Eric Lamaze and Hickstead.
A speed class was used as the decider and a triple combination at Fence Six turned out to be the bogey. But with a field such as this it was apparent that anything worse than four faults would put chances of progressing in jeopardy as new European Champion Kevin Staut discovered when second in on Le Prestige de St Lois.
Soon joining him were Jessica Kurten (Castle Forbes Myrtille Paulois), Roger Yves Bost and Daniel Etter all of whom lowered two fences. Ben Maher and Marcus Ehning hit only one but a time penalty was enough to rob them of their chances.
Albert Zoer (Oki Doki) had set a fine standard with a clear in 75.63 but his lead did not last long. Eric Lamaze did not appear to be going especially fast on Hickstead but to the amazement of everybody the clock stopped nearly three seconds ahead. 72.75 was like lightning and subsequently only Bernardo Alves got anywhere near the two leaders. His time of 73.13 split the top pair even though he was another that did not appear to be travelling with undue haste.
"My horse is naturally fast, but to be honest I am just excited to be here and it is an honour to finish second to Hickstead," he said afterwards.
None of the top three would really be drawn on predictions for today but as Eric Lamaze said "this is an unusually large amount of money to jump for so I think it is fair to say we will all be trying as it is up for grabs and anybody could win."
Today the show features the Open Championship of Qatar which will feature local riders as well as the regular GCT riders.
• Jessica Kurten didn't manage to keep up her remarkable run of performances at the show when she failed to qualify for today's final.
But Tipperary's Denis Lynch finished in 16th place when incurring just four faults with the gelding All Inclusive NRW, and so goes through to the second and final round.
Only the top 18 from the 25 qualified competitors are allowed to compete for the €300,000 prize in the final, and Kurten, who finished in 25th with Castle Forbes Myrtille Paulois on nine faults, will not get a chance to repeat her 2008 victory, when she took the top prize with Castle Forbes Libertina.