(Photo: Stefano Grasso/LGCT)
By Global Champions Tour
World No1 and 2013 LGCT Champion Scott Brash won the Longines Global Champions Tour of London Grand Prix presented by Qatar in spectacular fashion in front of a rapturous home crowd who would have raised the roof of Horse Guards Parade Ground if there had been one. From the very beginning, Brash was hailed as the one to beat and he never faltered. With three LGCT Gold medals and a Bronze under his belt so far this year, the Scotsman is well on his way to defending his Championship title for a second consecutive year.
Second place went to Ludger Beerbaum (GER) and Zinedine who executed three lovely rounds – the only other treble double clear of the class. In the press conference after the prize giving Beerbaum said that he was thrilled with the horse, as 2nd place was the maximum he could have hoped for against Brash and his 2012 Olympic Gold medal-winning partner. Third went to Madrid Grand Prix winners Maikel van der Vleuten (NED) and VDL Groep Verdi who lowered a rail in the four-horse jump-off. Katie Dinan (USA) and Nougat du Vallet were the fourth combination to go forward to the final round, but in a race to catch Brash, a tight turn resulted in horse and rider parting company – the talented young rider was unhurt and happy to claim 4th.
Crowds packed into Horse Guards Parade Ground for the feature class of the show to be greeted by gorgeous sunshine and the very best international show jumping in the world. The elegant VIP Hospitality suite was buzzing with the glamorous show jumping crowd who enjoyed a rare coming together of the world’s Top 18 riders for one of the biggest and highly anticipated events of the show jumping calendar. Twenty-two riders went through to the 2nd round, a testament to the incredible level of talent present here for the 11th round of the series.
Uliano Vezzani’s first round course was a curling and twisty creation that rode much better than expected. The last fence in front of the vibrant VIP, the commemorative 1908 Olympic fence from London 2012, broke quite a few hearts – the front rail rolling gently off its cups for a number of big names. The second round was a tough ride with technical, angled distances running the length of the arena. Last year’s winning combination, Ben Maher (GBR) and Cella, were caught out by an awkward turn from the Longines combination to the GCT Oxer, collecting four faults in the second round.
The Championship Ranking Top 3 now sees two Swedes 1st and 2nd as we head into Round 12 in Lausanne, Rolf-Goran Bengtsson at No1 and Henrik von Eckermann at No2 with Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS) in No3 on the same points as Eckermann but with less podium finishes, however the chasing pack are gaining momentum while Beerbaum and Brash charge up to within pouncing distance of the leaders. Lausanne, 12-14 September, will see the pressure rise again as the final in Doha approaches fast. Early in the season Brash voiced his intention to defend his LGCT title this year and he seems to be executing his plan of attack perfectly.