Photo: LGCT / Stefano Grasso
As the sun set over the second day of competition at the Longines Global Champions Tour of Vienna, the CSI5* 1.50 / 1.55m ‘Sixth Sense Challenge’ feature class of the day kicked off under the floodlit sand arena, with a field of 45 international riders taking centre stage at the Trabrennbahn Krieau.
The first round course was a technically demanding but manageable track, set by Frank Rothenberger as a true test for the world’s top riders. Faults came from all over, with the final third of the track asking the biggest questions to the riders. The triple combination caught out a few, with the middle part a delicate vertical requiring the horses to be balanced and riders using total precision through negotiate through the line. World class combinations such as Scott Brash (GBR) and Hello Forever and Luciana Diniz (POR) with Winningmood were unable to progress through to the next round after rolling a pole or picking up time faults.
A total of 11 riders went through to the jump off, with the new course offering daring tight turns and long galloping distances. First to go Lauren Hough (USA) laid down the pace, setting the bar at an impressive 42.82s with her experienced 13 year old gelding Waterford. Marcus Ehning (GER) and Cordynox looked set to be a serious challenger to their time until the pair took a tumble coming into the LGCT double – both hopped straight back up onto their feet, and left the arena to applause.
The speedy Laura Renwick (GBR) soon bettered Lauren’s time, with her 10 year old bay gelding Bintang II eating up the ground and shaving off valuable seconds with tight and well planned turns. The British rider stopped the clock in 41.53s, raising the bar further still for the field yet to come.
Olympic Team Gold rider Kevin Staut (FRA) and Qurack de Falaise HDC looked set to take over the lead, until the pair took a daring run at the last and agonisingly had the fence down, dropping them down the order and final standings to 8th overall. America’s Jack Hardin Towell (USA) and his 12 year old bay mare Emilie de Diamant A S galloped the course, and looked competitive for the lead however were unable to match Laura’s time, stopping the clock just three tenths behind the British rider, taking third place overall.
The final rider to go was David Will (GER) with his feisty chestnut mare Mic Mac du Tillard – the hot mare took a tow all the way around the course, with David carefully managing the petite horse to clear the fences. Never ones to shy from a challenge, the pair took a impressive full pace turn back after the double and the German rider allowed the mare to run to the finish, crossing the line in a speedy 38.82s – a full two seconds faster than the rest of the field – and add another win to their LGCT tally this season.
It was a day where the final riders of the class triumphed, as earlier on Great Britain’s John Whitaker (GBR) and his 11 year old grey gelding Echo of Light took centre stage in the first of the CSI5* classes at the Longines Global Champions Tour of Vienna. The 50 strong international field were able to flex their muscles for the first time this weekend, with many of the world’s top Grand Prix combinations in action for the 1.45m two phase competition.
As one of the final riders to go, John was able to push against the best time to beat, with his tall grey gelding effortlessly eating up the ground in the second phase of the class to stop the clock almost a full second ahead of the rest of the field in 36.56s. Young Spanish star Gonzalo Añón Suarez (ESP) took a strong second place with AD Amigo B after leading for much of the competition, crossing the line in 37.38s, and home rider Gerfried Puck (AUT) rode Bo to a popular third, finishing just tenths of a second behind Gonzalo in 37.76s. It was a good day for Great Britain as Jessica Mendoza (GBR) took fourth with Wan Architect, and Austria’s Max Kühner with Cornet Kalua rounded out the top five.
Saturday will see the final CSI5* class take place at 14:45 ahead of the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Vienna presented by LGT Private Banking which kicks off at 18:00 local time. All the action will be streamed live via the GCT TV online streaming platform, as well as being broadcast live on Eurosport.