Scott Brash pulled off a mind-blowing feat of speed with 12-year-old stallion Hello Vincent to clinch the 1.55m class – the feature event of Friday's Longines Global Champions Tour.
At the Longines Arena at Al Shaqab, it was a blistering jump-off featuring eight of the world’s best horse and rider combinations and it all came down to precision and speed under the floodlights in breezy conditions.
Eight riders qualified for the jump-off but it was Brash onboard his rapid stallion Hello Vincent who claimed the victory in the feature class of the day. First into the ring was Belgium’s Niels Bruynseels, who was astride mare Frenchy VDS. The pair was quick off the ground and tight in turns as they stopped the clock in 36.08 seconds.
The huge striding grey gelding Cheker ridden by Christian Kukuk of Germnay threw caution to the wind, galloping to the fences looking for their first win of the season, but they couldn’t quite match the pace and were lying in second.
But the final rider Brash, saved the best to last as the Brit and Hello Vincent and shaved just under a second off Bruynseels and Frenchy VDS to clinch a thrilling win.
Scott was effusive win in his praise of his horse after the victory. “My horse was fantastic today. He is such a lovely stallion and makes my life easier because he is very adjustable when you have such a technical course and that makes all the difference. He is super-fast and today he did a very good jump-off. So I am very pleased with my horse,” he said.
"It's great to be here in Doha, fantastic facilities for the horses. It's just great to be back competing in the sport after so long. I am jumping in the Grand Prix tomorrow. I have Jefferson and Hello Vincent here. I will jump one in the Speed class and hopefully if we qualify, I will jump with another in the Jump-off,” Brash added.
A total of 35 combinations came forward to tackle the course ahead of the first Grand Prix of the season today where it will be all to play for as the best of the best battle it out for the first golden ticket to the LGCT Super Grand Prix at the GC Prague Playoffs.
Super Saturday in Doha will also play host to Round 2 of the Global Champions League team competition, in the first event for the teams to secure the all-important ranking places. Valkenswaard United head to the second round in pole position, but with five teams on a clean sheet, the showdown will be intense.
Earlier, France’s Julien Epaillard won the CSI 5* 1.50m speed class with Safari d’Auge. The Epaillard let his horse Safari d’Auge travel with ease around the arena to land his spot as the fastest clear round by the end of the class.
There were Twenty-six starters but only eight of those jumped clear rounds, meaning the riders really had to step on the gas in order to be high in the placings. The first clear was jumped by Maurice Tebbel and the gutsy stallion Chaccos’ Son in 60.94 seconds and they lead right until the ever end of the class.
Epaillard and Safari d’Auge crossed the finish line 2.5 seconds faster and secured their 3rd CSI5* win in 2 weeks.
New face on the Tour this year Agustin Covarrubias put in a brilliant attempt and finished off the top three with his 14-year-old grey Larbraker. Austria’s Max Khuner of Austria had a sensational opening day and was looking to repeat again on the second day of competition. He took out strides where he could but light touch cost him a place on the podium and he had to settle for four faults in 61.76
CSI5* - Table A, FEI Art. 238.2.2 - with jump-off. Height: 1.55m
1. Scott Brash (GBR); Horse: Hello Vincent; Time: 36.08 secs; Prize money: €37125.
2. Niels Bruynseels (BEL); Frenchy VDS; 37.04 secs; €29700
3. Christian Kukuk (GER); Checker; 37.13 secs; €22275
CSI5* Table A, FEI Art. 238.2.1 - against the clock. Height: 1.50m
1. Julien Epaillard (FRA); Horse: Safari d'Auge; Time: 58.44 secs; Prize money: €12775
2. Maurice Tebbel (GER); Chaccos' Son; 60.94 secs; €10220
3. Agustin Covarrubias; (CHI); Larbraker; 62.69 secs; €7665