France's Kevin Staut rode to victory in the feature CSI5* Sapinda Prix with his stunning grey Grand Prix winning mare Silvana HDC (Corland x Widor), leading from the front after an electrifying jump-off in London on Friday.
The first day of competition for the 11th leg of the circuit got underway with the world's top combinations descending on the beautiful Syon Park, in west London, ahead of tomorrow afternoon's Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of London presented by Qatar. Star athletes and horses took to the purpose built sand arena for the two CSI5* competitions, and despite challenging weather conditions - which saw the British summer live up to its infamous reputation - the sporting action was electric.
Jane Richard Philips (SUI) was the first to take the CSI5* title of the day as she rode a stunning round with her twelve year old bay gelding, Pablo de Virton (Andiamo x Kashmir van't Schuttershof) to victory in the 1,45m two phase competition. Saudi Arabia's Abdullah Al Sharbatly was a close second, and Great Britain's Laura Renwick took a popular third place on home turf.
As the rain eased, the second of the CSI5* competitions took place on a course designed by Uliano Vezzani and raised a few challenges for the 46 starters. Twelve riders went clear and through to the jump-off which promised high drama with a challenging layout. The course threw up a few questions to test the best riders in the world, with a sharp right angle turn to fence nine, and a difficult eight stride line to ten, a full 1,55m vertical. Fences 10 and 11 were complete contrasts, with the latter a big oxer off a short approach on the corner.
Kevin Staut and Silvana HDC set the early initial pace, flying around in 37.83 as the rain eased for the jump-off. Kevin rode an intelligent round, dictating the pace and placing enough pressure on the time to beat that it forced many other riders to make mistakes. The young Italian Emanuele Bianchi took a strong second place, wowing the onlookers with his turn of pace and riding his chestnut mare Vadetta v. Mettenhof (Oramé x Ahorn) beautifully to finish in 38.06s. It was a positive class for the French compatriots, as Patrice Delaveau took third place with his bay stallion Carinjo HDC (Cascavelle x Landgraf I) in 38.23s, just tenths of a second off Emanuele's time.
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