Olivier Guillon won Saturday's GCT Grand Prix in Wiesbaden. The French rider said the experience of his horse Lord de Theize made all the difference in beating champion rider Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum in the Grand Prix jump off today. Olivier admitted he would not have beaten German rider Meredith in the final speed test of the €285,000 Global Champions Tour Grand Prix if she had been riding her star horse Shutterfly, who retired last year.
Speaking at the press conference at the end of the first GCT in Wiesbaden, Germany, Olivier said: “I was lucky to go second in the jump-off. I saw Meredith in the ring and her mare is young and that was good for me today. If it had been Shutterfly it would be different.” GCT President Jan Tops said the GCT series in 2012 is shaping up to be highly competitive with different riders on the podium at each show making the race for the overall championship in November a thriller.
Cheered on by a big home crowd of around 20,000 spectators at the stunning Schlosspark arena, Meredith had jumped clear in 57.72 in the first big test for her big-striding young mare Bella Donna. But Olivier piloted his French gelding smoothly over the Longines oxer to finish in 55.59, his first GCT Grand Prix victory with a first prize of €94,050. He said a lot of riders had difficulty with the line to the triple combination, which resulted in some of the biggest stars in show jumping clocking up faults.
Meredith said of her horse: “I have a lot of hope in Bella Donna. She is an extremely talented young horse and this is her best result to date. I was absolutely delighted. I knew Olivier with his horse has a lot more experience and is a very fast horse. My strategy was to have a clear round and put pressure on him a little bit.” Meredith said she was careful not to take too many risks with tight turns because of Bella Donna’s lack of experience at the 1.60m Grand Prix height. She said: “We are not really at the point to go faster with those size of fences. It would not have been smart to push her that far. I was looking to bring her along for the future and protect her.” Meredith said Bella Donna did not naturally have real speed, but could make for it by covering the ground with her big stride. She is my hope for the Olympics but the question is will I get enough experience with this horse in time. I will take it week to week.”
Olivier and Meredith were the only two riders to jump clear in the first two rounds. Delighted third place rider Manuel Añon said of his horse Baldo: “My horse is amazing, that is why I am here. I was unlucky I had the last fence down, but I do not regret anything with super stars in the jump off. I am delighted.”
Edwina Tops-Alexander remains top of the 2012 GCT ranking, but was taken to hospital after a nasty fall off her horse Cevo Socrates in the first 5* class of the day. GCT President Jan Tops said Edwina was expected to be out of hospital tomorrow: “She is OK, a little bit of concussion.”
He praised the show, the first time GCT has been in Wiesbaden, and said: “It was a great first time here, the weather was good for us and there was great sport and it is nice to see two new people on the podium. This makes it very exciting for the whole year. The whole Tour is more open for the overall winner.”
Wiesbaden organiser Joachim Kettner said: “We are very happy having GCT in Wiesbaden. With GCT here we have a lot of riders we do not normally have and of course the prize money is a big change
Ben Maher, Simon Delestre, Sergio Alvarez Moya and Lauren Hough all had four faults in the second round despite expectations they would sail through to the jump-off. The course in the second round in the big grass arena at Wiesbaden proved challenging for even the world’s top riders and demanded 100% concentration.
Source: Press release from GCT.