First Day of day of Action at the GCT London Includes Victories From Nicola Philippaerts, Harrie Smolders and Berlin Lions

Nicola Philippaerts Gallops to the Win for Opening Day CSI5* Class

Nicola Philippaerts on Aikido Z
Photo: LGCT / Stefano Grasso

Belgium’s Nicola Philippaerts impressed the crowds in the jump-off of Friday’s CIS5* Longines Global Champions Tour of London on his big jumping horse 11 year-old Aikido Z (you can read more about the first round here). There was no doubt that he was riding to win as he came out hard over the first fence and galloped into the Union Jack, keeping up the pace into the Longines upright, securing a beautiful and fast clear, finishing at 39.13s.

“Today is my third show on this horse. He doesn’t look that quick – but he’s got a good canter. I am so happy that owners gave him to me to ride. He’s getting better and better!” said Philippaerts.

As the summer evening shadows lengthened across the sand arena at the iconic Royal Hospital Chelsea, the crowds were kept enthralled by some of the world’s top riders as they battled it out. Whilst fourteen riders qualified for the jump-off, Max Kühner (AUT), Harrie Smolders (NED), Bassem Mohammed (QAT) and Anna Kellnerova (CZE) opted to miss it and rest their horses ahead of Saturday’s action. However, with ten riding, it was tight at the top, with just fractions of a second separating the riders.

Nicola Philippaerts on Aikido Z
Nicola Philippaerts on Aikido Z – Photo: LGCT / Stefano Grasso

Denis Lynch (IRL) took the Big Ben inspired fence at a rapid pace which he maintained throughout the jump off, despite a little buck into the Roman columns, he finished with a lovely clear and with a fast enough time to take him into an early lead with 39.61s. He finally secured a podium finish, taking second.

Christian Kukuk (GER) came out of the starting gate with one thing on his mind and the crowd loved his smooth round. However, it was not enough to beat Lynch and he finished on 39.84.

The 325 year old Grade I and II listed building, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, provided the perfect backdrop as fantastic horse and rider combinations used determination and focus to tackle the course.

Daniel Deusser (GER) was the first out of the starting gate for the evening event. He took the first fences quickly, but his smooth and relaxed ride came to an abrupt halt at the Union Jack fence as SX Hidalgo VG refused, rearing in disapproval and the poles came down, leaving him finishing on 48.71s and four faults.

Henrik von Eckermann (SWE) stayed governed throughout, finishing on 41.19s and fourth place. Meanwhile, Darragh Kenny picked up the pace with some superbly tight turns, but took the Longines final fence down at a gallop to groans of dismay from the crowds. He finished with a rapid time of 38.11, but with four penalty points.

Belgium’s Niels Bruynseels suffered the same fate, flying round the course and was looking good to the last, but finished a little flat and nudged the last fence down. Jérôme Guery (BEL) was tight into the turns with Garfield de Tiji Des Templiers, however he was unlucky to get the last fence down to finish on four penalty points too.

Tiffany Foster (CAN) started well, but was unfortunate to wobble the red phone box fence and missed out on a clear.

Finally, last to go was Pénélope Leprevost (FRA) with Vagabond de la Pomme who enjoyed a solid round and fifth position. But it was Nicola Philippaerts’ day, with the popular Belgian rider taking the first feature class win of the weekend.

For full results, click here.

Smolders Sizzles While British Riders Battle It Out For Top Ten Finishes for Opening Class Of LGCT London

Harrie Smolders on Zinius
Harrie Smolders on Zinius – Photo: LGCT / Stefano Grasso

It was a great start for the home talent on the first day of day of action at the Longines Global Champions Tour in London, with four British riders in the top ten of the first CIS5* of the show. However, they did not have enough to beat Harrie Smolders (NED) – the current leader of the overall LGCT Rankings. He came through the starting gate on his bay gelding Zinius with big ambitions and rapid pace, taking the top spot with a very fast clear of 26.39s.

“I have a quick horse – he’s here for this class and Sunday, which only gives us two options to win and we had a good start! This horse does really well and he wins a lot! I was fast in the beginning of the second phase – I knew I had the time!”

William Funnell (GBR) on Billy Angelo held the top spot for most of the first CSI5* class, finishing a beautiful clear round on 23.91s, putting him into second. There was not even a breath between him and fellow Brit Laura Renwick on her 14 year old chestnut stallion Van de Vivaldi, who did an impressively economical round, stopping the clock at 27.05s, finding a place on podium and taking third.

Hosted for the first time in history at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, spectators have been treated to some glorious sunshine and stunning performances from some of the best riders in the world, all set against the beautiful and iconic grounds. Amongst those watching the action from the covered grandstands have been several of the three hundred Chelsea Pensioners who live on site, resplendent in their scarlet coats.

Despite having some challenging combinations, including a large oxer heading into a triple combination taking inspiration from the London Underground tube sign, the course was one of the softer ones of the Tour. It meant a number of fast clears and there was not a lot of space between any of the top riders.

Swiss rider Martin Fuchs took the fourth spot finishing on 28.32s, with two more Brits chasing him in fifth and sixth. John Whitaker (GBR) who turns sixty-two on Saturday went clear on 15 year old stallion Argento, finishing on 28.59s, and Olympic Gold medallist Ben Maher followed behind him on his bay mare MTF Madame X with 29.58s, wowing the crowds with some nifty turns.

For full results, click here.

Berlin Lions Roar to Pole Position at GCL London

GCL London
Berlin Lions rider, Max Kühner on Chardonnay 79 – Photo: GCL / Stefano Grasso

The Berlin Lions roared to pole in a spectacular inaugural Global Champions League of London at the stunning new venue of Royal Hospital Chelsea.

The Lions were the only team in the class who managed to secure a double clear in the first round on Friday at the unique and historic new destination for show jumping on the Championship circuit. It puts them in pole for the first time in the competition and in prime position to convert their score into a podium result in tomorrow’s final.

There was an excited buzz about the new stage for the series in the British capital as spectators and international guests caught their first glimpse of the Sir Christopher Wren-designed building and spotted the much-loved Chelsea Pensioners enjoying the sport. With over 200 horses on the South Grounds of the impressive site, Chelsea had never seen a sports event like it before. Ben Maher of the home city team, the London Knights said: “I don’t think it gets much better than this, it’s really the centre of London – very typically English and I’m sure everyone’s going to be enjoying it this weekend.”

Berlin Lions rider, Anna Kellnerova on Classic – Photo: GCL / Stefano Grasso
Berlin Lions rider, Anna Kellnerova on Classic – Photo: GCL / Stefano Grasso

With Saturday poised for a sell out crowd, today’s Global Champions League first round saw the world’s top riders battling for team glory. Max Kühner on grey stallion Chardonnay 79 managed a beautiful clear well within time, finishing on 77.6s. His teammate Anna Kellnerova had the crowd cheering when she made it a clean team score, incidentally with the exact same finish time. It puts them into the lead heading into day two on Saturday.

“It’s a good feeling, but it is tight at the top and we have everything to ride for tomorrow. We want to bring our best horses and these are the pair in charge,” said Kühner.

Kellnerova agreed, “We came here with a goal to be as good as possible.”

The first round of the GCL of London kicked off in style as the 18 teams took centre stage against the backdrop of the historic and much loved Royal Hospital Chelsea. Fans were treated to spectacular show jumping, as the teams fought to put themselves in the top spot ahead of tomorrow’s GCL of London final, where valuable ranking points would be up for grabs.

Guests and VIPs watched from beautiful surroundings, model and Help for Heroes Ambassador Jodie Kidd said: “It is absolutely stunning to see show jumping in the city like this – it’s gorgeous. My dad was a show jumper and I wanted to follow in his footsteps. I started modelling to pay for a bigger horse box – the rest is history, but I could have been here! It was such a popular sport with tens of millions of fans worldwide; thanks to this Global Tour interest is surging and it is bringing show jumping back to the cities so people can see it live. It’s very exciting, it’s great to be here and I am so pleased we have nice weather!”

She was joined in the GCL TV live studio by Olympic double gold medallist track cyclist Victoria Pendleton who said: “To be able to see the best horses in the world is an incredible opportunity, so I am happy I could come along. I really do enjoy any sporting challenge, but even more so when horses are involved. I’m retraining one of my race horses, so I had a jumping lesson a couple of days ago but I feel quite embarrassed looking at the height I was jumping compared to this! Making half a tonne of horse look as light as air is incredible to watch. I can’t wait to watch it all – having ridden horses I can appreciate what a skill it is!”

It was a strong second from the St Tropez Pirates – Simon Delestre put in a blistering round but took early penalties through the triple combination. However, teammate Jérôme Guery had what was needed to manage a clear with Garfield de Tiji Des Templiers stopping the clock at 78.88s, and shooting the team up the scoreboard to help keep them in with a chance for the win tomorrow.

There was a top three placing for ranking leaders, Hamburg Diamonds on day one. Harrie Smolders secured a faultless clear well within the reviewed time allowance (extended to 80s from 78s to start with) with Emerald N.O.P. Whilst U25 Diamond Jos Verlooy was fast out of the starting gate, he finished on four faults to help put the team in third today.

It was a technical, London-inspired course in one of the biggest arenas of the circuit. Nearly one and a half thousand tonnes of sand has been brought into the grounds of the 325 year old Royal Hospital Chelsea to create it, and spectators were treated to some beautiful fences influenced by the Underground logo, Big Ben and red phone boxes. Whilst there was plenty of space between the early fences to make up some ground and time, there were several combinations which required quick wit and planning. A big triple combination down the longside of the arena in particular caused some issues, as well as a couple of big oxers requiring plenty of scope.

Shanghai Swans’ Daniel Deusser brought the first of the eleven clear rounds of the competition (having a single time penalty fault rescinded after tie allowance review). However, his team-mate Roger Yves Bost knocked a pole and picked up a time-fault with chestnut stallion Sunshine du Phare. It meant they finished the class in ninth. Darragh Kenny managed a fast clear on his ten year old gelding Team de Coquerie for Paris Panthers, followed by the speedy combination of Nayel Nassar and Lordan who knocked a pole finishing on four faults. They closed day one in fourth, less than a second behind Hamburg Diamonds.

It was a smooth start for the Vienna Eagles, with Niels Bruynseels and Gancia Muze soaring round the course. Team mate Emanuel Andrade ended on four faults with Reus de la Nutria – they go into round two in fifth.

The overall rankings could be primed for a shake up, after Valkenswaard United finished in 7th today. Team anchor Alberto Zorzi looked very comfortable throughout his round, but was not able to make it thirteen clears from nineteen rounds picking up a single time fault with Cornetto K. They finished in seventh after Switzerland’s Janika Sprunger collected four faults with Aris CMS.

London Knights got a rousing welcome from a supportive home crowd, but World No 1 Kent Farrington finished on nine penalties with grey gelding Dublin, and Ben Maher and Don Vito ended with a frustrating four faults meaning the team would finish the day in 13th.

There were a number of high scores at the start of the competition on Friday afternoon – Eric van der Vleuten picked up a couple of early faults for Madrid in Motion, followed by Chantilly Pegasus’ Lauren Hough who had a challenging round picking up several penalties after her bay Waterford had a little look at the triple combination and then nudged a couple of poles.

For full results, click here.

Twelve Things About the Twelfth Leg of the Longines Global Champions Tour

LGCT London
Photo: LGCT / Stefano Grasso

For the first time in history, the beautiful and iconic grounds of Christopher Wren’s Royal Hospital Chelsea will play host to thetwelfth leg of the Longines Global Champions Tour in London from August 4-6, 2017.

To mark this special occasion, here are twelve facts about the London leg of the series:

1. 202 horses have arrived in Chelsea for the competition

2. There are 101 riders competing, including 9 of the world’s top 10

3. Spectators will be treated to watching 30 Olympians in action; 8 of them are Gold medallists including Team GB’s Ben Maher and Scott Brash

4. The arenas have been constructed from scratch on the South Grounds using 1,300 tonnes of sand

5. 25 chefs are on hand to cook for VIPs, riders and their crews

6. 1,000 litres of Nyetimber English sparkling wine will be drunk over the weekend

7. It will be needed to wash down 40 kilos of strawberries

8. Not forgetting the horses, who will eat 400 bales of hay

9. 29 nations will be represented during the 3 days of action-packed competition

10. A total of €914,500 of prize money is up for grabs, including €300,000 in the CSI5* Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of London, presented by Sapinda, on Saturday afternoon

11. Series leader Harrie Smolders (NED) will be hoping for another win on Saturday to widen his 252-point at the top of the board with Alberto Zorzi (ITA) just 1 point behind

12. The Royal Hospital Chelsea is 325 years old and houses 300 veterans who have served in Korea, the Falkland Islands, Cyprus, Northern Ireland and World War II live there

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