Photo: LGCT / Stefano Grasso
The Longines Global Champions Tour of Hamburg got off to a flying start after speed ace Julien Epaillard (FRA) won the opening CSI5* class with Quatrin de la Roque LM. The Frenchman blazed to the win, blasting ahead of the 52-strong field with his dark bay 13 year old gelding to finish almost a second and a half ahead of the rest of the field.
Frank Rothenberger (GER) set a straightforward but galloping course, ultimately suited to a speed horse capable of riding over a 1.45m track at a pace. The two phase class featured 9 fences in the first part, then four fences set against the clock with a fair gallop between the elements. As opposed to last week’s grass arena in Madrid, Hamburg’s pitch was as flat as a snooker table, as riders navigated between the Derby elements, including the imposing bank.
Clears came from all over the track, with Scott Brash (GBR) and Hello Forever, Eduardo Menezes (BRA) with Sunshine and rising star Emma Heise (USA) with Quentucky Jolly all looking in strong form ahead of the weekend. Laura Kraut (USA) and Hello Guv’Nor, and Bertram Allen (IRL) with Hector van d’Abdijhoeve both looked to be in fine form with top notch clear rounds, as well.
Audrey Coulter (USA) set the standard early on, with a foot-perfect round with her 10 year old gelding Cas 2, setting the time to beat at 27.49s. Yuri Mansur Guerios (BRA) and bay mare Unita Ask – who competed at the Rio Olympics under Rolf-Göran Bengtsson (SWE) – put in a stylish performance, with the relatively new combination topping the time sheets a few tenths ahead at 27.36s.
Dutch star Harrie Smolders (NED) and Zinius shaved a second off their time and lead for much of the way, after pushing Yuri off the top with a new time to beat of 26.14s. The Dutchman looked secure at the top of the timesheets, until Julien Epaillard (FRA) and Quatrin de la Roque LM set off through the second phase at a gallop, taking a stride out twice at the seven-stride distances and propelling him well into the lead. Stopping the clock at 24.25s the careful long-striding horse finished up a second and a half ahead of the rest of the 52 strong field, taking the win at the first of a four day festival of show jumping.
Thursday will see the first round of the Global Champions League kick off at the stunning grass arena of Hamburg, where 18 teams will field their world-class combinations to fight for the top spot ahead of Saturday’s final.