Edwina Tops-Alexander and her extraordinary horse Cevo Itot du Chateau made history tonight winning the GCT Championship for the second year in a row in a dramatic series final.
Edwina declared it was all down to her "phenomenal" 16-year-old chestnut "Toty" and revealed she might go for the hat-trick in 2013. She said of Itot: "The last two years of his career have been the best two years, so you never know."
It was a dazzling night of twists and turns and high drama at the highest level of equestrian sport. The race to be 2012 Champion was on a knife edge with the last leg of the season in front of packed grandstands at the Al Forsan arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Edwina (AUS) and Rolf-Göran Bengtsson (SWE) and his star stallion Casall La Silla were on equal points going into the 12th and final leg with the GCT Gucci Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi. Amazingly both riders had 4 faults at fence number 11 near the end of the course. And they had the same fence down in the early 5* in Abu Dhabi two days ago. And the same happened at the World Cup qualifier earlier this month.
With both riders on 4 faults, and not in the second round, Edwina was declared 2012 Champion making history after achieving the same title last year. She had the advantage over Rolf with a podium win at the start of the season. His Highness Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, father of leading UAE rider Sheikh Shakboot bin Nahyan Al Nahyan, attended the prize giving ceremony. Charlotte Casiraghi and Gucci President and CEO Patrizio di Marco were present with the winners in the Al Forsan arena.
Edwina also made prize money history tonight winning €294,500 bringing her total GCT earnings since 2006 to €2.24 million.
In another dramatic development legendary British rider Michael Whitaker proved he was a maestro as he guided his horse Antello Z to two clear rounds and only 1 time penalty in the final Grand Prix. The performance pushed him up from 7th to 3rd place, overtaking Christian Ahlmann, in the overall championship ranking.
The GCT Gucci Grand Prix marked the end to the biggest and most successful GCT season so far. The world's premier show jumping circuit will be back in 2013 with a stunning championship series packed with top-level sport in some of the world's greatest destinations.
Edwina: I am very happy. My horse has been fantastic. He was amazing last year and now this year even better. He deserves it. It has been a long year and I have to thank my horse, he has been so consistent. I have to admit I was quite nervous today and unfortunately I had a fence down, but that is how the sport is.
Asked if she will go for the hat-trick? With Itot the last two years of his career have been the best, so you never know. I am fortunate I have a lot of of other very good horses coming along that can help Itot. This year was a very big year. On top of the GCT he had the Olympics. But there is no reason to stop when he is going very good.
Rolf: Very well done for Edwina here. It was a close call as we were on the same points. And we had the same fences down in Lyon and in the two 5*s here, so it was a very close race. I have a couple of horses doing very well. Casall has been second three times and placed a few other times. I am happy to be 2nd on the Tour.
Michael Whitaker: I must say my horse is really careful, this is the biggest classed he has ever jumped. I did not expect to jump clear in the second round but he did. I have ridden him now for a couple of months and he is very careful. I knew he could do it and that it was possible.
GCT President Jan Tops: The whole season was fantastic. We had a different winner at every event, so there was a really high level of competitors all the time and what a close call at the end which is all very good for our sport. Our course builders know the horses and the riders which makes a big difference.
I want to thank all our sponsors through the whole year, without them we could not continue. And all the people who work behind the scenes for their efforts and all the partners we have for our events. It all brings our sport to the level we want to be. I hope we will continue to improve and get better every year.
Source: Press release from Global Champions Tour
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