Doha, Qatar – In the warmth of a middle eastern evening, the Final of Jan Top’s Global Champions Tour began tonight with a speed class, the result of which said much about the quality of the riders concerned. Conrad Homfeld built a course that was testing enough for those who just wished to use the opener as a warm up but also left plenty of room for time to be saved by anyone wishing to make the most of an opportunity to win 8,000 Euro.
Olympic champion Eric Lamaze was first to really set the arena alight and flew through the gates in a time of 67.77 on his consistent mare Take Off. Bernado Alves nearly caught him on Kingly du Reverdy stopping the clock in 68.82 but it took a former triple World Cup winner to stop the Canadian from winning. Rodrigo Pessoa needs little introduction in show jumping circles and his ride on Cazino was masterful and ended up over a second faster than his rival. 66.59 was not really in any danger of being beaten and left the American continent with a 1,2,3 as the show, which culminates with the biggest winners prize in show jumping (300,000 Euro) kicked off.
Qatar’s own riders were not disgraced. To huge cheers and applause two of their trio rode clear rounds, Ali Yousef al Rumaihi best of them, finishing 11th of 37 starters on Ravenna. Sheik Ali al Thani was 14th on Santos.
In the second class with 50,000 Euro total prize money up for grabs, it did look as if Conrad Homfeld might have been a little too kind as three of the first five in went clear. It did not take long, however, for rails to begin to fall and although ten of the 37 strong field ended up without penalty, that was more a reflection on their quality than a lack of the same on the course designer’s part.
In the jump off, the oxer out of the double took both Eric Lamaze (Hickstead) and Robert Whitaker (Draco) out of the equation and Kevin Staut (Le Prestige de St Lois) hit the second last. Jessica Kurten, who you can never write off in a speed section, fairly flew on Castle Forbes Cosma who only jumped her first five star Grand Prix at Estoril and none of the remaining riders could catch the Irish combination. Albert Zoer came closest and pronounced himself pleased with the way his horses had jumped as did third placed Daniel Etter, who after two recent World Cup wins is certainly the man in form.
Tomorrow sees another two GCT classes, the second of which is the first qualifier for the Final in which only the top 18 of the riders may ride. For more information please visit our website at www.globalchampionstour.com
Jessica Kurten: It’s my second time here and it changed a lot, in a positive way. Everything is made for the riders to feel the importance of this competition. The stadium is great and looks just perfectly organized for such a big final. From the beginning, we feel we are in a Championship that will be hard but very exciting and it’s good for our motivation! As for Fluffy (Castle Forbes Cosma) she was a star and just when everyone was thinking I was coming on young horses!!
Jos Lansink: It is just fantastic!
Albert Zoer: Last year was good and it continues in the same way. I did take one stride too many into the last but I am getting better…..last week I got beat by four tenths of a second, today though just three!
Daniel Etter: It is great and of course nice to win money on the first day. I think the accommodation for horses is good but for us, it is super nice! The hotel is amazing!
1. Rodrigo Pessoa, Cazino, 0, 66.59, Euro 8,000
2. Eric Lamaze ,Take Off, 0, 67.77, Euro 4,000
3. Bernardo Alves, Kingley du Reve, 0, 67.82, Euro 3,000
1. Jessica Kurten, Castle Forbes Cosma, 0,0, 40.04, Euro 16,000
2. Albert Zoer, Sam, 0,0, 40.42, Euro 8,000
3. Daniel Etter, Admirable,0,0, 41.20, Euro 6,000