The French rider Patrice Delaveau stopped Daniel Deusser in his race for the Grand Slam of Indoor showjumping, the three riders of the podium were standing in 0.15 seconds in this second round. With his fantastic Aquila HDC, he just came back to the highest level and writes his name for the second time in this Longines Grand Prix of Hong Kong.
A scintillating weekend of equestrian action at the Longines Masters of Hong Kong came to a suitably dramatic conclusion in its final and most important competition, the Longines Grand Prix. The race could hardly have been closer, with Patrice Delaveau snatching victory on Aquila HDC from the Austrian Max Kühner on Cielito Lindo 2 by just 0.07 seconds in the jump-off, with Longines Grand Prix of Paris winner the German Daniel Deusser on Cornet D’Amour only another 0.08 seconds behind in third. “It was great today, and my horse was fantastic,” said Delaveau. “I love it here in Hong Kong.”
Presented by Title Partner & Official Timekeeper Longines, the Longines Grand Prix, over 1.60m obstacles, also came with the biggest prize purse of the weekend attached: a total of US$382,800. Twenty riders from 12 countries battled it out for the title over two rounds, with the 20 riders whittled down to 12 for the jump-off. A fiendish course was created for the first round by course designer Louis Konickx. Faults from the first round carried through to the winning round with the five riders who went clear in both rounds – the others were fourth-placed the Australian Jamie Kermond on Yandoo Oaks Constellation and fifth-placed Michael Whitaker on Calisto Blue – separated by their jump-off times.
A win for Deusser, victorious in Paris also on Cornet D’Amour, would have put him in with a shot at the Grand Slam Indoor super bonus of €2.25 million for winning three consecutive Longines Grand Prix in the same season in Paris – Hong Kong and New York. After his second round, riding ninth of the 12 remaining competitors, few would have bet against him doing so, but he was immediately followed into the arena by Delaveau, who shaved a fraction of a second off Deusser’s time, racing to victory in 37.81 seconds amid scenes of frenzied excitement from a packed-out crowd that got behind the riders with full-throated gusto, as they have all weekend. Kühner, who came third at last year’s Longines Grand Prix of Hong Kong on Cornet Kalua, rode straight after Delaveau, and only just missed out on snatching the title from the Frenchman’s grasp.
Patrice Delaveau has a chance to collect the Grand Slam Indoor bonus of €1 million if he can win the Longines Grand Prix at the final leg of the current season of the Longines Masters Series, in New York, and follow it up with a win in Paris at the start of the 2018-19 season.
The competitive action really started to come to the boil in the early afternoon of the third and final day of the Longines Masters of Hong Kong with the event’s penultimate class, the Masters One DBS. With classes coming thick and fast on Day 3, the competition, run over 1.45m obstacles, was won by the British Robert Smith on his 11-year-old gray gelding Cimano E in a time of 57.17 seconds. Riding 16th out of 19 competitors on a tricky course that forced riders to stretch hard into several fences, Robert Smith took 0.46 seconds off the time of 57.63 seconds previously set by the German rider Christian Kukuk on Cordess, riding 10th. Third place was taken by the Dutch Gerco Schröder on Glock’s Debalia in a time of 58.49 seconds. “I thought I could beat it,” said Smith of the time set by Kukuk. “I thought I was unlucky on the first day,” when Smith came in third in The Hong Kong Jockey Club Trophy on Ilton, notching up the fastest time of the class but incurring a single four-fault penalty. “But today I saw the course and thought it was perfect for Cimano.”
An early start to proceedings didn’t stop the crowds turning out in impressive numbers to support the future stars of Hong Kong equestrian sport, who were given another opportunity to show what they’ve got in the opening event of the final day of the Longines Masters of Hong Kong, The Hong Kong Jockey Club Junior Trophy. Nathaniel Chan on Lay Your Love On Z scored an impressive victory, coming home ahead of five other riders over the two-round class thanks to a super-speedy second round. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to compete here – a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Chan, 18, who’s been riding since he was eight years old, and has appeared at every edition of the Longines Masters of Hong Kong. All the riders went clear in the first round, and four did so in the second. Chan’s winning time of 33.36 seconds beat Yu An Su on Chardonay Hara Des Barrages into second, at 38.64 seconds, with Justin Yeung riding Clintorado in third, at 42.96 seconds.
The conclusion of the Longines Grand Prix brought the 2018 edition of the Longines Masters of Hong Kong to a suitably action-packed close. But more top-quality showjumping action is never far away with the Longines Masters Series, which comes to its grand finale in New York on April 26-29, 2018.