Alberto Zorzi and Cornetto K. PC: LGCT Monaco / Stefano Grasso
Italy’s Alberto Zorzi played the ace in Monaco with a spectacular win in the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix de Prince du Monaco, Presented by Sapinda. There was a shake up in the overall LGCT rankings after the competition result led to a re-shuffle at the top, putting Christian Ahlmann (GER) in the first spot.
Speaking after tonight’s win a modest Zorzi said he was “so happy for the result” and his horse had been “a super jumper”, and he says he knew between fences one and two that he had it, after taking one less stride.
In the overall rankings, second place in the Grand Prix for Ahlmann meant he leapt up to the top of the list with 154 points, nudging previous leader Harrie Smolders down to second with 150. The evening win contributed to a rise up the leaderboard for Zorzi also, taking him to 145 points in total and in third position overall.
All eyes were on another tricky technical course from Luc Musette on Saturday night, packing a lot of punch in the small sand arena, with several difficult lines for riders to focus on. A number of poles fell throughout the competition, with a particularly big and tricky combination for fence 11, and a delicate plank at number 8 both claiming faults. In fact, perhaps unsurprisingly 13 – more than half of all the riders – ended up finishing with a total of four faults.
The first of those was the initial rider out of the tunnel – Jessica Springsteen (USA) with Cynar v. – whose knocked pole came much to the disappointment of a vocal crowd in Monaco. World Number One Kent Farrington (USA) on Creedance, Pieter Devos (BEL) with his gelding Apart, Jack Towell (USA) and Germany’s Daniel Deusser with SX Hidalgo v. were also victims of the taxing route, picking up four faults apiece. It was a similar story for Jane Richard Philips (SUI) whose strong round with Dieudonne de Guldenboom was marred by a pole dropping in the triple combination.
One of the event’s most consistent U25s, Jos Verlooy rode a beautiful clear, but was frustratingly left with a time fault, pushing him out of the jump-off.
Thousands of members of the general public strained at open side barriers to get a glimpse of some of the best horses in the world, and they were not disappointed. Christian Ahlmann (GER) was the first to secure a clear in 74.51s with his 9 year old horse Dolocia, but was pushed into second by Scott Brash (GBR) a few horses later on his 11 year old chestnut gelding Hello Forever.
It seemed to set a trend, because just minutes afterwards, France’s Kevin Staut (FRA) moved into the top spot with a pacey clear with For Joy van’T Zorgvliet HDC at 71.68s, well within the 75s cut-off. The fourth, and final, clear came from an on-form Alberto Zorzi (ITA) on his immensely capable black gelding, Cornetto K.
The tension was palpable ahead of the four-horse jump off, with all those involved spotted talking tactics with trainers. As super yachts nestled in Monaco’s iconic harbour just metres away, Christian Ahlmann (GER) came through the gate into the jump-of like he meant business. He powered through the long run between fences one and two, taking on the twists and turns of the new course and pushing through to finish on 38.20s.
Scott Brash (GBR) came up with enormous acceleration, but it was not to be his night as Hello Forever wriggled his way over fence three and did not really recover, leading to two poles down and an eight fault finish in a time of 39.14s.
France’s Kevin Staut (FRA) looked quick, but controlled and surprised the crowd with an unfortunate pole down at fence two, finishing on 41.05s with four faults – enough to give him a podium finish in third regardless.
It was all to play for when Alberto Zorzi (ITA) and Cornetto K came through the tunnel, he took one less stride between fences one and two and was up on the clock from the off, taking the water tray at three perfectly before bouncing through the combination and racing to a winning finish at 37.8s.
So it would be an Italian win, with Zorzi claiming his first LGCT Grand Prix victory in emphatic style. The Tour now gallops to Paris, where the iconic Eiffel Tower will play host to round eight of the electric 2017 Championship season.