After two incredible exciting rounds and a super fast three-horse jump-off it was Gerco Schröder and Eurocommerce London that went to the top in the Global Champions Tour Grand Prix in Cannes. Gerco rode three fantastic rounds on the 10 year old Nabab de Reve-stallion, that really impressed under the floodlights in Cannes. A total of 46 riders lined up for the weekend's biggest class, but the first round did not see more than seven clears.
The track build by Uliano Vezzani was huge and demanded a lot from the horses, and many had to see several poles fall to the ground – especially at the last part of the course from the combination at 8a and b and onwards. The triple combination at 11a, b and c before the last big vertical-oxer line also proved influential.
The first clear in the class came from home rider Jerome Hurel on Ohm de Ponthual (Voltaire x Calypso d'Herbiers). The home crowds went of the hooks! Then followed several riders with plenty of fences down, before Tina Fletcher arrived for Great Britain as start number fifteen and set a clear on Hello Sailor (Kigali x Indoctro). Cannes-back to back winner from 2010 and 2011 Edwina Tops-Alexander proved that she could be counted with this year as well, and jumped a fantastic clear on Cevo Itot de Chateau (Le Tot de Semilly x Galoubet A). Billy Twomey also had a great clear on Tinka's Serenade (Tinka's Boy x African Drum) – leaving all the poles intact and celebrating with a high five with Chef d'equipe Robert Splaine on the way out of the ring.
Then came Gerco and Eurocommerce London, and the pair jumped an amazing round. The stallion gave every fence lots of air, and looked like a really dangerous competitor. Rolf-Göran Bengtsson and Casall La Silla (Caretino x Lavall II) also wanted to be a part of the game, and posted a lovely clear before Christian Ahlmann and Taloubet Z (Galoubet A x Polydor) rode the last of the seven clears in the first round.
Eighteen riders went on to the second round, eleven of them with four faults. Marco Kutscher/Cornet Obolensky (Clinton x Heartbreaker), Ben Maher/Tripple X III (Namelus R x Cantango, Marcus Ehning/Copin van de Broy (Darco x Brownboy) and Alvaro de Miranda/AD Rahmannshof's Bogeno (Baloubet du Rouet x Elanville) all had four faults in the first round but managed to ride great clears the second time around. Doda's result was in the end good enough for fourth place, while Ben finished fifth.
Out of the seven clears from the first round, only three managed to repeat the success. Rolf was the first to do so, and rode an accurate clear on Casall La Silla around the twelve fence track. Eurocommerce London and Gerco were the next ones up, and again did a fantastic round – with London flying the fences. Jerome and Billy had two fences down, while Tina and Christian had to see one pole fall. Edwina was last to go, and on her tiny chestnut gelding kept all under control to post another fabulous clear much to the joy of her fans in Cannes.
As first to go in the jump-off with two very fast riders behind, Rolf had a big task ahead of him. He set off around the shortened track, and really tightened the turns all the way – but did not go flat out to the penultimate combination – but put in the top gear to the final fence. The time was really good, and he crossed the finish line on 34.38 seconds. Gerco was next, and held a really high pace from the start – and was maybe a little quicker towards the combination than Rolf and raced against the last. The time was fractions better; the Dutch rider shaved off 0.16 seconds on Rolf's time and took the lead!
As last to go Edwina could push the two guys down, but time was not on her side despite wild cheering from the crowds – but she was clear again and crossed the finish line on 34.89 seconds to finish third. A great ending to an extremely entertaining night in Cannes!
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