After a night of sporting drama on the banks of the vast River Scheldt, it was Simon Delestre that could climb to the top of the podium in the second Longines Global Champions Tour of the 2015 season.
Eight out of the world’s top ten riders were in Antwerp with a mission to collect points, and with the new venue of Cockerill Quay along the giant River Scheldt, with boats gliding past the arena, spectators filled every available space for the big 1.60m Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix presented by Merit Capital.
In the first round Luc Musette’s course produced a steady stream of clear rounds and only the fastest on four faults would be able to win through to the second round. The faults were spread around the course as riders including Steve Guerdat, Scott Brash, Penelope Leprevost, Eric Lamaze and Daniel Deusser were all ejected from the second round with Jane Richard Phillips suffering an uncharacteristic fall.
Doda de Miranda, Constant Van Paesschen, Pius Schwizer and Henrik von Eckermann were scraping into the second round with speedy round on four faults. French stars Simon Delestre and Kevin Staut led the fastest clears as tension mounted for the dramatic showdown with eyes on the €300,000 prize.
In the second round Sheikh Ali Al Thani of Qatar delivered the first double clear just inside the time allowed on Vienna Olympic (Cassini I x Contender). Ben Maher of Great Britain had an unexpected rail down when his chestnut mare Diva (Kannan x Berlioz) got too close to the first part of the yellow double combination.
Christian Ahlmann on Codex One (Contendro I x Glueckspilz) also went double clear setting up a jump-off and was joined by Hans Dieter Dreher who had his work cut out holding the dark bay stallion Embassy II (Escudo I x Silvio I) in check to produce a brilliant double clear. Edwina Tops-Alexander added to the heavyweight jump off line-up on the talented Lintea Tequila (Campbell x Corrado II). Egypt’s Karim El Zoghby on Amelia (Cantos x Numero Uno) won a place in the jump-off and the final double clear came from Simon Delestre on Ryan Des Hayettes (Hugo Gesmeray SF x Ryon d'Anzex).
The stakes were high for the second Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix jump-off of 2015. After two strong rounds Sheikh Ali was not able to capitalise and finished on 10 faults. Christian Ahlmann looked like a winner but had a rail down on Codex One and Karim El Zoghby had four faults despite an impressive showing in Antwerp.
Edwina Tops-Alexander secured a powerful performance on Tequila making the big and daunting BMW fence look easy and putting in a tight turn to the Merit Capital vertical putting her on 40.30.
Hans-Dieter powered to second place in 38.74 on the formidable Embassy II who is on fire after a break of a few months before his outing at the LGCT Miami Beach earlier this month.
It came down to the wire with the last rider, Simon Delestre, living up to his reputation for speed clinching the winning time of 37.96 and a first prize purse of €99,000 on his 10 year old gelding Ryan Des Hayettes.
"The Longines Global Champions Tour of Antwerp is a very lucky show for me, I have won three times with three different horses. I can’t explain that but I’m very happy with that. My horse Ryan des Hayettes did a fantastic course today, he jumped amazing and he is in a super form. The course designer has done a very good job every day here. The new location also is larger than last year and the horses enjoyed it. Tonight I was a bit afraid of being slower than Hans-Dieter Dreher, but Ryan is very quick," Simon said after his win.
Source: Press release from LGCT
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