The final day of the Longines Global Champions Tour of Mexico City was a scorcher in all senses of the word, paving the way for a phenomenal 2022 season ahead.
With every day on the Longines Global Champions Tour of Mexico City providing world-class sport and spell-binding action, the stakes were raised once again for the big-money concluding Trofeo Banorte 1.50m jump-off class. In a turbo-charged display of horsepower, it was Darragh Kenny of Ireland who landed a momentous second win of the day to take the lion's share of the €100,000 prize purse with VDL Cartello.
First to go in the jump-off Nina Mallevaey on Kino clinched second place just ahead of the third and final double clear of the day Christian Kukuk.
Speaking to GCTV for the second winner's interview of the day Kenny smiled: "This show is fantastic, I absolutely loved it, the atmosphere is amazing the crowd are just unbelievable and it’s been really enjoyable to be here it’s a beautiful show and then next I’ll be in Madrid. Well, it’s a better day than yesterday so I’m pretty happy about that. My horse jumped amazing today I was really happy with him. He feels in good form again. I didn’t have a great day yesterday and today pretty much made up for it."
Sunday’s track was set as a serious test with plenty of jumping efforts, but inviting fences and encouraging lines did little to deter these talented horses and this elite field of 54 riders made the course look relatively comfortable with 10 making it through to an electric jump-off.
The packed stands and VIP hospitality area sizzled in anticipation as the first rider entered the vast arena deep in the heart of this vibrant city.
Pathfinder Nina Mallevaey pivoted round the tightest of turns and allowed the 14-year-old Kino to open up down the lines. They skipped through the airy double before soaring down over the final oxer for a masterful clear in 45.31s. The French speed merchant had set a serious target.
The stadium erupted when two home heroes Federico Fernandez on Romeo and Nicolas Pizarro with Pia Contra entered the arena. Pushing to the limits, both hungry for a home win but an unlucky rail each meant they had to settle for just outside the top 5.
Nicola Philippaerts with the 10-year-old Moya vd Bisschop would have been one of the favourites to win this valuable prize but two down mid-course put them straight out of contention.
Straight off the back of a win in this morning’s speed class Darragh Kenny was determined to make it a second win of the day. Catapulting out of the starting blocks, Kenny and the very careful VDL Cartello spun round the corners and soared straight to the top spot in 42.84s.
It wasn’t to be for Katrin Eckermann or Jack Whitaker in today’s jump-off as both had to turn a circle to the double, racking up the time faults and leaving them 9th and 10th respectively. There was no chance of the pace slacking as Johnny Pals prepared to stake his claim with Zarkava Hero Z, but an early upright fell for the Dutchman.
Christian Kukuk always loves a challenge and he powered out of the starting blocks on Nice van't Zorgvliet. Pushing and encouraging all the way, the pair scooted down the final line just a fraction outside Nina’s time in 45.97s.
Last to go young Belgium talent Zoe Conter and Dawa de Greenbay Z was hungry for her first LGCT win but her hopes were crushed as the first part of the double came tumbling down, handing the win to Kenny.
That concludes a top-notch third leg of the 2022 Longines Global Champions Tour and GCL in Mexico City. The Championships now hit Europe as the tour lands in the capital city Madrid (13-15 May) where the high drama looks set to continue.