Martin Fuchs and Cristo. PC: LGCT / Stefano Grasso
Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs (SUI) threw down the gauntlet to the rest of the field with a stunning win on his 10 year old bay gelding Cristo to raise the LGCT Rome curtain. With the best of the best in action this weekend, the young star beat Peder Fredricson (SWE) with H&M Carat Desire who took second, and John Whitaker (GBR) with Argento who finished this morning’s class in 3rd.
Set in the picturesque Stadio dei Marmi, Uliano Vezzani’s course was a colourful display of Roman icons which asked plenty of questions to the world’s best riders, including a formidable looking wall featuring Romulus and Remus requiring plenty of trust between horse and rider.
First to set the pace in the jump-off was Israel’s Danielle Goldstein (ISR) with LizzieMary, stopping the clock in 28.47s, with the rest of the international field still to come. The imposing Romulus and Remus fence caught out a few, including Pilar Lucrecia Cordon (ESP) with Trix Trax after the 9 year old bay gelding took serious exception to the wolf shaped wall.
The temperature soon increased as the well-established partnership of John Whitaker (GBR) and 15 year old stallion Argento took to the arena. The much loved British rider put his foot down in the speed phase of the class, rocketing around the final five jumps to stop the clock in 26.92s, over a second faster than Goldstein.
Lorenzo de Luca (ITA) entered to cheers from the spectators, but a costly back rail at the Longines oxer with Halifax van het Kluizebos meant they wouldn’t be in contention for a podium in the opening class. Clears came from all across the field, with Simon Delestre (FRA), Janika Sprunger (SUI), Giulia Martinengo Marquet (ITA), Lauren Hough (USA), Roger-Yves Bost (FRA), Geir Gulliksen (NOR), and Eric Lamaze (CAN).
Whitaker’s time looked hard to beat, until young Swiss star Martin Fuchs (SUI) flew around the second phase with Cristo to notch up a new leading time of 26.25, just tenths of a second ahead of the British legend. Peder Fredricson (SWE) put in a valiant attempt with H&M Carat Desire, but finished just shy in 26.33s.