(Photo: Stefano Grasso/LGCT)
By Global Champions Tour
Scott Brash (GBR) and Hello Sanctos claimed another victory tonight in the CSI5* 1.50/55m feature class of the day in Cascais, Estoril, making them hot favourites from tomorrow’s pivotal Grand Prix – round eight of the 2014 Championship. Second went to Gert-Jan Bruggink (NED) and Vampire and 3rd to Constant van Paesschen (BEL) and Ralphy Utopia de Ransbeck. As the sun faded to a stunning purple haze over the gorgeous arena here in Portugal, the local crowd showed their appreciation as the 2012 Olympic Gold medallist accepted his award.
Frank Rothenberger’s first round was a tough course. The middle combination across the arena – a large, wide oxer on a short four strides to an upright – caused many problems. Come too slow and the back rail could pose a problem, too fast and the distance to the upright was too tight. The final line in front of the vocal Portuguese crowd was also tricky, with many riders coming down on the back rail of the double or hitting the final upright. Of the 42 starters, seven made it through to the jump-off hoping to claim the lion’s share of the €151,000 prize fund.
First to go in the final round, Gert-Jan Bruggink and Vampire jumped a strong clear in a time of 46.20s to set the pace for the six riders to follow him. World No1 Scott Brash, cool as ever, took over a second off Bruggink’s time from second in the draw with a smooth, deceptively quick round on his 2012 Olympic ride Hello Sanctos. With the standard set, Daniel Deusser (GER), Rodrigo Pessoa (BRA), Constant van Paesschen, Henrik von Eckermann (SWE) and Athina Onassis de Miranda (GRE) all tried to catch him, but were unable to complete the course clean.
Brash, 2013 Longines Global Champions Tour Champion, lies in 7th on the Championship ranking 39 points behind 3rd placed Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS). With Kevin Staut (FRA) and Rolf-Göran Bengtsson (SWE) absent from this stage and unable to defend their No1 and No2 positions on the Leaderboard, the riders ranked below them have an exciting opportunity to snatch the lead. For Tops-Alexander, Emanuele Gaudiano (ITA), Bassem Hassan Mohammed (QAT), Daniel Deusser (GER) and Scott Brash, the top spot is within their reach – we are sure to see another dramatic ranking shake-up in Portugal tomorrow night.
Watch the 8th round of the 2014 Championship live from Cascais, Estoril on GCT, Equidia Life and ClassHorseTV tomorrow from 18.30pm local time and from 21.00pm CET on Eurosport.