Opening the first day of the Jumping-Cannes 40th Birthday in style, the penultimate combination of Eduardo Alvarez Aznar and d'Orient Batilly claimed the win in the Da Laura Prix at the Longines Global Champions Tour of Cannes.
Set against the stunning backdrop of the French Riviera, the first day of competition was a spectacular showcase of equestrian excellence, bringing together the world's top riders, passionate fans, and an atmosphere of pure elegance. As the iconic event reached its 40th milestone all the stops were pulled out to ensure an unforgettable day for everyone involved.
After keeping the lead for the majority of the class, Gilles Thomas and Feromas van Beek Z were beaten at the last hurdle when second last to go Eduardo Alvarez Aznar shaved nearly two seconds off his time. Final rider, 67 year old John Whitaker and Green Grass set hearts racing as they flew around the 1.50m course to stop the clock in 63.01s and take third place.
A beaming Aznar spoke of his 10 year old d’Orient Batilly: “I didn’t expect to go so fast, and I wanted to do a nice round and give him a little bit of fun in this class after jumping last weekend in the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of St. Tropez. But, he really performed well, he was turning very tight and smooth, and actually I didn’t feel that I was going so quick, but he must be a fast horse and I am very, very happy with this result.”
The opening day of the Longines Global Champions Tour of Cannes kicked off the festivities with a burst of excitement and glamor. Show jumping aficionados were treated to heart-stopping rounds at lightning-fast times during the fierce competition and day 1 of the historic event.
Uliano Vezzani’s course spanned the full length of the square sand arena, with a straightforward but technical 1.50m course. As well as floodlights and dancing shadows to contend with, a gappy liverpool set in the middle of the arena and a tricky final line to a Longines plank challenged the very best combinations.
As the excitement unfolded, spectators and viewers were treated to spectacular entertainment from the get-go as 46 combinations tackled the track only metres from the famous bay of Cannes. With some of the biggest names in the sport such as Jur Vrieling, Spencer Smith and Pieter Devos all retiring half way round it proves just how testing today’s track was.
Maikel van der Vleuten and Dywis HH set an early lead taking all the inside turns but left the door open for the rest of the field after not taking a stride out to the last. There was hope of a home win as Philippe Rozier riding Dirty Sweet kept all the fences up, but wasn’t fast enough, having to settle for 5th place overall.
There was drama as H&M Indiana took a clear disliking to the first fence, forcing Malin Baryard-Johnsson to have to circle back around to it. Lily Attwood gave it everything and was on track for some epic prize money until she risked it all to the last and it came crashing down with Karibou Horta.
As current GCL season leader with his team Madrid in Motion heading into tomorrow’s milestone 100th stage, Aznar spoke of what’s next for the team ahead of the highly anticipated Round 1 tomorrow: “We have the team competition that we are aiming to keep on the leading board. We still have to decide with my teammates [the strategy for tomorrow’s class], but we will know soon.”
The 40th birthday celebration of Jumping Cannes is a true reflection of the event's enduring legacy. Showcasing the evolution of show jumping over the past four decades, spectators are set to witness the timeless beauty of the sport intertwined with modern innovations while pushing the boundaries in equestrian sport.
Tomorrow will see the celebration of the 100th stage of GCL kick off at 17:00 local time. All the action will be streamed live via GCTV, available on the www.gctv.gcglobalchampions.com website or app.