French produce perfect prelude to LGCT Tour Finals
Under the bright lights of the spectacular indoor arena at the X-Bionic Sphere, Samorin, Olivier Robert claimed his second win of the week as he proved his flying form ahead of the super Saturday showdown.
The French champion’s win was a perfect prelude to the dramatic and tense Longines Global Champions Tour and GCL Finals, where the 2021 season champions of champions will be crowned.
I think Bosty helped me a lot as at the beginning, I didn’t want to do the 7 strides between the number one and number two and he told me yes it’s really possible for her and that is what won it for me. She’s like a thoroughbred. She’s a fantastic and fast mare. Tomorrow is a very important day. I’d like to stay on the podium at the Longines Global Champions Tour but it is a new day so we wait and see.”
It was a fantastic day of top sport on Friday, with an electric atmosphere where the crowds cheered as Robert entered the arena for prize-giving followed by Bart Bles on Kriskras DV in second and Marlon Módolo Zanotelli riding Luigi d’Eclipse taking the final spot on the podium.
Uliano Vezzani’s course took a lot of jumping with shock retirements from some of the worlds best including Scott Brash, Jos Verlooy and Philipp Weishaupt but 14 combinations managed to jump clear make it an edge of your seat jump-off.
First, to return in the jump-off, German legend Marcus Ehning and Calanda gave it a good shot taking all the risks and tight turns but two fell dropping them out of a chance of the win today.
Young talent Laura Klaphake and Bantou Balou OLD were the first pair to produce a double clear securing them a place in the money and crucially leaving them feeling very confident ahead of the battle of the best.
Christian Ahlmann with the uber speedy Solid Gold Z and Malin Baryard-Johnsson on 9 year old El Barone 111 Z took on the course at a flat out gallop stretching with ease over the wide oxers and each went into the lead for a short moment of time.
Cheers erupted as Marlon Módolo Zanotelli and Luigi d’Eclipse blitzed the track, the 10 year old bay shifting up a gear to fly into the lead and 37.21 seconds. Both Bassem Mohammed with Sirocco and Irishman Darragh Kenny onboard 9 year old Storiall Blue finished outside of the money with 8 faults each.
Fresh from his win in the first class of the day Leopold van Asten was set to do the double on VDL Groep Urane de Talma until a late pole came crashing down and the talented pair slid down the order.
It was a day of an unlucky four faults for Maikel van der Vleuten and Pieter Devos while the Italiani Filippo Marco Bologni put in a class performance with Bernini GP to finish on a clean sheet but slower in a time of 37.88 seconds.
Bart Bles and Kriskras DV put in a valiant try, the bay mare jumping her heart out for the Dutchman. They kept every fence up, flying through the finish to stop the clock in 36.95 seconds and leave Robert no room for error.
But the best was saved for last as Olivier Robert and Velvote des Aubiers were quick across the ground and put in risky turns to come home as the only combination sub 35 seconds and claim the win by over a second.
The final team showdown will commence at 16.15 local time, on Saturday, where the GCL 2021 season champions will be determined followed by the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Slovakia at 20.00 local time. Tune in to GCTV to watch the battle between Ben Maher and Peder Fredricson and see who will be crowned the 2021 champion!