(Photo: Stefano Grasso/LGCT)
By Global Champions Tour
In front of packed stands, the first round of the Longines Global Champions Tour of Chantilly Grand Prix saw some masterful clears from the top contenders for the 2014 Championship crown. Current leader Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS) jumped a confident clean round with her ever-reliable Ego van Orti to assert her dominance over the Championship race. Longines GCT Ranked No2 Bassem Hassan Mohammed (QAT) and Primeval Dejavu also jumped a precise clear to put pressure on Tops-Alexander who sits just 18 points above him. Rolf-Goran Bengtsson (SWE), ranked 5th, also rode a clean round and sits just 22 points behind Tops-Alexander (AUS)
Of the 49 starters, just 15 jumped clear. The course was sweeping and open, and took advantage of the incredible expansive grass arena, but it rode a more difficult course than it appeared. The relatively tight time allowed pushed riders to cut corners and leave strides out where they could, while keeping up a forward and attacking pace. Many riders lowered the upright following the water jump or the final oxer, which came on a rather flat stride after the final combination. World No1 Scott Brash (GBR) had a surprising stop with Hello Annie at an early combination, meaning the winner of Cannes and Cascais, Estoril LGCT Grand Prix will collect no points in this round.
French favourite Kevin Staut, who is well placed in 4th on the Championship ranking to challenge for No1 spot, lowered the last fence on the course to the dismay of his home crowd. But France saw a fantastic performance from her home riders with Patrice Delaveau, Marie Hecart, Michel Hecart, Pénélope Leprevost and Timothee Anciaume all jumping clear. A very happy Jessica Springsteen (USA) also jumped clear with Vindicat W and Qatar’s Shiekh Ali bin Khalid Al Thani jumped another great clear round with Eurocommerce California.
The stands were full of the knowledgeable French crowd from this historic equestrian town. Another of the Tour’s stunning grass arena’s, Chantilly offers one of the most spectacular backdrops of any show jumping venue, overlooked as it is by Chateau Chantilly. The top 18 riders from the first round proceed to the next where they once again take on a testing course from Uliano Vezzani.