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Philippaerts pulls of blazing win in Chantilly with second LGCT Grand Prix victory of 2018

Sunday, 15 July 2018
CSI5* LGCT Chantilly 2018

Photo (c) LGCT/Stefano Grasso Nicola Philippaerts and H&M Chilli Willi won the CSI5* LGCT Grand Prix in Chantilly. Photo (c) LGCT/Stefano Grasso.

Belgian star Nicola Philippaerts pulled off a stunning second LGCT Grand Prix win of 2018 with a blazing victory in magical Chantilly, only hours after winning the GCL team class.

Nicola is already qualified for the GC Playoffs at Prague’s O2 area in December so second place rider Daniel Deusser (GER) now qualifies for the LGCT Super Grand Prix adding to a superstar show jumping line up.

Ben Maher (GBR) lost out at the final fence of today’s high calibre jump-off in the grounds of the breathtaking Chateau de Chantilly and the famous racetrack, but he has extended his lead in the overall LGCT ranking and is now 38 points ahead of closest rival Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS).

Grandstands were full around the vast grass arena, the biggest on the circuit, and there was a sea of Panama hats and fans being waved in the heat of a sultry summer afternoon.

Uliano Vezzani’s formidable course included three big efforts at the end of the track more suited to experienced horses and it was soon clear the double oxer combination and the Longines triple combination would take their toll on some. But the afternoon’s LGCT Grand Prix presented by Region Hauts de France delivered electrifying displays of horsemanship for the appreciative and knowledgeable crowd.

Ten went into the jump-off. First to enter the arena, young talent Jos Verlooy (BEL) gave Caracas (Casall x Colman) a reassuring pat as they scoped out the final round of the day. Setting off at a gallop, the pair looked strong, with a brave turn to the LGCT oxer before an uncharacteristic eight faults at the Longines double ruled them out of a podium position.

Compatriot Nicola Philippaerts was next to go, returning to the ring with his impressive stallion H&M Chilli Willi (Casall x Lord). Powering around the arena, the stallion flew over the obstacles, with the pair taking six strides to the double. A flat out gallop to the last saw the duo clear in 37.26s, laying down the gauntlet for the rest of the challengers yet to come.

Germany’s Daniel Deusser looked dangerous with the small chestnut stallion Tobago Z (Tangelo vd Zuuthoeve x Mr Blue), but despite their agile turns the pair couldn’t match Nicola’s time, stopping the clock just hundredths of a second behind in 37.30s and slipping in just behind on the leaderboard.

The pressure laid down by Nicola began to show, and French hopes were dashed after Cedric Angot (FRA) and Saxo de la Cour (Tlaloc M x Jalisco B) turned too tight to the LGCT fence, taking the pole with them.

Others were forced into mistakes, in an amazing run to the last in front of the packed grandstands. Jerome Guery (BEL) - delayed after losing a shoe in the warm-up - collected the back of the Longines double combination, and Christian Kukuk (GER) clipped the vertical to drop him down the order. Eight faults for Bassem Hassan Mohammed (QAT) put him out of contention, before the reins would be passed to Italy’s Alberto Zorzi and Contanga (Catoki x Contango) who managed a careful third clear in 38.63s.

Just two riders remained between Nicola’s second win of the season, and the two were world class indeed.

Christian Ahlmann (GER) and Clintrexo Z (Clintissimo Z x Rex Z) took up the challenge, but the pair looked slower from the off, and an unusual refusal from the dapple grey would rule them out of a podium position.

Final rider to go, Ben Maher, took up the charge with the 9-year-old Explosion (Chacco-Blue x Baloubet Du Rouet), powering around the arena, the chestnut gelding responding beautifully and the pair looking up on time. They flew to the last, taking a chance with the stride and agonisingly the final fence fell, dropping them to 5th and leaving Nicola victorious.

"I am very happy - I can’t believe it, and both horses are jumping amazing," said Nicola Philippaerts. "Today I was very lucky, we had a quick time but Ben was also quick but sometime you have these days. Chilli Willi is not naturally super fast, so I just did my own round. My father's advice was to try ride as quick as possible and it's is nice to have always around. My team is very important and I think for the moment everything is working out well [in the 2018 Championship].

Ben Maher, LGCT-ranking leader said: "I'm very happy with my horses - we have five events left and I have two amazing horses so I try to take them to the shows where I think they may be good. We had an expensive fault today but I'm very happy for my [GCL teammate] Nicola and my horse was incredible in the end.

"I feel confident right now in the horses and I have one more result I need to count [in the overall ranking]. But there are still many good riders such as Edwina, Harrie [Smolders] and Nicola so I think it will come down to the wire. I'm looking forward to London - it's a great show and I'm very happy to back there, as last year showed great sport."

 


Source: Press release from the Longines Global Champions Tour

Picture © LGCT/Stefano Grasso

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