A thrilling conclusion to the second day of the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of London saw six of the world's best horse and rider combinations take to the arena to tackle the Uliano Vezzani jump-off course. Stepping up when it counts and securing the golden ticket to the Longines Global Champions Tour Super Grand Prix, Pieter Devos and Mom’s Toupie de la Rogue put in a blistering jump-off time against the clock to secure his spot at the top of the podium.
A beaming Devos said: “It's an unbelievable feeling, especially with Mom's Toupie de la Roque, she did everything today for me. I felt it has been a long time coming that I would do a good result with her and now the cherry on the cake to win, so I’m very, very happy. It’s an unbelievable crowd, you feel when you go in the people are really supporting you and I thank them a lot to also support me and think it was a great show and competition. I risked it all because I walked the course and I thought that it was always 9, and I saw Edwina and she had to hold a bit on 9 so I then have a huge stride so I knew I could do the eight. So I came over the vertical and just thought about going forward and nothing else.”
With six horse and rider combinations guaranteeing their spot in the second round, the crowd were treated to a truly thrilling finish to day two of the iconic Longines Global Champions Tour of London. Olivier Philippaerts aboard his striking 10 yo chestnut H&M Miro were the closest challengers to Devos’s blistering round, taking second position on the podium with a jump-off time of 37.2 seconds just 0.28 seconds behind the winner.
Commenting on his golden ticket Devos said: “ I was really hoping for it, we are almost at the end of the season and it is always a fantastic competition and I am really, really happy to be part of it again. Today, Scott still had to come so I thought ok, it would be for him but luck was on my side, i’m happy – very happy.”
Pieter Devos has shot back up to second on 198 points on the overall ranking as the Championship accelerates to the season finale, with the potential to realise his hope of securing a title Devos will now be at full gas for the rest of the season. Christian Ahlmann still leads with 216 while Ben Maher drops to third on 182 points.
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.
In what spectators thought could be a female-dominated podium, the second round of the LGCT Grand Prix class kicked off in style which saw Australia’s Edwina Tops-Alexander aboard Fellow Castlefield take to the arena in what was their first jump-off appearance this season. Jumping into sixth place with an unlucky early rail and finishing on four faults, Edwina paved the way for homegrown hero Ellen Whittaker on crowd favourite Equine America Spacecake to take to the arena. Whittaker delighted the crowd in taking an early lead, posting an impressive clear round of 39.78 seconds.
Class winners Pieter Devos and Mom’s Toupie de la Rouge used Edwina and Ellen’s pathfinding rounds to thrill the audience with their time of 36.92 seconds risking it all to the last. Jur Vierling followed into the arena having never won an LGCT Grand Prix before. Riding the super talented Comme-Laude W they gave it their all but the gelding was slower in the air and they had to settle for their second third place on the podium this year.
It was a gut-wrenching finish for Olivier Philippaerts and H&M Miro who was up on the time halfway round but added a stride to the last costing him the win and a place in the LGCT Super Grand Prix in Prague later this year.
Last to go, looking to make history and break his own record of the most ever LGCT Grand Prix wins, the venue erupted for Scott Brash and Hello Mr President 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 and Mr President couldn’t clear it and the win was handed straight to Belgium’s Pieter Devos.
The LGCT now looks to its spiritual home, Valkenswaard, The Netherlands, for the 12th leg of the Championship race from 26 - 28 August at Tops International Arena.