Uliano Vezzani’s course was a true test for the world’s best riders, which this weekend features 23 Rio Olympic athletes in their final competition ahead of the Games, plus 7 of the world’s top 10, starring new World Number 1 Christian Ahlmann (GER). Set against the backdrop of the state-of-the-art Tops International Arena, the feature CSI5* class of the day unfolded with all eyes looking to who would be on form at this early stage in the weekend, and indeed for Saturday’s LGCT Grand Prix and forthcoming Games.
A total of 20 riders went through to the jump-off, including top combinations such as Scott Brash (GBR) and Hello Forever, Gregory Wathelet (BEL) with Citizenguard Taalex, Ludger Beerbaum (GER) and Chiara and David Will (GER) with Cento du Rouet. The challenging course then halved the field, with nine combinations jumping double clear while many of the big names picked up faults all over the 1.55m course.
But for those who went clear the pressure was on, as the pace became faster and faster with the riders pushing to beat the clock and take over the top spot. The crowds cheered as the leader changed again and again, but ultimately it was on-form Daniel Deusser (GER) who claimed the win, stopping the clock at an impressive 35.34s. Less than a second behind was Denis Lynch (IRL) with his formidable All Star 5, finishing double clear in 36.23s. Steve Guerdat (SUI) and Albfuehren’s Happiness claimed third place just tenths of a second away in 36.80s, and Marlon Zanotelli (BRA) with Extra van Essene rounded out the top four. Notable performances also came from home rider Leopold van Asten (NED) with VDL Groep Miss Untouchable, Georgina Bloomberg (USA) with Crown 5 who were placed 6th, Michel Hendrix (NED) with Baileys and Emily Moffitt (USA) with Hilfiger van de Olmenhoeve who also jumped a beautiful double clear.
Earlier today Abdullah Al Sharbatly (KSA) stole the opening speed class win. Abdullah set out to win the class from the offset, clearing the first part of the course perfectly before pushing his gelding Tobalio to a gallop for the final section against the clock. The experienced gelding delivered, showcasing agility and pace as he shaved off valuable seconds, stopping the clock in 25.95s overall. Hot on his heels but unable to beat their time was former World Number 1 McLain Ward with his bay 14 year old gelding HH Carlos Z; they too galloped throughout the latter part of the two phase competition but could only cross the line in 26.70s, earning them second place overall. Just a second behind was local rider Michel Hendrix (NED) with Eder van den Blauwaert, stopping the clock in 27.97s and rounding out the top three.
Tomorrow will see the final CSI5* class ahead of the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Valkenswaard, which will kick off at 16:00 local time. The event will be broadcast live from the second round on Eurosport, plus across a variety of networks around the globe, as well as live via GCT TV for the full Grand Prix. For all the broadcast information, please click here.
For further information about the Longines Global Champions Tour of Valkenswaard, please click here.