To warm up for Europe's richest Grand Prix at the Global Champions tour of Portugal, the public were entertained by a two phase jumping contest. And it certainly was exciting. With this being the competitors last chance to score before the show's climax there was going to be no bloodless victory like in the previous days speed class. Roger Yves Bost (Jovis de Ravel) set the standard with a swift second phase in his usual indomitable style stopping the clock in 25.86 and several challengers were so determined they failed to leave all the fences up if they bettered the time. Julian Epaillard had got closest on Commissario with a time of 26.14 but last to go was Richard Spooner on his supremely versatile Pako. Despite trying to reach the last on one less stride than Roger, the American just failed, but 26.08 made it a very near miss. This was the French horse's 43rd international victory.
The Grand Prix started an hour or two later with a whimper rather than a roar because course designer Frank Rothenberger made one of his rare errors of judgement. The course looked rather too inviting for the level and when there were 23 clear rounds, a first for a GCT Grand Prix, it was apparent that looks had not deceived in the slightest.
But although he may have got one or two more than planned, Frank had lulled anyone who thought this was not an appropriate standard course into a false sense of security. Daniel Etter was third in and the first double clear but after that rails and bodies flew in all directions. Cian O'Connor and John Whitaker both ended up on the floor when their horses, Sultano and Rancorrado respectively, both stopped. Richard Spooner's Cristallo hit the first and then ran off, fighting for control but still clearing everything until the battle got too much at the combination where he stopped. Rodrigo Pessoa was even more unlucky. Let's Fly was never in danger of touching a pole but had no intention of getting within inches of the open water and jumped so high he was never going to make the spread and did land in it. Tim Gredley (Omelli) Patrick McEntee (Ever Mury Marais) and Ben Maher (Robin Hood) all managed repectable four faulters but eventually Leopold Van Asten (VDL Groep Santana B) went clear to force a third round jump off. To the crowds delight the two men were joined by Luciana Diniz (As-taro) and Clarissa Crotta( Westside V- Meerputhoeve). Daniel Etter was first to go in the jump off but it had all got a bit much for Admirable who had three of the seven fence course down. Leopold went next and was smoothly and efficiently clear. This turned out to be enough when Clarissa had one rail and Luciana two, much to the disappointment of the crowd.
Leopold was delighted though to win. “This is an expensive sport and I can certainly use this weeks winnings (approx 150'000Euro) on the yard” he laughed. Clarissa who had been trained all week by Willi Melliger, hadnt decided what to do with her 81'000 second prize but “I am sure I owe it all to Willi, I am much better when he is here to help me, like in Zurich.”
Patrick McEntee, placed again tonight, still heads the GCT rankings list and the Tour now moves to Rio de Janeiro for the seventh leg on the road to Doha. For more information, please visit our website at www.globalchampionstour.com
Results Class 3
Results Class 4- Grand Prix
- Roger Yves Bost, FRA, Jovis de Ravel, 0,0, 25.86
- Richard Spooner, USA, Pako, 0,0, 26.08
- Julian Epaillard, FRA, Commissario, 0,0, 26.14
- Leopold Van Asten, NED, VDL Groep Amelie, 0,0,26.28.
- Leopold van Asten, NED, VDL Groep Santana B, 0,0,0, 44.06
- Clarissa Crotta, SUI, West Side V-Meerputhoeve, 0,0,4, 40.95
- Luciana Diniz, POR, As-Taro 2m 0,0,8, 44.97
- Daniel Etter, SUI, Admirable, 0,0,12, 45.81
Roger Yves Bost “Well, Richard asked me how many I do to the last and I say six, for a joke, I was lucky he didnt beat me! But this horse is just amazing up to 1.50, it is his 43rd win and I think now I have won something at every GCT show this year. It is very important for the rankings, perhaps I am in the top ten now?”
Richard Spooner- “What can I say about this horse? He is completely amazing. He jumped 2.15 in the Puissance in Rome, was fourth in a Super League GP in La Baule and fast enough to be placed twice against the clock here. And he is a pleasure to be around as well. As for Roger, I knew he was joking, to be honest, it was long enough on seven strides and Pako just didnt stop trying, and he had to try really hard to make the last back rail then.”
Leopold Van Asten- “I have had a very good weekend though I have not had either of these mares that long. Santana about six months and Amelie about seven and they are both very different. Amelie is small and fast and Santana is bigger and seems to have more scope but she really lacked experience at his level, Cannes and Monte Carlo really taught her a lot. But even I am impressed that she has jumped three clear rounds today.”
Clarissa Crotta- “This horse is very fast so I was sad I had a rail in the jump off but this is still a good result. I am lucky to have a super owner who buys super horses for me. I suppose the Europeans might be possible now that Christina Liebherr's No Mercy had an injury but I will just have to see. My brother (Fabio) and I are very competitive, he won a medal at that level, my sister just rides for fun. Perhaps she is the clever one! ”
Luciana Diniz- “The crowd carried me, like they do in my favourite film Gladiators, it was amazing. But I couldnt have done this without the support of the grooms, stable managers, family and friends and I think that goes for us all. We had beautiful sport here and so we must also thank the organiser Duarte and the GCT.”
Jan Tops- As a venue this show ticks every box for us logistically. The facilities are excellent and everything is close to hand. We are hoping we can soon announced some new GCT shows for 2010, possibly at the end of this month, but Estoril was in at the beginning and we are sure it will continue to be part of the Tour for a long while yet.”
Photos by Global Champions Tour
© Cyberhorse 2009 Lulu Kyriacou