The formidable St Tropez Pirates combination of Edwina Tops-Alexander with Veronese Teamjoy and Pieter Devos with Claire Z powered to pole position in Paris, finishing abreast of three teams on a clean score today, but Shane Breen made sure the Miami Celtics were in the running.
The Pirates pushed ahead of Miami Celtics’ duo of Jessica Springsteen and Shane Breen, with Prague Lions’ Marc Houtzager and Niels Bruynseels taking the third spot today as the final team with a zero score heading into Saturday’s showdown. A further four teams sit on four faults - just one fence away from the top spot - laying the foundations for an explosive conclusion in France’s capital city.
The Miami Celtics brought out the big guns with Jessica Springsteen and Shane Breen. First to go was Jessica with RMF Zecilie, the 12-year-old bay mare flying beautifully around the arena. They rattled the final fence, but it stayed in the cup and they produced the clear, passing the pressure to teammate Shane. He opted to ride Ipswich van de Wolfsakker, the chestnut gelding responding admirably to his rider’s request. They too finished clear but were just a couple of seconds slower than the Pirates, slipping into second so far.
Daniel Bluman piloted his nine-year-old bay mare Colestina H, the horse giving the fences plenty of air in their effort to clear the challenges. But they punched out the front rail of the brown tree-lined oxer, the team falling to four faults. Teammate Scott Brash brought out Hello Mr President, the enthusiastic and talented 10-year-old springing from the footing. Scott dared the gelding to the fences, and they pulled off a remarkable clear drawing a round of applause of appreciation from the watching crowd and taking fifth place as they go forward into round two.
Scott's round also earned fourth spot in the 1.50/1.55m speed class which ran concurrently, Mr President finishing two sec behind the winner, Ireland's Darragh Kenny on Christos. Shane finished in 10th place.
Under 25 rider and team owner Emily Moffitt would bring out top 10-year-old gelding Winning Good. The keen horse powered to the fences, covering the ground speedily but was managed brilliantly by Emily to keep his control and focus. But as they rounded out to the final line, they took an extra stride and got too close to the RMC Liverpool - the front pole falling and putting the team on four. Teammate Martin Fuchs brought out his 11-year-old The Sinner and they proved what a strong partnership they were forming - the pair finishing clear to keep the team on four and in seventh heading into Saturday’s round two.
Claire Beecroft guided Vanda Cartier into second spot in the 38-horse 1* 1.20/1.25m two-phase, the Lord Z 13-year-old finishing 0.76 sec off the pace.
And Claire’s sister Imogen went one better in the 33-strong 1.10/1.15m on the Ontario 11-year-old Roscoe’s Amour winning the two-phase competition by 1.04 sec. Nina Barbour was double clear on Cushlas Reviro for ninth and Alicia Store also returned a clean sheet for 16th on Capellini II.
Tess Carmichael clinched seventh place in the 32-entry 1* 1.35/1.40m two-phase with the Air Jordan Z 14-year-old Atlantis PP Z 2.25 sec behind the winning time.
Text and Photos © Jumping Around/LGCT & Stefano Grasso