World no. three Simon Delestre (FRA) repeated history at the Longines Global Champions Tour of Rome with a win in Friday's feature class on the 11-year-old gelding Chesall Zimequest (Casall x Concerto II). The pair won this class this time last year, with Simon and Chesall blowing away the rest of the field during the second day of competition at Stadio dei Marmi after an exhilarating eight-rider jump-off.
Set against picture perfect blue skies, the action kicked off as an impressive field of 44 international riders took centre stage in the natural amphitheatre.
Uliano Vezzani set a fair but thought-evoking course; while the 1.50/1.55m fences were imposing in themselves, the track required delicacy, forethought and accuracy from the riders - with the time allowed a factor in the overall results. Denis Lynch (IRL) lulled spectators and fellow competitors into a false sense of security, with his long-striding horse All Star 5 (Argentinus x Alme) eating up the time allowed. However as the competition unfolded, it became clear that the riders needed to manage the course from start to finish, resisting the temptation to push too early. Mistakes were made by riders conscious of the time, taking a pole or taking off a stride too early.
Seven further riders joined Denis in the jump-off, with the local fans cheering for home heroes Piergiorgio Bucci (ITA) with Cuarta (Canto x Coriano) and Juan Carlos Garcia (ITA) with Cocodrillo (Corrado I x Lord). Course designer Uliano had offered options in the jump-off; particularly with the distance from fences one to two, enticing riders to gallop through on six strides between the two full height oxers. First to go Denis set the bar at 38.14 seconds but knew the door was open for the riders yet to come. Second place man Pius Schwizer (SUI) and Leonard de la Ferme CH (Landjuweel x Indigene de Corday) put in a stand out performance, with the Swiss rider showcasing a masterful round. The long-striding horse was a completely different challenger to Simon’s Chesall, but the pair managed to clock an impressive time of 36.00 seconds.
But it was Simon Delestre who was lightning fast against the clock. Despite being early in the draw, he and the feisty Chesall delivered - living up to his reputation as being one of the fastest jump-off horses in the world. The pair stopped the clock in 35.35 seconds, taking home the win as the action revs up ahead of the LGCT Rome Grand Prix.
Earlier in the day, Maikel van der Vleuten (NED) delivered a perfect round in the CSI5* opening class. The Dutch rider artfully managed VDL Groep Quatro (Quaprice Boimargot Quincy x Caletto I), to take the win in the 1.45m two phase competition which saw many of the world’s best flex their muscles for the first time this weekend in the heart of Italy.
First to set the pace early on was young Dutch talent Kevin Jochems (NED), who stormed to the lead with a blistering second phase against the clock crossing the line in 27.43 seconds. Soon to pip his time was the ever-speedy David Will (GER) with the fiery chestnut mare Mic Mac du Tillard (Cruising x Galoubet A); the pair galloped round, stopping the clock almost a full second quicker than Kevin’s time in 26.42 seconds.
New Zealand’s Samantha McIntosh (NZL) Lady Gaga 18 (Lazio x Pablo) put in a strong performance, but were unable to better David’s time taking third place overall.
However, it was Maikel and VDL Groep Quatro that stole the opening show, clocking an impressive 26.36 seconds – just tenths of a second faster than David’s time.
Source: Press release from LGCT // Picture © Stefano Grasso/LGCT
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