The cream of the crop riders gathered in Monaco
Like a chameleon the stage setting in Port Hercules in Monaco changes periodically. Even when the last remnants of the Grand Prix Formula 1 were still in place waiting to be cleared, 1100 tons of sand was carefully spread over the quay on the southern dock to create a 2025m2 track designed by Luc Musette and 1100m2 paddock for more than 200 horses for the traditional International Jumping of Monte-Carlo organized by President Diane Fissore, organizer extraordinaire, and Jan Tops, professional Gold medal rider and leader in the horse-trading world, and under the sponsorship of HSBC Private Bank (Monaco) SA.
Two weeks of assembling and disassembling by a team of 100 people for 80 professional and amateur riders with 15 competitions over 3 days for the 9th edition of the Monegasque leg of the Longines Global Champions Tour (LGCT) in Monaco took place from June 26-28, 2014. Each lap of the LGCT is a Grand Prix of Euro 300,000, with approximately Euro 100,000 for the winner, allotting the emerging points to the general classification: at the end of the circuit, the eighteen best riders will share a purse of Euro 1,000,000. In Monaco the total purse amounts to Euro 393,500 with Euro 285,000 allocated to the Prince’s prize.
Only the 30 world best are invited to this prestigious competition. The casting is truly exceptional with the presence of World No. 1 Scott Brash, Team European Champion and Team Olympic Champion with Great Britain, winner of the circuit in 2013 and his countryman Ben Maher world No. 2. The German Daniel Deusser (World No. 11), recent World Cup winner, the Australian Edwina Tops-Alexander (World No.22) present provisional classification leader of the LGCT after the first four Grand Prix. On the French side the spectators could cheer for Kevin Staut (World No. 9), winner of the 2012 edition of the Jumping of Monte-Carlo, Roger-Yves Bost (World No. 16) European Champion without forgetting Simon Delestre (World No.18). A dazzling, exhilarating and memorable event!
Highlights from the three-day Monegasque competition
THURSDAY, JUNE 28 – DAY 1
In the CS15 1,45m Monegasque Equestrian Federation Prize, world number 2 the British Ben Maher on Aristo Z took all the risks imposing in 3,61 seconds without any fault in this speed test. He came in front of the Belgian Constant Van Paesschen and the Dutch Maikel Van der Vleuten. « I am very happy to win in Monaco, a competition I had already won. It is the first test of the weekend but it always feels good to win. Aristo Z is in good form at this time » confided the Olympic Champion and team European Champion.
Monegasque triumph by Dietlinde Thomel on her loyal Roberto de Siju during the first test of the day, the Special Invitational with bars between 1.15m and 1.20m, 80 centimes of seconds in front of the test on Thursday Gustavo Mirabal from Venezuela and the French Serge Varsano. The Monegasque said “I am very happy, it is already two years that I have this horse, we form a real couple the two of us, we know each other very well and it brings lots of emotions when we have a horse that feels good with us.”
Fourteen riders galloped competed going through the difficult twisty course. In order to avoid penalties the experienced riders were forced to cut corners in the small arena due to the restricted time allowed. But only one deserved to win the CS15 1,50m Massimo Dutti Prize. It was Samuel Parot from Chile who run away with the most important victory of his career with Quick du Pottier. Vamos ! Roger-Yves Bost from France came second with Poker Des Dames and third place went to Daniel Deusser from Germany with Fyloe vh Claeyssenghof.
FRIDAY, JUNE 27 – DAY 2
The world number 5 Kent Farrington took the CS15 1,50m SBM Prize Casino with his gray horse Willow, confirming he is one of the fastest riders of the circuit. In his first participation in the LGCH tour he was really happy and was quoted saying “Willow is a very fast horse. Being the last rider I knew I had the chance to win.”
Charlotte Casiraghi had a flawless ride to victory
Gucci duo Edwina Tops-Alexander and Charlotte Casiraghi were the winners of the Longines Pro Am Cup to the standing ovation from HRH Prince Albert and Princess Caroline from the Royal Box.To think that it was during this competition last year that we learned Charlotte was pregnant, and baby boy Raphael was born in December out of her union with French’s favorite comedian Gad Elmaleh. She came back in top form and won proving that becoming a Mom was very auspicious as she gave a flawless performance. The competition sponsored by Charlotte Casiraghi herself under the colors of Gucci gathered 15-strong pairs of riders, composed of an amateur and a professional and each team supported by a sponsor. The Noor Fares pair of Luciana Diniz and Electra Niarchos came one second behind the winners, and third place went to Team Expert Blue’s Amre Hamcho and Baraa Jaboulieh. The other celebrity Gucci team of Jessica Springsteen, daughter of rock legend Bruce Springsteen, and heartthrob French actor Guillaume Canet joined the group of top professionals in the competition. While Prince Albert, Princess Carolina and humorist Gad Elmaleh cheered for the victory of Charlotte, actress Marion Cotillard (Canet’s partner) and actress Marina Hands encouraged Guillaume Canet.
Guillaume Canet horse rider turned into actor is back on the saddle
The 41 year-old actor, screenwriter and director, Guillaume Canet has made a name for himself as one of the most accomplished and popular artists of his generation. As a youngster, his passion was horse riding and he envisaged a career in show jumping, following in the footsteps of his parents, who owned a stud farm in the Rambouillet region of France. He competed in numerous horse shows and even took part in the French championships, but at the age of 18 a bad fall forced him to give up his dream. He then turned his focus to acting and enrolled at the Cours Florent drama school in Paris. In 2012, he wrote the screenplay and also starred in JAPPELOUP by Christian Duguay. The film tells the story of Pierre Durand and his horse, which won the equestrian gold medal at the Seoul Olympics in 1988. Guillaume had not ridden for 20 years and, in order to prepare for this role, sometimes spent up to 8 or 9 hours in the saddle.
Watch the movie trailer: http://youtu.be/sNqS4LkzEAg
Since this film he has bought a horse and rekindled his love of competing at horse shows, where he often crosses paths with people he rode against 20 years ago! He was quoted saying: «I like to do things passionately, not under control. Jumping, it was my destiny. I lived for the horses. »
The riders gave it all and warmed up the course for Saturday’s Longines Global Champions Tour of Monaco Grand Prix when the world best 40 riders were to furiously battle for the 2014 Championship points.
SATURDAY, JUNE 28 – DAY 3
The 20 year old Belgian Constant van Paesschan ranked 43rd in the world proved he has the qualities of a champion. He won the speed test CSI 5 Sapinda Prize on Citizenguard Rioso van de Kapel, adding another victory to his collection and takes his place among the great. Christian Ahlmann of Germany on Little Lady Z came in 2nd and Marc Houtzager from the Netherlands was 3rd with Sterrohof’s Uppity.
Historic victory for Qatar
Less experienced rider Bassem Hassan Mohammed of 27 years old and ranked 111th in the world, conquered the coveted HSBC Private Bank Grand Prix of the Prince of Monaco on his mare appropriately called Victoria. This was a first for the Qatar Equestrian Federation, and a huge surprise on the Grand Prix Longines Global Champions Tour of Monaco in front of the cream of the crop professionals in this field. A great number of the 46 starting riders made faults on the difficult course created by Luc Musette, obliging them to be very attentive regarding the distances between the large obstacles and the tight turns, that posed problems to the best among them. But not for Bassem Hassan who departing third marked the first test without faults qualifying first among the 18 best riders and then the rest is history. Ben Hassan had his best performance after a fourth place in the GPLGC in Anvers and Cannes last season. He was joined in the podium by Swedish Rof-Goran Begtsson on Casai ASK with Irish Cameron Hanley on Living the Dream (youngesthorse in the competition) on third position.
Jan Tops, President of the Longines Global Champions Tour, and trainer of Bassem Hassan has been supporting Qatar to help them become an important country in the show jumping circuit. It was an emotional prize ceremony for the Qatarian who was really moved and had tears on his face when accepting the trophy from HSH Prince Albert accompanied by his niece Charlotte Casiraghi as well as Kathy Danby the new CEO of HSBC Private Bank (Monaco) SA sponsors of the competition.
The design of the course in Monaco
The obstacle course in Monaco specially built by master builder Luc Musette was certainly very challenging. Musette has 32 years experience and is someone who is known for setting the bar high for the world’s top show jumping events, thrilling the crowds with his superb obstacles. When he creates a stage he somehow builds a story, striving for a harmonious course with some tricky spots but always being fair to the riders and the horses. When speaking of his design process for the competition in Monaco he was quoted saying: “For me, course building is never repetitive. I draw a lot of inspiration from the size and location of the venue. During the day you have to be careful and think about the position of the sun. And here, the venue is really small, so my options are a bit limited. I have to compose with a small ring in mind and really think about how the lights are positioned when it gets dark.”
Next stop is the City of Lights
At the end of the sixth stage of the Longines Global Champions Tour, Australian rider Edwina Tops-Alexander heads the provisional classification. Sunday night horses and riders were getting ready to leave the Principality and be on the road again for the next event on the Champs de Mars at the foot of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France to compete during July 4-6, 2014. And the Port Hercules will slowly come back to normal, but just for a short while until the beginning of the preparations for the prestigious Monaco Boat Show (MYS).
“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.” William Shakespeare