Kerivan and Colin won the Écuries d’Écaussinnes Grand Prix with a time of 40.37 seconds in a five-rider jump-off. Hannah Selleck and Barla were victorious in the Canadian Pacific Grand Prix, winning a three-rider jump-off in 36.38 seconds.
Spectators for the day included Bill Gates, Kaley Cuoco, Fred Savage, Frankie Muniz, Alison Sweeney, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Michael Mann, Bo Derek, National Anthem singer Pia Toscano, and more.
The action of the 2015/2016 Longines Masters season continues this winter with the Longines Masters of Paris, from December 3 to 6, 2015.