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Belgium’s Gregory Wathelet and Nevados S win GC Grand Prix of Valkenswaard

Gregory Wathelet and Nevados S. © Sportfot

Gregory Wathelet and Nevados S.

© Sportfot

 

Belgium’s Gregory Wathelet and Nevados S win GC Grand Prix of Valkenswaard

Gregory Wathelet (BEL) and the super-charged grey stallion Nevados S made it their day winning the €300,000 GC Grand Prix of Valkenswaard Presented by TENNOR in blistering style.
 
It was an afternoon of world class performances and exactly what the show jumping world had been missing since sport globally was impacted by Covid-19.
 
The equine firepower on display was breathtaking with familiar star horses and future champions lighting up Tops International Arena and giving fans around the world watching GCTV an incredible treat.
 
After his win Gregory said: "I am very very happy and my horse jumped amazing. I knew the jump off would be really fast so I took some risks and fortunately he played the game with me. I know my horse is quite fast and on the left turn I can take some risks. It was my day today.”
 
Gregory, who received a stunning Official Watch from Longines during the GC Grand Prix of Valkenswaard prize-giving, also thanked the organisers of the GC of Valkenswaard: “We have to be happy because for everyone and for the sport it was difficult this year. We have to thank Jan for giving us the opportunity to do this kind of event in this period and thank you Tennor.”
 
Top riders turned out in force to seize the opportunity to compete again at the very top level and there was emotion in a poignant retirement ceremony for the legendary stallion of modern show jumping Don VHP Z. The champion horse took a final turn in the arena spotlight as Harrie Smolders said “He jumped over and over clear and clear at 1.60m level, he is one of a kind, I don’t think many horses will ever match that. He brought me to number 1 in the world, he brought me the Longines Global Champions Tour title, always under pressure he was unbelievable.” The pair took a final lap of honour before Don VHP Z heads off to a well-deserved retirement from the sport.
 
The build up to the jump off was a fascinating look at the form of both top riders and horses and the immaculate sand arena was the perfect stage for the much-anticipated world class CSI5* Grand Prix with the 1.60m course proving a robust test of the best.
 
First to go in the GC Grand Prix of Valkenswaard Presented by TENNOR was Marc Houtzager (NED) with Sterrehof's Dante. The pair set out around Uliano Vezzani’s testing track with confidence but could not keep all the poles up, finishing on 8 faults. The next two riders, Evelina Tovek (SWE) and Jeanne Sadran (FRA) both finished on 4 faults. The first clear of the class came early on with a solid clear from an ecstatic Simone Blum (GER) and DSP Cool Hill.
 
All eyes were on last year’s LGCT Grand Prix of Valkenswaard winners Maikel van der Vleuten (NED) and Dana Blue and the fantastic combination showed their class in the sweeping main arena. A light touch resulted in a disappointing pole at the penultimate oxer, and an unlucky 4 faults.
 
Jane Richard Philips (SUI) had an unfortunate start with Clipper du Haut du Roy but was determined to keep up the pace for a fast 4 faults. However, the last fence fell and Jane would finish on 8 faults with one of the fastest rounds so far.
 
Young rider Lucas Porter (USA) also kept up a strong pace and really had to ride for the triple combination, and though C Hunter displayed his careful technique, Lucas also fell foul of the final fence to finish on 4 faults.
 
Incredibly, three riders in a row would take down the final fence, the Stal Tops oxer, and third to be caught out was Shane Breen (IRE) and Z7 Ipswich despite a strong clear around the rest of the course.
 
Bart Bles (NED) pulled off a great performance with carefully considered striding and strong jumping with Kriskras DV to take the second clear round of the class and he was followed in by another rising star, young rider Mike Kawai (JPN) and his striking stallion Tokyo du Soleil who finished with 12 faults.
 
Philip Houston (GER) sealed a spectacular clear with Chaccsky PS in the combination’s first ever Grand Prix together, marking them as ones to watch into the jump-off and for the future. Jessica Springsteen (USA) came in to the tulip planks on an angle but couldn’t keep the plank in place, however Don Juan van de Donkhoeve showed real potential with a great jump over the Tennor vertical and finished on 4 faults.
 
Harrie Smolders (NED) took a more forward approach to the delicate planks with Dolinn and while his risk paid off, the back rail fell in the middle of the triple combination and Harrie fell out of contention for the jump-off.
 
A stunningly careful round from Carambole and Willem Greve (NED) showed the pair’s impressive partnership, and they sailed around the course to look like ones to watch in the jump-off.
 
All eyes were on Christian Ahlmann (GER) as he took to the course with Dominator 2000 Z, and Christian used all his skill throughout the course, adapting the horse’s stride to perfection to clinch a clear round.
 
Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS) finished on a score of 8 faults with Identity Vitseroel, swiftly followed by Olivier Philippaerts (BEL) and H&M Legend of Love who ended on 4 faults. Emily Moffitt (GBR) was foot perfect through the triple combination that had caught out so many riders but was another to finish on 4 faults.
 
Max Kuhner (AUT) made the course look easy with Elektric Blue P, the consistent combination pulling out all the stops to be really in the running in this Grand Prix following their strong performance in Doha in 2020.
 
Claire Z demonstrated her scope with Pieter Devos (BEL) and the talented pairing flew through the tricky triple combination. Steadying for the Stal Tops oxer, Pieter left nothing to chance to seal their place in the jump-off.
 
British rider Scott Brash (GBR) and Hello Jefferson went for some forward strides and despite an incredible edge-of-the-seat moment at the bicycle vertical and the final fence, Scott displayed his innate skill clearing the final two fences, and clinching the eighth clear of this thrilling competition.
 
Taking his time around the course and adding strides to ensure careful jumping, Gregory Wathelet (BEL) and Nevados S were never in any doubt about their fate and jumped a superb and intelligent clear round to take another spot in the jump-off.
 
The jump-off was set to be a blistering competition, as Marlon Modolo Zanotelli became the next rider to join the ranks of those through to the next round with his consistent horse VDL Edgar M.
 
Misanto Pret A Tout demonstrated all his experience with legendary rider Marcus Ehning (GER) with an impeccable round to secure their qualification for the jump-off. Kevin Staut (FRA) was unable to replicate his success from yesterday’s qualifying class with Viking d’La Rousserie, but the leading rider from the qualifier, Darragh Kenny (IRE) consolidated his place.
 
Jump-Off
 
First to go was Simone Blum with DSP Cool Hill and the pair set out around the course aiming for a clear. It wasn’t to be for Simone today however, and they finished on 4 faults in 52.74 seconds.
 
Bart Bles used Kriskras DV’s long stride and turned tightly in front of the flowers, galloped to the Longines oxer and held a shorter stride to the final Tennor upright, banking them the first double clear of the class in 48.47 seconds.
 
Philip Houston took careful lines on this new horse, but had one fence down to finish on 4 faults in 53.43 seconds.
 
Opening up Carambole’s long stride, Willem Greve put the pedal to the metal and sailed over the final fence for an exceptional clear round just one second shy of Bart Bles’ time, to finish in 49.55 seconds.
 
Just one pole fell for Christian Ahlmann and Dominator, and the pair finished on 4 faults, 2 seconds faster than Bart Bles in 46.43 seconds.
 
Max Kuhner looked to be heading to the top of the leaderboard with an incredibly fast round, but the Tennor vertical fell at the final fence and the top spot was snatched from his grasp despite the fast time of 44.80 seconds.
 
The consistent pair of Pieter Devos and Claire Z reacted well to the inside turns but the Stal Tops oxer fell and that put them straight out of contention for the win today.
 
Scott Brash added an extra stride in the roll back to fence 15 leaving some room for others to be faster. He flew into the lead on Hello Jefferson at this stage in a superb fast round in 45.72 seconds.
 
Gregory Wathelet went wide to fence 15 but he kept motoring on Nevados S. He was lightning fast around the course, galloping to the final upright, with spectators on the edge of their seats. His risks paid off and he shaved an incredible 1.10 seconds off Scott Brash's time to clinch victory in 44.62 seconds.
 
Also taking the outside route in the roll back to fence 15, Marlon Modolo Zanotelli had his foot to the floor in characteristically fast style, taking a risk to the Tennor upright which came tumbling down.
 
A pattern emerged as every German rider in the jump-off had fence 2 down and Marcus Ehning would be no exception. He had an early fault with Misanto Pret A Tout and finished in 7th place overall.
 
Darragh Kenny had it all to play for as the last rider to go in this jump-off, and went in aiming for a fast clear. Knocking just one pole, Darragh finished in 10th place on Chic Chic in 49.13 seconds.

Results.

 

Giants win Global Champions League teams event

 

Simon Delestre riding Hermes Ryan and Bart Bles riding Gin D. © Sportfot

Simon Delestre riding Hermes Ryan and Bart Bles riding Gin D.

© Sportfot



Hamburg Giants towered over their rivals to win the GCL of Valkenswaard Presented by Stal Tops in a rollercoaster team thriller.

Show jumping fans across the globe were treated to a high adrenaline team competition with dramatic changes of fortune throughout the unpredictable class.

It all went down to the wire as the Giants duo of Simon Delestre riding Hermes Ryan and Bart Bles riding Gin D blasted away the opposition with another stunning set of double clear rounds ahead of home team Valkenswaard United and New York Empire.

Speaking after their win, an ecstatic Bart said “We’re really happy, the horse jumped fantastic today, and we had a good clear in the first round”.

Tactics were at play as the Hamburg Giants aimed to be the only team with a completely clean sheet, and Simon explained “The first one I tried to go not too fast but enough so we can keep the lead so it was good for us to know that if we jumped clear, that we could win as nobody else jumped a double clear round. Today was our day. My horse Hermes Ryan really produced an amazing job again, and I'm really happy to share it with Bart. He's a good friend and I think together we are a strong team.”

Simon also spoke of the team’s appreciation for this exceptional competition in this difficult year, and said “For sure it’s an amazing 5 star, we are happy to have a little for this year, which is a really difficult and strange year for us, so we are really happy to be here!”

It was a welcome return to world class show jumping with the world’s top ranked show jumpers putting on masterful display across three days at Tops International Arena with all the action streamed live on GCTV. Here's how the action unfolded:

Cascais Charms
 
Taking 16 faults forward from the first round, Cascais Charms needed a solid performance to remain in contention but after 1 time fault from Roger-Yves Bost on Cassius Clay VDV Z and 14 from Francois Mathy Jr and Kinshasa de Goedereede, it was not to be the team's day finishing on a total of 31 faults.

Doha Falcons

Doha Falcons were next into the ring, with Bassem Mohammed clocking up 14 faults. He was followed in by young rider Mike Kawai and Celvin, who showed their talent with a great round, just rolling the final fence and picking up a time fault for the team to round out the competition on 27 faults.

Paris Panthers

Darragh Kenny went for the time in this second round following a horse change from Chic Chic to Belo Horizonte and pulled off a spectacular clear in 72.02 seconds. He was followed by Harrie Smolders and Cas, who showed all his experience to post another clear round, leaving the team on a fast 8 faults.

Berlin Eagles
 
Time would really be influential for Berlin Eagles. With this in mind, Malin Baryard-Johnsson took some tight inside turns with H&M Indiana to seal her second clear round. Riding Asathir, Philipp Weishaupt also clinched a clear in this round to leave the team on a competitive 4 faults in 143.74 seconds.

Valkenswaard United
 
The pressure was on as teams would need double clears to stay in contention, and Valkenswaard United rose to the challenge. Marcus Ehning and Funky Fred used all their experience, taking six strides to the final fence to secure the fastest performance of this round so far. Peder Fredricson also pulled off an extremely fast clear with Catch Me Not S, putting the home team to the top of the leaderboard at this stage on 4 faults to land them in eventual second place in a time of 136.06 seconds.

Scandinavian Vikings
 
Christian Ahlmann had it all to do in this second round with Take A Chance On Me Z, but an unfortunate pole fell at the last fence. Young rider Evelina Tovek took to the stage next with Winnetou de la Hamente Z, taking an inside turn to the Roelofsen Horse Trucks fence, but the last two fences would fall and the team finished on 16 faults, dropping them behind Paris Panthers.

Cannes Stars
 
Setting out first for the team was Jessica Springsteen and Volage du Val Henry. Picking up the pace in the later part of the course, the pair aimed for a clear but sadly picked up one time fault. Hans-Dieter Dreher mirrored Jessica’s performance with Berlinda, also picking up a time fault and the team finished on 6 faults.

Shanghai Swans
 
Max Kuhner and Vancouver Dreams also took a tight roll back to the Roelofsen Horse Trucks upright, and powered to the final tulip oxer to post a clean sheet. Next up, Alexandra Thornton and Cornetto K needed a clear round to keep ahead of Berlin Eagles. Rolling the first element of the GCL triple combination as well as the final tulip oxer, it wasn’t to be and the team ended on 13 faults.

New York Empire
 
Shane Breen did exactly what was needed with Z7 Ipswich, with a great fast clear. Scott Brash followed and showed all Hello Mr President’s scope and carefulness, with a stunning clear round. Their time was just one second slower than Valkenswaard United however, finishing on 4 faults in 137.28 seconds, resulting in an impressive third place.

Miami Celtics
 
Maurice Tebbel got deep to the second part of the final triple combination with Don Diarado and the pole fell, adding 4 faults to the team’s clean sheet from round 1. Abdel Said went for a clear round, without rushing Oak’s Grove Laith, but sadly the final fence fell. Abdel added a time fault for the team to finish on a score of 9.

Prague Lions
 
Turning tightly after the Tennor vertical, Jur Vrieling rode a well controlled round on VDL Glasgow VH Merelsnest for a super clear round in 71.49. Wilm Vermier knew he needed a clear round and took a steady approach, but finished with 17 faults to drop them out of the running.

Madrid in Motion
 
Another team coming forward with a clean sheet, Madrid in Motion faced enormous pressure to stay clear to reach the podium. A great clear from Eric van der Vleuten and Wunschkind set the pace, but Maikel van der Vleuten couldn’t replicate his earlier success with Beauville Z, picking up 12 faults and dropping the team down the ranking.

St Tropez Pirates
 
The power pairing of Daniel Deusser and Pieter Devos took centre stage, aiming for another clean sheet in this second round. Daniel Deusser rode a careful round on Casallvano, and produced the all-important clear. If Pieter Devos could jump clear, the Pirates would take the lead. Pieter took a tight turn after the Tennor vertical with Jade vd Bisschop but the lightest of touches sent three poles tumbling, and the team finished on 12 faults.

London Knights
 
All eyes were on GCL of Doha 2020 winners and 2018 and 2019 GCL Champions London Knights as they took to the ring aiming for another top result. Martin Fuchs produced a solid clear jumping round with the efficient Stalando under enormous pressure to pick up 1 time fault. It left no room for error for Olivier Philippaerts and Hurricane, who took a careful approach around the course but picked up 6 faults to leave the team on a score of 7.

Monaco Aces
 
First in Jeanne Sadran was looking for another clear round with Digisport Satisfaction, and piloted the mare around the course to pick up just 4 faults. Julien Epaillard needed an exceptionally fast round on Alibi de la Roque but if anyone could lay down a fast enough time, surely it would be the flying Frenchman, who posted the fastest round in round 1. However, like Jeanne, he had one rail down and the team finished on 8 faults.

Hamburg Giants
 
Hamburg Giants knew exactly what they needed to do in this extraordinary rollercoaster of a competition as the only team left for whom four clears was possible, having led from the first round. Bart Bles tackled the course first with Gin D, pulling out all the stops with a fast clear round. Simon Delestre needed a clear round to secure the top spot, and the experienced Hermes Ryan performed impeccably to seal another clear round and a win for the team!

The GCL team competition rounded out an incredible four weeks of show jumping at Tops International Arena, with young horses and young riders having the opportunity to compete on a world stage ahead of this weekend's feature CSI5* GC Valkenswaard. Riders, teams and show jumping fans worldwide will now be looking ahead to an exciting Longines Global Champions Tour and GCL season in 2021.

Source: LGCT press release

 

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