It was a good day for the Dutch in Vienna as Gerco Schröder won the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix, and Harrie Smolders ended second. The two Dutch riders were the only ones that managed to pull off triple clear rounds, and behind them they left Rolf-Göran Bengtsson in third with one down in the jump-off and Luciana Diniz in fourth with two down.
The first round saw eleven of the 48 riders go clear. These were joined by four riders on a time penalty and three on four penalties. In the second round Edwina Tops-Alexander and the power house Ego van Orti (Vigo d’Arsouilles x Darco) were the first to not touch a pole. Unfortunately the pair was outside the time allowed yet again, and with one time penalty from the first round and then two in the second their overall score was three penalties – in the end good enough for 7th. Another rider with time faults was Lauren Hough on Quick Study (Quick Star x What A Joy) with one time penalty in each round, finishing 6th. Denmark’s Sören Pedersen continued to deliver, and produced another great round on the lovely grey Tailormade Esperanza de Rebel (Rebel Z x Corofino I) – after a clear first round, Pedersen only had one time penalty in the second and together with Rolf he made sure that Scandinavia was well represented in the top five.
The four riders that managed to pull off clear rounds were all extremely well riding ones; Rolf-Göran Bengtsson on the lovely stallion Casall Ask (Carentino x Lavall I) were the first double clear, then a few riders later followed Gerco Schröder and London (Nabab de Reve x Chin Chin) before Harrie Smolders and Jackson Hole (Quite Easy x Robin Z) as well as Luciana Diniz on Winningmood (Darco x Cassini) joined in to make sure it was going to be an exciting jump-off ahead of the stunning backdrop of the City Hall in Vienna. Few locations are more dramatic and beautiful than this one, and it really deserved top riders and top sport.
Rolf opened the jump-off, and really went in to put pressure on the three to come. Casall Ask continued to jump super, but unfortunately the front pole on the penultimate oxer fell and the two crossed the finish line on a score of four penalties and a time of 37.13. Gerco was next, and aboard the amazing London he left little doubt that he was in it to win. From the first fence to the last Gerco tightened the turns and kept up his pace – and his accuracy and speed gave him the lead with a clear round and a time of 36.65 seconds.
Jackson Hole continues to impress under Harrie Smolders, and today he was simply outstanding. Not going flat out in the jump-off, Harrie went for another clear – and his tactics paid off, as he in the end was the only other rider to produce three clear rounds ending second. Luciana Diniz was last to go on the lovely Winnigmood, but it all got a little hectic and two poles fell and Luciana was also close to be unseated ahead of the last fence – putting her fourth behind the sympathetic top three that consisted of Gerco, Harrie and Rolf. After his win, Gerco said; “He does a fantastic job all the time. Here he jumped three fantastic rounds, so I am very happy with him. He is in good form. I am not high enough in the rankings to be in with a chance of winning the overall championship, but Doha is a really special show. I will try to do my best there.”
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