Scott Brash claimed second in the Longines Global Champions tour grand prix of Cannes with Hello Mr President.
The grand prix presented by Volvo got underway under floodlights in the square sand arena next to the Mediterranean. The grandstand and hospital lounges were full to bursting for a night of high octane show jumping.
The world’s best riders faced 13 obstacles with verticals at the full 1.60m height and serious challenges at the Longines triple combination and a sprinkling of fragile uprights as course designer Gregory Bodo set out to test the best. Early riders fell foul of the double and triple combinations and after Bassem Mohammed (QAT) and Gunder delivered the first clear the tight time allowed was extended from 75 to 77 seconds.
Both Harry Charles on ABC Quantum Cruise and Ben Maher’s Explosion W finished on eight faults to put them out of the running but Scott gave the super talented Hello Mr President a great ride. The pair were lucky at the purple combination which held and their lightning fast clear meant the double LGCT champion would be a big threat in the 10-strong jump-off.
The jump off course offered plenty of scope for good gallops and sharp turns. Irishman Shane Breen was fast from the start with Ipswich eating up the ground, chasing down the fences to finish clear in 38.10 despite clipping the final Longines vertical which luckily stayed in place.
The air sizzled as Daniel Deusser and Calisto Blue jumped the first fence landing at a clever angle and were soon quicker. The intelligent ride quickly put him in front in 35.97 over two seconds faster than Breen as the German looked to consolidate his overall LGCT ranking lead and add to his win at the last leg in Hamburg.
And the temperature rose as Niels Bruynseels and Gancia de Muze blasted into the arena and immediately took the first LGCT fence at an angle gaining early advantage and putting them half a second faster at the split time. And they delivered a superb round before executing a razor-sharp turn before the gallop to the last to finish with 1.28 sec in hand.
The steely Scott Brash was the last to go and Hello Mr President delivered on accuracy and speed but it was not enough as they crossed the finish line 0.97 sec in arrears, handing victory to Bruynseels and settling for second spot. It pushed Shane into fifth.
"Neils was too fast I couldn’t catch him but I was delighted with how Mr President jumped, he saved his best till last I should have been able to get the eight strides to the last but even if I did I still don’t think I would have won,” said Scott. “I can’t complain I just need to try ride faster! [joking] It was a bit inconvenient of Niels not to have already qualified for the [LGCT Super Grand Prix] but if he keeps jumping like that he should [pass on another place to the LGCT Super Grand Prix]."
Shane Breen also featured in the Global Champions League.
In a dramatic evening of extraordinary sport at GCL Cannes, father and son duo Eric and Maikel van der Vleuten triumphed with Madrid in Motion with the only double clear after leading team New York Empire went from hero to zero following a shock elimination.
In the overall rankings the race for the Championship has tightened although the Shanghai Swans keep hold of the lead with 145 points. Miami Celtics have moved to second overall with 137 points, with St Tropez Pirates dropping to third but just one point behind in 136 overall.
In a competition full of drama and intrigue, the New York Empire duo of Denis Lynch and Hans-Dieter Dreher were unable to find redemption and convert their third pole position into a win today after a double refusal from Lynch and Van De Vivaldi eliminated the team. Miami Celtics U25 rider Harry Charles pulled out another flawless performance with teammate Shane Breen to rocket the Celtics up the results board for a podium finish, and the Shanghai Swans duo of Peder Fredricson and Daniel Deusser secured third today.
But it was Madrid in Motion who secured the only double clear of the weekend with a phenomenal performance from the father and son combination of the van der Vleuten family - watched on by team owner Marta Ortega.
A delighted Maikel said: “On Thursday the horses felt very good, and the horse from my father jumped two amazing rounds. It’s an honour to win here the League competition. My father has always been my trainer and it’s good he can compete still, so we’re very happy with our win today.”
The course set by Gregory Bodo was a tough challenge, with full height 1.55/1.60m fences coming up thick and fast for the riders and a tight time allowed of 78 seconds. The track had a variety of obstacles, a wide Constance oxer to start, a solid blue Longines plank on a curving turn and a hard to see light red Air Mauritius challenge with the top pole rolling if horses took their eye off the fence. A delicate GC vertical was quick to fall after a tough double and a huge Cannes oxer set towards the in-gate meant absolute focus and control was necessary. A GCL double to finish caught out a few, with the final oxer falling much to the heartache of riders after the curving line away from the in-gate.
Under 25 rider Harry Charles, who has impressed in every GCL class so far this season, was first to go for the Miami Celtics, opting to ride ABC Quantum Cruise again for this crucial round. Despite the pressure they delivered yet again, another outstanding performance for the young rider in his first year at this level. Shane Breen came off the bench for the team today, with top chestnut stallion Ipswich van de Wolfsakker. The star striker also pulled out all the stops, but the purple and white double fell dropping the team onto a score of eight. But Breen shifted up a gear and they finished fast, importantly ahead of the Shanghai Swans and into second place.
Olivier Philippaerts was first for the London Knights, piloting H&M Cue Channa 42 - but the first fence, the Constance oxer, fell, putting the pair on the back foot with a long course to complete. Another pole at the Air Mauritius oxer fell, the team tumbling down to a score of 12 overall so far. But their woes would continue, the final fence falling too to put the score on 16 - the Knights dropping way down the order. Team manager and anchor Ben Maher would have everything to with Explosion W, but they pulled out yet another clear, keeping the Knights on 16 overall - quicker than the Monaco Aces and into sixth place.
Ben’s round on Explosion W handed him second place in the 1.55/1.60m speed which ran concurrently, the pair finishing four sec behind the winner, Germany’s Hans-Dieter Dreher on Prinz. Scott Brash eased Hello Mr President into third and Harry finished 10th on ABC Quantum Cruise.
Sofia Abramovich jumped clear in the 1* 1.30m speed with Sacree Du Rouet to take third a little more than six sec behind the pace. Four faults dropped Claire Beecroft and Vanda Cartier down to eighth.
Imogen Beecroft netted second in the 1.15m speed on the 18-year-old Untouchable three sec off the pace.
Four faults in the 1* 1.40m speed dropped Tess Carmichael and Berlin’s Kojak to 10th spot.
Photos © LGCT/Stefano Grasso