The winner of the inaugural Longines Global Champions Tour of Shanghai Grand Prix in the shadow of the stunning China Art Palace is Belgium's Pieter Devos, a new star in China, following a fabulous performance with Dream of India Greenfield in front of an excited Shanghai crowd who cheered and clapped as he rose to the top of the podium. Silver medal position went to Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS) and Old Chap Tame, and Bronze to Michel Hecart (FRA) with Pasha du Gue.
The result extends Edwina Tops-Alexanders (AUS) Ranking Lead to 23 points, Ludger Beerbaum (GER) - 5th in tonight's Grand Prix - moved up into second place with 91 points, while Italy's Emanuele Gaudiano takes 3rd with 78 points, closely followed by Ben Maher (GBR), Marcus Ehning (GER) and Rolf-Göran Bengtsson (SWE). At LGCT Cannes next weekend, Round Five of the 2014 Championship, there will be many star riders eager to take the maximum 40 points in the Grand Prix.
Pieter Devos' performance today was described as 'inspiring' by the newly-converted show jumping fans who have flocked to the event here in Shanghai. The first round was a tough and demanding course set by Uliano Vezzani (ITA). There were no real 'bogey' fences, but the technical lines and tricky distances came thick and fast causing more than a few top names to pick up penalties. Of the 18 riders through to the second round, eleven carried zero penalties with seven going through on four faults.
The second round saw just five double clears. Once again tough distances and awkward lines caused many to lower a rail, but the crowd cheered loudly after every clean round. First to go in the jump-off was the face of LGCT Shanghai, Ludger Beerbaum with Zinedine who was forced to take some chances and lowered a vertical mid-way through the round. Michel Hecart, still in fantastic form at 60, set the standard from second to go at 45.40s, but he was immediately bettered by Tops-Alexander who stopped the clock at 43.12s. Pieter Devos rode the round of his life, taking chances at every turn to produce a winning time of 42.48s.
Last to go, Abdullah al Sharbatly and big-jumping Tobalio looked like they would demolish the winning time coming to the last, but the World Championship medallist took off too far away and at such speed his horse was unable to clear the final fence, so he finished in 4th. The crowd rose to their feet to acknowledge the human and equine athletic performance today as the three medal winner entered the arena. Looking ahead to Cannes just six days away, the Championship race is well and truly on for the 2014 official Longines Global Champions Tour series.
Source: Press release from Longines Global Champions Tour.
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