Photo: LGCT / Stefano Grasso
The world’s best riders took their first taste of the 2017 Longines Global Champions Tour of Madrid, with the opening CSI5* speed class the perfect prelude to the first Global Champions League round. With 9 out of the world’s top 10 in action this weekend, the scene was set for a scorching afternoon of top sport and entertainment.
55 starters took to the galloping grass arena, with riders’ praising the perfect footing, and horses visibly enjoying jumping at the stunning venue. Course designer Santiago Varela Ullastres made full use of the arena, with the two phase speed competition the first test of the best as the weekend in Madrid took off in style.
First to set an early pace was Flying Dutchman Harrie Smolders who didn’t disappoint, guiding Zinius perfectly around the galloping grass arena to set the fastest time so far at 30.29s in the two phase competition.
Bassem Hassan Mohammed (QAT) and Argelith Squid soon bettered the Dutch rider’s time, shooting up the time sheets over a second faster to stop the clock at 28.94s. The temperature shot up a gear, as Daniel Bluman (ISR) and Bacara d’Archonfosse shot off after jumping the first phase clear, galloping around the arena and looking strong to topple the Qatari rider’s time. But the pair couldn’t quite match Bassem’s time, stopping the clock at 29.41s.
Simon Delestre (FRA) had an unlucky moment, after Chadino stumbled between the first and second part of the triple combination. 2015 LGCT Grand Prix of Madrid winners, Maikel van der Vleuten
and VDL Groep Verdi TN N.O.P. also had an unusual 10 faults, however the pair will hope their luck will change in tomorrow’s Grand Prix. Many riders also opted to keep a foot off the gas, focusing on a clear round, with Laura Kraut (USA), Scott Brash (GBR), Alberto Zorzi (ITA), Daniel Deusser (GER), Sergio Alvarez Moya (ESP) and Jane Richard Philips (SUI) all finishing phase one on a time fault.
Home grown hero Gonzalo Anon Suarez also gave it a real shot, encourage by his local supporters around the arena. The pair galloped through the second phase and took a brave shot, flying to the last, however couldn’t match the large striding Argelith Squid, slipping into third overall as the spectators cheered him out. One of the final riders to go, French speed demon Julien Epaillard looked set to knock the Qatari off the top spot with Quatrin de la Roque LM, but the pair finished just shy of Bassem’s time, stopping the clock in 29.20s and finishing second.
Daniel Bluman took third, Gonzalo in fourth, Emanuel Andrade (VEN) and Reus de la Nutria finished fifth, and Harrie Smolders rounded out the top six. But it was Bassem and Argelith Squid’s day, with the stunning grey horse putting in a foot-perfect performance to shoot the Qatari to the top of the leaderboard.