Elated Luciana Diniz said her “dream came true” today as she claimed her first Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix win.
Scott Brash is back on top of the championship ranking for the second time in the 2015 season. But the British rider, on 73 points, is only four points ahead of Luciana who has rocketed up to second place in the overall ranking.
In one of the most unpredictable Grand Prix in the history of the Tour, many of the world’s top riders stacked up uncharacteristic faults and time penalties. For the first time since 2011 there was no jump off.
Tens of thousands of passionate fans lined the arena and filled the grandstands in the beautiful Spanish country club in anticipation as the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix presented by Caixa Bank got underway. But no-one would have predicted the extraordinary story that unfolded today as top rider after top rider clocked up “cricket scores” with multiple faults, time penalties and retirements.
The sweeping grass arena and the course designed by Santiago Varela Ullastres proved to be unusually challenging for many of the combinations. In the first round the Longines combination caught out some of the maestros including Christian Ahlmann. But the mistakes were all over the course and not isolated to particular obstacles pushing riders like Ludger Beerbaum, John Whitaker and Ben Maher firmly out of the running.
After the first round there were only four clear rounds – Jane Richard Philips, Philippe Rozier, Luciana and Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum. Scott Brash’s Olympic gold medal mount Hello Sanctos stumbled slightly before the first fence and had an unusual rail down but Scott went on to a clear in the second round putting him in fourth place overall.
The second round delivered fascinating twists and turns. Jane Richard on Pablo de Virton was unable to remain clear and ended on eight faults. Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum on Fibonacci 17 lost her chance when she had a rail down for four faults.
Spanish rider Manuel Fernandez Saro thrilled the home crowd riding a double clear on Enrique of the Lowlands but picking up unfortunate time penalties during both rounds. His third place on the podium was greeted with loud cheers from the crowd around the arena.
France’s Philippe Rozier went clear in the first round on Rahotep de Toscane and was heading for a penalty-free double clear when he picked up a time fault to put him in second place.
So it was down to the last rider Luciana and her stunning grey Winningmood to deliver the coup de grace. As the crowd fell silent Luciana and the 16-year-old stallion, a tried and tested long-time partnership in show jumping, delivered a superb clear in 60.24 seizing first place on the podium and a prize purse of €105,600.
It was a night when strong long-term partnerships paid off, with Luciana and Winningmood and Philippe and Rahotep de Toscane taking the honours on a balmy night in the Spanish capital
Photo: Stefano Grasso