The race for the overall Global Champions Tour 2012 championship intensified today with three top riders closing in on series leader Edwina-Tops Alexander. The dramatic finale to the Grand Prix in Chantilly was a dramatic display of top-level show jumping in front of a huge crowd only days before the start of the Olympic Games. The competition was a testament to the exceptionally high calibre of GCT events with many riders bound for the Olympics choosing to make their final public appearance in Chantilly to prepare for the Games.
Hans-Dieter Dreher of Germany, riding his dark bay stallion Magnus Romeo, eventually triumphed after a Grand Prix full of exciting twists and turns. Dreher was up against a brilliant time of 39.15 set by Beezie Madden of the USA and despite a small slip after one of the last verticals he still managed to gallop home in 38.82. Madden, who is off to the Olympics and won the GCT Grand Prix in Valkenswaard last year, rode three superb rounds on her impressive gelding Simon and in the jump off she shaved off seconds with several tight turns before going flat out to the last.
In a sensational result Egyptian rider Karim El Zoghby on Splendor proved he has a serious talent after becoming one of only five riders to get through to the jump off. Zoghby, who will represent his country at the Olympics, had 4 faults in the jump off, but now has some important ranking points in his first GCT season. With Nick Skelton, Christian Ahlmann and Denis Lynch finishing in 5th, 6th and 7th places the GCT ranking board (see www.globalchampionstour.com) has tightened up setting up a fresh sporting drama for the next event in Valkenswaard, the Netherlands, from August 17-19.
With only five clears for the jump off in the Grand Prix presented by EADS, the stakes were high for riders on four faults from the first two rounds. They had to take risks to finish in a fast time, but also try to stay clear. It produced electrifying rounds from Laura Kraut, Nick Skelton, Christian Ahlmann, Michael Whitaker, Denis Lynch and Jerome Hurel. When Jessica Kurten went first in the jump off and had the first fence down, it even looked as if a jump off between riders on four faults might take place.
The first round course by world renowned designer Uliano Vezzani was a test of Olympian dimensions, outfoxing some of the greatest in the world and leaving them on 4 faults. The gradient on the big course was particularly challenging and left some of the horses tiring by the final fences. Vezzani said: “The course jumped very well. Different riders had different faults at different fences.” The line to fences 3, the water jump at 4 and 5 was especially testing.
Source: Press release from GCT.
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