“You can only dream of this!” Gilles Thomas Wins LGCT GP of Shanghai 

Gilles Thomas riding a victory lap on Luna van het Dennehof in Shanghai

Gilles Thomas and Luna van het Dennehof raised the roof in the sold-out Shanghai Juss International Equestrian Centre when taking victory in the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Shanghai on Sunday, 6th May 2024.

For the third time this season, the Belgium National anthem rang out in the Longines Global Champions Tour (LGCT). Gilles stated he could only dream of winning an LGCT Grand Prix, and now he has written his name in history books. 

An emotional Gilles Thomas, who won the lion’s share of €600,000, said: “The Longines Global Champions Tour was always something that when you are a child you were watching on TV, I only have dreamed of this moment and now twice on the podium – one second and now my first LGCT Grand Prix win, twice on Luna – she is just such a fantastic mare.”

In an electric jump-off, first to go Thomas and Luna van het Dennehof rocketed home as the fastest of seven top-class combinations who had qualified from 32 starters in the fourth event of the Championship season. Eddie Peng, Longines ambassador of Elegance and Jack Xie, Brand Manager of Longines China, gifted Thomas his Longines watch on the podium as a lasting memory of the day. 

Thomas has also bagged a debut Golden Ticket to this year’s LGCT Super Grand Prix at the GC Playoffs at Riyadh in November: “It is great to qualify so early in the year so I can plan my season around it. It is a class everyone wants to be in , I couldn’t be happier.”

Singing the praises of her fellow GCL teammate, Edwina complimented the young rider on his win and his presence in the industry, she said “I think the world of Gilles, I honestly think he is the best young rider and up and coming rider in the world today. He has so much talent, he is super cool in the head, he is such a team player and I think he has a massive future and this has just boosted it even more.”

Podium finish: 1st Fillies Thomas, 2nd Edwina Tops-Alexander and 3rd Michael Duffy

When questioned just how special it is to return here to Shanghai, she said, “It has just been an unbelievable week, the public has been unbelievably supportive, they’re really into it, and there is so much emotion going on. To be here for the first time in this incredible venue, I think everyone is excited to come back next year. Not only is it fantastic for the sport over here in China, it’s amazing to be around so many kids in riding clothes and I hope that as professional riders we can inspire them and try to build up awareness here and let’s hope that some of them can be riding on this level one day soon!”

Passionate Chinese fans packed the stands, with many ladies bedecked in their finest outfits for what has become a big social occasion, and they cheered every global superstar who entered the arena. It was Edwina Tops-Alexander and Fellow Castlefield, who were the only other double clear of the day, to secured second place, while LGCT Grand Prix of Miami Beach winner Michael Duffy took to the podium in third place with Cantano 32, as the fastest time – however the last fence fell with a gasp echoing around the arena. 

Sunday’s LGCT Grand Prix marked 10 years since the tour first launched in Shanghai and a decade that the Tour has brought top-level international show jumping to China and in the process, the popularity of equestrianism has soared. Spectators have been treated to a feast of world-class action and entertainment across the three-day show.

After the fourth stage of the season, Eduardo Alvarez Aznar will lead the LGCT Championship going into his home event in Madrid in two weeks’ time on 97 points. Max Kuhner stays in second place on 92 points, while the fastest in four faults in the first round meant Julien Anquetin climbs to third on 81 points. Michael Duffy sits in third with 77.14 points and Andreas Schou keeps in the race with 68 points.

The LGCT Championship now heads to the European stages, kicking off in Madrid for the fifth leg of the Championship race in just two weeks’ time.

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