Cannes, FRA – June 7, 2018 – The first class of the Longines Global Champions Tour of Cannes was the perfect premier to a weekend of top sport, as the world’s best take centre stage on the French Riviera for the seventh leg of the Championship.
Abdel Saïd (EGY) kicked off his weekend in style, with a brilliant win with top mare Hope van Scherpen Donder, who returns to CSI5* competition on phenomenal form. With less than a second separating the top three riders, second went to Julien Epaillard (FRA) with Usual Suspect d’Auge and third to Bassem Hassan Mohammed (QAT) with Argelith Squid.
A delighted Abdel Saïd said: “I’m very excited about having her back, it’s fun to have a horse who knows how to play the game, so I’m thrilled. This weekend it’s Lorenzo and I [on the GCL team], and we’re really looking forward to it.”
Uliano Vezzani set an interesting course, a 1.45m track which allowed horses and riders the chance to take on the fences flowing on oblique angles. The first of the related distances was a nice regulated four strides to a plank, easing the world’s best into the weekend’s competition, but the treble combination featured a big oxer which required all the scope and power from the horses. The second phase saw riders ramp it up a gear, with a Swedish oxer catching out some of the best, and the final fence agonisingly tumbling a fair few times.
Local fans in the grandstands were delighted as home hero Simon Delestre (FRA) and Hermes Ryan put in a brilliant clear to take an early lead, before they were quickly surpassed by compatriot Julien Epaillard (FRA) with his LGCT Grand Prix of Paris winning horse Usual Suspect d’Auge – the pair flying round in 24.90s.
The speedy Frenchman’s time looked unbeatable, until Abdel Saïd (EGY) powered around the small sand arena with Hope van Scherpen Donder, shaving off milliseconds on the roll back to the green and white oxer.
Many were keen to put their stamp on the start of the weekend, but none could match Saïd’s time, with the Egyptian rider taking the first win of the weekend.
Prix FFE French Tour Generali
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / Faults | Time
1. Hope van Scherpen Donder / Abdel Said / EGY / 0 | 24.29
2. Usual Suspect d’Auge / Julien Epaillard / FRA / 0 | 24.90
3. Argelith Squid / Bassem Mohammed / QAT / 0 | 24.95
4. Lady Cracotte / Niels Bruynseels / BEL / 0 | 25.67
5. Wunschkind 19 / Eric van der Vleuten / NED / 0 | 26.38
6. Explosion W / Ben Maher / GBR / 0 | 26.69
7. Lutz / Nayel Nassar / EGY / 0 | 26.98
8. Celebrity VDL / Danielle Goldstein / ISR / 0 | 27.28
9. RMF Zecilie / Jessica Springsteen / USA / 0 | 27.72
10. Asathir / Kamal Abdullah Bahamdan / KSA / 0 | 29.08
11. Henna de Goedereede / Alexandra Thornton / GBR / 0 | 29.20
12. Diablo Blanco / José Maria jr Larocca / ARG / 0 | 30.17
For full results, click here.
Prague Lions light up GCL Cannes
The stars were out in force for a show-stopping first round of GCL Cannes, as the spotlight shone on the Prague Lions duo of Ales Opatrny and Niels Bruynseels in the first floodlight class of the season. One of only two teams to jump double clear, the Lions took pole position, just ahead of Miami Celtics’ Jessica Springsteen and Cameron Hanley.
A thrilled Bruynseels said: “The horses both jumped good, and we did a good round so we’re in a good way! It was not as big today, but it was tricky. A lot can happen on Saturday with only two teams on the clear, but six or seven teams on four, so anything can happen.”
Under the night lights, Uliano Vezzani built a brilliantly technical course, as guests and VIPs walked the red carpet to witness the world’s best fight for supremacy in the City of Stars.
First to go double clear were the Miami Celtics, Jessica Springsteen blazing the way with RMF Swinny du Parc – the young American looking on strong form as teammate Cameron Hanley backed her up with another clear on Quirex. The Celtics took over the leaderboard, with the rest of the world class teams yet to come.
The only other double clear of the day came from the Prague Lions, as Ales Opatrny with the eye-catching VDL Fakir paved the way for Niels Bruynseels with Gancia de Muze to put in a foot-perfect display – quicker than the Celtics to shoot them up to the top of the leaderboard. Their impressive performance was watched by U25 teammate Anna Kellnerova and her mother Renata.
Overall GCL ranking leaders London Knights kept their tried and tested combination of Olivier Philippaerts and Ben Maher, with Philippaerts also sticking with his star mare, H&M Legend of Love, for the crucial first round. Their strategy paid off, with the grey mare giving everything for her Belgian rider, delivering a clear and laying the ground work for his teammate to come.
Bertram Allen of Valkenswaard United was avidly watching from the sidelines, supporting his teammates Jur Vrieling and Alberto Zorzi. Speaking before their rounds, he said “We’re last to go, it looks a good tough course, with no one special place where all the faults come. So riders need to be awake everywhere. It’s not a day where you can have 12 faults and get away with it, you have to be at the top to be in with a chance. But our lads have got good horses, so hopefully we’ll be up there.”
And up there they were after Alberto Zorzi pulled out a clear with top horse Fair Light van T Heike. There was everything to play for as Jur Vrieling took centre stage with VDL Glasgow v. Merelsnest N.O.P. the team looking clear as they headed to the final part of the course. But it wasn’t to be as they clipped the penultimate vertical, dropping them down to a score of four.
Global Champions League of Cannes Round 1
Place / Team / Rider / Horse / Faults | Time
1. Prague Lions
VDL Fakir / Ales Opatrny / 0 | 83.63
Gancia de Muze / Niels Bruynseels / 0 | 78.37
Team penalties | time / 0 | 162.00
2. Miami Celtics
RMF Swinny du Parc / Jessica Springsteen / 0 | 80.10
Quirex / Cameron Hanley / 0 | 83.14
Team penalties | time / 0 | 163.24
3. Chantilly Pegasus
Sunshine du Phare Roger Yves Bost 4 76.67
G&C Arrayan / Carlos Enrique Lopez Lizarazo / 0 | 70.16
bay / 13y / G / Baloubet du Rouet / Grannus / KWPN / 103FW92 / Alvarez Moya Horses S.L.,Gustavo Mi / B.J.M. Wezenberg,Ijsselmuiden (ned)
Team penalties | time / 4 | 146.83
4. Scandinavian Vikings
VDL Groep Quatro / Geir Gulliksen / 0 | 77.66
Ailina / Christian Ahlmann / 4 | 74.66
Team penalties | time / 4 | 152.32
5. Monaco Aces
Chesall Zimequest / Simon Delestre / 4 | 75.05
Garfield de Tiji des Templiers / Jérome Guery / 0 | 78.25
Team Penalties | time / 4 | 153.30
For full results, click here.