19 year old Bertram Allen (IRL) made history today as the youngest rider to win a Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix since its inception, doing it in spectacular style after an intense five-contender jump-off. With his 17 year old chestnut stallion, Romanov, Bertram stormed to the win with an unbeatable time of 37.32s.
Ranking leader Luciana Diniz (POR) took second place with the brilliant Fit For Fun 13, and extended her 36 point lead over Scott Brash (GBR) to finish the Grand Prix with 218 points, now 44 points ahead. It was a double Irish podium as Darragh Kenny (IRL) took the third place and was elated for his compatriot's success.
The day began with hot temperatures and packed grandstands, with many local and international visitors turning out to witness some of the best riders in the world battle it out under the iconic Eiffel Tower setting. The earlier feature CSI5* class saw Lauren Hough (USA) celebrate the 4th of July with extra zest, after her win with Royalty Des Isles in the 1.45 / 1.50m CSI5* Prix Renault Kadjar.
The 8th Grand Prix of the 2015 Longines Global Champions Tour season saw six of the world’s Top 10 riders competing on the breathtaking stage of the Champs de Mars next to the iconic Eiffel Tower in Paris. With €320,000 in prize money and 40 valuable ranking points to the winner, the race for the championship certainly sent the mercury levels rocketing as the heatwave continues across Europe. The high stakes 1.60m competition was played out in front of enthusiastic crowds in the grandstand and in the park of the Champ de Mars where a giant TV screen broadcast the action to the public who picnicked under the stunning icon. High profile guests have included golf champion and former World No1 Lee Westwood who enjoyed a round of golf with show jumping World No1 Scott Brash yesterday and described the Longines Global Champions Tour event in Paris as “very special”.
Hollywood star Marion Cotillard and her husband Guillaume Canet watched the thrilling, high calibre Grand Prix with their young son. The glamorous couple chatted with Charlotte Casiraghi of Monaco, who looked stunning in a chic black dress, as they admired the breathtaking views across the arena to the Eiffel Tower.
In the evening heat, guests sipped welcome chilled champagne and enjoyed fine dining courtesy of Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse. The extraordinary show jumping event at the iconic Eiffel Tower site was a celebration of culture, art, cuisine and high style. Beautiful equestrian photos were displayed in the Longines Global Champions Tour – Longines Paris Eiffel Jumping VIP lounges lining the arena as guests witnessed the highest level of show jumping sport.
With riders from around the world competing in the prestigious Grand Prix, the stage was set for the important halfway stage leg of the Tour. The first round course was a formidable challenge with big tests for both horses and riders from the fourth fence onwards. The square arena meant course designer Uliano Vezzani had plenty of turns and not so many lines in his design, and fences four and five were early challenges, including a wide oxer at 1.55m. There were four strides to the double combination with a significant vertical showcasing a model of the Eiffel Tower, which was then followed by a big oxer.
17 clear rounds, and one 1 time fault penalty rider went through to the second round, with four French riders in the mix, much to the delight of the crowds who lined the arena walls. Once more the very best in the sport battled it out for a place in the jump-off with the atmosphere intensifying in anticipation for the electrifying final round.
Darragh Kenny was the first to do the double, riding his 12 year old chestnut gelding Sans Soucis Z clear in 39.36s. Three was the magic number, as third to go Bertram took centre stage for the final round. With phenomenal pace and agility he completed the course in 37.32s, taking a wider angle towards the vertical on the penultimate line, allowing him to keep his impressive pace and bring home the win. Luciana and Fit For Fun 13 put in yet another impressive, careful and passionate round, and came home just five tenths of a second off the leader.
Bertram makes history as the youngest Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix winner, also his first podium of the Tour. The next leg of the championship season will turn to Estoril, Portugal, where Luciana Diniz will look to further her lead at her home Grand Prix.
Juan Carlos Capelli – Vice President and International Marketing Director of Longines: "It’s a great honour to be here in Paris tonight for this unique event. Thank you Virginie and Jan for your support. In 1889 Longines won it’s first gold medal; that was the year of the Universal Exhibition and also the year that the Eiffel Tower was created, so the story between Longines and the Eiffel Tower goes way back. Longines' link with equestrian sport dates back to the 19th century and Longines shares many values with the sport in terms of elegance, tradition and precision in this incredible setting, which you have been in tonight, and it helps the general public who may not be so aware of show jumping to see it with this free event. It’s been packed, the stands, we couldn’t get a single extra person in tonight, so that’s obviously helping to make the French public aware of what’s going on in the sport, thanks to you."
Virginie Coupérie-Eiffel – Event Director of Longines Paris Eiffel Jumping: "This creation of the Longines Paris Eiffel Jumping was a dream, a dream that I’ve been able to achieve thanks to the support of Jan Tops and also Juan Carlos Capelli of Longines. The first edition I hope everyone really enjoyed and this year when you’ve had such a great first show, you have an obligation to do an even better one for the second round and that’s what I hope I’ve done this year. I hope the public have enjoyed the show as much as everyone else here. If you saw the poster for the show, the horses actually went up in the lift, onto the first floor of the Eiffel Tower, which was absolutely amazing, and we got some amazing pictures of the horses looking out over Paris' wonderful view. I hope the public had that same great feeling tonight; to bring high level sport to the city centre, to people’s doorsteps free of charge."
Jan Tops – President and Founder of the Longines Global Champions Tour: "It’s really unbelievable what’s happening with the Tour, throughout the whole year we have unique locations, and I think this is one of the crowns of the year. We can also see with the numbers of people, the fan club, who are watching our live streaming and are all over the world, it’s growing all the time. I think the event, not just on television, but on site, has grown from last year to this year. There are even more people in attendance, and even with the heat they remained in the tribunes. Also for the horses and the riders who did an incredible effort, we must not forget them, as well as our sponsors, who are very important, but also our athletes who give the maximum effort all the time in this heat, they need real appreciation. Not to forget the course builder, Uliano [Vezzani], who did a great job. I was not expecting to have 17 clears in the first round, but he was right in the jump-off again, five double clears, he did it with class."
Bertram Allen – Winner: "I’ve only done a few Longines Global Champions Tours because I wasn’t ranked high enough last year, so to have my first podium finish and to get on top is even more special. I have to show so much appreciation to my horse – 17 years old and trying that hard over three rounds in this heat and everything was really special. I would like to thank Jan and Longines and everything as well for their support and again a special mention to Uliano the course builder – we have a good relationship, most of the 5* Grand Prix I have won, Uliano has built, so I was happy to see him on the list!"
Luciana Diniz – Second: "I want to say thank you to everyone, because without all of us, you, you, you, the show organisers, us the riders, the horses, the vets, the grooms, the public, all of you, who make this place so special – I want to thank all of you and all the horses and I’m just here today because of this – thank you.