The first day of the Longines Global Champions Tour of Stockholm saw world number one Henrik von Eckermann set the stage for an electrifying weekend of world-class equestrian sport. Making it a home win, von Eckermann, riding Dzara Dorchival, cut over a second off Abdullah Alsharbatly and Ambrosio d’Alcy’s time to take the win. On flying form, Victor Bettendorf secured a win earlier in the day but had to settle for third place on Big Star des Forets in the 1.45m speed class presented by Equestrian Stockholm.
Under the picturesque setting of Stockholm’s Olympic Stadium, the event’s opening day saw a perfect blend of top-tier riders and an enthusiastic crowd that set the tone for an unforgettable competition. Competitors showcased their mastery by navigating the challenging courses designed by acclaimed course designer Uliano Vezzani.
Waving to the crowd, Henrik told GCTV:
Dzara is in great form, she won a couple of weeks ago on the last day at LGCT St Tropez and today she was perfect. I am delighted to win the first class at my home event, its always a great to come home with this amazing crowd! I had a great show here last year and I want to do the same so we see how it goes tomorrow.”
The action-packed day saw riders from over 30 nations, including reigning champions and rising stars, competing in a series of exhilarating classes, each more challenging than the last.
Looking for a sizzling start to his weekend, first-to-go Samuel Hutton and Melusina Bvl Z set the pace from the get-go forcing the pressure on the rest of the field and finishing inside the top 10.
The crowd rose to their feet in anticipation when Abdullah Alsharbatly and Ambrosio d’Alcy made a crazy rollback to the penultimate fence, risking it all, the pair had full trust in each other and managed to pull it off stopping the timers at 55.68 and making it look unbeatable.
Eager fans witnessed the best of the best vying for top honours and but it wasn’t their day as Malin Baryard-Johnsson, Angelica Augustsson Zanotelli, Christian Kukuk, Daniel Deusser, and Gregory Wathelet all knocked a single rail.
With his famously smooth style, Henrik von Eckermann piloted Dzara Dorchival around the fast course, opting to go extremely tight in the rollback that saved him over a second on the clock to snatch top position from Alsharbatly.
Just 0.02 seconds between them, Evelina Tovek with Moeboetoe v/d Roshoeve and Kevin Staut onboard Beau de Laubry Z put the pedal to the metal clearing all the exciting new fences with ease, ultimately collecting fourth and fifth respectively setting them perfectly up for the €480,000 Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Stockholm presented by Fabege on Sunday.
Fresh from his podium finish in the LGCT Grand Prix of Cannes, Michael Duffy and Surprise wanted to prove their speed on the first day of action. They gave it everything fully determined but couldn’t quite match the pace pushing him just outside the top 5.
So it would be a home win for Henrik von Eckermann and the Swedish National Anthem rang out around the Stockholm Stadium to a standing ovation.
Beyond the sporting spectacle, the Longines Global Champions Tour of Stockholm provides an excellent platform for the city to showcase its vibrant equestrian culture. Visitors will have the opportunity to explore the city’s rich history, experience its unique blend of modern and traditional architecture, and immerse themselves in the local equestrian scene.
The LGCT of Stockholm continues today, with the GCL Team competition. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the world’s finest equestrians in action at the Longines Global Champions Tour of Stockholm. Join us as the excitement unfolds and history is made at this prestigious event.
Feature image: Henrik von Eckermann, riding Dzara Dorchival LGCT Stockholm 2023. Image credit: Longines Global Champions Tour