Cascais, POR – June 16, 2018 – Nicola Philippaerts (BEL) triumphed in a high class Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix, facing down the phenomenally on-form Gregory Wathelet (BEL) in challenging conditions in Cascais, Estoril.
Philippaerts hailed his grey gelding H&M Harley as “unbelievable” as he celebrated his victory and becoming the latest rider to qualify for a place at the Longines Global Champions Tour Super Grand Prix at the GC Playoffs in December.
Saturday’s result sees the ranking unchanged at the half-way point in the 2018 season with overall series leader Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS) on top with 172 points with Ben Maher (GBR) 29 points behind on 143 points and Scott Brash (GBR) in third on 131 points. Philippaerts moves up to fourth position on 121 points.
The first round 1.60m course was littered with serious challenges from the word go for the 35 qualifiers as the sun set over the beautiful Estoril oceanfront and a narrow vertical with a chequered flag at fence 12 to finish the course it was not for the faint-hearted.
It was Piergiorgio Bucci (ITA) and Diesel GP du Bois Madame who delivered the first clear round of the night to the delight of spectators. He was followed by a superb, free flowing clear round from Danielle Goldstein (ISR) and Lizziemary who won the same event last year. They were followed by impressive clear rounds from Philip Houston (GER) and Chalanda.
Belgian rider Gregory Wathelet, riding high from success in the GCL competition and two 5* wins the previous nights, produced a fantastic clear round on Mjt Nevados S.
There were more clears to follow from Julien Epaillard (FRA) and Virtuose Champeix and Christian Kukuk (GER) riding Limonchello NT. Nicola Philippaerts (BEL) and Spanish star Eduardo Alvarez Aznar (ESP) on Rockefeller completed the eight-strong line up for a sizzling jump off.
The 8th LGCT Grand Prix jump off of the season was another thriller with exceptional displays from world class combinations.
First in the jump off was Piergiorgio Bucci (ITA) and Diesel who opted for a safe clear but with the clock stopped at 47.09 it was unlikely to be the winning round.
Danielle Goldstein (ISR), defending her grand prix title form the event last year, rode another impressive round on Lizziemary. The Chestnut mare responded superbly despite some tricky tight turns and still managed to go clear in a fast 41.72.
It all came together for Philip Houston (GER) and Chalanda but their clear round in 42.34 was not fast enough. The threat from fast Frenchman Julien Epaillard (FRA) evaporated and he finished on 22 faults.
Tension rose as Gregory Wathelet (BEL) and Mjt Nevados S swept round the course executing sharp turns in a superbly controlled round. His grey stallion ate up the ground in the sweeping arena and came home in 40.93.
Nicola Philippaerts (BEL) and H&M Harley were always going to present the major threat and from the start were fast, powering round the jump off course to finish in 39.57 with Nicola pointing his finger skywards in victory.
With Christian Kukuk (GER) out of the picture, suffering four faults at the penultimate fence, it was down to Eduardo Alvarez Aznar (ESP) and he achieved great pace to finish in 41.36 and third place.
The Tour now gallops to Monaco, past the midway point in the season as the battle for the Championship gathers pace.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Jan Tops – Founder and President LGCT
On the event:
“It was a Belgian week, every class was won by a Belgian rider. It was a great jump off and very exciting to the last moment. Nicola’s father won here back in 2006 when the Tour started so it is great to see they keep it in the family. And we have tonight another rider who qualifies for the Super Grand Prix (at the GC Playoffs in Prague in December).”
Eduardo Alvarez Aznar – Third place:
On his finish:
“It is always nice to be on the podium and I hope one time I can be faster or at least the same time (as Nicola). I’m very happy with my horse and the event. I’m very happy with my horse, it was the first time jumping at night and three times clear today.”
Gregory Wathelet – Second place
On his finish:
“I am really happy with my horse for his first GP at that level. I know fast riders behind me and I had to try for it. Nicola normally faster than me with the horse I tried I just have to congratulate Nicola today.”
Nicola Philippaerts – LGCT Grand Prix Cascais Winner
On H&M Harley:
“I think he (H&M Harley) is in really good shape. We rested him after Hamburg. I can’t thank him more and hopefully he will stay in good shape though the season. It is always nice if you can beat a guy like Gregory, he is known everywhere.”
Longines Grand Prix of Cascais CSI5*
Place / Rider / Horse / R1 Faults / JO Faults | Time
1. Nicola Philippaerts / H&M Harley VD Bisschop / 0 / 0 | 39.57
2. Gregory Wathelet / Mjt Nevados S / 0 / 0 | 40.93
3. Eduardo Álvarez Aznar / Rokfeller de Pleville Bois Margot / 0 / 0 | 41.36
4. Danielle Goldstein / Lizziemary / 0 / 0 | 41.72
5. Philip Houston / Chalanda / 0 / 0 | 42.34
6. Piergiorgio Bucci / Diesel GP du Bois Madame / 0 / 0 | 47.09
7. Christian Kukuk / Limonchello NT / 0 / 4 | 44.11
8. Julien Epaillard / Virtuose Champeix / 0 / 22 | 57.03
9. Martin Fuchs / Chaplin / 4 | 64.90
10. Luciana Diniz / Lennox / 4 | 66.02
11. Sameh El Dahan / Quick Z / 4 | 67.29
12. Yuri Mansur Guerios / Ibelle van de Grote Haart / 4 | 67.65
For full results, click here.
Panthers Storm to Edge-Of-The-Seat GCL Cascais Win
Paris Panthers’ duo of Gregory Wathelet and Darragh Kenny stormed to a sensational win in a thrilling GCL Cascais, Estoril showdown. As the Championship gallops to the midway point, the Panthers pulled out all the stops amidst challenging weather conditions to convert their round one pole position into a win – one of only two teams to do so this season – moving up an impressive five places in the overall rankings.
The battle for the top spot has tightened with teams looking to the GC Play Offs and GCL Super Cup, where only 16 teams will qualify to compete for an unprecedented 12 million euros in prize money. London Knights and Valkenswaard United look to be pulling away from the rest of the field, but there was movement up and down the rest of the field. Still in the lead on 174 points are the Knights, however United sit 7 points behind, now on a tally of 167 overall. Shanghai Swans keep hold of third, with 127 points overall, with Miami Celtics and Scandinavian Vikings now just one point apart following the podium finish for the Vikings today.
Course designer Frank Rothenberger produced an impressive 1.55m track, once again allowing long galloping distances and utilising the full length and breadth of the arena. A scopey GC black and white oxer set as the riders passed the in-gate caught out a few, a double of oxers needed plenty of power and a gappy triple combination across the diagonal required scope, balance and pin point precision with strides.
The pressure was on for Valkenswaard United, who sat a pole away from rivals London Knights after the first round, the team keen for a strong result to close the gap in the Championship. Another four faults for Alberto Zorzi and Contanga meant everything rested on anchor Marcus Ehning, but the German maestro delivered another phenomenal clear with Funky Fred to keep United in reaching distance for a good points haul.
Marcus spoke about the challenging course: “It’s quite windy, and a little chilly! I had to wait while they fixed the jump, he was fresh in the beginning and didn’t have the best rhythm to start. I’ve had Funky a long time, and he is still improving all the time so I’m looking forward to the Grand Prix today.”
First of the double clears, Montreal Diamonds were hoping for a clean scoresheet but the first part of the double of oxers came down for Mark McAuley with Miebello. Danielle Goldstein and Lizziemary also collected four faults, dropping them down to a score of eight and behind Valkenswaard United.
Rome Gladiators made a strategic change with Lorenzo de Luca stepping off the bench in place of Marlon Zanotelli. Riding the fiery stallion Halifax van het Kluizebos, de Luca powered around the arena, managing the hot horse brilliantly and flying to the final fence on five strides to keep the team on a clean score. But it started to fall apart after Abdel Saïd and Jumpy van de Hermitage collected eight faults, dropping the team below Valkenswaard United.
Ranking leaders London Knights kept their GCL R1 line up exactly the same, with Nicola Philippaerts and H&M Harley vd Bisschop and Martin Fuchs with Chaplin taking centre stage. First to go Nicola Philippaerts piloted the dapple grey stallion around the arena, the powerful horse unfazed by the arena. They looked good for a clear until they clipped the final oxer, the pole rolling and adding 4 faults to the team score. An early pole for Fuchs meant the duo had to pick up the pace, to try beat United’s time for a podium position. The young Swiss star delivered, with the team on a combined time 6 seconds faster than United.
A clear from Christian Ahlmann and Clintrexo Z of Scandinavian Vikings kept the team in with a chance for a win. Leopold van Asten and VDL Groep Beauty flew around the arena, but a pole down meant they would stay on four, with only a clear or faster four from the final team robbing them of the win.
Final team to go, the Paris Panthers, were hungry for the win that had so far eluded them this season. Darragh Kenny picked up the reins first, guiding Balou du Reventon masterfully around the arena to give teammate Gregory Wathelet the best possible chance of a team win.
An early pole for Wathelet and his grey stallion Mjt Nevados S turned up the heat, as the experienced rider put pedal to the metal to deliver a speedier time. It would be just enough, the combined score two seconds quicker than the Vikings, meaning that the Panthers would take their first win of the season and a huge points haul.
The Championship now looks to round 9, and Monaco, as the fight for a place in the GC Play Offs intensifies.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Nicola Philippaerts – London Knights, third place
“We started very well. Today we were a little unlucky even though our horses jumped very good. We’re trying to be consistent at every show, and stay at the top at every event. The season is long, we’re in a good position now but anything could happen. The five of us have good horses too, and we can swap a bit so every time we go there’s a good horse from the start. It’s very important as every scores counts and we want to win it!”
Leopold van Asten – Scandinavian Vikings, second place
“If I’d jumped clear we would have won so it’s [a shame]. [VDL Groep Beauty] was a little strong but I’m very happy with the result today and we moved up three places in the overall rankings, so we’re moving in the right direction. Overall it was a good weekend.”
Darragh Kenny – Paris Panthers, first place
“It was a very good result for us – we were in a good position going into today, we had the same thing in Mexico and we ended up third, so it’s good to finish on top today. It was important for us to have a good result today [for the overall rankings] – Gregory was fantastic on the first day, he left us with a really good round and score. Today worked out well!”
Gregory Wathelet – Paris Panthers, first place
“I knew what I had to do, but I wasn’t sure about the time. I had one down so I knew I had to push on for the time! For sure it’s been an amazing [weekend] for me, it couldn’t have been better [with two individual wins, a team win and 2nd in the LGCT Grand Prix of Cascais].”
Global Champions League of Saint Tropez
Place / Team / Rider / Horse / R1 Faults / R2 Faults | Time
1. Paris Panthers
Gregory Wathelet / Qualido / 0 / –
Darragh Kenny / Balou du Reventon / 0 / 0 | 66.68
Gregory Wathelet / Mjt Nevados S / – / 4 | 63.33
Team penalties | time / 4 | 130.01
2. Scandinavian Vikings
Christian Ahlmann / Clintrexo Z / 0 / 0 | 67.15
Leopold van Asten / VDL Groep Beauty / 0 / 4 | 65.83
Team penalties | time / 4 | 132.98
3. London Knights
Nicola Philippaerts / H&M Harley vd Bisschop / 0 / 4 | 63.14
Martin Fuchs / Chaplin / 0 / 4 | 64.03
Team penalties | time / 8 | 127.17
4. Valkenswaard United
Marcus Ehning / Funky Fred / 0 / 0 | 65.84
Alberto Zorzi / Contanga / 4 / 4 | 69.80
Team penalties | time / 8 | 135.64
5. Rome Gladiators
Marlon Módolo Zanotelli / Rock’n Roll Semilly / 0 / –
Abdel Saïd / Jumpy van de Hermitage / 0 / 8 | 68.34
Lorenzo de Luca / Halifax van het Kluizebos / – / 0 | 67.38
Team penalties | time / 8 | 135.72
For full results, click here.