After three exciting rounds in Estoril, it was Henrik von Eckermann on Gotha FRH that claimed the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix. Following a jump-off with five riders in it, Scott Brash ended second on Hello Sanctos – the British rider was the only one in addition to Henrik that delivered three clear rounds. Third was home rider Luciana Diniz on Winningmood.
The first clear round of the night came from Qatar’s Faleh Suwead Al Ajami on Zorro Z (Zandor Z x Calvin Z) – who was all smiles as he left the ring. Faleh was joined by Henrik on Gotha FRH (Goldfever x Prestige Pilot), Scott and Hello Sanctos (Quasimodo V. Molendreef x Nabab de Reve), Aachen Grand Prix winners Nick Skelton and Big Star (Quick Star x Nimmerdor), Christian Ahlmann on Taloubet Z (Galoubet A x Polydor), Monte Carlo winners Richard Spooner and Cristallo (Caretino x Cicero), William Funnell aboard Billy Congo (Vectha x Animo), Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Unbelievable (Manhattan x Democraat), as well as Rolf-Goran Bengtsson on Quintero Ask (Quantum x Chamonix) and Luciana on Winningmood (Darco x Cassini) – who all produced clears, moving on to the second round together with eight riders on four faults.
Frank Rothenberger’s had set two demanding tracks – in the second round the first combination claimed many victims, as did the line from fence six to the triple combination at fence seven. The last line also proved tricky, and many of the faults also occurred here.
The first double clear round came from Richard Spooner on the incredible Cristallo. Fresh from their win in Monte-Carlo, the super pair produced yet another fantastic clear in Estoril. Meredith and the aptly named Unbelieveable had a great round, but a frustrating time fault stopped them from moving on to the jump-off. The next to go double clear was Faleh Suwead Al Ajami and Zorro Z, and with his performance Faleh secured a jump-off. William Funnell – who has shown great form lately – suffered the same faith as Meredith, while Nick had to see one pole down on Big Star. It was Scott Brash and Hello Sanctos that delivered the third double clear of the evening and then as home rider Luciana Diniz on the amazing Winningmood rode yet another clear the crowds went wild. As last to go in the second round Henrik and Gotha produced a lovely clear, and there was a five horse jump-off on.
Richard and Cristallo were first out, but with one down and a time of 38.93 seconds they left the door open for the remaining four riders. Faleh and Zorro Z ended on the same score, eventually finishing fifth behind Spooner. Scott Brash and Hello Sanctos went all in, and it was evident that they chased a win. Leaving all the fences intact, and crossing the finish line with a time of 40.33 seconds the pair took the lead and Scott put a good amount of pressure on the two riders left to go. Riding in front of a very entustastic and supporting home crowd, Luciana obviously was keen to take home the win. Unfortunately the last fence wanted it differently for Diniz. Her time was the best of the day though at 38.92 seconds and gave her the third place.
Last to go was Henrik and Gotha FRH. The Swedish rider put Gotha in top gear, taking some big chances around the shortened track. Still, Henrik got near perfect angels and strides to every single fence though – and left all the fences intact crossing the finish line on 39.76 seconds pushing Scott down to second and securing his first Longines Global Champions Tour title.
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