Capturing the hearts and headlines alike, Jessica Springsteen rocketed to victory in the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of London with Don Juan van de Donkhoeve as Olivier Philippaerts had to settle for second place once again on H&M Miro. Picking up his 24th LGCT Grand Prix podium finish Harrie Smolders and the incredibly consistent Moncao N.O.P stood proudly in third place after a battle of the best.
Against the backdrop of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, a historic and elegant venue, VIP hospitality enveloped guests in opulent luxury as they witnessed the world's finest riders in action. Overflowing grandstands, packed with sporting and equestrian enthusiasts alike were treated to a mesmerizing day for all the family to enjoy.
Jessica Springsteen's triumph not only claimed her the coveted top spot on the podium but also earned her the esteemed "golden ticket" to the LGCT Super Grand Prix in Prague, a glittering showcase of international show jumping prowess.
Speaking to GCTV an emotional Jessica Springsteen smiled: “I’m so happy with Don today, I took some risks but it paid off. I’m so excited, I'm honestly in shock this is my first 5* Grand Prix win with Don so I’m so thankful. It means so much to win here, especially in front of this incredible atmosphere and crowd in London. It’s an incredible venue and an incredible crowd, they really give you the energy - they’re really cheering you on and I think you and your horse, they really feel that which is special.”
Taking second place for the second year in a row, Olivier Philippaerts certainly is on form at the Longines Global Champions Tour of London, particularly following his team, the Stockholm Hearts powered by H&M We Love Horses, win in the GCL of London yesterday! Chasing that elusive win, Olivier commented: “I’m incredibly happy, I've just got to work a bit harder to bring home a win. I’ve been hungry for it for a very long time already, so I will keep pushing it, keep trying, and hopefully one day we will pull it off.”
As one of the most consistent horses on tour this year, Monaco N.O.P with Harrie Smolders added a crucial 35 points to his Championship total of 229 and is firmly in second place on the overall championship standings. Speaking of his partner, Harrie commented on their partnership: “Monaco jumped outstanding again, I am very grateful, I have two superstars at the moment in Uricas and Monaco and that’s why for the Longines Global Champions Tour for the whole season you need horsepower.”
A quintessentially British site saw the iconic Chelsea Pensioners adorned in their scarlet uniforms escort the placegetters to the prizegiving in the shadow of the Royal Chelsea Hospital which plays home to over 300 veterans of the British Army.
Closing the gap in the exhilarating Championship race Harrie Smolders is now just 9 points behind Maikel van der Vleuten on 238 points. Christian Kukuk slips into third place on 205 points and Simon Delestre sits in fourth just behind with 198 points.
A thrilling 10-rider jump-off, boasting an astonishing six double clears, set the stage for a gripping showcase of precision and athleticism.
First to go, it wasn’t meant to be today for Gregory Wathelet & Nevados S, as they picked up 8 faults, releasing the pressure from the rest of the field as a huge name was out of the game.
Beth Underhill produced the first double clear of the day onboard Nikka vd Bisschop but didn’t stay in the lead for long as Niels Bruynseels and Delux van T & L took to the ring and stopped the clock in 44.36s, making it look easy.
A super unlucky rail in the latter part of the course for Kim Emmen and Inflame Go kept them off the podium this time. It was a gut-wrenching finish for Andreas Schou and Billy Matador who were up on the time halfway, but then it all fell apart as two poles came tumbling down towards the end of the course, and their chances of a second podium finish this season were crushed.
There was no stopping Jessica Springsteen Don Juan van de Donkhoeve who had the entire sold-out crowd behind their every stride. A flying start and risking it all with the tightest of turns back to the double, Jessica had entered the ring clearly chasing one thing - the win. Ultimately leaving the win with what looked to be an unbeatable time, the duo ultimately risked it just enough to be untouchable.
Riding in his first-ever LGCT Grand Prix, 20-year-old Oliver Fletcher produced a flawless double clear to finish top 5 with Hello William in his first 5* back after colic surgery earlier this year. The highest place Brit was tearing up as he spoke about the accomplishment: “I don’t have any words, I'm still shaking, moments like this is what you work your whole life for. It’s been a difficult year, William had to have colic surgery and we nearly lost him so to come back like this is incredible. I thought I had no chance today so I didn’t even look at the jump-off course when I walked the course.”
Olivier Philippaerts, astride the illustrious H&M Miro, gave it everything he could from start to finish determined not to make the same mistake as last year adding an extra stride to the last that cost him the win. But he couldn’t quite match the pace of Springsteen and he stopped the clock in 43.90s, securing the second-place position for the second consecutive year.
In an unprecedented feat, Harrie Smolders clinched his fourth consecutive LGCT Grand Prix podium, etching his name in history. He did it in flying fashion curising Monaco around but a final check to the last meant he had to settle for third today in 43.92s.
Last to go, looking to match Scott Brash’s record of the most ever LGCT Grand Prix wins, the venue erupted for local hero Ben Maher and Point Break as they entered the arena. From the get-go, they were lightning fast and they made the first line look easy. The tightest of rollbacks to the third fence proved too risky as Point Break struggled to leave all poles standing, which ultimately handed the win straight to USA’s Jessica Springsteen.
So it will be a Dutch one-two heading into their home event next weekend in Valkenswaard from 18 - 20 August as the Championship race reaches its climax with Maikel Van Der Vleuten grasping on to the Championship lead, and Harrie Smolders hot on his heels in second.