The sensational combination of Malin Baryard-Johnsson and H&M Indiana took Rome by storm winning their first Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix in the picturesque Circus Maximus, Italy.
Under intense pressure, Baryard-Johnsson produced fireworks in a scintillating LGCT Grand Prix jump-off to snatch the win from Shanghai Swans teammate Christian Ahlmann on the 9-year-old Mandato van de Neerheide. The final place on the podium went to LGCT Grand Prix of Hamburg winner Harrie Smolders and Monaco as they continued their flying form.
The Victory propelled the Swedish Olympic Gold medallist into the prestigious Longines Global Champions Tour Super Grand Prix at the GC Prague Playoffs in November as the first female of the year claimed her spot against the world’s best.
Edwina Tops-Alexander still leads the Championship race with just three legs to go. She sits just 6 points ahead of Olivier Robert on 208 points. Ben Maher the 2018 & 2019 Longines Global Champions Tour overall season Champion has climbed the ranks to third with 201 points but Max Kühner and Peder Fredricson are hot on his heels with 194 points and 189 points.
An almost speechless Malin Baryard-Johnsson smiled: “I am so proud, I am so happy to be sitting on probably the best horse in the world. What a day it has been. It means alot to have secured the ticket for Prague but just to be a winner here feels really really good. She was jumping her heart out for me again this week and today I really got the perfect jump-off.”
The 12th LGCT Grand Prix of the season played out under brilliant blue skies as the cameras panned across the arena towards ancient Rome and the Colosseum in this unique setting for top show jumping. The biggest crowd so far packing the seats lining the beautiful Roman arena adding to the historic ambience of the prestigious international sports event free for the public to enjoy.
It was a sumptuous feast of top show jumping with spectators fanning themselves in the heat as they watched an afternoon of an 11 strong jump-off featuring top sporting joy and heartbreak. It was another genius, deceptive course by international designer Uliano Vezzani that required perfect and precise performances from the stellar horse and rider combinations with no room for error.
Guests from around the world watched from the stunning architect-designed Hospitality Lounge. Longines Vice-President Sales International M. Xavier Ligerowere joined by Veronica Tasciotti deputy of the Mayor for Youth Policies, Tourism and Greta events of The City of Rome along with the very elegant Elettra Lamborghini and Marta Ortega.
First to return to the ring was Olivier Robert and Vangog du Mas Garnier set the pace but wiped out the first part of the Longines double putting them straight out of contention for the win today.
Henrik von Eckermann and King Edward delivered the first double clear of the day to cross the finish line in 38.63 seconds and put the pressure on the rest of the field.
Giving it their all Abdel Siad and Bandit Savoie, inspired by a rousing reception from the crowd delivered the goods and slid in front of Henrik in a time of 38.09 seconds.
Irishman Micheal Pender and HHS Calais put the pedal to the metal from before the first fence as he looked determined for the win today. The tightest of rollbacks to the Premiumares upright knocking it down and having to settle for 4 faults but in a blistering time of 36.31s.
Malin Baryard-Johnsson could see Siad has left an opening and she took advantage of the extraordinary speed and precision of H&M Indiana. The combination were up on the time early on and took a flyer to the last to secure a fast clear in 36.74 seconds proving unbeatable in the end.
Jur Vrieling and the 9 year old Long John Silver opted for a steady clear round, almost collecting a time fault as they came home in 47.40 seconds.
The 2016 LGCT Grand Prix of Rome winner Evelina Tovek and Winnetou de la Hamente Z polished off another great clear stopping the clock in 40.41 seconds after Shane Breen had pushed too hard on Z7 Ipswich giving it everything they had but suffering eight faults today. British rider Sameh El Dahan and WKD Aimez Moi also collected 4 faults to secure a place just inside the top 10.
It was not over as Christian Ahlmann and Mandato van de Neerheide came into the ring blistering with determination, Exhibiting the skill and experience, Alhmann ensured a superb turn to the Premiumares upright keeping the momentum over the Longines double. But they were not fast enough at the finish, crossing the line clear in 37.82 seconds.
Harrie Smolders and Monaco came close going clear in 37.89 but couldn’t quite match the pace of Malin handing her the win and the golden ticket to the LGCT Super Grand Prix.
The Championship stays in Rome for a second week 16-18 September, for the 13-event season when the battle of the best will continue in the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Italy.