In the perfect prelude to the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Cascais, Estoril, Olivier Robert (FRA) and his ten year old grey stallion Vangog du Mas Garnier triumphed in an electrifying jump-off.
An emotional Olivier said:
My horse was super tonight. He’s had a rest and he’s just perfect for the big show. He’ll jump the big class in Monaco next week. He’s so smart, I let him go – he’s intelligent, I love this horse! I never win anytime, so I’m so happy tonight!”
The Frenchman took the win in a six-rider showdown, finishing just ahead of Wilm Vermeir (BEL) with Gentiane de la Pomme and Pieter Devos (BEL) with Jade vd Bisschop who rounded out third.
“I love this horse!” said an elated Robert
The penultimate evening of action saw the stars of show jumping come out to contest the 61,000 euro prize purse. As the floodlights came on, 32 starters took centre stage in the colourful grass arena in the 1.50/1.55m challenge.
Frank Rothenberger’s course was another flowing test, the horses responding beautifully as the light began to fade, jumping as if with springs in their heels from the soft carpet of green grass. The course featured plenty for the riders to think about, with a time allowed of 79s playing a factor in this evening’s decider.
Niels Bruynseels (BEL) joined the commentators in the studio this evening as a guest analyst, and predicted that there would be plenty of faults at the triple combination – the middle element featuring an unusual shaped filler.
After the first rounds exhilarating action, only six made it through the jump-off. Denis Lynch (IRL) and GC Chopin’s Bushi were first to enter the ring, the new combination taking centre stage under the night skies. Lynch set off at a gallop, but took eight strides to the liverpool and had it down, and a miscommunication at the oxer put eight faults on the board.
Marcus Ehning (GER) and Funky Fred entered to a round of applause from the knowledgable crowd, the German maestro already impressing with a flawless first round. But the oxer at the far corner fell, as did the Longines plank, Ehning too finishing on eight faults.
Another round of applause welcomed Pieter Devos (BEL) and Jade vd Bisschop. They set off at a flat out gallop, Devos daring his mare to the fences. She responded brilliantly, fast in the first part of the course but careful in the second, finishing clear in 37.50s.
Second of the Belgian riders Gregory Wathelet (BEL) and Spike vd Withoeve came undone at the first part of the double, four faults ruling them out of a chance for the win tonight.
Wilm Vermeir (BEL) and Gentiane de la Pomme were fast in the turn to the third fence. A brave turn to the Longines plank made the difference, and they flew to the finish to shave tenths of a second off Devos’ time, crossing the line in 37.01s.
The final rider Olivier Robert (FRA) and Vangog du Mas Garnier had all the pressure on their shoulders but they kept their cool and flew around the arena. With a powerful rhythm throughout, they took an extra stride to the Longines plank but powered to the final fence – a huge oxer – and crossed the line in 36.69s to take the win.
Tomorrow will see the GCL Cascais conclusion. Tune in live and exclusively on GC TV to watch all the action and see who will book their golden ticket to the GC Prague Playoffs.