Tonight’s two part class in Rio was a glowing tribute to mares as they filled the top four places in a fourteen horse jump off. The Prix Bradesco was a winning round class so the best 20% went through to the second round against the clock where all of them started on zero. There was another 125’000 in total prize money and this class was open to the national riders as well as the GCT ones so sixty horses were originally in the field.
The second phase later that evening was diminished by one when Ellen Whitaker was taken ill and could not jump off. Phillip Weishaupt started the ball rolling on dark bay Souvenir 29 and the pair set an excellent standard of 40.95. It did not like he had left much room for maneuver either. Billy Twomey on another mare Tinka’s Serenade was first to get past the German combination by just two tenths of a second, and then Roger Yves Bost, next in on his young mare Nifrane de Kreisker, removed a stride coming to the last and clipped a second off the Irishman’s time. This was looking unbeatable but you can never say never when the last to jump is Marcus Ehning. Riding his Sandro Boy sired Sabrina, a daring turn to the second last had the desired effect and his time of 39.63 was enough to give him another win on a mare who has barely been unplaced this season.
With the anticipation of seeing the biggest prize in show jumping decided on Saturday and 30’000 at stake for the show’s leading rider and groom, there was much at stake as the last round of the 2010 Global Champions Tour began in Rio De Janeiro tonight. The show started in the best way possible for the Brazilian organisers and audience when Luis Francisco Azevedo won the first class by a whisker from Alvaro de Mirando Neto. Riding his chestnut gelding Une A Basta, Luis Francisco snatched the lead from Edwina Alexander and Kisby with a time of 51.51. Next to go was Alvaro and AD Norson has been prominent in GCT speed classes this year but today was not his night. To screams of encouragement, the pair galloped for the last only for the clock to show 51.68. The Brazilian pair was immediately followed by Denis Lynch and Lacroix but he ended up a second adrift of the winner although 52.66 was good enough for third. Luis Francisco is the youngest son of a famous show jumping family. His father has represented the country at the Olympic Games and his brother Luis Felipe, who went so well in the GCT Grand Prix of Monaco, is also competing here.
24/08/2010 – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Over fifty show jumpers including many of the World’s top 30 show jumping riders will be arriving in Rio in the next 48 hours to compete for 620’000 Euro in show prize money and to decide who will head the GCT rankings and carry off the winner’s share of the One Million Euro Bonus. Each rider may count their seven best GCT Grand Prix results toward this end and the top prize is just short of a staggering 317’000 Euro. Currently the leader is Marco Kutscher but he is being pressed by Marcus Ehning and Jos Lansink, any of whom could take the title. Edwina Alexander is currently fourth. This is believed to be the biggest single purse ever awarded in the sport of show jumping and means that if a rider wins both the GCT Rankings title and the GCT Grand Prix of Brazil they could walk away with the best part of half a million Euro. World Number One Kevin Staut will be among the riders trying to prevent the current top three walking away with both prizes. The Bonus breakdown is below and the details of the rider list and show classes can be found on the show’s own site at www.aoihs.com. Other relevant information can be found at www.globalchampionstour.com.
14/08/10 – There was no stopping Laura Kraut at Valkenswaard today. Having already won the warm up speed class on Unique, she proceeded to cap a memorable day by jumping three clears for the second time in two weeks to clinch her second GCT Grand Prix victory in the same period! The American who prior to Chantilly had never won a Grand Prix on the series, now has a back to back double, something that has not happened in recent GCT history, if ever. Today’s show was also especially notable as His Royal Highness Prince Albert of Monaco was among the audience.
The first round was another Uliano Vezzani masterpiece. With nearly every fence falling at some point the bogey fences were probably the combination (vertical, two strides, oxer, one stride, vertical) and the early line which included the open water with five strides to a double. But the course still produced 12 clear rounds from 50 starters, including Laura, GCT rankings leader Marco Kutscher (Cash) and former GCT Champion Jessica Kurten (Castle Forbes Myrtille Paulois). With a share of the million Euro bonus at stake and only Rio left to score points towards winning it, there was a lot to play for as the second round started over a changed but slightly shorter course. Pressure was put on the leaders by the first of the four faulters from the first round, Judy Ann Melchior with Levisto Z. The grey made it all look easy although Kevin Staut matched the feat on another grey, Silvana, but it was looking for a while as if a double clear would never happen. The capacity crowd groaned as Patrick McEntee (Chivas Mury Marais), Penelope Leprevost (Topinambour), Jos Lansink (Valentina Van T’Heike), Beezie Madden (Coral Reef Via Volo), Alvaro de Miranda (AD Ashleigh Drossel Dan) and Jessica Kurten all lowered one rail each leaving all of them on a total of four over two rounds. Laura was the first to go double clear and then she was joined by Christian Alhmann and Taloubet Z, Denis Lynch with Latinus and almost inevitably, Marco Kutscher.
13/08/11 – Ben Maher flew to Valkenswaard from a short holiday break and showed he had made the best of the rest when he snatch victory in the 1.50m class this afternoon in Valkenswaard by only three tenths of a second. Riding Oscar who belongs to Ben’s holiday hosts, Mr and Mrs Cook, he rode a superlative jump off despite losing a stirrup over the second last fence. The win was all the more outstanding because Ben has only been jumping the horse competitively for a few weeks; GCT Chantilly was one of their first international outings together. “He just gets better and better,” said a smiling rider afterwards. Fourteen horses had been presented for the jump off over Uliano Vezzani’s course so the winner was bound to be the one who was the bravest, particularly as there was a long gallop to the last. Bernardo Alves, who was the first one to really attack the jump off course on his Monaco winner Bridgit and his time of 43.67 took nearly three seconds off the previous leaders, Gerco Schroder and Eurocommerce Pennsylvania, who ended up fifth. Emilio Bicocci and Olea brought the crowd to their feet but they could only managed 41.15. Michel Robert tried the same audacious gallop to the last that had worked so well in Chantilly with Kellemoi de Pepita but failed by over a second although 45.62 did earn him 1600 Euro for fourth spot.
August 9, 2010 – Laventie, France – Equestrians across the world are joining the movement to help those less fortunate, as evidenced by a breeding auction held in France that raised €11,140 to benefit JustWorld International initiatives. JustWorld International is a not-for-profit, humanitarian organization working as a catalyst for positive change in the developing world by helping underprivileged children.
The ‘Foals from the Heart’ auction is run each year by Vincent Desmarez, father of JustWorld Amateur Ambassador Tiphaine Desmarez of France. Vincent presented JustWorld with a check for €11,140 in a special presentation held prior to the start of the Global Champions Tour Grand Prix at CSI5* Chantilly, France, on Saturday, July 17. JustWorld Ambassadors Julia Tops of Canada, Luciana Diniz of Portugal and France’s own Kevin Staut accepted the check on behalf of JustWorld. Staut, who is the reigning European Champion and currently ranked the number one show jumping rider in the world, also acted as the ‘Foals from the Heart’ spokesperson.
“It was so great that Kevin supported our initiative to help JustWorld,” said Vincent’s son, Thomas Desmarez. “When he was out on the grand prix field at Chantilly and spoke about the important work that JustWorld is doing, it all came together. It is wonderful to have such a big name behind such a worthy cause. It attracted all sorts of attention and local press.”
The emerald grass arenas of Stal Tops, home to Global Champions Tour (GCT) President and Founder Jan Tops, welcome the series he created home this weekend coming. The world’s best riders and horses will descend on Holland hoping to win the Grand Prix of Holland presented by the VDL Groep but there is also a full supporting programme in Valkenswaard to keep everyone entertained before and after that class. Horse Festival Valkenswaard will run the second week of their CSI** concurrently and there is also the exciting Derby to watch on Sunday afternoon so there will always be some top class jumping for visitors to enjoy. And with general admission and parking completely free, over 30’000 people made the most of the experience in 2009. This year the show is hoping all of the world’s top five will be attending, although Eric Lamaze is waiting for final clearance from his doctor at the beginning of the week. But Puis Schwizer, Kevin Staut, Marcus Ehning and Rolf Goran Bengsston are confirmed at time of writing. In addition, the three top ranked ladies, Jessica Kurten, Edwina Alexander, and Penelope Leprevost, are confirmed. And of course, the home fans will be waiting cheer the return of their winning Nations Cup team from Dublin, especially double clear round hero, Eric Van Der Vleuten.
This is the first year that the GCT is proud to welcome Jaeger Le Coultre to Stal Tops in their role as official time keeper after a successful start to the collaboration between the two companies in Turin and Cannes. Please visit the GCT website at www.globalchampionstour.com for more details on Jaeger Le Coultre as well as the full show programme.
25/07/10 – Well before there French got the home win they were waiting for in today’s Equidia Grand Prix, Eric van der Vleuten was the very first competitor in the ring this morning on VDL Groep Cannelina (below right). And although 50% of the thirty-two starters were clear and through to the jump off, he was never headed in the Prix Savelys. His grey mare, already in the money earlier in the week, was smooth and efficient round the turns in the timed phase and the clock stopped 38.79. None of the other 16 combinations could catch the Dutch pair, try as they might and Holland got another win at Chantilly after Harrie Smolders’ yesterday. Eric’s win was a good result for his sponsors VDL Groep, as well as for the GCT, because they are one of the main sponsors at GCT Valkenswaard in addition to their generous support of Eric. Eventually second was Edwina Alexander on a relatively new ride, dark chestnut mare Kisby, who had a time of 39.29 and third place went to another of this weeks earlier winners, Simon Delestre, riding Napoli du Ry. Their time was 39.59. Bernado Alves was fourth with Monaco GP winner Bridgit.
24/07/10 – The female of the species was most definitely deadlier than the male in Chantilly today as American Laura Kraut and Cedric headed another all girl 1,2,3. The riders had warmed up earlier in the day with the Prix Amunde, a Table C Speed class. This is where faults are converted to time so if you are very fast it is possible to win even with a fence down. However in this company only being fast and clean over the rails would be good enough. The course featured several alternatives where the line was shorter but the jumps more difficult and Penelope Leprevost riding British bred Belle was the first to set a decent target. 60.68 looked fast and it did take Harrie Smolders on Exquis Powerfee to get in front. The horse who won or was placed in several GCT against the clock classes in 2009 scooted round in 59.12 and then his rider had to wait for the other half of the class to finish to see if he would win. But although he had to endure a couple of close shaves as first Denis Lynch (All Inclusive NW) and then Jerome Hurel (Nectar des Forets) got close the top two did not change. “I think the GCT know all about Powerfee by now” said Harrie “But it is fair to say he is my best all round horse. You can always count on him as a standby for any class!”
Edwina Alexander is writing a diary for horsesinthesouth.com as she prepares for the 2010 Global Champions Tour (GCT) and the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG). Here is Edwina’s second entry.
The last month
The last month has been a real rollercoaster with quite a few shows and then the Rolex FEI World Cup Final. Overall, I’m feeling pretty good in myself and I’m trying to get as much rest as possible, but not doing too much isn’t the easiest thing in the world at the moment! I was up at 4am last Wednesday morning to go to Copenhagen for a photo shoot and got back home at about 1am the following morning. I was then up very early to jump five horses ahead of the four-day show in Mannheim, so I haven’t had as much rest as I would have hoped for!