(Photo © Stefano Grasso / LGCT).
It was another successful British evening in Cannes with a strong 1 – 2 finish as Ben Maher (GBR) rode Aristo Z to claim the trophy for the Prix E. Leclerc CSI5*, and Scott Brash (GBR) coming a close second with the eleven year old Hello Annie. French favourite Pénélope Leprévost (FRA) took third place after an electrifying jump-off, much to the delight of the packed grandstands throughout the arena.
Under stormy skies and much cooler temperatures, the second day of competition took place with VIP guests from across the world in Cannes for the show jumping spectacular on the French Riviera. Charlotte Casiraghi of Monaco took a bit of time off from competing and joined guests to watch tonight’s main competition where forty-seven world class combinations took to the floodlit sand arena to complete the 1.50m jump-off class. Bruce Springsteen and his wife Patti were in the VIP the previous evening, watching their daughter Jessica in the feature class of the day.
Pénélope Leprévost (FRA) laid down the gauntlet, riding a careful but accurate first clear round of the competition with her bay mare, Nice Stephanie, triggering patriotic cheers from the local crowd. Rodrigo Pessoa (BRA) was the next to ride clear, completing the round with the eleven year old bay Status. Three was the magic number as Scott Brash (GBR) took the third clear of the competition with the eleven year old Hello Annie; once more completing the course with true style. He was closely followed by compatriot Ben Maher (GBR) riding the eleven year old Aristo Z clear to earn his place in the jump-off.
Bertram Allen (IRE) with Quiet Easy 4, Christian Ahlmann (GER) with Reavnir, and Henrik von Eckermann (SWE) with his bay nine year old For Sale 6 all rode clear to take their place in the jump-off.
The atmosphere intensified and the arena was bathed in multiple coloured lights as the seven strong jump-off got underway. The course was shortened and the fences raised to 1.55m for this intense phase of the competition. Pénélope Leprévost (FRA) was once more first to go, and rode a stunning clear round with the fastest pace to the last fence, setting the bar high at 33.83s. Scott Brash (GBR) continued his exceptional form, raising the bar once more with measured brilliance and extraordinary precision to come at 33.77s, and second in the competition. In an incredible twist Christian Ahlmann (GER) matched Pénélope Leprévost’s time exactly to 100th of a second. and finishing with identical times. This was extremely unusual with such different horses of height and build, but showcasing the high calibre of talent and skill on show and the intensity of the competition.
Just when the fans thought it couldn’t be ridden any quicker, the climax came as Ben Maher (GBR) and his firecracker of a horse lit up the arena to ride clear and take the win in a spectacular time of 32.76s. With just tenths of a second between the top riders, and six of the seven riding a double clear, the stage is set for a thrilling final act in Cannes for Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix.
It was a lively social scene around the arena and the exciting event was watched over by the Mayor of Cannes David Lisnard, who was also joined by French Ministers and the famous French TV presenter and singer-songwriter, Julien Lepers. Monsieur Lisnard praised the high standard of the event and said: “Global Champions Tour is an amazing and magical show and for the City of Cannes it is very important to have this kind of high level international sport.”
Source: Longines Global Champions Tour