Robert Smith stormed to victory with Cimano E in the Masters One DBS 1.45m speed on the final day of the Longines Masters in Hong Kong.
Nineteen came forward over a tricky course which forced competitors to stretch, but Robert found all the answers to clinch the win in a late draw on the Unaniem 11-year-old Cimano. They relegated Germany’s Christian Kukuk on Cordess by 0.46 sec.
“I thought I could beat it,” said Robert on the time set by Christian. “I was unlucky on day one [when Ilton produced the fastest time of the class but incurred four faults to finish third] but I saw today’s course and thought it perfect for Cimano.”
Robert proved a popular winner here, his winning round prompting wild cheers from the crowd.
“It’s my first time here but I seem to be picking up a lot of support, which is very nice,” he said.
Michael Whitaker claimed fifth with the 16-year-old Heartbreaker stallion Valentin R – winner of the six-bar earlier in the week.
Michael and Robert also featured in the concluding grand prix.
Seven of the 20 starters provided round one clears but 12 came forward to the jump-off, five carrying their round one four faults, including Robert on Ilton. But double clears led the way as five of the seven again proved penalty-free in a hot, hard-fought jump-off.
France’s Patrice Delaveau provided the quickest round on Aquila HDC to take victory by the narrowest of margins. Austria’s Max Kuhner was hot on his heels for second, just 0.07 sec in arrears on Cielito Lindo 2.
Germany’s Daniel Deusser, winner of the Longines grand prix of Paris in 2017, would have been in with a shot at the 2.25million euro bonus grand slam if he could also win in Hong Kong. However, his lead was short-lived and he saw his hopes fade fast as Patrice and Max reduced his time and Cornet D’Amour finished in third place, just 0.15 sec behind the winner.
Michael opted for a steadier clear to finish five sec behind the pace and in fifth on the Chacco Blue/Con Air 11-year-old Calisto Blue. Robert, carring his round one four faults, was clear second time out with the 10-year-old Dulf Van Den Bisschop stallion Ilton, moving up the order to take sixth place.
Photo courtesy Longines Hong Kong Masters