It was a spell-binding Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix du Prince de Monaco presented by Sapinda, with speed demon Emanuele Gaudiano and Caspar 232 (Casper x Padarco) claiming top honours at the prestigious event after an incredible nine rider jump-off. Talking about what it means to win a LGCT Grand Prix, an elated Emanuele said: “For every rider to win a Grand Prix is good, but to win a Global Champions Tour Grand Prix is special - it’s amazing.” His compatriot Piergiorgio Bucci took a strong second with Casallo Z (Casall x Carthago Z), with the horse’s sire Casall Ask (Caretino x Lavall I) finishing in third with Swedish rider Rolf-Göran Bengtsson.
The Grand Prix took place in the presence of His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco and other royal guests including Queen Noor of Jordan, Princess Caroline of Hannover, daughter Charlotte Casiraghi, and Princess Beatrice of York. Global business figures including Anuncio Ortega watched as the action unfolded, with a glittering turnout of Monaco society and guests from around the world. Prince Albert was joined at the prize giving by Grand Prix presenting sponsor Sapinda Chairman of the Board Lars Windhorst at the prestigious ceremony.
Luc Musette set the bar high for the first round of competition, designed to challenge the best international riders in the world. Nestled between the super yachts and the Formula 1 pitlane, 42 top combinations took to the arena and centre stage in the heart of the Principality. Watched on by passionate fans who lined the edge of the arena, a few big names failed to make it through to round two; LGCT Ranking leader Christian Ahlmann was one of the surprise drop-outs, with his eye-catching stallion Colorit (Coriano x Capitol) clipping a pole, leaving them with four penalties.
Audrey Coulter was the first to jump clear. She was quickly joined by Christina Liebherr, Janne-Friederike Meyer and Jos Verlooy with Caracas, all of whom earned their place into round two.
Nicola Philippaerts set the initial early pace after a beautiful round with the stallion Bisquet Balou C (Balou Du Rouet x Polydor), however he was soon pipped to pole position for round two by Germany’s David Will who set off at a blistering pace around the tight course. David rode Mic Mac du Tillard (Cruising x Galoubet A), turning sharply but allowing enough time to allow for careful jumping.
Scott Brash showcased another masterful round with the relatively young Hello Guv’Nor (Diamant De Semilly x Papillon Rouge), and was joined by compatriot Laura Renwick with Bintang II (Tangelo van de Zuuthoeve x Orlando). Final rider to go John Whitaker and Ornellaia (For Pleasure x Calato) didn’t disappoint, with the legendary British rider finishing second in the Grand Prix here last year. They too joined those through to round two, splitting the two young riders Nicola and David. Rolf-Göran Bengtsson, Emanuele Gaudiano, Edwina Tops-Alexander, Jerome Guery, Denis Lynch and Cassio Rivetti were some of the strongest contenders but it was Germany’s David Will and top horse Mic Mac du Tillard who lead the way into the second round, with David looking on fantastic form with his spirited chestnut mare.
Round two saw the top eighteen return to the sand arena as the floodlights came on. The course was technical and asked many questions once more, with tight cut backs and galloping distances creating a challenge for the top riders. Great Britain's Scott Brash and Laura Renwick were caught out by the double combination, rolling a pole to the groan of the crowd who watched just metres away from the action. Rolf-Göran Bengtsson looked competitive with the 17-year-old Casall Ask showing all his experience and flair in the tight arena. John Whitaker set a blistering place with his mare Ornellaia, putting them in prime position for the jump-off, with Nicola Philippaerts, Jerome Guery and Emanuele Gaudiano all looking racy ahead of the final round. Last rider to go David Will rode at Formula One pace, galloping the distances but Mic Mac du Tillard just got away from him at the final fence, knocking the pole and keeping them from the last round of competition.
Nine went through to the jump off, with Germany's Janne-Friederike Meyer and Chuck 27 (Cassus x Ramiro''s Son II) starting off the final round and setting the pace at 40.51s. But the jump-off immediately moved up a gear, with Rolf shaving off a full two seconds to stop the clocks at 37.95s. Next to go Emanuele Gaudiano and Caspar 232 galloped around the course, turning tight to the fences and covering the ground with the grey horse’s large strides to finish in 36.64s. His compatriot Piergiorgio Bucci and Casallo Z pushed to beat the time, but had to setttle splitting the top two to finish in 37.37s. Jerome Guery and Alicante (Casall x Indoctro) looked impressively fast, but the gallop to the last was too much for the grey stallion and he refused the final fence. John Whitaker entered the ring with Ornellaia, and took some brave shortcuts, with the crowd on the edge of their seats. But the pair couldn’t match the timing of the top three, finishing fourth and handing the win to an ecstatic Emanuele.
"We bought Caspar when he was young, and have worked together to this point today. Today was his first 5* Grand Prix win, he jumped every round better and better. He’s not a typical horse for this ring but he did an amazing job," said Gaudiano after his win.
Source: Press release from LGCT // Pictures © Stefano Grasso/LGCT
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