By Agata Grosicka
Photography: LGCT/Mario Grassia
For the first time, the Czech capital, Prague, hosted the concluding showjumping event in Global Champions season with a four-day grand finale that saw the world’s elite riders and horses compete in the Prague Play-offs. The stakes were high, some FEI-ranked leaders buckled under the pressure or saw their luck run out, while others proved to be in good shape and managed to successfully complete a very exhausting and enduring series of classes, including the final 1m65 team contest.
The unexpected winner of the Longines GC Super Grand Prix class turned out to be the only lady among the 16 entries – or two ladies to be precise, as Edwina Tops- Alexander was riding her very efficient KWPN mare California (L’Espirit - Olivia x Libero H). The Australian, married to the series founder and LGCT director, Jan Tops, was very complimentary about her speedy mare: “Today I planned to jump clear, my horse was jumping so well so we kept going. This competition is unique and a milestone in this sport. I’ve never had this kind of feeling in my life.”
The runner up was, in fact, the rider most anticipated to win: Ludger Beerbaum and his chestnut Holsteiner gelding Casello (Casall - Cariva x Carolus), who finished ahead of Dutchman Frank Schuttert with his exquisite Westfalian stallion Chianti’s Champion (Champion du Lys - Chianti Classica x Cornet Obolensky). Coincidentally, the sire of Schuttert’s stallion, Champion du Lys, was himself a world-class jumper with... Beerbaum!
The individual Super Grand Prix was simply a prelude to the final day of competition, the GC Prague Super Cup Team Final which turned out to be one of the exciting and nerve-wrecking finales in the history of the show. As Jan Tops, the GC Director summarized: “We saw a lot of drama, which we normally don’t see at this level of competition. It was exciting and amazing, also because of the location and the enthusiastic audience.”
A total of 16 teams competed throughout the whole season, with 12 entering the Prague Play-offs, from which six reached the grand finale. However, there were a great many unexpected turning points during the show, leading to the elimination of some of the world’s top showjumpers, with the final reckoning coming down to the top three podium places.
Team bronze went to the Paris Panthers, with Yuri Mansur and the bay BWP mare Ibelle Ask (Verdi - Doornroosje van’t Nachtengalehof x Robin Des Bruyeres); Darragh Kenny and 12-year-old OS stallion Balou de Reventon (Cornet Obolensky - Georgia x Continue); and Gregory Wathelet with his grey KWPN stallion MJT Nevados S (Calvados Z - Nestia S x Romualdo). This is how Wathelet described the performance of his 10-year-old, great Polish-bred stallion: “It was really important for us to stay focused in the first two rounds and finish clear which we did. MJT Nevados S has progressed a lot during the last eight months and he is now ready for high-level sport”...CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO BREEDING NEWSSUBSCRIBERS CAN READ THE COMPLETE ARTICLE BY LOGGING IN AND RETURNING TO THIS PAGE