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Penelope Leprevost wins the LGCT Grand Prix of Antwerp

Sunday, 24 April 2016
CSI5* LGCT Antwerp 2016

Penelope Leprevost and Flora de Mariposa went to the top in the LGCT Grand Prix of Antwerp on Saturday night. Photo (c) Stefano Grasso/LGCT.
Penelope Leprevost and Flora de Mariposa went to the top in the LGCT Grand Prix of Antwerp on Saturday night. Photo (c) Stefano Grasso/LGCT.

It was a phenomenal return to Europe as the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Antwerp sparked explosive action and top showjumping as the world’s best combinations went into battle. It was leading French lady rider, Penelope Leprevost with her fiery chestnut mare Flora de Mariposa (For Pleasure x Power Light) who stole the show following a nail-biting jump-off and taking the win at the Belgian show.

Triumphant Penelope declared her horse "just amazing" after scooping first place in the Grand Prix against a stellar field. Many of the top horses in the world had their first serious outing of the season, with Casall Ask (Caretino x Lavall I), Flora de Mariposa and Hermes Ryan (Hugo Gesmeray x Ryon d''Anzex) all on incredible form in their first CSI5* show and taking the podium positions.

The spell-binding Grand Prix of Antwerp was watched by thousands of spectators and guests at the show ground next to the mighty River Scheldt where some of the top equine athletes in the world were on parade. The atmosphere in the 'diamond city' sparkled all evening as the impressively high calibre of sport added to the excitement of the event. Families were able to get up close with the world's leading riders as they descended on Belgium for the 5* extravaganza of the Longines Global Champions Tour. The chilly weather did not detract from the hot competition and the heat will be turned up again tomorrow for the 3rd edition of the new Global Champions League team competition.

The first round of the Grand Prix was a big course, with designer Luc Musette setting the fences to the full 1.60m height featuring tall verticals and big oxers. Yet again, delicacy and care were the order of the class with light poles and cups allowing for easy rolls at the lightest touch, and clears were slow to come in the early draw. USA's Lauren Hough and Ohlala (Orlando x Cardento) were the first to go, and the first to jump clear following an impressive opening round. 

Runner-up was Simon Delestre and Hermès Ryan, securing double French on top. Photo (c) Stefano Grasso/LGCT.
Runner-up was Simon Delestre and Hermès Ryan, securing double French on top. Photo (c) Stefano Grasso/LGCT.

Of the 45 starters, 18 went through to the next round, with 14 in total jumping clear, and four more in on one fault or four. Keeping the challenge consistent for the high calibre field, the second round threw forward many questions for the world’s top combinations. Amongst the names who made it through were Ludger Beerbaum (GER) and his grey mare Chiara (Contender x Coronado), Kevin Staut (FRA) with Reveur de Hurtebise HDC (Kashmir van Schuttershof x Capricieux Des Six Censes), Eric Lamaze (CAN) with Chacco Kid (Chacco Blue x Come On), and Pius Schwizer (SUI) with Ailina (Chico''s Boy x Cowondo Z). Belgium’s Nicola Philippaerts (BEL) was the top home rider, through on four faults with his horse, Bisquet Balou C (Balou Du Rouet x Polydor).

An unusual refusal from Harrie Smolders’ Emerald N.O.P. (Diamant De Semilly x Carthago) meant he would drop down the field, much to the crowd’s disappointment, and as the riders took their turn it became clear that the bar had been raised to lay the foundations for an exhilarating jump-off. Many fell short of the double clear, collecting four faults, including LGCT ranking leader and world no. 2 Christian Ahlmann and Codex One (Contendro I x Glueckspilz) who just caught a pole in the final segment of the course. John Whitaker and Echo of Light (Come On x Contender), who had looked so strong throughout agonisingly had the final fence down, with John shaking his head as he exited the arena.

Sweden's Rolf-Göran Bengtsson and the phenomenal Casall Ask were next to go; the pair have won six diverse LGCT Grand Prix in their career so far, and looked to be on incredible form under the floodlights tonight. Showcasing a partnership that will go down in history as one of the strongest in the sport, Rolf and Casall exuded style and class as they took the second round in their stride, earning themselves a place for the final round.

Third place went to Rolf-Göran Bengtsson and Casall Ask. Photo (c) Stefano Grasso/LGCT.
Third place went to Rolf-Göran Bengtsson and Casall Ask. Photo (c) Stefano Grasso/LGCT.

A total of five went through to the jump-off. First to go was Penelope Leprovost, who look determined from the outset and showcased clear intentions of setting the pace for the final phase of the Grand Prix. She and Flora rode an incredibly feisty round, with the little chestnut mare jumping her heart out for the leading French rider, galloping to the last in a display of agility and skill stopping the clock at 33.09 seconds. Next up was Germany's Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and her big striding horse, Unbelievable (Manhattan x Democraat). Despite their valiant efforts, they were three seconds off Penelope’s time and unable to do more.

Rolf and Casall returned to the arena, knowing they had everything to do to beat the fantastic pairing of Penelope and Flora. The experienced combination gave it their all, but took less risks and crossed the line in 34.59s. Next came Lauren Hough and Ohlala - another speedy combination - however a pole down meant they wouldn’t make the podium this time.

Last to go was world no. 1, and former LGCT Grand Prix of Antwerp winner, Simon Delestre with Hermès Ryan. The pair was fast, with the audience spell bound until the last fence where whoops and cheers rang out as they crossed the line. Despite the impressive performance, the French rider finished in 33.74s, just tenths of a second from his compatriot Penelope.

The podium in Antwerp. Photo (c) Stefano Grasso/LGCT.
The podium in Antwerp. Photo (c) Stefano Grasso/LGCT.

“My mare is very fast. For Flora it was the first big show since Geneva, I’m happy with my plan as she had a three star show before. She was just amazing today," Leprevost said after of her winning mare. 

Although he could not repeat last year's win, runner-up Simon Delestre was still happy: “I have won three times here, but today Penelope was really really fast, and we had a fantastic jump-off. On the vertical after the combination I preferred to do eight, as seven was really risky for me, so she was faster today. I’m really happy with Ryan - it was the first 5* since Geneva so to do three rounds like he did today was fantastic. I have to say well done to Luc {the course designer} who did a great job for the horses and riders today; five double clear and a fantastic jump off.”

It was a sensational third round of the 2016 Longines Global Champions Tour season, with ranking leader Christian Ahlmann maintaining his lead and now currently sitting on 97 points. John Whitaker remains in second place on 85 points, with Emanuele Gaudiano shooting up the ranking to take third with 65 points.


Source: Press release from LGCT // Pictures © Stefano Grasso/LGCT

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