It was a scorching afternoon of top sport and entertainment in the sultry setting of Cascais, as Piergiorgio Bucci (ITA) and Casallo Z (Casall x Carthago Z) stole the show taking a stunning win in the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix with Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS) finishing second with Lintea Tequila (Campbell x Corrado II) and Bertram Allen (IRL) third with Hector van d’Abdijhoeve (Cabrio van de Heffinck x Utrillo van de Heffinck).
The large flowing course threw up a few questions for the riders, with fore-thought needed for a few of the related distances and plenty of scope required as the fences grew bigger towards the second half of the round. Frank Rothenberger utilised the full length and breadth of the stunning grass arena, and a double of liverpools really gave the horses something to think about. A few of the top riders fell short of the final combination, either from the pace being too fast or miscalculating the long distance in-between.
David Will (GER) with the spirited chestnut Mic Mac du Tillard (Cruising x Galoubet A) were once again the leaders into round two, after the pair blew away the rest of the field to clear the course in 79.59s. The closest to their pace was Belgium’s young talent Olivier Philippaerts and H&M Legend of Love (Landzauber x Corgraf) who delivered a classy round with the grey mare, crossing the line in 80.46s. LGCT ranking Leader Christian Ahlmann (GER) repeated his masterful round from Friday’s win with Caribis Z (Caritano x Canabis Z), earning himself a place in the next part of the Grand Prix and keeping his overall ranking lead alive.
In the end a total of 13 riders jumped clear, while four riders on four faults joined in for round two.
The second round course was another big test, with riders jumping the Longines combination the other way this time, and a couple of delicate full height verticals catching out some of the top combinations, including high hopefuls Lauren Hough (USA) with Cornet 39 (Cornet Obolensky x Caletto I) and Andreas Kreuzer (GER) with Quick Jumper ( Quidam''s Rubin x Escudo I).
First to go clear was Michael Whitaker (GBR) with his Olympic contender Cassionato (Cassini I x Quidam de Revel) with the pair setting the pace at 80.26s. LGCT runner-up Piergiorgio Bucci and Casallo Z quickly joined him, ensuring that there would be a jump off for the Grand Prix of Cascais. As the shadows lengthened Christian Ahlmann and Caribis Z caught an unlucky pole early at the first fence, and then another on the final run, keeping them from the jump-off and putting Christian’s ranking lead in danger.
Knowing she needed to earn a place in the jump-off to be in with a chance of taking over the lead, Edwina Tops-Alexander put in a flawless round with Lintea Tequila to keep her dream alive. Joining her would be Marco Kutscher (GER), Bertram Allen (IRL), Abdullah Al Sharbatly (KSA) and Olivier Philippaerts (BEL), making it a seven rider jump-off.
The initial two riders, Michael Whitaker and Abdullah Al Sharbatly each had a pole down. First to go clear was Piergiorgio Bucci and Casallo Z, with the pair setting the time at 49.07s. Marco Kutscher and the huge striding S I E C Carsten (Cassini I x Quinar) also rolled an unlucky pole, dropping him down the order. Edwina Tops-Alexander was next to enter the ring, with the focus on beating Piergiorgio’s clear and impressive time. The pair flew around the arena, with the feisty Lintea Tequila charging to the fences. They were quick, but not quick enough, crossing the line in 50.08s, finishing in second overall.
Bertram Allen and the expressive Hector van d’Abdijhoeve (Cabrio van de Heffinck x Utrillo van de Heffinck) were next to take centre stage, with the stunning grey kicking and bucking his way around the course. However they were just shy of Edwina’s time 50.14s taking the third place. Top honours went to Piergiorgio and his horse Casello Z, taking their first LGCT Grand Prix win.
“I really like the feeling [to be on the podium] as I was two weeks ago in Monte Carlo, and now I’m back with Casello again. The Casall-horses are amazing, Casall himself is a story - he won an unbelievable jump-off last week in Paris and I must say his sons have many great qualities. It takes time but they give you everything, the quality is amazing. This is my first CSI5* win - I was very close a few times, and starting to think it might not happen until now. It was a great jump off and a great win today," said Bucci after his win.
Source: Press release from LGCT // Pictures © Stefano Grasso/LGCT
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