Photo: LGCT / Stefano Grasso
The first day of action at the spectacular Longines Global Champions Tour of Chantilly got underway today with two hot CSI5* classes as temperatures rose in the unique French destination. A truly international field of world class riders, featuring top riders from over 20 countries, including World Number 2 and LGCT Ranking leader Christian Ahlmann (GER), and World Number 3 Scott Brash (GBR) took to the picturesque grass arena for the first time this weekend, ahead of Saturday’s LGCT Grand Prix of Chantilly.
It was the Belgian rider, Jerome Guery (BEL), with his stunning 11 year old grey stallion Alicante who took the feature class win this afternoon, after an impressive speed compeition saw the pair take the top spot over a second clear of the rest of the field in 69.83s.
Marlon Módolo Zanotelli (BRA) and Extra van Essene took a strong second place, jumping clear in 70.91s, and Romain Duguet (SUI) took third in 72.42s with 11 year old bay stallion Otello du Soleil. Daniel Bluman (COL) who won the opening class of the day, continued his fine form to come in 4th with Conconcreto Apardi, just two tenths of a second behind Romain.
The 1.50m €25,000 prize purse course set by Luc Musette was a great test for the top riders and horses in the world, with light poles and full height verticals ensuring delicate and careful jumping, but the wide expansive grass arena and large striding distances meaning a fast pace gallop was necessary to meet the time allowed. Just eight of the 45 starters jumped clear, with Alberto Zorzi (ITA) with Rose du Valon, 18 year old Lisa Nooren (NED) and Vdl Groep Sabech d’Ha, and Faleh Suwead Al Ajami (QAT) with Come Soon those finishing in the top 10. Kevin Jochems (NED) was the first rider to go, and the first to jump clear – leading the field for much of the way with his 11 year old chestnut gelding Zanzibar. The pair finished in 6th place overall, however were beaten by the big striding Alicante, and Jerome Guery (BEL) who looks to be on phenomenal form following his run of success. With two top horses at the LGCT Chantilly, Jerome will be one to watch in tomorrow’s competition, and will undoubtably looking to maintain momentum through the weekend.
Today’s opening class win went to Columbia’s Daniel Bluman with his 10 year old bay mare, the aptly named ‘Believe’, after the pair rode a stunningly quick and careful round in the beautiful Chantilly setting. Ireland’s young speed demon Bertram Allen (IRL) set the pace for the field earlier in the class with his phenomenally fast chestnut gelding Quiet Easy. Bertram was the first to break the 70second time barrier, raising the bar for the rest of the field after he and the 10 year old horse crossed the line clear in 69.04s.
The course was a fair test for the riders with enough questions asked to challenge the best combinations in the world. The penultimate double caught a few of the top riders out – come in too fast and the first rail would fall, come in too steady and the back rail would go. Notable combinations in action were Ludger Beerbaum (GER) with Casello, Rolf-Göran Bengtsson (SWE) with Casall ASK, Luciana Diniz (POR) with Fit For Fun, Sheikh Ali Bin Khalid Al Thani (QAT) and First Devision, LGCT Ranking leader Christian Ahlmann (GER) with Cornado II, Scott Brash (GBR) with Hello Forever and Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS) with Caretina de Joter.
Local rider Jérôme Hurel (FRA) was the highest place home finisher with Urano, taking third place overall after an impressive round to cross the line in 69.43s.