Scott Brash 2nd in LGCT Grand Prix of Cannes

Saturday 08 June 2019

The Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Cannes Presented by Volvo got underway under floodlights in the square sand arena next to the Mediterranean. The grandstand and hospital lounges were full to bursting for a night of high octane show jumping.

The world’s best riders faced 13 obstacles with verticals at the full 1.60m height and serious challenges at the Longines triple combination and a sprinkling of fragile uprights as course designer Gregory Bodo set out to test the best. 

Early riders fell foul of the double and triple combinations and after Bassem Mohammed (QAT) and Gunder delivered the first clear the tight time allowed was extended from 75 to 77 seconds.

Jessica Springsteen (USA) and RMF Zecilie displayed some fantastic turns but was among many combinations clipping the delicate Air Mauritius vertical leaving the top plank on the floor and ending their chances of a place in the jump off.

Karel Cox (BEL) and Evert were wide into the triple combination and slow to the Cote d’Azur fence resulting in a painful time fault leaving him in despair. Shane Breen (IRE) and the 11-year-old Ipswich van de Wolfsakker became the second combination to go clear despite tapping the one element of the purple double combination and the problematic plank.

Light verticals dashed the hopes of Alberto Zorzi (ITA) and Marlon Monolo Zanotelli (BRA) and Marcus Ehning (GER) surprised with 4 faults at the final fence on Cristy.

It was a night when the young guns shone brightly and Emil Hallundbaek (DEN) and Chalisco pulled off a great tight turn into the Volvo upright and was rewarded with a superb clear round watched by his delighted family.

Cannes favourite Edwina Tops-Alexander previously tasted success in Cannes but it was not to be her night as the first part of the purple double combination fell after being clipped by her mare California’s hind legs for 4 faults.

Maikel van der Vleuten (NED) booked his place in the jump off with his 17-year-old superstar stallion Verdi TN ending a hugely efficient round with a characteristic buck. He was soon joined by his father Eric after an excellent round from Wunschkind making it a family affair.

Daniel Deusser (GER), currently leading the overall LGCT ranking, and Calisto Blue produced a fast and threatening clear round and he was joined in the jump off by his closest rival on the ranking Pieter Devos (BEL) and Espoir. The pair soared over the Longines triple combination and were lucky after a rub at the Constance oxer but kept it clear.

Last year’s winner in Cannes Peder Fredricson (SWE) was unable to repeat his success as H&M Christian K’s brilliant start end with disappointment as the Air Mauritius plank felled his chances.

French hearts sank as Julien Epaillard (FRA) and Usual Suspect d’Auge exited the arena on 8 faults. But there was soon something to celebrate for home fans with a polished performance from Olivier Perreau (FRA) and the 10-year-old bay mare Venizia d’Aiguilly triggering patriotic cheers from the grandstand.

The atmosphere was supercharged as Niels Bruynseels (BEL) and the 13-year-old Gancia de Muze ramped up the pressure making the Longines triple combination look easy, making efficient turns and cementing a fast clear.

Scott Brash (GBR) gave the super talented Hello Mr President a great ride. The pair were lucky at the purple combination which held and their lightning fast clear meant the double LGCT champion would be a big threat in the jump off.

Jump Off
The jump off course offered plenty of scope for good gallops and sharp turns. Bassem Mohammed was first to go on Gunder and was forced to hit the accelerator knowing the 13-year-old was slower than other contenders to follow. But the second part of double combination hit the deck and the final fence fell leaving them on a total of 8.

Irishman Shane Breen was fast from the start with Ipswich eating up the ground, chasing down the fences to finish clear in 38.10 despite clipping the final Longines vertical which luckily stayed in place. Emil Hallundbaek looked sharp and was slightly ahead at the split time but his chance collapsed with 4 faults at the Constance oxer which also caught out Maikel van der Vleuten and Verdi.

The air sizzled as Daniel Deusser and Calisto Blue jumped the first fence landing at a clever angle and were soon quicker. The intelligent ride quickly put him in front in 35.97 over two seconds faster than Breen as the German looked to consolidate his overall LGCT ranking lead and add to his win at the last leg in Hamburg.

Eric van der Vleuten and Wunschkind were too deep into the Volvo upright and clocked up another fault at the following Cote d’Azur vertical leaving them on a deflating total of 8 faults.

With the Belgian riders in fantastic form this season, Pieter Devos was quick from the off and was slightly ahead at the split time. But the big striding Espoir was slower and stopped the clock in 37.39.

The local crowd held their breath as Olivier Perreau and Venizia d’Aiguilly looked on course to make it on to the podium but they hit the first part of the Longines double combination for 4 faults still earning appreciative applause from the French crowd.

The temperature rose as Niels Bruynseels and Gancia de Muze blasted into the arena and immediately took the first LGCT fence at an angle gaining early advantage and putting them half a second faster at the split time. Watched on by Prague Lions teammate Anna Kellnerova they delivered a superb round before executing a razor sharp turn before the gallop to the last to finish in a stunning 34.69.

Scott Brash was the last to go and Hello Mr President delivered on accuracy and speed but it was not enough as they crossed the finish line in 35.66 handing victory to Bruynseels and taking 2nd place themselves.  Talking afterwards Scott said “Neils was too fast I couldn’t catch him. I was delighted with how Mr President jumped, he saved his best till last I should have been able to get the 8 strides to the last but even if I did I still don’t think I would have won. I can’t complain I just need to try ride faster! [joking] It was a bit inconvenient of Niels not to have already qualified for the [LGCT Super Grand Prix] but if he keeps jumping like that he should [pass on another place to the LGCT Super Grand Prix]."

The Tour now looks to the first of three new stops for 2019, Stockholm, Sweden, for the 8th leg on the Championship race.

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