Fans were treated to a phenomenal display of top show jumping from the world’s very best, as riders fought hard for a share of the €270,000 prize purse in a challenging course to finish the weekend of top sport and entertainment. With almost €1.5million on offer across LGCT and GCL throughout the weekend, the heavy-weight riders pulled out all the stops, with the Massimo Dutti Trophy a spectacular finish to the Shanghai leg of the Championship.
With the evolution of show jumping in China on an upwards trajectory since the LGCT debut in 2014, fans queued early at the gates in order to witness the stars of the sport in a glorious display of action. A glamorous highlight on the Shanghai social scene, ladies donned beautiful outfits including hats and fascinators, and the stands and luxurious VIP hospitality bustled with the air of excitement and expectation ahead of today’s final class. A busy shopping village drew crowds of visitors, where Massimo Dutti showcased a beautiful store, treating fans to a stunning fashion show and autograph sessions with sought-after top riders. Presenting the first place Massimo Dutti Trophy to Daniel Deusser was Yago Vera, Managing Director of Inditex Greater China, and the crowd cheered in appreciation while the horses stood resplendent in their beautiful Massimo Dutti winners rugs while the German national anthem rang out.
With the 60m x 80m square arena layout, Italian designer Uliano Vezzani set another challenging course, a true test for the world’s best, throwing up plenty of conundrums for the top riders in the world. Plenty of turn backs, sharp corners and related distances came into play, and riders were met with a big oxer to start, a formidable feat to set the scene for the course to come, with a tight time allowed of 80 seconds. The first of the related distances from a big wide oxer required a lot of power, before six strides up to a skinny blue plank, set against a blue background which caused a few problems. Another 1.55m water tray feature fence – with the distracting base on the landing side – caught out a few of the top riders. One of the most difficult fences however was undoubtably the penultimate combination featuring a big parallel with a very short double of verticals immediately after, all positioned towards the in-gate.
Lauren Hough (USA) and Cornet 39 took a sharp turn back to the second fence with a keen eye on the time, but an unusual stop caught out the top American rider. Picking up the pace, the pair continued, before leaping through another fence and electing to retire. Another shock result came from Scott Brash (GBR) who proved his superglue seat on Hello Annie, after the bay mare made a last minute stop, crashing into the final hedge filled oxer. Simon Delestre (FRA) and Chesall Zimequest were quick, but the pair also collected four faults with the course proving a tough test for the world’s best.
Daniel Deusser (GER) and Hidalgo SX were the first to go clear, after a masterclass with the crowd cheering as they crossed the line five hundredths of a second inside the time allowed. Gregory Wathelet (BEL) and Eldorado van het Vijverhof were next to jump cleanly, faster still in 77.54s. Danielle Goldstein (ISR) and Caspar 213 jumped a beautiful clear after a great try, but agonisingly picked up 1 time fault eliminating them from the jump-off.
Accuracy was the name of the game, with Niels Bruynseels (BEL) and Angel van T Hof taking the audiences’ breath away as he jumped clear in 79.90s, just fractions from the time allowed and progressed through to the jump-off. Roger-Yves Bost (FRA) and Pegase du Murier also looked strong to be in contention, but as they cleared the penultimate combination Pegase napped back towards the in-gate meaning Bosty had to circle, collecting faults.
The final rider to join the jump-off would be Marco Kutscher (GER) with Chaccorina, making it a 50/50 Belgian/German rider final. With just four through, spectators were on the edge of their seats to see who would finish on top.
First to go, Daniel Deusser (GER) knew he had to throw down the gauntlet to the rest of the world class field behind him. Daniel opened up Hidalgo’s stride, allowing the horse to move across the arena, eating up the ground between the fences. A brave turn back to penultimate fence and a gallop to the last saw the pair stop the clocks in 41.71s with the top German rider ensuing a nervous wait as the rest of the field took centre stage. Gregory Wathelet (BEL) and Eldorado van het Vijverhof pulled out all the stops – the pair took six strides to the skinny plank, but knocked it down as they sailed through. Despite this, they were quicker in 41.24s, giving an indicator that the potential to better Daniel’s time was still there.
Niels Bruynseels (BEL) and Angel van T Hof bravely took on the course, galloping through to the finish, but agonisingly took the final fence down. Remarkably they stopped the clock in 41.24s, meaning the two Belgians were equal in second place overall. Last to go Marco Kutcher (GER) gave everything, but took out the Longines vertical on his way, dropping down the order, despite his brave attempt. So it was Daniel Deusser (GER) who took the win, the perfect end to a stunning Shanghai Longines Global Champions Tour, in a spectacular Massimo Dutti Trophy finale.
Earlier in the day, Abdullah Al Sharbatly (KSA) and Woulon L took a dramatic win from under the nose of Dutch star Leopold van Asten (NED). Finishing just two hundreds of a second apart, fans witnessed a blistering display of show jumping, with the wonderful Woulon L jumping his socks off to win the high-octane class.
Uliano Vezzani set a fast-paced track, with long distances and his signature gallop to the last. David Will (GER) and Mic Mac du Tillard looked to be on fiery form once more, until the chestnut mare dropped her legs in the oxer. Managing the hot mare carefully, the German elected to retire, with the pair undoubtably back in action for another day.
Leopold van Asten (NED) and VDL Groep Miss Untouchable looked to be the ones to beat, as the duo put in a flawless round to raise the bar and stop the clock in 61.91s. Laura Kraut (USA) and Confu put in a valiant effort, but fell just shy of Leopold’s time, crossing the line in 62.55s. Scott Brash (GBR) and Hello Annie looked strong, but the top British rider couldn’t top the timesheets, eventually slipping to fourth overall despite their effortlessly classy clear. Young German star Philip Houston, just 19 years old, rode a superb course on Kannella, and Kimberly Prince (USA) showcased skill and precision with RMF Fatum, to finish the class in 6th.
But it was a case of top sport heading right down to the wire as final rider to go, Abdullah Al Sharbatly (KSA), entered the ring. The pair set off at a gallop, eating up the distances between the first few fences but keeping all the control and scope to ensure no poles rolled. Ahead from the off, horse and rider danced around the arena, with fans cheering their every clear and gasping as they leapt bravely at the intimidating oxers. Taking a stride out to the last Woulon L flew to the finish, crossing the line just two hundredths of a second ahead of Leopold van Asten (NED). The crowd roared in appreciation of the courageous horse.
The Longines Global Champions Tour and Global Champions League now heads to Madrid, where the first of the European legs of the Championship will get underway. Lorenzo de Luca (ITA) will be hoping to defend his overall Ranking lead from Maikel van der Vleuten (NED) as two time LGCT Champion of Champions Scott Brash (GBR) will begin his challenge to make history by becoming the first rider ever to win the title three times.