Photo: LGCT / Stefano Grasso
It was Henrik von Eckermann’s day as the top Swedish rider took a double win after a phenomenal jump-off during the opening day of Longines Global Champions Tour of Madrid. Topping the time sheets both individually and for his Global Champions League team the Mexico Amigos, Henrik wowed the crowds with his scopey horse Chacanno, after a 12-rider jump-off had spectators on the edge of their seats.
Course designer Santiago Varela Ullastres made full use of the arena, throwing in a spooky water tray and an imposing treble combination down the long side in front of the crowd. Best suited to large galloping horses, brave of heart and bold jumpers, the course was a suitable test for the world’s best, and with 9 out of the top 10 riders in action for the fourth round of the 15 leg Championship.
Earlier Mexico Amigos’ pairing of Henrik von Eckermann and Evelina Tovek showcased a perfect synergy, with the all-Swedish duo shooting to the top of the leaderboard with a flawless round. Evelina put in a composed effort with Castello, while Henrik shot to the top of the individual time sheets after a blistering round with the hugely scopey Chacanno.
Young German rider Philip Houston wowed spectators after he put in a stunning round with his 13 year old bay mare Kannella, holding the lead for the majority of the competition. GCL Teammate David Will rode his fiery chestnut horse Mic Mac du Tillard beautifully around the course and looked to be on for a clear. Unluckily, the hot mare just clipped a vertical, and then rolled a pole in the treble combination, knocking the German rider out of contention.
Denis Lynch put in a fantastic display with his relatively new mount RMF Echo, with the large striding horse powering around the course and the Irishman guiding the horse beautifully through the fences. Another young star to impress was U25 rider Emily Moffitt who made a phenomenal return to CSI5* level competition, jumping a stylish clear with Hilfiger van de Olmenhoeve for her team the London Knights and earning herself a place in the jump-off.
A total of 15 riders went through on zero faults, however it was a 12-way jump-off after Ludger Beerbaum, Marco Kutscher and Alberto Zorzi elected to sit out.
The young German star Philip Houston put in another strong result, setting the benchmark to beat at 41.18s with the rest of the field to come. Emily Moffitt, Audrey Coulter and Gerco Schroder all put in valiant efforts, however each rolled a pole and collected four faults. Ireland’s Denis Lynch took a stride out to the last, with his mount flying over the final fence and setting the new time to beat at 38.59s. Jérôme Guery with Garfield de Tiji Des Templiers and home hero Sergio Alvarez Moya (ESP) with G&C Unicstar de l’Aumone both looked strong, but had to settle for fifth and fourth respectively, both just shy of Denis’ time.
Simon Delestre had the audience on the edge of their seat as he put in a blistering round with Hermes Ryan, setting the new time to beat at 38.36s, just two tenths faster than Denis. But it was the penultimate rider Henrik who stole the show, challenging the brave Chacanno around the field and taking a flier to the last to stop the clock at 38.27s, just tenths ahead of Simon and taking over the top spot.