It was America’s McLain Ward that recorded the first Grand Prix win of the Longines Global Champions Tour 2014 season at the opening leg in Antwerp. The tour kicked off in Belgium this weekend, dockside in Antwerp – and in front of a packed house it was Ward that took home the win in a fast five horse jump-off riding Rotschild (Artos x Elegant de l'Ile) after a triple clear performance. In second followed Sweden’s Rolf-Göran Bengtsson on Casall Ask (Caretino x Lavall I), while home rider Constant van Paesschen did three amazing clear rounds to end third on Citizenguard Toscan de Sainte Hermelle (Surcouf de Revel x Bayac de Sainte Hermelle).
After the first round, fifteen riders were left on a zero penalty score while two had recorded one time fault to move on to the second round. In addition the fastest four fault rider from the first round moved on, as eighteen proceeded on to round two. The five riders that managed to produce double clears in addition to the top three were Qatar’s Bassem Hassan Mohammed and France’s Penelope Leprevost – riding Primeval Dejavu (Heartbreaker x Ramiro) and Nayana (Royal Feu x Narcos II).
Rolf opened up the jump-off in the flood lit arena with a very fast performance around the shortened track. Getting his turns perfect everywhere, the Swedish rider crossed the finish line on a time of 37.33 seconds on the 15 year old Holsteiner stallion – putting pressure on the four riders to come. Bassem did another great clear round as second to go on Gert-Jan Bruggink’s former ride Primeval Dejavu, and was delighted as he stopped the clock on 37.93 – not far behind Rolf. Penelope Leprevost – the leading rider of the show – was next in the ring, but unfortunately lowered a rail on Nayana although with the fastest time of the day at 35.73 seconds.
McLain Ward was the one who would prove to be the best tonight though. As next to go, he raced around the track to shave off 0.21 seconds on Rolf’s time on an incredibly well-jumping Rotschild – taking over the lead and pushing Rolf down to second. Last-to-go Constant van Paesschen was cheered on by the home crowds, who whistled him on to push the time and although he did his best – the twenty year old Belgian rider hard to settle for third on the time of 37.93 seconds.
Click here for the standings after the first leg of the Longines Global Champions Tour.
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