The Longines Global Champions Tour of Cascais, Estoril was won by the virtually unbeatable World No1 Scott Brash (GBR) and Hello Sanctos - the pair won last night’s big class and have now claimed their second LGCT Grand Prix win of the 2014 season.
With a cool and confident round, the 2012 Olympic Gold medal winning combination cruised into the top spot in tonight’s class and moved to within 30 points of the Championship lead lying in 6th place overall. The Grand Prix Silver medal went to Rodrigo Pessoa (BRA) and Status who jumped the only other treble clear, and Bronze to Nick Skelton (GBR) and Big Star who were the fastest four faults.
The LGCT Leadership changed once more in Cascais, Estoril as Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS) retook her place as No1 with another great performance to finish 7th, giving her a total of 176 points so far. Monaco Grand Prix winner Bassem Hassan Mohammed (QAT) finished 4th in tonight’s Grand Prix moving him up to 2nd place on the Leaderboard with 158 points while, Italy’s Emanuele Gaudiano is just one point behind in 3rd.
The beautiful lush, green arena of Hipódromo Manuel Possolo was once again a stunning backdrop to what proved to be another thrilling round in this year’s 2014 Championship. The buzzing and enthusiastic crowd rode every fence with the riders, cheering and whistling encouragement to every competitor regardless of nationality. The stands were packed for the star class of the show and the atmosphere was charged with the anticipation of a world-class display of show jumping excellence.
The first round saw a range of new and established stars put in strong performances to go through to the second round on zero, every one of them hunting the 40 LGCT points awarded to tonight’s Gold medallist as well as the majority share of €300,000. The first round course was open and sweeping, taking advantage of the stunning, expansive arena. The riders did not consider the course ‘overly big’ but there was no one area where errors were collected as the entire route required care and precision throughout.
Of the 40 starters, twelve made it through with a zero score and six progressed with four faults including Championship leader Edwina Tops-Alexander and last year's victor Henrik von Eckermann (SWE). The second round course was a test of scope and stamina, with wide oxers and demanding distances between the combination fences. Emanuele Gaudiano (ITA), who was in with a shot of taking the Championship lead, lowered a rail in the second round placing him in 11th place in the final results of the class but boosting him up the Tour Ranking.
First to go in the jump-off, Bassem Hassan Mohammed rode a great round until he gambled to the last fence, aware of the big names to follow him, and Victoria was unable to make the back rail. Rodrigo Pessoa showed all his experience, riding a classy round in a slick time of 46.24s to set the standard for the three star riders to follow him with a horse he has had for just six months. Nick Skelton rode a lightening round to produce the fastest time of 43.32s, but lowered the last fence in his race to the finish line. Second-last to go, Brash executed a foot-perfect round – his horse looking like he would never touch a pole – to stop the clock at 45.43s.
Brash is on a winning streak with the home straight of the Championship in sight. Can he maintain his form and catch Tops-Alexander? Chantilly hosts the 9th round of the Tour from 25-27 July and all ten of the LGCT Top Ten ranked riders are confirmed to compete. The Top Six are all within a Grand Prix win of the lead and the rest are not far behind. The 2014 Championship could not be closer and we look forward to more incredible sport over the next six rounds.