GCT Saint Tropez: Ben Maher Extends Winning Streak With Grand Prix Win; Shanghai Swans Rule GCL

Ben Maher and Winning Good. Photo: LGCT / Stefano Grasso
Ben Maher and Winning Good. Photo: Stefano Grasso/LGCT

Saint Tropez, FRA – June 2, 2018 – Great Britain’s Ben Maher took a sensational second win of the season today, following a breathtaking jump-off in the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Ramatuelle, Saint Tropez. The fight for the 2018 title has intensified after Edwina Tops-Alexander’s podium sees her regain the overall ranking lead.

Tops-Alexander takes back the coveted leader’s armband as the Championship race heads along the Cote D’Azur to Cannes, where she now leads with 154 points overall. Ben Maher (GBR) sits just behind in second, with 143 points, and long-time leader Scott Brash (GBR) is now third with 131 points overall. Both Tops-Alexander and Brash are in the running to make history with a third Championship title, as the Tour now looks to the 7th leg of the 2018 calendar.

Edwina Tops-Alexander and California. Photo: Stefano Grasso/LGCT
Edwina Tops-Alexander and California. Photo: Stefano Grasso/LGCT

A delighted Maher spoke of his special horse; “Winning Good is only nine years old and I’m really lucky with the horses I am riding now. It has been an amazing season so far! We are already in the GC Play Offs but hopefully this has given me a boost in the ranking.”

The first event of the season on the French Riviera delivered a dazzling Mediterranean experience for spectators and fans watching live around the world.

It was a grand prix with top riders from start to finish delivering a supreme display to show jumping fans worldwide. Uliano Vezzani’s testing course demanded perfection and no room for error with a challenging Longines triple combination, plus a tricky double of GC verticals that fell at the lightest of touches. Stars such as Christian Ahlmann (GER) and Daniel Deusser (GER) both suffered 4 faults at the double and further faults later in the course to their immense disappointment.

But there were success stories as the clear rounds mounted up. First to go through on a zero score was Peder Fredricson (SWE) with Hansson WL – he was quickly joined by Lillie Keenan (USA) and Supersox. “He’s got a really big heart and I’m so grateful to have him. The course tests the technical side but also the scope of the horse, so I’m lucky to have Sox as it was no problem for him!” said Keenan.

Belgian star Olivier Philippaerts with H&M Legend of Love was another of the early riders into the jump-off with Niels Bruynseels (BEL) and Gancia de Muse joining them. Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS) piloted California to a determined clear round with an energetic performance by the bay mare cementing their place in the jump-off.

Carlos Lopez on Admara 2. Photo: Stefano Grasso/LGCT
Carlos Lopez on Admara 2. Photo: Stefano Grasso/LGCT

British star Ben Maher again demonstrated his tremendous form this season by securing a slot in the jump-off with his 9-year-old horse Winning Good followed by Carlos Lopez (COL) and Admara 2 to make it seven into the final showdown.

First to light up the jump-off, Peder Fredricson (SWE) was swift over the early part of the course. The pair rolled back to the Dolce & Gabbana fence, with a big gallop to the last line over the skinny oxer and took five strides to the final Longines fence. Clear and quick, the duo threw down the gauntlet in 39.77 seconds.

Lillie Keenan (USA) and Super Sox were superbly fast but notched up an agonising fault at the second to last fence.

A danger to Fredricson’s lead, Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS) and California set off to a flying start. Tops-Alexander took a few extra strides but her mare made up the ground in between, propelling them into the lead in 38.78 seconds.

But a win was not guaranteed with two riders will still to go.

Maher and the Poden Farms-owned Winning Good took on the challenge, with fast flowing start to the jump-off. Maher then hit the accelerator to go flat out to the double Longines combination, leaving spectators on the edge of their seats as to whether they’d clear it. The young horse showed all his scope and talent, as the pair rounded up to the final stretch, galloping clear in 37.44 seconds to whoops of sheer delight from GCL team mate Emily Moffitt who is trained by Maher.

The LGCT Grand Prix win was down to the wire as the final horse and rider entered the arena. Carlos Lopez (COL) and Admara 2 lost time early on in the course, but it looked too close to call as they galloped down the final line. All eyes were on the clock, but it wasn’t enough as it stopped at 38.41 seconds, with the Colombian rider taking second place.

So it would be Maher who sparkled in Saint-Tropez, shooting up to second in the overall LGCT ranking. Carlos Lopez (COL) would earn a place in the GC Play Offs and the Longines Global Champions Tour Super Grand Prix, after Maher’s earlier win in Madrid saw him claim his ticket to the final showdown in December.

FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE

Jan Tops – President Longines Global Champions Tour

On the event:
“It is an amazing place. Everything is perfect. Uliano did such a great job. It is such a high level, such a prestigious class and so difficult to get 6 – 8 horses in the jump-off so he did a masterful job. We have great events with Cannes, Cascias and Monaco coming; these are special events and people love to be there.”

On the ranking”
“Edwina has been very consistent. Ben has been fantastic, two times first and Scott is a little bit on the same level. Everything is still possible to the end. With the new Super Grand Prix everyone wants to qualify, and we have some amazing horses and riders already. It is going to be an incredibly prestigious class to win, as is the GCL Super Cup for the teams.”

Denis Monticolo – LAOHS Event Director

On the event:
“To have the Longines Global Champions Tour here is an honour and we have to celebrate these great riders. The level is really high, it is incredible. We have to really appreciate being here in Ramatuelle/Saint-Tropez, the City of Ramatuelle has been supporting us a lot and it is a win win situation with top sport, entertainment and lifestyle.”

Edwina Tops-Alexander – Third Place and new LGCT Ranking Leader

On her ranking:
“Ben and Scott are in a very strong position. I just have to hang in there and get better results and try to be on the podium at more events. The level is so high and it is challenging it is interesting for the riders and the public. California has been in super shape, she is pretty fresh and she is just really on form. I was a little bit slow turning back to the double but all in all my horse jumped amazingly.”

Carlos Lopez – Second Place

On his plan:
“The strategy is always to go really fast. I think I made a mistake between 1 and 2 with one more tried but I am still really happy with the horse. I didn’t know I had qualified for the [Longines Global Champions Tour] Super Grand Prix and I am really looking forward to it.”

Ben Maher – LGCT Grand Prix of Ramatuelle, Saint Tropez Winner

On Winning Good:
“I just kept telling myself he is better the more he jumps. I am very proud to be able to ride these horses. It has been incredible, they are only 9 year old horses.”

On his win:
“[Winning the grand prix] in Madrid, everything went to plan. Today nothing went to plan at all but I had a bit of luck. I knew I had to be quick. I saw my stride a very long way back. I don’t know how he jumped it but my luck was in today.”

RESULTS

Longines Grand Prix CSI5*
Place / Rider / Horse / R1 Faults / R2 Faults | Time

1. Ben Maher / Winning Good / 0 / 0 | 37.44
2. Carlos Lopez / Admara 2 / 0 / 0 | 38.41
3. Edwina Tops-Alexander / California / 0 / 0 | 38.78
4. Peder Fredricson / Hansson WL / 0 / 0 | 39.77
5. Olivier Philippaerts / H&M Legend of Love / 0 / 4 | 36.10
6. Niels Bruynseels / Gancia de Muze / 0 / 4 | 37.55
7. Lillie Keenan / Super Sox / 0 / 4 | 39.40
8. Simon Delestre / Hermes Ryan / 4 | 73.02
9. Julien Epaillard / Usual Suspect d’Auge / 4 | 77.48
10. Alberto Zorzi / Fair Light van T Heike / 4 | 77.76
11. Darragh Kenny / Cassini Z / 4 | 77.86
12. Jur Vrieling / Davall / 4 | 79.20

For full results, click here.

Shanghai Swans Swoop on GCL Ramatuelle / Saint Tropez Win

Daniel Deusser and Pedro Veniss of the Shanghai Swans. Photo: GCL / Stefano Grasso
Daniel Deusser and Pedro Veniss of the Shanghai Swans. Photo: Stefano Grasso/GCL

Shanghai Swans’ pairing of Pedro Veniss and Daniel Deusser took home a spectacular win in an edge-of-the-seat showdown at the GCL Ramatuelle/Saint Tropez final, as London Knights extended their overall ranking lead.

Just metres from the world-famous Pampelonne Beach, the action went down to the wire as the duo clinched the win, managing to convert their earlier pole position into their first win of the season. Second place today went to Olivier Philippaerts and Ben Maher of the London Knights, with home favourite Roger-Yves Bost and Carlos Lopez taking the third spot on the podium for Chantilly Pegasus.

With their strong result at the Longines Athina Onassis Horse Show event, the London Knights keep hold of the overall ranking lead – now with 134 points overall. Moving up the order are Valkenswaard United, with a points tally of 118 and after their win today the Shanghai Swans sit in third, with 107 points overall as the Championship race heads along the French Riviera to Cannes.

One of the early teams to go, the Scandinavian Vikings, put in one of the strongest starting rounds as U25 rider Evelina Tovek collected just four faults and teammate Christian Ahlmann went clear. Their previous round score of 16 meant they would finish on 20 overall, but with poles falling all around they soon moved up the scoresheet.

A double clear from Valkenswaard United’s Alberto Zorzi with Fair Light van T Heike and just four faults from Bertram Allen with Gin Chin van het Lindenhof meant the 2016 Champions would briefly take over the top spot, looking to claw back their disappointing day one result. The team would go on to rise meteorically through the field, as time and time again the world’s best were caught out by the tricky course.

St Tropez Pirates rider Edwina Tops-Alexander put in an inspired round with California to deliver a clear for the team, but a further 8 faults from Pieter Devos and Espoir put them out of a podium position at their home city event. Tactics proved crucial once again; Cannes Stars pulled star striker Sergio Alvarez Moya and Charmeur off the bench, their strategy playing off brilliantly as the pair delivered a clear – they too shot up the leaderboard.

Chantilly Pegasus quickly followed suit after Roger-Yves Bost collected four faults, but teammate Carlos Lopez delivered a clear for the team.

The London Knights soon powered back to the lead, after four faults from Olivier Philippaerts with H&M Legend of Love and a tidy clear from Ben Maher with Winningood put them back in the mix. There was disappointment for the Monaco Aces, after four faults from Simon Delestre and Hermes Ryan and an unusual 16 penalties for Jerome Guery with Garfield de Tiji des Templiers plummeted them down the order to finish in 10th overall.

All eyes turned to the Miami Celtics, the first of the two teams to head into today on a clean score. One down for Shane Breen with Ipswich van de Wolfsakker and a further two poles tumbling for Jessica Springsteen with RMF Swinny du Parc took them down below the Chantilly Pegasus team.

With just two riders left to go, the tension could be cut with a knife in the packed out grandstands.

Pedro Veniss and Quabri de L'isle. Photo: Stefano Grasso/GCL
Pedro Veniss and Quabri de L’isle. Photo: Stefano Grasso/GCL

Shanghai Swans tried a different strategy as Pedro Veniss made a horse change, from Uccello de Will to the eye-catching liver chestnut Quabri de l’Isle, while teammate Daniel Deusser kept stallion Tobago Z as his ride for the GCL Saint Tropez final. Now with 8 faults to play with, another double clear would seal the win.

First to go Veniss and Quabri de I’Isle kept the Swans in touch, after a stunning clear from the stallion and the consistent Brazilian star. Knowing he could afford one rail down Deusser cantered into the ring, his bright chestnut horse Tobago Z gleaming in the Saint Tropez sun. Taking off at a careful but quick enough pace, Deusser made the most of his small stallions deftness, shaving off time around the corners but opening up the elastic horse over the wide oxers.

Daniel Deusser and Tobago Z. Photo: Stefano Grasso/GCL
Daniel Deusser and Tobago Z. Photo: Stefano Grasso/GCL

With the final fence to go, Deusser and Tobago showed no signs of pressure to clear the huge oxer, finishing clear and soaring to the win for the Swans. The League now heads just a short trip along the Cote D’Azur to Cannes, where teams will be looking to take the spotlight in the seventh leg of the Championship race.

FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE

Denis Monticolo – LAOHS Event Director

On the event:
“Well done to all the riders. It was a great show and I am sure this event will grow in the future.”

Jan Tops – Co Founder GCL

On the event:
“It is a special spot in the world, amazing organisation. It was very exciting with the teams going up and down, a lot of turbulence and the team that one really deserved it. Four clear rounds for Daniel and Pedro, so well deserved. In the ranking the London Knights have been very consistent and go far ahead. Everything is very close so it is going to be very exciting. Sixteen teams go to the Play Offs in Prague and everyone wants to be in the top four teams going straight to the semi finals.”

Olivier Philippaerts – London Knights, 2nd place

On his plan:
“We knew that after the first day and the goal was really to be in first place – we would have some work to do to catch up. We wanted to be ahead of Valkenswaard to open the gap [in the overall rankings], so we’re pleased with second today.”

 

Pedro Veniss – Shanghai Swans, Winning Team

On his win:
“We are very happy, we are celebrating the result and really happy to win today!”

Daniel Deusser – Shanghai Swans, Winning Team

On his team and his win:
“At the beginning we never had bad results but did not make it to the top. Now we have two times podium and it really feels that between each other it makes the click – we understand each other and which horse to go to which competition. Today I had the possibility to have four faults and we would still win, so a bit of pressure off me. I think we have a great team!”

RESULTS

Global Champions League of Saint Tropez
Place / Team / Rider / Horse / R1 Faults / R2 Faults | Time

1. Shanghai Swans
Pedro Veniss / Uccello de Will / 0 / –
Daniel Deusser / Tobago Z / 0 / 0 | 67.94
Pedro Veniss / Quabri de l’Isle / – / 0 | 71.50
Team penalties | time / 0 | 139.44
2. London Knights
Ben Maher / Winning Good / 4 / 0 | 70.87
Olivier Philippaerts / H&M Legend of Love / 0 / 4 | 70.89
Team penalties | time / 8 | 141.76
3. Chantilly Pegasus
Carlos Lopez / G&C Arrayan / 4 / –
Roger-Yves Bost / Sunshine du Phare / 4 / 4 | 70.27
Carlos Lopez / Admara 2 / – / 0 | 64.99
Team penalties | time / 12 | 135.26
4. Miami Celtics
Shane Breen / Ipswich van de Wolfsakker / 0 / 4 | 70.87
Jessica Springsteen / RMF Swinny du Parc / 0 / 8 | 71.45
Team penalties | time / 12 | 142.32
5. Valkenswaard United
Alberto Zorzi / Fair Light van T Heike / 0 / 0 | 72.14
Bertram Allen / Gin Chin van het Lindenhof / 12 / 4 | 67.71
Team penalties | time / 16 | 139.85

For full results, click here.

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