Saturday evening's Longines Global Champions Tour of Cannes Grand Prix was won by 2013 LGCT Champion Scott Brash following a heart-stopping jump-off as the electric French Riviera leg came to a close in a storm of world-class sport. Second place went to Luciana Diniz and third to home favourite Kevin Staut. The heavy rain of the afternoon was forgotten as the three rose to their podium positions. A vocal French crowd cheered each rider as they accepted their prizes under the colourful arena lights. The result reinforced Edwina Tops-Alexander's position at the top of the LGCT 2014 Ranking taking her over 50 points ahead of her nearest rival.
The cream of the crop rose to the top in Cannes this evening as only those foot-perfect with every step progressed to the 3rd round deciding jump-off. The first round of Uliano Vezzani's Grand Prix course contained tough distances and awkward lines. Many riders had the first fence down and the remains of the heavy rain earlier in the afternoon made the conditions testing. A few of the top names opted to save their star mounts for another day, retiring after lowering a rail or two.
The second round saw 18 of the top riders from the first round come back for another test. This course required care and precision, and a run of double clears in the middle of the draw belied the difficult nature of the gauntlet laid down by the Italian course designer. More than once, the tall set of planks on a related distance early in the course caught out even the most experienced horse and rider combinations. But each and every one of the nine riders that went through to the final jump-off looked to be on winning form.
The jump-off offered a sweeping, galloping course with one tight turn-back, primed for an attacking ride. Edwina Tops-Alexander was the pathfinder on Ego van Orti (Vigo d'Arsouilles x Darco), jumping clear in 36.57s. Bassem Hassan Mohammed, on the form of his life, shaved 0.07s off Tops-Alexander's time from 2nd in the draw riding Victoria (Tangelo van de Zuuthoeve x Cordano). The top names not competing in the final round gathered by the arena entrance to watch the tense action unfold.
Kevin Staut entered the arena third and wiped nearly three seconds from the leading time on Silvana (Corland x Widor). But the fastest time was bettered one again by World No1 Scott Brash, who dared Hello Sanctos (Quasimodo V. Molendreef x Nabab de Reve) at every turn, to take the lead in a time of 31.99s and setting a pace that could not be caught. Luciana Diniz added another great result to her tally moving into 2nd place with 32.68s on Fit For Fun (For Pleasure x Fabriano).
The next round of the 2014 season is just around the corner and the Longines Global Champions Tour of Monaco (26-28 June) will be another fantastic exhibition of sporting excellence. Edwina Tops-Alexander has well and truly asserted her dominance over the leaderboard - will anyone catch up with her in Round Six on the Longines Global Champions Tour 2014 series?
Source: Press release from Longines Global Champions Tour
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