Scott Brash was out for another 5* victory following Friday’s win in Valkenswaard, The Netherlands, and he so nearly made it but had to settle for second place in the Global Champions grand prix of Valkenswaard presented by Tennor as Belgium’s Gregory Wathelet and the super-charged stallion Nevados S powered to a win.
Top riders turned out in force to seize the opportunity to compete again at the very top level and there was emotion in a poignant retirement ceremony for the legendary stallion of modern show jumping Don VHP Z. The champion horse took a final turn in the arena spotlight as Harrie Smolders said “He jumped over and over clear and clear at 1.60m level, he is one of a kind, I don’t think many horses will ever match that. He brought me to number 1 in the world, he brought me the Longines Global Champions Tour title, always under pressure he was unbelievable.” The pair took a final lap of honour before Don VHP Z heads off to a well-deserved retirement from the sport.
Thirty-five of the top riders set out over a robust 1.60m grand prix track where the final oxer took its toll, including claiming Shane Breen amongst its victims – the only fence Z7 Ipswich touched in the whole round. Scott and Hello Jefferson went for some forward strides and despite an incredible edge-of-the-seat moment at the bicycle vertical and the final fence, Scott displayed his innate skill clearing the final two fences, and clinching the eighth clear of this thrilling competition with an eventual 12 making their way to the jump-off.
The Netherlands’ Bart Bles used Kriskras DV’s long stride to set the standard and grimly hung on to the lead despite the challenge from Willem Greve and Carambole but Scott found a shorter route. However, he added an extra stride in the roll back to fence 15 leaving some room for others to be faster. He flew into the lead on Hello Jefferson at this stage in a superb fast round 2.75 sec quicker.
But it was Gregory’s day. He went wide to fence 15 but he kept motoring on Nevados S. He was lightning fast around the course, galloping to the final upright, with spectators on the edge of their seats. His risks paid off and he shaved an incredible 1.10 seconds off Scott's time to clinch victory.
A pattern emerged as every German rider in the jump-off had fence 2 down and Marcus Ehning would be no exception. He had an early fault with Misanto Pret A Tout and finished in 7th place overall.
Darragh Kenny had it all to play for as the last rider to go in this jump-off, and went in aiming for a fast clear. Knocking just one pole, Darragh finished in 10th place on Chic Chic in 49.13 seconds.
After his win Gregory said: "I am very, very happy and my horse jumped amazing. I knew the jump off would be really fast so I took some risks and fortunately he played the game with me. I know my horse is quite fast and on the left turn I can take some risks. It was my day today.”
Both Emily Moffitt with Winning Good and Shane’s Z7 Ipswich came home on four faults in round one for 20th and 21st.
But there was no stopping Scott in the 2* 1.45m as he claimed victory on Hello Shelby, pushing Germany’s Marcus Ehning into second. A huge entry of 96 started in this speed class and Scott outpaced them all on Shelby, the Stolzenberg/For Pleasure 11-year-old flying into the top spot to win by 0.56 sec over Marcus on Stargold in the runner-up position. Alex Gill jumped a steadier clear on Grand Slam VDL for 18th.
Shane eased Compelling Z into third in the 11-horse decider of the 5* 1.50m, the 10-year-old Chellano Z/Carthago Z stallion finishing 1.59 sec behind the winner, France’s Julien Epaillard on Queeletta.
James Fisher guided Ilina into fifth in the 2* 1.25m speed 3.17 sec off the pace. Tess Carmichael netted 12th on Chisinau W Z and Mimi Carling was also clear for 16th aboard Colette HBC.
Jodie Hall-McAteer steered Mademoiselle-A into 10th in the 59-strong 2* medium tour 1.40m speed almost five sec off the pace. James Billington was also clear on Cohinoor for 13th spot.
Laura Renwick claimed second in the big class of the day at Peelbergen, The Netherlands, with Bintang II.
The 58 starters in the 1.40/1.45m were reduced to 15 for round two with Laura and the Tangelo Van De Zuuthoeve/Orlando 14-year-old finishing 1.90 sec behind the winner, Germany’s Richard Vogel and Perry KHR.
Brits landed a one-two in the five and six-year-old 1.15/1.25m with Laura leading the way on Jolita L. Twenty-two of the 44 starters came forward to the jump-off with Laura and the Ustinov/Nabab De Reve six-year-old winning with 1.74 sec to spare. Sophie Fawcett rode the six-year-old Halida’s Whisper (Whisper In The Wind/Baloubet Du Rouet) into second and a steadier clear from Jamie Gornall on Conco-Blue PS finished 11th.
Chad Fellows scored a win in the 1* 1.30m small grand prix qualifier on Darcia, the nine-year-old mare gaining a 0.30 sec advantage in the 65-strong speed class. Sophie guided Cedric into fourth and Arabella Prior also returned a clean sheet for seventh on Friso.
Sophie and Calson (Casall/Clarimo) finished fourth in the 16-horse decider of the 32-strong seven-year-old 1.35m 2.74 sec off the pace. Harry Wainwright posted the steadiest of the double clears for ninth on Ikatosca HBC and Alex Barr returned on four to take 14th with Imperial HBF.
Lucinda Roche was 0.83 sec off the pace in the 49-entry 1.35m speed for second with the 11-year-old mare Izar LB. Alex Barr was a further five sec behind for eighth on HBF-Delta.
Arabella jumped to the top in the nine-horse decider of the 1.10m with Hot Blue, the Plot Blue/Heartbreaker eight-year-old with 1.16 sec in hand.
Billy Twomey jumped to the top in the seven-year-old with Pewit Dezoito in Vejer de la Frontera, Spain.
Fifteen contended this 1.35m speed with Billy taking the win by 1.04 sec over Charlie Jones aboard Vins VD Tojopehoeve Z. Anthony Condon pushed SFS Mirage into sixth just ahead of Billy’s second ride Je Taime Z and Charlotte Geddes was also clear for eighth on Captain Morgan 35.
James Wilson eased Forest Quality into second in the medium 1.30m speed with an easy clear 8.80 sec off the pace. Charlie jumped the steadiest clears for seventh and eighth on Carrasco and Connelly 2 and Kayleigh Watts returned a fast four for ninth on Harley.
Charlie netted third in the 14-horse six-year-old 1.25m speed on Just Synergy 4.23 sec behind the winner, The USA’s Julie Welles on Jacquard. Olivia Skinner was right behind for fourth on Costa Del Sol B Z.
Kayleigh Watts was 0.96 sec off the winning time in the 23-entry 1.35m two-phase to take second on Kimosa Van Het Kritrahof. James returned a clear for seventh on Heavens Fire.
Charlotte claimed second in the five-year-old 1.15m two-phase on Celeste RBF Z 0.63 sec behind the winner and just in front of third-placed Charlie aboard Nolo Contendere. Charlie provided the steadiest of the double clears on second ride Kelling Star for sixth.
Daniella Stapleton claimed fourth in the 26-horse 1.20m accumulator with Classic Touch V 0.52 sec behind the winner.
James took fourth and sixth in the 14-strong jump-off of the 1.40m with Carla X and Cooley Elusive, sandwiching Kayleigh and Kilbarron Rue into fifth.
In Bonheiden, Belgium, Nick Benterman was less than half a sec away from a win in the six-year-old on Jelsina HX. Fourteen of the 30 starters reached the jump-off with Nick and the Don Diablo HX/Lupicor mare finishing 0.36 sec behind the winner for second. Anneliese Prag jumped an easy clear for eighth on Con Man TW and Tamarin Christie came home on eight faults to put Janita into 13th.
Nick was last to go in the 12-strong jump-off of the 1.20m and slotted the Asca Z/Mr Blue 13-year-old Arie Z into third 2.22 sec off the pace. Ellie Guy’s double clear on Ard Cluedo earned fifth spot.
And Nick picked up third in the six-horse decider of the five-year-old 1.10m on Kevin 2.60 sec behind the pace.
Domenique Bonelli finished second in the 1* 1.05/1.10m two-phase with the Mr Blue seven-year-old New Blue 1.26 sec off the pace and Ellie Guy posted clear and four to take 11th on Camorra Des Nonains Z.
In Jardy, France, Alice Watson and Billy Lemon jumped into third in the 1.40m. Fifty-seven contended this speed class with Alice and the 15-year-old Cevin Z daughter finishing 2.24 sec behind the winner. Adrian Speight and Millfield Baloney were slightly steadier for fifth and Sally Goding was also clear to take 12th on Corbeagh Luxor.
Alice picked up eighth in the 68-entry 1* 1.30m speed on Mafia almost six sec behind the pace. Jemma Kirk jumped a steadier clear for 15th on Diaradzo De L’Abbaye.
Amanda Ratcliffe claimed seventh in the 1* 1.25m two-phase on Vintage D’Harmonie 5.18 sec behind the winner. Sally picked up one time fault on Ballinaguilkey Quality for 10th.
Four faults in the 2* 1.35m two-phase dropped Sally and Breeze to ninth.
John Whitaker mastered the six-bar in Macon Chaintre, France, to perfection with Sharid to clear 2.05m and take victory outright for the 2,240 euro first prize against nine rivals.
One time fault in the first round of the 63-strong 1* 1.35m denied John and Storm a jump-off chance and put them into 15th place.
Text and Photos © Jumping Around/LGCT/Sportfot/John Whitaker