Photos: Stefano Grasso / LGCT
Simon Delestre grabbed the 5* spotlight
this evening as the top three riders came within two
hundredths of a second of each other in an extraordinary
demonstration of high calibre sport at the Longines Global
Champions Tour Grand Prix of Antwerp.
It was a battle of nanoseconds as the World No1 and former
LGCT Antwerp Grand Prix winner took the honours in the 1.50
/ 1.55m CSI5* BMW-sponsored class. The pace and performance
was sensational, with many of the world’s top horses and
riders in action under floodlights on the River Scheldt in
Europe’s 'Diamond City’.
With spectators holding their breath, Bertram Allen (IRL) on
the experienced Romanov and Penelope Leprevost (FRA) with
Vagabond de la Pomme, were joint second, crossing the line
at the exact same time in 38.39s - something highly unusual
in the sport. It was seen only once before last year in
Paris, when Ben Maher and Karim El Zoghby took a joint win
in the final class of the day.
The first round course featured light poles and cups, with
delicacy the word of the day. Three skinny poles played
their part with many caught out in the intimate floodlit
Ten riders went through to the jump-off, with some of the
world’s top horse and rider combinations in the mix for this
electric round of competition. Penelope Leprevost and
Vagabond de la Pomme were the first to jump clear in a
strong 38.39s. Despite Vagabond de la Pomme not being a
classic speed horse, Penelope rode a smooth round, shaving
all corners possible and covering the ground with a good
Home rider Niels Bruynseels (BEL) and his fiery hose Gancia
de Muze set off at a phenomenal pace, however were unable to
catch the leading French rider, much to the groan of the
local watching crowd. Compatriot Pieter Devos (BEL) and
Espoir were faster in time, but with one fence down were
unable to claim a medal in the tight speed class.
World number 1 Simon Delestre and his Grand Prix winning
horse Qlassic Bois Margot were next to go, steaming ahead
and crossing the line just two tenths faster than his fellow
French rider, in an impressive 38.37s.
Jessica Mendoza (GBR) and yesterday’s speed class winner
Eric Lamaze (CAN) both caught an unlucky pole as they pushed
for the fastest time. Janika Sprunger (SUI) and Uptown Boy
caught a time fault with their jump-off round, and John
Whitaker (GBR) with the stunning grey Echo of Light joined
those on four faults launching a little too early into the
combination. Patrice Delaveau (FRA) was the final rider and
despite putting in a valiant effort also came away with four
faults, leaving his compatriot Simon with the win.
Earlier in the day Egypt’s Abdel Saïd won the opening two
phase Artisan Frams 1.45m CSI5* class with the fiery 9 year
old bay gelding Luron S Z, stopping the clock at an
impressive 21.52s. Many of the world’s top horses were on
show ahead of the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix
of Antwerp, with famous faces including Casall ASK, Codex
One, Chiara, Cornet d’Amour and Flora de Mariposa.
The flowing two phase course was a great starting point for
many of the world’s top combinations, with the high calibre
athletes exploring the arena for the first time. A total of
19 went into the second round, to race against the clock,
and it an opportunity to witness global combinations in one
place for the first time in Europe this season.
Pius Schwizer and his bay mare 11 year Ailina came a close
second in 22.05s - John Whitaker and his upcoming mare
Ornellaia took a strong third place, just three tenths of a
second off P2 and crossing the line in 22.39s. Ireland’s
Denis Lynch put in an impressive early performance with
Camilla, holding the lead for the majority of the class,
however had to settle for 5th position overall. Other
notable names on form were Sergio Alvarez Moya (ESP), Jos
Verlooy (BEL), Schuyler Riley (USA), Gregory Wathelet (BEL)
and Laura Kraut (USA).
Tomorrow’s Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of
Antwerp will kick off at 18:45. For the full event
information, please click