(Photo: Stefano Grasso/LGCT)
By Global Champions Tour
After his unfortunate four faults at the last fence in last night’s Longines Global Champions Tour of Shanghai Grand Prix, Abdullah al Sharbatly (KSA) looked like a man on a mission in the last speed class this morning. From late in the draw, Sharbatly rode a daring round with the 13-year-old gelding Unique to win by over 1.5s from Ireland’s Shane Breen and Confident of Victory in 2nd, while 3rd place went to Friday night’s big winner Constant van Paesschen (BEL) and Citizenguard Million Dreams.
The vocal audience enjoyed the exciting class as each rider pushed to better the one before. Ranking Leader Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS) took an early lead around the clever Uliano Vezzani course with Erenice Horta. Constant van Paesschen rode another swift and smooth round with Citizenguard Million Dreams to moved into second, but Shane Breen came from the middle of the draw to take nearly 2s off Tops-Alexander’s time to take the lead. The Irishman looked like he would be unbeatable until Sharbatly, fourth last to go, threw caution to the wind to take the victory.
The crowd showed their appreciation of Sharbatly’s brave performance, cheering loudly as he accepted his trophy and took his lap of honour. Meanwhile, autograph signings in the VIP area and busy public village with Jane Richard Philips (SUI), Gert-Jan Bruggink (NED), Emanuele Gaudiano (ITA) and Cassio Rivetti (UKR) proved a huge hit as crowds of new show jumping fans jostled to get the star riders’ signatures. The last class of this hugely successful show, the CSI5* US$370,000 1.50m this afternoon, will see the world-class riders take to the arena for the final time in the very first Longines Global Champions Tour of Shanghai in front of thousands of new Chinese show jumping fans.