Because of television commitments, the schedule, after the first day cancellation, had got rather warped which meant that the first class was the Grand Prix, which was followed in the small hours by a 1.45 class. As if winning the big class was not enough, Gianni followed up by beating a 20 horse jump off field to win the smaller class as well on his super consistent mare Love Affair. This added another 12'000Euro to the coffers and left the diminutive Italian riding high at the top of the leading rider points table. The best rider is awarded an extra 50'000Euro and the runner up 25'000 so this was a purse well worth fighting for. Brazilian hearts were lifted in this when Thiago Ribas de Costa and Stefan de Freitas Barcha took second and third respectively. Edwina Alexander was 4th on Isolav Late Night.
Tonight's action started with another 1.45 jump off class, the Coca Cola Challenge in which Uliano Verzzani made good use of the arena and had several curving lines and dog leg turns for the riders to contend with as well as a combination heading straight towards the VIP lounge. Consequently the class caused a fair bit of trouble and from 49 starters there were only five clears. Gianni Govoni was among them finishing his round to a standing ovation but nothing was to be taked for granted as his rivals included Arezzo winners Marco Kutsher and Cash, and dual 2009 GCT winners Ludo Phillipaerts with Tauber van Het Kapelhof and Dutch speed master Harry Smolders with Exquis Powerfee. Cassio Rivetti and Magic Bengsston completed the line up. Ludo set a blinding pace, clean in 40.32 which Harry coul not match, his time being 41.75. Marco Kutsher split them as he made a valiant effort on giant Cash but 40.61 was not quite good enough to take the lead. Then it was the Italian's turn. No-one has ever won three classes at one GCT show before and Gianni's wife had instructed him not to go too fast as even fifth would have clinched the leading rider prize. But as has been said before, safe clears are not usually an option for this man and to the screaming delight of the audience, Gianni let rip. Love Affair, showing no effect from her exertion the previous night, did a handbrake turn into the third and took a stride out to the fifth and landed over the last three whole seconds faster than Ludo. Poor Cassio Rivetti had to enter an arena still full of clapping and cheering and he made a valiant effort but as the second fell it was all over and Gianni was once again the King of Rio. Perhaps his performance could best be summed up by Daniel Duesser. “Even if the others had started at the third fence they would not have beaten that” he said.
The Embral Masters, worth another 95,000 to the winner, was like to be an anti climax in comparison. But run as a 'winning round' contest in which the best 25% go through to the jump off from 40 starters, there was plenty of chance that a nail biting finish to the weekend could easily happen.
The first drama was that Grand Prix winner Joyau D'Opal took violent exception to the water tray fence and was eliminated for two refusals. Only four of the ten through were completely clear in the first round and surprisingly it was current world number one Marcus Ehning and Monaco winner Richard Spooner who failed to capitalise on this small number in front of them when Leconte hit the last and Cristallo the third. But Eric Lamaze then quickly improved on his first round four faults with a scintilating clear on Hickstead, truly at his best. 37.26 was way faster than anyone else had gone and propelled him into the lead with four riders to go. Although his lead only lasted for one more rider, when Ulrich Kirchoffhad a slow four fault round but this result was good enough to give Eric the runners up spot in the leading rider contest. Next to go Prince Abdullah al Saud showed his good round in Monaco was no fluke when Mobily Allah Jabek was the first double clear. Then Edwina Alexander continued her 'bridesmaid' week when Itot du Chateau tapped out the fourth fence but she was very fast and only dropped one place to third. That meant Steve Guerdat and Tresor knew that a steady clear would probably be good enough as his greater experience meant he could ride a tighter line than the Prince without pushing his horse too fast. Never the less, there was not much in it when the clocked stopped at 42.50.
“This certainly rates with my wins in World Cups and big Grand Prix, I am delighted as I have had an unlucky week but today I got the best of the draw being last to go, which meant I knew exactly what I had to do.” Asked what he thought of the City's bid for the 2016 Olympics, the Swiss rider said “I have not been to Rio before, even to South America, so it is hard to compare it to other Cities but if Rio does succeed I shall certainly be happy to come back, it is a beautiful city.”
The Global Champions Tour moves to its home town of Valkenswaard, Holland in two weeks for the eight and last leg on the Road to Doha. With many riders including Eric Lamaze and Gianni Govoni still not sure of qualifying competition for the last few remaining places is sure to be tight.
For more details please go to www.globalchampionstour.com.
1. Gianni Govoni ITA Love Affair 0,0, 31.80
2. Thiago Ribas de Coasta BRA Lorgane de Laubry 0,0, 33.66
3. Stephan de Freitas Coast BRA Jacady des Champs 0,0, 33.80
4. Edwina Alexander AUS Isolav Late Night 0,0, 34.04
1.Gianni Govoni ITA, Love Affair, 0,0, 37.03
2. Ludo Phillipaerts BEL, Tauber Van Het Kapelhof, 0,0, 40.3
3. Marco Kutsher GER, Cash 63, 0,0, 40.61
4. Harry Smolders NED, Exquis Powerfee, 0,0, 41.75
Class 4- Embratal Masters.
1. Steve Guerdat SUI, Tresor, 0,0, 42.50
2. Prince Abdullah al Saud, KSA, 0,0, 43.61
3. Edwina Alexander, AUS, 0,4, 37.42
4. Eric Lamaze CAN, 4,0, 37.46
Daniel Etter “I have been lucky to get my invitations to compete when higher ranked riders could not come and I am very happy to have qualified for Doha. I am definitely going to go and will decide which horse to take after the European Championships as Peu a Peu is my best horse and last night was only Admirable's second Grand Prix so he is perhaps a little inexperienced. As for Rio, yes the first couple of days here were depressing when we thought the show would not happen at all but you have to admire all the work that has been done to make a beautiful show for us and Doda (de Miranda) and his people have succeeded. It is beautiful and the sport has been great. And I think that I would say to other riders if you are invited to these shows, you should go!”
Kevin Staut & Olivier Guillon “ We have enjoyed ourselves, it has turned out to be super. Everyone has made a big effort to get the show running and we will certainly be trying to qualify for the next years Final so we can come again.”
Gianni Govoni- “Winning three GCT classes is fantastic although I did win three at San Patrignano last week. As for going slower in the jump off, well I was thinking about the leading riders prize so that was the end of that! It is a bit soon to compare me to Ayrton Senna, he won three F1 GP'S here, I have only won one, but I hope to come back again and win another, so maybe one day I will be the GP king of Rio!”
Marco Kutsher - “Well it wasn,t entirely about speed, we had to jump the first round clear, but that Gianni.........!”
Edwina Alexander and Itot du Chateau
Prince Abdullah al Saud and Mobily Allah Jabek
Steve Guerdat and Tresor
Edwina and Itot
© Cyberhorse 2009 Lulu Kyriacou