Scott Brash (GBR) and Hello Forever triumphed in an epic battle set against the stunning backdrop of Cannes, taking top honours in the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Cannes presented by Haras des Grillons. The two-time LGCT Champion of Champions took a sensational win against a star-studded field, which included 8 out of the top 10 riders in the world.
Four of the fastest riders on the circuit squared up for the finale against the clock and it was the last rider Scott who produced a brilliant and daring performance, drawing gasps from the crowd, as he delivered the winning round.
“He’s a real trier – but I think it can get a lot smoother yet!” said Scott. “It’s still early days with him. He can make my life a bit difficult at times but the best is yet to come with him.”
The British national anthem rang out to celebrate Scott’s second victory in the Cannes Grand Prix – his last victory came with Hello Sanctos back in 2014. Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS) with Lintea Tequila rode a brave and beautiful round to take the silver medal and Daniel Deusser (GER) continued his run of good form taking third spot on the podium with Equita Van’t Zorgvliet.
As the sun set and the floodlights came on in the Stade Des Hesperides in Cannes, only 50m from the world-famous La Croisette and super-yachts moored at this glamorous location on the French Riviera, it was standing room only as crowds were treated to turbo charged sport on the eighth leg of the 2016 Longines Global Champions Tour, still led by Christian Ahlmann (GER). It couldn’t have been more different from the thunder and lightning storms that hit the show on Thursday night.
Last night it was announced that the venue would have a mulit-million re-development further enhancing the facility as a sporting venue.
Uliano Vezzani set a challenging test of full blown Grand Prix fences with a mix of tall, gappy verticals and gaping oxers required precision, especially round the tight turns in round one with the last two fences of an oxer over a water tray to a vertical on either four or five strides proving the biggest test.
Eight jumped clear, with Denis Lynch (IRL), winner of Friday night’s CSI5* 1.50m with All Star 5, on an unfortunate time-fault, and a raft of four-faulters, the quickest of which made it through as part of the top 18, creating a stellar line-up for round two. Taking pole position was the 2012 Olympic gold medallist Scott Brash (GBR), who showcased skilful riding with the ever-eager Hello Forever.
Scott Brash on Hello Forever. PC: Stefano Grasso / LGCT
Uliano’s second round track proved more straightforward with three doubles rather than a triple combination, and some hairpin bends to keep riders on their toes. For those carrying forward four faults, the strategy was to produce a quick clear to climb up the leaderboard and it was Laura Renwick (GBR) who profited the most, riding the fastest second round clear and rising up to finish sixth with Bintang II, just ahead of Kevin Staut (FRA) and Marcus Ehning (GER) who both put their foot down but kept the poles up.
Denis Lynch (IRL) stayed on a steady tempo for another clean round of jumping to finish on the one fault carried through and was placed fifth, just missing a spot in the third and final round.
The jump-off track contained two new fences, with some sharp turn backs and concluded with the Longines double, followed by a right hand turn and a race to the final oxer and over the finish line.
First up, Roger-Yves Bost (FRA) galloped the course with his mare Sangria Du Coty to post a brilliant clear in 40.52s, much to the delight of the home crowd who leapt to their feet as he crossed the line. Hot on his heels, Daniel Deusser (GER) and Equita Van’t Zorgvliet found some amazing angles with the courageous horse obliged at every turn. Their challenge was less than a second quicker, with the pair clear in 39.32sec.
Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS) and Lintea Tequila raced out of the starting block and the sparky mare did everything she could, twisting in the air and proving incredibly agile through the double. They met the last on a stunning stride and slid into the lead, clear in 38.67s.
However, it was the brilliant Scott Brash (GBR) who stole the show, with the combination in a determined mood, quickly finding top gear as they galloped to the fences. The crowds gasped as 10-year-old Hello Forever, owned by Lady Harris and Lady Kirkham, leapt cat-like, using his acrobatic skills to ensure every pole remained intact. The pair motored round the final bend to nail the final fence and stop the clock in a stunning 37.98s which had the crowd on their feet all around the arena.
Christian Ahlmann (GER) still dominates at the top of the table as the Tour progresses to Monaco in a fortnight for leg nine of what is already an incredible and hotly-contested 2016 Longines Global Champions Tour season.