Jack Towell (USA) and his 10 year old bay gelding New York stole the show today after a phenomenal 15 rider jump-off, wining the CSI5* 1.50/1.55m feature class of the day, and taking the lion’s share of the $377,500 prize money. World Number 3 Scott Brash (GBR) finished agonisingly close – just a tenth of a second behind the American – after an impressive showing with the 10 year old chestnut gelding Hello Forever. Italy’s Emanuele Gaudiano continued his exceptional form, riding the grey stallion Caspar 232 to third.
The intensity of the competition was fierce, with many of the world’s best horse and rider combinations on form ahead of Saturday’s Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Shanghai. The crowd were on the edge of their seats until the very last fence of the class, with final rider Michael Whitaker (GBR) and his 14 year old gelding, the eye-catching Viking, powering round the full height class, and looking strong to take the win. But it was not to be, as groans erupted from the watching audience as they rolled the final pole, and despite crossing the line in 34.95s which would have won the class, they picked up four faults to finish in 12th.
The jump-off course called for every trick in the box, with the double of verticals requiring careful set up, seeing a delicate combination before a flat out gallop spanning three quarters of the arena to the last, with a solid hedged fence to finish.
World Number 1, Simon Delestre (FRA) came a strong fourth with the chestnut gelding Chesall Zimequest, with other combinations of note Maikel van der Vleuten (NED) with VDL Groep Verdi TN N.O.P, Gerco Schröder (NED) with Glock’s Zaranza showing for the first time on the 2016 season, Christian Ahlmann (GER) with Cornado II, Ludger Beerbaum (GER) and Chaman, Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS) with Lintea Tequila and Gregory Wathelet (BEL) with Eldorado van het Vijverhof all in the fast paced jump-off.
But it was Jack and New York who took the title this afternoon, crossing the line in 35.18s, and winning the class at the final gallop ahead of Scott and Hello Forever, who finished in 35.28s, just a tenth behind, showcasing the top calibre of sport and entertainment on show in Shanghai.
Earlier in the day, speed demon Emanuele Gaudiano (ITA) was simply untouchable in a sensational showcase of speed and agility in the opening CSI5* class of the Shanghai Longines Global Champions Tour. The Italian rider, well known for his prowess and incredible pace, took out every stride possible, riding his big striding dark bay 10 year old mare Guess 6 to win the two phase 1.45m competition, with the second half of the round in an incredible 19.84s, almost a full three seconds clear of the field.
David Will (GER) and his experienced 16 year old chestnut mare Mic Mac du Tillard put in a strong performance to come in second but crossed the line in 22.34s. He was closely followed by World Number 1, Simon Delestre (FRA) who rode Stardust Quinhon to third in 23.10s. Other notable performances saw Eduardo Menezes (BRA) with Caruschka 2 in 4th, Puis Schwizer (SUI) and Electric Z come in 5th, Laura Renwick (GBR) with MHS Washington in 5th, while Hong Kong’s Kenneth Cheng and Dragon Leon finished 8th. But it was Emanuele and his big striding mare who stole the show, riding at Formula 1 speed to take the title.
Today was the first opportunity for riders and horses to test the impressive Shanghai sand arena, watched on by a passionate local audience. Tomorrow will see the Longines Global Champions Tour of Shanghai Grand Prix take place at 13:30 local time, tune in to GCT TV to watch all the action live!