Maikel van der Vleuten (NED) sent pulses racing with a formidable F1-style victory on Beauville Z in the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix du Prince de Monaco presented by Tennor on the 10th leg of the International circuit.
Barely a second separated the top four riders in a breathtakingly fast 10-way jump-off where Bassem Mohammed (QAT) and Gunder stepped up on the podium as the runner-up. The lightning-quick combination of Julien Epaillard (FRA) and Usual Suspect d’Auge took a third-place finish.
A thrilled van der Vleuten said:
It’s incredible – this horse really fights for me. I spoke with my dad earlier this week as to whether it was too early to bring him [Beauville Z] here as first horse but it happens sometimes.
When I saw Julien on the screen, I could bet on it that he should win; he went full out everywhere. I was just a bit faster and I gave it everything today. I had some nice forward distances and the horse really worked for me.”
The Dutchman, who becomes the 10th rider to qualify for the LGCT Super Grand Prix at the GC Prague Playoffs in November, explained:
A few times I’ve come very close to qualifying, but that was really my goal to be one of the riders to take part in the Super Grand Prix this year, so now it’s done it feels good.”
Bassem Hassan Mohammed made history in Monaco in 2014 by taking the country’s first ever LGCT Grand Prix win with his horse Victoria. This year he had to settle for second, but was delighted nonetheless and the Qatari rider explained:
Gunder is always very good in the jump-off and today he jumped really amazing. With all these top riders it is never over until the end.”
Spectators squeezed into every available space round the outside of the arena and filled every seat as the champagne-soaked trio paraded on their lap of honour, appreciative of the world class sport they had witnessed on a sizzling evening in the magical Port Hercule in Monaco.
Lars Windhorst, Founder and CEO of Tennor, presenting sponsor of the LGCT Grand Prix du Prince de Monaco, was among those who took to the red carpet for the prize-giving ceremony, where he was joined by LGCT Founder and President Jan Tops, M. Charles Villoz (Vice President Longines), M.Frederic Bondoux (Director of Longines France) and His Excellence Monsieur Jacques Boisson.
There is no change at the top of the leader board in the Championship race, with Pieter Devos (BEL) still leading the way but Ben Maher (GBR) jumps ahead of Daniel Deusser (GER) and this win in Monaco pushes Maikel van der Vleuten up to fourth position with 9 events left to go.
Stunning images of the arena, which is nestled beneath the Prince’s Palace and has spectacular views across the deep water harbour where some of the world’s largest super yachts are moored, were beamed around the world as the action got underway for the 10th event of the 2019 LGCT series.
Course-designer Frank Rothenberger had hot-footed it from Cascais, Estoril, last week where he had built one of the most substantial tracks of the 2019 season on the big grass arena and there was no let-up for another world class field in the tight confines of the pristine arena nestled under the Formula 1 pit lane in the Principality of Monaco. Speaking at the press conference this evening, Frank said:
The LGCTs are by far the shows with the highest levels in the world. Big arenas, small arenas, always top riders and top sport. The levels are really high. It was unbelievably fast.”
It was standing room only for an evening of scintillating sport where 15 jumping efforts in round one took riders in to every corner and the length and breadth of the ring. Among guests watching from the hospitality were Georgina Bloomberg and friends, Lars Windhorst with partner Christin Bahla, and football star Olivier Giroud as a fashionable crowd enjoyed an evening of thrilling sporting entertainment.
The Championship race moves north to Paris next week (5th to 7th July) for leg 11 of the 2019 Tour in front of the iconic Eiffel Tower.