James Wilson faced down some of the biggest stars in show jumping to reign supreme in today’s Trophy Casino de Monte-Carlo CSI5* class, eclipsing Belgian star Pieter Devos by just tenths of a second.
In an exhilarating jump-off, the 26-year-old British rider piloted Imagine de Muze to the top spot snatching the win from Devos who looked on phenomenal form with top mare Jade vd Bisschop.
Elated after his victory James said: "It is a great atmosphere here in Monaco and makes my first CSI5* win special. I wasn’t nervous while the remaining riders went because I thought she (Imagine de Muze) would be in with a chance as she is quick across the ground and there weren't many options to take strides out in this arena as it rides like an indoor."
The 1.50m jump-off class on the second day of the Longines Global Champions Tour of Monaco saw temperatures rise in the perfect prelude to Saturday’s showdown. The unique show jumping arena, sandwiched between Monaco’s famous yacht harbour and the Prince’s Palace, attracted a stylish crowd enjoying the lifestyle of the Principality and world class sport. The LGCT of Monaco is once again under the Royal Patronage of HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco and this evening’s prize-giving ceremony was also attended by Charlotte Casiraghi honorary president of the show.
Uliano Vezzani put together a technical, tough track for the world’s top international riders, utilising the full width and breadth of the arena. Nine combinations made it into the jump-off which required plenty of focus, responsiveness and bravery.
First to go Jos Verlooy carved the path for the rest to come, proving how tough today’s jump-off course was. A light touch at the first part of the double meant it was a total of 4 faults with Fabregas. There would be plenty for the others to play for, despite the extremely delicate fences.
Flying Frenchman Olivier Robert revved the engines of Hantuscha, powering out of the starting blocks and taking every chance. Their tunes were brave, and they looked set to beat the trail blazers but an unlucky fence down meant they steadied up and finished with 4 faults in 38.46 seconds.
There was disappointment for Marlon Módolo Zanotelli with Diarca PS, as they flew from the top to the bottom of the arena, picking up 8 faults in the testing course as the final fence also crashed down putting them out of contention for the win today. The faults kept coming with Darragh Kenny and Scarlett du Sart Z coming home on 12.
Setting the first double clear of the day, on form Gilles Thomas cruised the stunning stallion Feromas Van Beek Z round effortlessly, stopping the clock in 36.46 seconds but leaving the door open for the rest of the field to beat his time.
Rising talent James Wilson had nothing to lose as he galloped around the floodlit sand arena. Leaving all the fences up and setting a new time to beat with Imagine de Muze he clinched his first Longines Global Champions Tour win in the stunning setting of the Principality of Monaco.
Riding Mandato van de Neerheide, Christian Ahlmann looked deceptively steady at the start. The big striding Chestnut covered the ground, but there was heartache as a late pole added 4 faults to the scoreboard.
Pieter Devos was up on the time and looked strong to take the win with the powerful Jade vd Bisschop, but even his razor sharp roll back couldn’t beat Wilson’s time leaving them in second place. Last to go young German rider Laura Klapake pulled out a smooth round with Davenport VDL pulling off a flawless double clear and stopping the clock in 37.28 seconds slotting them into fourth place overall in an impressive result for the younger generation on the circuit.
So the win would go to James Wilson with Heather Larson’s Imagine de Muze, finishing ahead of Pieter Devos with Jade vd Bisschop, with Gilles Thomas and Feromas Van Beek Z rounding out third.
Saturday welcomes the final day of competition where teams and individuals will battle it out for top honours and claim the crucial overall season ranking points. The GCL Monaco kicks off at 17.00 and the coveted LGCT Grand Prix du Prince de Monaco, taking place at 20:30. Tune in live via GCTV to watch all the action live.