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Zorzi lights up Monaco with dazzling Grand Prix win

Sunday, 25 June 2017
CSI5* LGCT Monaco 2017

Photo (c) Stefano Grasso/LGCT. Alberto Zorzi and Cornetto K won the LGCT Grand Prix of Monaco. Photo (c) Stefano Grasso/LGCT.

Italy’s Alberto Zorzi played the ace in Monaco with a spectacular Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix de Prince du Monaco Presented by Sapinda win. 

Speaking after tonight’s win a modest Zorzi said he was “so happy for the result” and his horse had been “a super jumper”, but he admitted he had known between fences one and two that he had it, after taking one less stride.

In the overall rankings, second place in the Grand Prix for Christian Ahlmann (GER) meant he leapt up to the top of the list with 154 points, nudging previous leader Harrie Smolders (NED) down to second with 150. The evening win contributed to a rise up the leaderboard for Zorzi also, taking him to 145 points in total and in third position overall.

Lars Windhorst, Group CEO of Sapinda, Presenting Sponsor of the London Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Monaco, said: “It is a great pleasure to be involved. We have be working with GCT for the 5th year and Monaco is in my opinion probably the most special event due to this magic setting and great atmosphere and I really enjoy my experience here. I was quite surprised when I first came to the Global Champions Tour how many diverse and interesting people are riding and watching it and involved in the sport. From a corporate perspective this is even more effective than Formula One as it is a more direct opportunity to meet people and be close to the action, so it is good all round."

The Grand Prix took place in the presence Princess Caroline of Hannover, alongside daughter and Honorary President Charlotte Casiraghi. The high profile event attracted global business leaders and philanthropists including Bill Gates and his wife Melinda who were at the event to support their daughter Jennifer who competed in the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix Presented by Sapinda and the Global Champions League Paris Panthers’ team. Marta Ortega and her father Anuncio were among VIP guests who included Bruce Springsteen and his wife Patti who watched their daughter Jessica take part in the world class competitions. Fans lined the street lining the arena to cheer on the athletes as the incredible spectacle of top-level show jumping unfolded in the arena on the edge of the world famous yacht harbour. There were stars from other sports including two-time Formula 1 World Champion Mika Hakkinen and Australian champion jockey Michelle Payne.

All eyes were on another tricky technical course from Luc Musette on Saturday night, packing plenty of punch in the small sand arena, with several difficult lines for riders to focus on. A number of poles fell throughout the competition, with a particularly big and tricky combination for fence 11, and a delicate plank at number 8 both claiming faults. In fact, perhaps unsurprisingly 13 – more than half of all the riders – ended up finishing with a total of four faults.

One of the event’s most consistent U25s, Jos Verlooy rode a beautiful clear, but was frustratingly left with a time fault, pushing him out of the jump-off.

Thousands of members of the general public strained at open side barriers to get a glimpse of some of the best horses in the world, and they were not disappointed. Christian Ahlmann was the first to secure a clear in 74.51s with his 9-year-old mare Dolocia (Verdi x Furore), but was pushed into second by Scott Brash (GBR) a few horses later on the 11-year-old chestnut gelding Hello Forever (For Pleasure x Nimmerdor). It seemed to set a trend, because just minutes afterwards, Kevin Staut (FRA) moved into the top spot with a pacey clear with For Joy van'T Zorgvliet HDC (For Pleasure x Heartbreaker) at 71.68s, well within the 75s cut-off. The fourth, and final, clear came from an on-form Alberto Zorzi on the immensely capable black gelding Cornetto K (Cornet Obolensky x Calido).

The tension was palpable ahead of the four-horse jump off, with all those involved spotted talking tactics with trainers. As super yachts nestled in Monaco’s iconic harbour just metres away, Christian Ahlmann came through the gate into the jump-of like he meant business. He powered through the long run between fences one and two, taking on the twists and turns of the new course and pushing through to finish on 38.20s.

Scott Brash came up with enormous acceleration, but it was not to be his night as Hello Forever wriggled his way over fence three and did not really recover, leading to two poles down and an eight fault finish in a time of 39.14s.

France’s Kevin Staut looked quick, but controlled and surprised the crowd with an unfortunate pole down at fence two, finishing on 41.05s with four faults – enough to give him a podium finish in third regardless.

It was all to play for when Alberto Zorzi and Cornetto K came through the tunnel, he took one less stride between fences one and two and was up on the clock from the off, taking the water tray at three perfectly before bouncing through the combination and racing to a winning finish at 37.8s.

So it would be an Italian win, with Zorzi claiming his first LGCT Grand Prix victory in emphatic style. The Tour now gallops to Paris, where the iconic Eiffel Tower will play host to round eight of the electric 2017 season.

“I’m so excited to win my first Grand Prix - I can’t believe that before the class, but I had such a nice horse and he jumped great, Cornetto jumped very good," said Zorzi. "Before the jump off we watched Christian, and Jan said maybe one less in one to two, and I was just a little faster. To finish I'd like to say thank you to Jan and to Athina for the horses, Jan for teaching me every day. We work very hard but we have results, and we are very happy.”

 “Today I’m very very surprised I must say, we already had a good season but I have a very young horse here, when she did her first five-star Grand Prix I didn’t expect very much," Ahlmann commented. "I had her for the first time in Madrid and I could feel the quality, and that she was something special but she was not really ready to think about as a winner, or even to be in the top three. She did an amazing job today to finish second, we had an amazing day. I really didn’t expect it, so I’m very happy with my second place. Well done to Alberto, and well done to Kevin, they both did a good job. I will try my best, I will be in Paris and bringing Taloubet and Caribis, my two top ones for the moment so I hope I can keep the position. I’m really motivated and we will see what we get.”


Source: Press release from LGCT / Picture © Stefano Grasso/GCL

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