Robert Smith and Cimano E. PC: LGCT / Stefano Grasso
The sixth leg of the Longines Global Champions Tour kicked off in style in Cannes with a flawless win from Robert Smith (GBR) and Cimano E. Nestled in the heart of the Côte d’Azur, the world’s best riders took centre stage just moments away from La Croisette, as the first class of the weekend got underway.
Uliano Vezzani utilised every inch of the sand arena, with a flowing first phase giving way to a twisty, tighter second. The final fence caused the most problems – a big BMW oxer positioned just past the in-gate – with many riders agonisingly rolling the pole.
Others fell short of the time allowed, with Scott Brash (GBR) and Hello Forever, Christian Ahlmann (GER) and Caribis Z, and LGCT Ranking leader Lorenzo de Luca (ITA) with Halifax van het Kluizebos all picking up a time fault. With the first class of the weekend the perfect taster of the action to come, many riders chose to flex their horses’ muscles
Home hero Simon Delestre (FRA) with Hermes Ryan was one of the first to set the time, with the little chestnut gelding jumping a quiet and flawless round with the top French rider. With the time to beat set, young Belgian talent Jos Verlooy (BEL) and Igor soon raised the bar, jumping clear a full nine seconds quicker to propel the pair to the top of the scoreboard. Brazilian rider Eduardo Menezes (BRA) soon bettered his time with the grey Caruschka 2, stopping the clock in 32.47s, with a time that looks impossible to beat.
As the shadows lengthened and the sun began its slow descent across the harbour where super yachts settled in for the evening, many riders tried to take over the top spot. A valiant try from French Olympian Philippe Rozier (FRA) and Unpulsion de la Hart put them up to 7th, and Nayel Nassar (EGY) made his debut on Tour with a clear from Hija van Strokapelleken. Daniel Deusser (GER) and Tobago Z had a couple of lucky rubs as they flew around the second phase, but the poles stayed put, shooting them up to 8th overall.
Young German star Philip Houston (GER) has already been turning heads on the show jumping scene, with the 19 year old riding his grey gelding Loewenherz to perfection around the tricky course and stopping the clock at 32.12s. Coincedently, his Global Champions League teammate Carlos Enrique Lopez (COL) and Ulhane de Conde soon slotted in behind him, until Bassem Hassan Mohammed (QAT) put in a stunning round with Tamira IV to finish 3rd overall.
But it was Robert Smith (GBR) and Cimano E who stole the show, with the pair storming to the win with a time of 31.58s and taking the top spot.
The first round of the Global Champions League will take place this evening, starting at 21:00 local time. All the action will be streamed live via GCL TV, with behind the scenes content, detailed commentary and all the action LIVE as the world watches to see who will take pole position in Cannes.