Ben Maher and Quilata. PC: LGCT / Stefano Grasso
A quick trot away from the centre of Paris, some of the most celebrated names in the sport competed for first place in the CS15* on the second day of the eighth leg of the tour. The perfect round for the first of today’s three international classes came from Ben Maher (GBR) on 13 year old bay mare Quilata who sped around in a very quick 59.91 – the only competitor to have finished under the 60 second mark.
There were 35 riders in the class with thirteen jumping the twelve fences clear, including Athina Onassis on Rackham’Jo, a duo that unfortunately picked up a time fault to finish with one penalty. Some of the riders, including Rio Olympian Carlos Lopez and the normally speedy Julien Epaillard may have treated this class as a warm-up ahead of this afternoon’s second round of the GCL, however this was certainly not the case for others.
Maher’s rhythm and very capable 13 year old mare Quilata sent him straight into first place with an impressive 59.91 on the clock. The two Irish riders, Denis Lynch on RMF Bella Baloubet and Bertram Allen on GK Casper were also hot of the pace and sped around the arena, finishing in second and fourth place respectively. Allen was the first to compete of the two and, with historic success landing a position on the Grand Prix podium in both 2015 and 2016, was very quick to turn on landing and finished in a very respectable 62.41.
When it came to Lynch’s turn, it was an Irish versus Irish battle and he was up against Allen for first place. His lovely approach to the double and consistent speed around the arena meant he took two seconds off his fellow Irishman. Leopold van Asten is also worth calling out as he sat beautifully above VDL Groep Miss Untouchable allowing her to gallop beneath him and although she did her best, it wasn’t quiet enough to pip the top two to the post, jumping into third place behind Maher and Lynch.
The rest of the field was a combination of either time faults as they took the course easy, resting their horses for the remaining events this weekend or riders and their horses struggling to clear some of the more challenging jumps. The tight oxer was a crucial point at fence number six and it caused headache for some as many of the horses fell into the turn, taking them too close to the top rail and in turn knocking it.
Georgina Bloomberg was cheered by her son in hospitality but that wasn’t quite enough for her to jump the oxer clear, Bassem Hassan Mohammed had to retire his 11 year old grey gelding Argelith Squid after he refused it, having struggled to gain momentum from the start and Mathieu Billot, who celebrated a win yesterday on Radja des Fontaines found himself in 30th place after a run in with the jump. Eduardo Menezes was another to fall foul as he flew around the arena in a quick 60.76 but unfortunately knocked the oxer and another, to send him cascading down the leaderboard, finishing in 27th.
The second and final round of the Global Champions League will take place this evening, starting at 16:15 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 win in Paris.