Irish speed merchant Darragh Kenny took his first ever Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix win aboard Balou du Reventon in a pulsating showdown in Chantilly.
A beaming Darragh said:
I knew I had to be really fast with so many good riders after me. He (Balou) is very careful so I knew I could trust him. He is an incredible horse and he always wants to be clear and tries so hard and my owner was here, she’s an amazing owner.”
Darragh’s win secured his golden ticket to the LGCT Super Grand Prix at the GC Playoffs in Prague in November, and he said:
I am definitely very relieved. The qualification for Prague is amazing. I really wanted to win it. Prague was an incredible event, one of the best shows I have ever been to. It was run fantastically. To have the opportunity to compete for that kind of prize money and prestige is amazing.”
Ben Maher (GBR) snatched the LGCT ranking lead, sitting on top on 235 points and knocking Pieter Devos (BEL) into second place on 224 points with Daniel Deusser (GER) in third.
French favourite Penelope Leprevost was a whisker from victory but ultimately could not match Darragh’s time and finished second on the podium with last year’s LGCT Grand Prix of Chantilly winner Nicola Philippaerts (BEL) and H&M Chilli Willi in third.
I am very happy with my horse today. Last year he jumped his first five star Grand Prix here and I had one down, so this year he really has improved. I used to be so slow but now I’m not so slow! I am very happy but I didn’t do one less stride as it was a combination. If I could do it again I would try!”
Nicola Philippaerts said:
My horse jumped very good over all three rounds – I tried to give my everything but it was such a quick jump-off. Chilli really likes the ring here, he loves the big arena and grass. I always love coming here, it really is a fantastic event. I went early on, I got to see Darragh jump and I tried to leave a few strides out to be able to go as quick but naturally I think my horse is a little slower in nature.”
Packed grandstands flanked the stunning and expansive grass arena as the LGCT Grand Prix got underway with fans enjoying top-level sport next to the enchanting Chateau de Chantilly and Royal Stables in the centre of the famous racetrack.
It was a sublime setting for the 12th LGCT Grand Prix of the 2019 season with guests from around the world, including the US fashion designers Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, watching from the elegant hospitality lounge.
Chantilly was celebrating its 10th year on the LGCT series and Gerard Manzinali, President Chantilly Jumping, spoke of his “honour” at being on the circuit for a decade and said:
It was a very good day of sport and it was an exceptional jump off. Beautiful weather and a great public.”
The Tour now looks to Berlin for the 13th round of action, with the fight for the overall rankings at the forefront of the riders’ minds in their quest for supremecy.