World No2 Ben Maher takes the first win at Port Hercule.

(Photo: Stefano Grasso/LGCT)

 

By Global Champions Tour

The opening class of the stunning Longines Global Champions Tour of Monaco was won by Ben Maher (GBR) and Aristo Z, who set the harbour side arena alight with a lightening round to finish on a double clear in a time of 31.61s. Second went to Constant van Paesschen (BEL), who adds another top three finish to his ever-growing tally, this time with Citizenguard Rioso van de Kapel in 32.38s, and third went to Maikel van der Vleuten (NED) and VDL Groep Eureka in 32.46s.

The opening CSI5* class of the show saw a relatively straight-forward course from Luc Musette, a welcoming test to introduce the horses to this unique, tight arena. With excited crowds gathering along every side, VIPs looking on from the exclusive double-decker stands and rows of international flags leaping about in the wind, this arena can be intimidating for the young and inexperienced rider or mount.

But with a star-packed start list of riders giving their Grand Prix horses a first outing, problems were few and far between. Of the 45 starters, eleven jumped a double clear round with eight riders collecting a time penalty for exceeding the time allowed.

Maikel van der Vleuten took the lead from 8th to go and looked like he’d be tough to beat with his speedy grey. Constant van Paesschen rarely enters a class he does’t try to win and he was able to shave 0.08s off the leading time. But Ben Maher was not to be deterred, chasing the time down with some daring turn-backs and attacking strides to take the win.

But this is just the beginning in Monaco! Tonight’s Prix Massimo Dutti will be a competitive class and don’t forget you can watch the Longines Global Champions Tour of Monaco Grand Prix live from 18.30pm local time Saturday 28th June on GCT TV, ClassHorseTV and Equidia Life, and on Eurosport and beIN Sports from 21.15pm local time.