With the anticipation of seeing the biggest prize in show jumping decided on Saturday and 30’000 at stake for the show’s leading rider and groom, there was much at stake as the last round of the 2010 Global Champions Tour began in Rio De Janeiro tonight.

The show started in the best way possible for the Brazilian organisers and audience when Luis Francisco De Azevedo won the first class by a whisker from Alvaro de Mirando Neto (Doda”). Riding his chestnut gelding Une A Basta,  Luis Francisco snatched the lead from Edwina Alexander and Kisby with a time of 51.51. Next to go was Alvaro and AD Norson has been prominent in GCT speed classes this year but today was not his night.  To screams of encouragement, the pair galloped for the last only for the clock to show 51.68. The Brazilian pair were immediately followed by Denis Lynch and Lacroix but he ended up a second adrift of the winner although 52.66 was good enough for third. Luis Francisco is the youngest son of a famous  show jumping family. His father has represented the country at the Olympic Games and his brother Luis Felipe, who went so well in the GCT Grand Prix of Monaco, is also competing here.

The second class of the evening carried a hefty 125’000 Euro total prize money and the 44 competitors were faced with a 1.55 jump off class to decide who got the cash. Uliano Vezzani may have been slightly kinder than usual although the double at six caused enough trouble, as fifteen horses got through to the jump off. The winner would take home 31’250 Euro and Bernardo Alves and Bridget set off looking quite determined to keep the money in Brazil. 40.72 looked good for the few minutes until Lauren Hough and Prezioso took it away from them but it was Simon Delestre who really set the contest alight. Sixth to go in the jump off he was the first rider to turn inside a fence from the double at four to the next oxer, this impossible looking turn drew gasps and then whistles and cheers of encouragement at every fence but to a huge groan from a crowd who clearly appreciate audacity the last fence fell but he was two seconds faster. For the remaining nine riders the choice then had to be to dare or not to dare to follow the Frenchman’s lead as Lauren could be beaten for time if anyone was brave enough. Jeroen Dubbeldam, dared on BMC Van Grunsven Simon and succeeded to leave all rails intact in 38.06 and it really did not look if that could be bettered. But Christian Alhmann, getting better and better on Taloubet Z everytime the horse appears at the GCT, could not have ridden a tighter line, almost clipping the fence wings and he beat the Dutchman by a hefty one and a half seconds! 36.51 was very impressive but Christian was modest in his moment of triumph. “I just planned to go as fast as possible, that’s all” he said!

The Global Champions Tour of Brazil continues tomorrow with two more classes which have another 125’000 in cash and a car as part of the prizes and details of all the programme and results may be fouund at http://www.globalchampionstour.com/.


Class 1- Prix Governo do Rio De Janeiro
1. Luis Francisco Azevedo (BRA) Une A Basta, 0, 51.61, Euro 5000
2. Alvaro De Miranda Neto (BRA) AD Norson, 0, 51.68, Euro 4000
3. Denis Lynch (IRE) Lacroix 9, 0, 52.68, Euro 52.66

Class 2- Prix Petrobus
1 Christian Ahlmann (GER) Taloubet Z, 0,0, 36.51, Euro 31’250
2 Jeroen Dubbeldam (NED) BMC Van Grunsven Simon, 0,0, 38.06, Euro 25’000
3 Lauren Hough (USA) Prezioso, 0,0, 39.73, Euro12’500

Marco Kutscher – “I like doing normal shows and championships but those can be won or lost if you have one bad day. A series like this means you are the best over several shows, all is not lost if you make a mistake one day or your horse is not so good as usual. This is a very fair way. In Germany we have the Riders Tour which was made to work in a similar fashion to begin with, so I am used to this format. It is nice though to have both sorts of championship.”

Jeroen Dubbeldam – “I had not decided whether I could do that turn or not but Harrie (Smolders) went in before me and when he came out he said he would have done it if he had not had the third down already, so that decided me. We Dutch did not start the season so well but we seem to be doing a bit better now (Jerome was part of Dutch winning team in Dublin) and I am certainly enjoying my first time in Rio. It is a super show.”