A star-studded cast of riders trotted into the Principality
From June 23-25, 2017 the best riders of the world descend in the glamorous Principality, one of the smallest courses in the circuit, to battle for the coveted trophies of this 7th leg of the Longines Global Champions Tour, with a star-studded stand with royals, VIP’s and celebrities adding to the social scene.
It had the airs of a family affair when beautiful rider Charlotte Casiraghi competed in the Longines Pro-Am Cup, an original test of speed and agility that pairs up a professional cavalier to an amateur, under the regard of her son Raphael, her mother Princess Caroline of Hanover, her half sister Princess Alexandra of Hanover, and her sister-in-law Beatrice Borromeo wife of Pierre Casiraghi, with their four months old Stefano only making his first public appearance. Beatrice was also filming the performance of her sister rider Matilde Borromeo who competed in front of her own sons Karl-Egon and Alexander. Charlotte, who initiated this type of contest back in 2010, rode with 20-year old Jennifer Gates, daughter of philanthropists Melinda and Bill Gates who came to support her. Also present were Bruce Springstein and his wife Patti who came to support their daughter Jessica Springteen, one of the rising stars of the CSI 5* category in this stage of the world circuit.
St Tropez Pirates led the fleet but Vienna Eagles’ claimed victory
On Friday, June 23, the first day of the competitions the St Tropez Pirates charged into pole position during the first round of the Global Champions League of Monaco as the seventh leg of the Championship battle unfolded. Best friends Simon Delestre and Jerome Guery produced a foot-perfect double clear in one of the smallest and technical arenas, while the battle for the overall Championship climbed up a notch. Talking about their leading performance today, Jerome Guery of the Pirates said: “It’s a great start. The points are most important tonight, but we’re really happy to go into tomorrow in such a good position”.
An enthusiastic audience cheered on their favorite combinations, where Jessica Springsteen secure the team a double clear on Cynar v. for Shanghai Swans alongside teammate Daniel Deusser. (Photo insert: Jessica Springsteen @Stegano Grasso/LGCT)
Despite a skittish round in an earlier event, Christian Ahlmann came back fighting and produced a perfect clear, giving the Mexico Amigos the second double clear of the evening, shooting the team up to third in the class.
On Saturday, June 24, Vienna Eagles flew into the top position over the challenging Monaco course. Gregory Wathelet added to a weekend of success with a second clear in round two, with team-mate Niels Bruynseels on his best horse Cas de Liberte securing a double clear with just one time fault. On winning Vienna Eagles’ Niels said, “It was not a walk in the park, it felt quite difficult,” while Gregory added that he hoped to “come back well in Paris.”
Valkenswaard United keep hold of their overall Championship lead with 133 points overall, while Hamburg Diamonds stay in second on 125. Breathing down their necks are the St Tropez Pirates, who sit on a tally of 122 points so far. Watched on by fans packing the tight arena, and VIPs including Bill Gates, Bruce Springsteen and two time F1 World Champion Mika Häkkinen, it was an electric display of top sport as the world’s best teams hit full throttle.
Plenty of acceleration meant Shanghai Swans took second place, finishing with just four faults for Jessica Springsteen and a blistering clear for teammate Roger-Yves Bost. However, it was their pace that pushed them ahead of Mexico Amigos who collected the same number of penalties, but lost out due to a slower round.
As the crowd basked in high temperatures, the riders battled it round a mentally taxing and tough technical course full of tight turns and tricky fences. Both upright stiles caused problems, but it was jump number five, which was topped with a delicate white plank that did not take any prisoners, with several combinations picking up penalties there. However, several large oxers and imposing combinations next to the LED hoardings also led to faults.
But it was the Eagles who soared highest on this day of the competition, with the Swans taking second on the podium and the Mexico Amigos on the third spot.
“In the ranking, Valkenswaard United are still in the lead, but it is very tight at the top with Hamburg Diamonds in second, followed by St Tropez Pirates in third. However, the top three teams this weekend are not currently the best, so there is still all to play for and there are exciting times coming up.” Jan Tops, Co-Founder of the GCL
Niels Bruynseels, Vienna Eagles 1st place: [On the pressure on him in the second round] “I didn’t know if the other team was clear or not so I just did my round. Gregory told me just jump clear and I tried to do it, it was a little bit tricky with the time fault at the end, so I didn’t know if we won or not.”
Zorzi won Grand Prix as Ahlmann shoot up to Championship lead
Italy’s Alberto Zorzi, on his black gelding Cornetto K owned by Athina Onassis, was victorious in Monaco with a spectacular Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix de Prince du Monaco Presented by Sapinda win. There was a shake up in the overall LGCT rankings after the competition result led to a re-shuffle at the top, putting Christian Ahlmann (GER) in the first spot.
Zorzi said he was “so happy for the result” and his horse had been “a super jumper”, but he admitted he had known between fences one and two that he had it, after taking one less stride.“I’m so excited to win my first Grand Prix – I can’t believe that before the class, but I had such a nice horse and he jumped great, Cornetto jumped very good. Before the jump off we watched Christian, and Jan said maybe one less in one to two, and I was just a little faster. To finish I’d like to say thank you to Jan and to Athina for the horses, Jan for teaching me every day. We work very hard but we have results, and we are very happy.”
In the overall rankings, second place in the Grand Prix for Christian Ahlmann meant he leapt up to the top of the list with 154 points, nudging previous leader Harrie Smolders down to second with 150. The evening win contributed to a rise up the leaderboard for Zorzi also, taking him to 145 points in total and in third position overall.(Photo insert: Christian Ahlmann, Alberto Zorzi and Kevin Staut @Stefano Grasso/LGCT)
The Grand Prix took place in the presence Princess Caroline of Hannover, alongside daughter and Honorary President Charlotte Casiraghi. The high profile event attracted global business leaders and philanthropists including Bill Gates and his wife Melinda who were at the event to support their daughter Jennifer who competed in the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix Presented by Sapinda and the Global Champions League Paris Panthers’ team. Marta Ortega and her father Anuncio were among VIP guests who included Bruce Springsteen and his wife Patti who watched their daughter Jessica take part in the worldclass competitions. Fans lined the street lining the arena to cheer on the athletes as the incredible spectacle of top-level show jumping unfolded in the arena on the edge of the world famous yacht harbour. There were stars from other sports including two-time Formula 1 World Champion Mika Hakkinen and Australian champion jockey Michelle Payne.
Jan Tops, said:“This year we have the new formula, we only have 25 riders in the Grand Prix. This year everyone comes in with zero points, so it is easier to follow. Today was tough class and only two clear in the jump off.” He added:“Christian goes in the lead, then Harrie [in second] he wasn’t here to defend himself, Alberto moves up to third. I still think because we only have fifty percent counting that the whole series is still open – anyone in the first 20 could still win.”
Abdel Said claimed victory in the CS15* Monte-Carlo Casino Trophy
The final day of the Longines Global Champions Tour of Monaco, Sunday, June 25, got heated as the world’s best took center stage once more for the CSI5* Trophy Casino of Monte-Carlo.
With the last rays of sun shinning on the unique show jumping location,with the show jumping arena nestled between superyachts and the Formula 1 pitlane, it was Egypt’s Abdel Saïd (EGY) who reigned supreme, after a blistering win in a six-rider jump-off with his 10 year old bay mare Hope van Scherpen Donder. An ecstatic Abdel talked about the significance of winning against a world-class field: “I’m delighted with Hope, she stepped up her game. It’s a fantastic show here at the LGCT Monaco, all the best riders are here and I’m delighted with the win today.” (Photo insert: Abdel Saïd @Stefano Grasso/LGCT)
Talking about his mare, Abdel said: “The way she tried today… Wherever we finished I would have been happy! She’s very special in many ways, I leave her the way she is, I believe in her and she always wins the class for me when it counts.”
So it was Abdel who took the win and the lion’s share of the €92,000 prize purse, with world Number I Kent Farrington (USA) and his 10 year old mare Creedance in second and Kevin Staut (FRA) with his 11 year old mare Ayade de Septon et HDC, rounding out the top three in the final CSI5* class of the weekend. The Tour now looks to Paris, where the iconic Eiffel Tower will provide the perfect backdrop to Round 8 of the thrilling 2017 season Championship. (Photo insert: Kent Farrington on Creedance @Stefano Grasso/LGCT)
LGCT Rankings after Round Seven
The Tour now gallops to the City of Lights, June 30-July 2, 2017, where the iconic Eiffel Tower will play host to round eight of the exhilarating Championship season.
“What if I fall?” “Oh, but my darling what if you fly?” Rebecca Graham