World No1 Scott Brash (GBR) has edged closer to the championship lead after winning his third Grand Prix of the 2015 Longines Global Champions Tour riding the phenomenal Hello Sanctos.
Scott took the extraordinary triple win of the season under floodlights in the big grass arena in Cascais, Estoril, which delivered sporting drama as many of the top 30 riders retired or were eliminated in the €300,000 Grand Prix.
Speaking after his victory Scott said: “Sanctos loves Estoril. He jumped phenomenal again today. I am delighted with him but we still have to keep going to beat Luciana.”
Scott is now only 32 points behind ranking leader Luciana Diniz (POR), who had four faults in the second round at the high Mercedes vertical to the dismay of her many fans in the Portuguese crowd. His masterful round on the Olympic gold medal winning Hello Sanctos once again left a star-studded field of the world’s best in his wake. It was also a huge night for fellow Brit, Jessica Mendoza (GBR), who finished a brilliant 6th on Spirit.
Only a short distance from the shores of the Atlantic, it was a truly international field starting in the Grand Prix with 16 nations represented, including competitors from Japan, Morocco, Mexico and the Ukraine. The challenging but fair course, designed by Frank Rothenberger, allowed many of the world’s top combinations to showcase their talent and agility, as the packed grandstands watched in anticipation. The first round saw many top names, including Daniel Deusser (GER) and Lauren Hough (USA) fail to go through, over what was a full on international track with fences at maximum proportions, including spreads of 1,70m that would test any champion combination.
Despite the stiff test, fifteen clears went through to the second round, with three more on four faults, and the scene was set as the action moved up a gear.
During the second round the high Mercedes vertical caught out a number of riders including Luciana and Sheikh Ali Bin Khalid Al Thani (QAT). Ludger Beerbaum (GER) jumped a masterful round on the incredible Chaman but uncharacteristically miscalculated the time allowed and picked up a time penalty.
Just four went through to the jump-off, as the floodlights lit the arena. In the end Scott topped the podium with Saudi Arabia’s Abdullah Al Sharbatly in second and Ireland’s Greg Broderick in third. Christian Ahlmann (GER) was the fourth rider who qualified for the jump off however was unlucky when his grey stallion Cornado II knocked out one of the bricks in the wall.
Duarte Nobre Guedes, President of Longines Global Champions Tour of Cascais, Estoril: “Ten years ago, my friend Jan Tops told me here that we should do something for equestrian sport. It’s amazing what he has done since that time, the way he has improved the sport. Thank you very much to the Longines Global Champions Tour team; it’s a fantastic event and I’m very proud to be part of this family.”
Jan Tops, President and Founder of the Longines Global Champions Tour: “10 years ago, I fell in love with this show; I loved the arena and the everything here. Like I always say, it’s one of our favorite destinations. I think Duarte has become a great friend. We can always count of him with the way he runs the event here. Also he knows that the event here has to be different than the other more traditional shows. Here it’s about great sport but also charm and the perfect atmosphere.
“Scott is pushing harder and harder every week. Now he is on Luciana’s heels and I think they are the two to watch until the end of the season in Doha. Of course there are still 5 more legs to go and anything could happen.”
Luciana Diniz, ranking leader: “I must say that I’m glad to be here and that I loved everything about the show. It’s very special here and I congratulate the whole team for that. The public in Estoril are incredible: they give me energy, they jump with me, they live the round with me. It’s very, very special. I was very motivated so I wanted to be on the podium tonight. I’m very happy to be still in the lead. Scott and I will do our best and give you a good time in the next weeks, so watch us and enjoy!”
Scott Brash, winner: “Sanctos likes it here. Every time he’s jumped here he’s been on the podium, he’s just a wonderful horse and it’s a privilege to be riding him. I need to enjoy him while I have him as he’s one in a lifetime. We’ve got a great team behind us; great owners, great horses, great staff and this is very very important to our success. You only see me sitting here but there’s a massive team behind us and it’s thanks to all of them that we’re doing well this year.”
Abdullah Al Sharbatly, 2nd Place: “My horse was amazing, it’s his sixth show, and he always jumps clear and is always first or second; I really like him. I never thought he could jump a CSI5* Grand Prix and it’s the first one he’s jumped in his life. So I’m really happy, thanks to God and congratulations to Scott – he deserved to win and did an amazing job. I’m happy for him as I am for myself.”
Greg Broderick, 3rd place: “I was delighted with my horse and that I was given the opportunity to come and jump here after we jumped double clear in St Gallen. My horse is just nine years old so he hasn’t a lot of experience at this level. I knew Scott was able to go very fast so I just tried to be quick and luckily we were clear. It’s really nice for my first Longines Global Champions Tour to be on the podium! There are not as many Irish horses at the top level than there used to be so I’m glad that my horse has been jumping so well for the whole year. I want to thank all my team and I’m very lucky to ride this fantastic horse.”
The Championship Tour now returns to France to visit Chantilly for the tenth round of the 2015 season, from the 17-19th July.
For full results, please visit www.globalchampionstour.com