Luciana Diniz said her “dream came true” today as she claimed her first Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix win. In one of the most unpredictable Grand Prix in the history of the tour, many of the world’s top riders stacked up uncharacteristic faults and time penalties. For the first time since 2011 there was no jump-off.
Tens of thousands of passionate fans lined the arena and filled the grandstands in the beautiful Spanish country club in anticipation as the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix presented by Caixa Bank got underway. But no-one would have predicted the extraordinary story that unfolded today as top rider after top rider clocked up “cricket scores” with multiple faults, time penalties and retirements.
The sweeping grass arena and the course designed by Santiago Varela Ullastres proved to be unusually challenging for many of the combinations. In the first round the Longines combination caught out some of the maestros including Christian Ahlmann. But the mistakes were all over the course and not isolated to particular obstacles pushing riders like Ludger Beerbaum, John Whitaker and Ben Maher firmly out of the running.
After the first round there were only four clear rounds - Jane Richard Philips, Philippe Rozier, Luciana and Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum. Scott Brash’s Olympic gold medal mount Hello Sanctos (Quasimodo v. Molendreef x Nabab de Reve) stumbled slightly before the first fence and had an unusual rail down but Scott went on to a clear in the second round putting him in fourth place overall.
The second round delivered fascinating twists and turns. Jane Richard was unable to remain clear and ended on eight faults. Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum lost her chance when she had a rail down for four faults.
Spanish rider Manuel Fernandez Saro thrilled the home crowd riding a double clear on Enrique of the Lowlands (Diamant de Semilly x Carthago) but picking up unfortunate time penalties during both rounds. His third place on the podium was greeted with loud cheers from the crowd around the arena.
France’s Philippe Rozier went clear in the first round on Rahotep de Toscane (Quidam de Revel x Laudanum) and was heading for a penalty-free double clear when he picked up a time fault to put him in second place.
So it was down to the last rider Luciana and her stunning grey Winningmood (Darco x Cassini) to deliver the coup de grace. As the crowd fell silent Luciana and the 16-year-old stallion, a tried and tested long-time partnership in show jumping, delivered a superb clear in 60.24 seizing first place on the podium and a prize purse of €105,600.
"First of all, as Jan said, everything in life is a question of partnership; I have developed a partnership with this horse and I can only thank him, thank Edouard, thank my team, thank my family who support me at home and who are watching the television now - they are sitting there and cheering for me. I thank the public who really support me, the whole organisation who makes this possible. So a dream came true today and I'm very very happy,” Diniz said after her win.
Rozier was also very happy; "It’s a dream for me today. I have a super horse. He is young, I have been lucky enough to ride him since he was 5 year-old, it’s his first Grand Prix today within the Longines Global Champions Tour the last 6 Grand Prix so far with him are clear, I feel 20 years old again tonight!."
"I’m proud, especially in Madrid in my own country. It’s an unbelievable feeling. I am very happy with the horse because it’s the first time we do a 5* Grand Prix,” said home rider Manuel Fernandez Saro.
Source; Press release from the LGCT
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