(Photo: Stefano Grasso/LGCT)
By Global Champions Tour
This evening’s Longines Global Champions Tour of Cannes Grand Prix was won by 2013 LGCT Champion Scott Brash (GBR) following a heart-stopping jump-off as the electric French Riviera leg came to a close in a storm of world-class sport. Silver medal position went to a thrilled Luciana Diniz (POR) and Bronze to home favourite Kevin Staut (FRA). The heavy rain of the afternoon was forgotten as the three medal winners rose to their podium positions. A vocal French crowd cheered each rider as they accepted their prizes under the colourful arena lights. The result reinforced Edwina Tops-Alexander’s (AUS) position at the top of the LGCT 2014 Ranking taking her over 50 points ahead of her nearest rival.
The cream of the crop rose to the top in Cannes this evening as only those foot-perfect with every step progressed to the 3rd round deciding jump-off. The first round of Uliano Vezzani’s Grand Prix course contained tough distances and awkward lines. Many riders had the first fence down and the remains of the heavy rain earlier in the afternoon made the conditions testing. A few of the top names opted to save their star mounts for another day, retiring after lowering a rail or two.
The second round saw 18 of the top riders from the first round come back for another test. This course required care and precision, and a run of double clears in the middle of the draw belied the difficult nature of the gauntlet laid down by the Italian course designer. More than once, the tall set of planks on a related distance early in the course caught out even the most experienced horse and rider combinations. But each and every one of the nine riders that went through to the final jump-off looked to be on winning form.
The jump-off offered a sweeping, galloping course with one tight turn-back, primed for an attacking ride. Edwina Tops-Alexander was the pathfinder, jumping clear in 36.57s. Bassem Hassan Mohammed, on the form of his life, shaved 0.07s off Tops-Alexander’s time from 2nd in the draw. The top names not competing in the final round gathered by the arena entrance to watch the tense action unfold.
Kevin Staut entered the arena third and wiped nearly three seconds from the leading time. But the fastest time was bettered one again by World No1 Scott Brash, who dared his horse at every turn, to take the lead in a time of 31.99s and setting a pace that could not be caught. Luciana Diniz added another great result to her tally moving into 2nd place with 32.68s.
The next round of the 2014 season is just around the corner and the Longines Global Champions Tour of Monaco (26-28 June) will be another fantastic exhibition of sporting excellence. Edwina Tops-Alexander has well and truly asserted her dominance over the leaderboard – will anyone catch up with her in Round Six on the Longines Global Champions Tour 2014 series?
Jan Tops – President Longines Global Champions Tour
Francois Bourey – President Jumping Cannes
David Lisnard – Mayor of the City of Cannes
Scott Brash (GBR) – LGCT Cannes Grand Prix Gold medallist
Luciana Diniz (FRA) – Grand Prix Silver medallist
Kevin Staut (FRA) – Grand Prix Bronze medallist
Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS) – LGCT Ranking Leader
Scott Brash – “I’m used to the weather, so it was a an advantage to me today. All credit to Uliano Vezzani, the course builder, he build a great course and it turned out a really good class – the courses were hard but fair. The first round was pretty wet, but it dried out a lot for the second round, it was a tough course when I walked it but the horses jumped fantastic. It was very exciting for the public. All credit to the organisers, it turned out to be a great class. My program now is I have a week off and I do a national show in the rain and then I go to Monte-Carlo, and then Paris and Estoril. There are so many good shows right now.”
Luciana Diniz – “One day I will get there to the top of the podium! My horse is a young horse and I am really happy today. This is her second GCT Grand Prix and she did really well showing her consistency in the big sport. I can only thank my team to have a horse like this. And Uliano did a great job today saving our horses, so thank you.”
Kevin Staut – “I am really happy. I was at the beginning of the jump-off and I did my best, but it was not good enough. We were lucky today that the rain stopped and I would like to congratulate everybody on a super show like this. It’s a fantastic feeling to ride here for the public, the atmosphere was fantastic, like every year in Cannes.”
Edwina Tops-Alexander – “I’m really happy with my horse today. Last week, being second was a better result, but today I did maximum effort and my horse gave maximum effort – I couldn’t have done anything better, there were just too many clears! There is still a long way to go in the Championship and everyone is hot on my tail. How I have won in the past is by being consistent and Ego has been placed in all three GCT Grand Prix he has jumped in so I couldn’t be happier.”
Jan Tops – “As we say in Holland, after rain comes sunshine. The second round and third round today was great sport again, with the number one in the world winning and Luciana and Kevin giving great performances. Here at this event there are very knowledgable people, and they are very enthusiastic and its a great atmosphere. The partnership between us, the show organisers and the mayor of the city is fantastic – it’s all about partnership. Every year our team is working better together. And it’s also about the partnership with our sponsors, especially with Longines – without them, none of this would be possible.”
Francois Bourey – “I always say it is a very special place here in Cannes. Today at 6pm I had the fright of my life with the rain, but I must say thank you to Jan Tops, he really did a great job, a great Grand Prix. We have been very lucky to be with the GCT for all these years and it is a pleasure to still be involved.”
David Lisnard promised an even more glamorous red carpet event next year and said – “It is very, very important for the city of Cannes to welcome this event where you have sporting performance, media and logistics. Cannes is an international brand and we must always reinforce this. And Cannes will be re-defined as the capital of elegant sport.”
Lord Harris, co-owner of Hello Sanctos, was in Cannes to watch Scott Brash’s Grand Prix victory and said: “It was a fantastic Grand Prix and the horse is fantastic. He has jumped 24 rounds clear out of 25. And Scott is a great rider. I always said David Broome is my best rider, but I think there is very little to choose between them and the sport is more competitive now. You have to have a special horse every time.”