Runner-up was last man into the ring, Austria’s Max Kuhner with Cornet Kalua, while Colombia’s Carlos Enrique Lopez Lizarazo claimed third spot with the ever-brave Admara.
Swiss course designer, Guido Balsiger, gave the 38 starters plenty to think about in the first round and many struggled to negotiate the left-hand turn to the triple combination at fence 10, often meeting the opening triple bar on a very deep distance, while the penultimate one-strided double also proved influential. Rio Olympic team gold medallist Roger Yves Bost from France took a spectacular fall with Sangria du Coty when the mare attempted to tackle the middle element of the triple combination on a single stride instead of two, but they left the arena unscathed.
Lizarazo set the target at 38.43 seconds when second to go against the clock, and when Germany’s Marco Kutscher played safe with his new ride, Clenur, he didn’t threaten the lead. Fourth to go however Alvarez Aznar was on fire, taking every risk to race through the finish and when Britain’s William Whitaker was a little cautious with Utamaro D’Ecaussines, and Belgium’s Nicola Philippaerts lost his chance when H&M Harley vd Bisschop tripped up after the second fence, there were only two left to deny him the win. Last to go Kuhner came closest to the Spanish rider’s time thanks to a courageous gallop to the last, but was almost two seconds adrift when breaking the beam in 38.03.
Alvarez Aznar, son of legendary six-time Olympian Luis Alvarez Cervera, now heads to the second-last leg of the qualifying series in Bordeaux (FRA) next weekend and, when asked tonight if he thinks he can take maximum points again in order to qualify for the Longines Final at the end of March, he replied,
“it’s difficult enough to win one without winning two-in-a-row – but we can always try!”
Result: 1, Rokfeller de Pleville Bois Margot (Eduardo Alvarez Aznar) ESP 0/0 36.20; 2, Cornet Kalua (Max Kuhner) AUT 0/0 38.03; 3, Admara (Carlos Enrique Lopez Lizarazo) COL 0/0 38.43; 4, Utamaro D’Ecaussines (William Whitaker) GBR 0/0 38.82; 5, Clenur (Marco Kutscher) GER 0/0 43.44; 6, Lord Pepsi (Paul Estermann) SUI 0/4 37.95; 7, Vagabond de la Pomme (Penelope Leprevost) FRA 0/4 38.20; 8, Pollendr (Werner Muff) SUI 0/4 38.84; 9, H&M Harley vd Bisschop (Nicola Philippaerts) BEL 0/13 52.7
by Louise Parkes
Full result here