As the sun shone down 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.”
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.”
Luc Musette’s course was a flowing, twisty design, making full use of the 70m long by 20m wide sand arena. Notable elements were the triple combination along the side of the road, delicate double of verticals would roll with the lightest of touches.
The first riders to enter the ring set the pace, lulling the crowd into a false sense of security as Kevin Staut (FRA) with Ayade de Septon et HDC, Jack Hardin Towell (USA) with Emilie de Diamant A S and Yuri Mansur Guerios (BRA) with Unita Ask all jumped clear with ease. Just as it was looking as though there might be a massive multi-rider jump-off, faults began to collect as all around the arena poles tumbled.
The AirFrance solid filler caught the eye of a few horses, including Niels Bruynseels’ (BEL) Ibbo van T Keldertje and Athina Onassis (GRE) with Contanga 3. Another problem fence was the light plank across the diagonal, which knocked out a few of the top names. The time allowed also caused a few surprises, with Jérôme Guery (BEL) and Alicante, Gregory Wathelet (BEL) with Iron Man van de Padenborre, Lauren Hough (USA) with Dexter and Jos Verlooy (BEL) with Igor all with a bittersweet clear and 1 time fault, meaning they would miss out on the jump-off.
Abdel Saïd (EGY) with Hope van Scherpen Donder, and Denis Lynch (IRL) with RMF Bella Baloubet were the next to jump clear, before World Number 1 Kent Farrington (USA) and Creedance and Leopold van Asten (NED) with VDL Groep Miss Untouchable ramped up the numbers, with both riding epic rounds to make it a six rider jump-off.
First to return to the ring was Jack Hardin Towell (USA) who unleashed the power in Emilie de Diamant A S, making a fantastic turn and pushing to the last to finish in 35.71s. It was a sensible and positive round, but the door was left slightly ajar, with five big names yet to come.
Kevin Staut (FRA) blazed around the course, with his chestnut horse flying around the arena after a phenomenal leap out of the starting blocks. The pair finished a full two seconds quicker than Hardin, stopping the clock in 33.52s.
Yuri took one less stride and a flier to the penultimate oxer, but finished just shy of Kevin’s time to finish in 34.22s with Unita ASK, despite making up time at the end. Denis Lynch gave it his all with the big striding RMF Bella Baloubet, but the pair couldn’t better the Frenchman’s time, and had a pole down while pushing to shave off valuable milliseconds.
Abdel Saïd (EGY) and Hope van Scherpen Donder set off at a pace more suited to the Formula 1 circuit, with the pair blistering around the arena and making pin point turns back to the 1.50m verticals. The crowd roared as they crossed the line in 32.68s, almost a second faster than Staut’s time.
Kent Farrington (USA) and Creedance looked a formidable pairing, but the chestnut gelding jinked and bucked towards the Longines oxer, losing valuable milliseconds and meaning the pair would finish just behind Abdel with a time of 33.37s.
The final rider to go was Leopold van Asten (NED) who put in some brave tries with some incredible turns and VDL Miss Untouchable leaping over the imposing fences. But it wasn’t enough, and the paid stopped the clock in 33.79s, finishing in fourth overall.
So it was Abdel who took the win and the lion’s share of the €92,000 prize purse, with Kent in second and Kevin 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.