Scott Brash and Hello Sanctos (Quasimodo vd Molendreef x Nabab de Reve) are pure magic together. That was proved once and for all in Sunday’s opening Longines FEI World Cup qualifier in Oslo as the two went to the top after winning yesterday’s Rikstoto Grand Prix. The win was made even more special by the fact that Scott was last to go – something he is very used to and works to his advantage – but today he got a little extra pressure on as Sanctos’ noseband snapped just before the two were to go, and a new one had to be found which made for an unexpected pause for the British rider. Used to dealing with stress and pressure – the added drama that unfolded on the warm-up did not affect Scott at all, who went in and blew the socks off his competitors.
The class had 40 riders in it, and in the end almost ¼ rode clears as nine made it to the jump-off. The faults around the track spread out over Uliano Vezzani’s thirteen fence track – but most frequently in the triple combination, and at the Landrover vertical following it as it came fast and quick on the short side – also the Longines plank at fence eleven hit the ground often.
Brazil and Ashford Farm’s Marlon Zanotelli set the first clear of the day on Clouwni (Colman x La Zarras) – continuing his fabulous form. Then one of the co-owners of Zanotelli’s horse went clear; Athina Onassis de Miranda on AD Camille Z (Cumano x Clinton) – and it was full celebration in the Brazilian-Greek-Ashford-entourage. Two riders later the Netherland’s super talent Frank Schuttert went clear on the hot Winchester HS (Numero Uno x Nimmerdor), doing a fantastic job on the not-so-easy gelding – who needed full speed to get through the in-gate today. The home crowds got what they paid for when Geir Gulliksen did a super clear on Edesa S Banjan (Toulon x Lys de Darmen), and it was a very happy ‘Jimmy’ that left the ring.
The second half of the class was filled with top names; and the fifth clear came from Marcus Ehning after a textbook round on Copin van de Broy (Darco x Brownboy). Luciana Diniz followed with another beautiful clear on Winningmood (Darco x Cassini), and then Edwina Tops-Alexander showed some fighting spirit on the power-house Ego van Orti (Vigo d’Arsouilles x Darco) to keep the fences intact.
The two last clears came from two of the best and most consistent riders in the sport over the past one and a half year; Steve Guerdat on Nino des Buissonnets (Kannan x Narcos II) showcased some serious riding skills, as did Scott Brash on Hello Sanctos – proving why they both are medal collectors for their respective countries.
There was some drama in the class as well – poor Stein Endresen parted ways with Cassiopeia 55 (Cellestial x Godavari) on the last fence, while Patrice Delaveau, Jur Vrieling and Alvaro de Miranda all chose to withdraw – Patrice had to pull up ahead of the combination at 8ab as Orient Express HDC (Quick Star x Le Tot de Semilly) stumbled in the landing after the following fence and Jur Vrieling chose to leave the ring after trouble in the triple combination.
The jump-off was set to be a real thriller with a star-studded field in it. Marlon Zanotelli opened up, but unfortunately the front pole on the second oxer fell – and he eventually ended 8th. Athina followed with a steady clear at 46.55 and was 7th at the end of the class. Frank Schuttert’s Winchester HS seemed to spooke a little at the penultimate vertical in the jump-off – placed towards the in-gate – and threw in an unexpected refusal, and also had the last down.
Then it was time for the only home rider in the jump-off; Geir Gulliksen. Edesa S Banjan had jumped a super first round, and continued to do so against the clock – and Jimmy took over the lead on a time of 39.64 after the crowds cheered him on down the final stretch to the last oxer. The lead did not last for long though as Marcus was next in, and yet again displayed his brilliant riding – using Copin’s ground covering gallop to his advantage and doing spot-on turns to end on a time of 37.22 seconds. The pressure was on. Luciana followed with a beautiful clear on a time of 39.00 slotting into second behind Marcus on her beautiful grey stallion – losing some time as she made a wide turn to the penultimate vertical. Edwina followed with a steady clear on Ego van Orti on a time of 44.57, good enough for 6th in the end.
So, all was down to Steve and Scott – two of the most cool-headed riders in the sport. Steve set Nino in top gear, racing down on the first line and getting a great inside turn to the third Longines vertical before he flied over the combination getting a super turn back to the following oxer. An on the last line from the Land Rover vertical Steve went flat out to cross the finish line on 36.52 – it looked hard to beat. Following Steve’s round, Scott got his unexpected drama – but cool as ice as he is the added trouble did not face the British rider. On the contrary, it only seemed to sharpen him. Coming in as last to go, Scott left little doubt that he was going for the win – flying around the track in lightning speed. Crossing the finish line he was an unbelievable two seconds faster than Steve, and could be crowned the first World Cup winner of the 2013/2014 season on the Western European league ahead of Steve and Marcus. It was the perfect end to a fantastic weekend for ‘Scottie’ who left Oslo as the winner of both the Grand Prix and the World Cup.
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