“It was about time” a welling-up Marlon Zanotelli said during the winners interview straight after the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix in Paris, last Saturday. The sympathetic Brazilian had been collecting 2nd place finishes since Rome 2019 and in Paris the threat of completing his quartet of seconds didn’t freeze him. Or did it?
Robert with the fast start
Zanotelli started reasonably conservative, going 10 strides to the liverpool Oxer in the jump-off. Lily Atwood had just done the same and found herself in the lead, having posted a time of 37.55 seconds over Gregory Bodo’s track. But detail showed that Zanotelli had gone wider and as both took of level at the liverpool, it meant that Zanotelli had the higher pace in the first line, having ridden more meters. Homerider Olivier Robert however had left out a stride in the first line and jumped into the next turn to Saint Laurent, where Zanotelli went through the middle and Atwood a fraction wider.
Upsets in turn 2
Her wider turn resulted in 2 extra strides, being left behind by the 2 men in the jump-off. But both had a very difficult turn back to the upright, spinning the riders over 180° on their tracks. Robert’s Grand Prix winner Vivaldi de Meneaux stumbled in this 2nd stride forcing Robert to add to 9 instead of a potential 8 strides. And when Zanotelli came through the turn, seeing his distance deep he tried to get his mare Like a diamond van het Schaek to straighten up and drift wide. The unleashed Belgian Warmblood however locked on to fence 2, the already jumped liverpool and Zanotelli had to pull uncharacteristically to save the situation, forcing him to also add a stride bringing him on something along the likes of 8,5 to the vertical. Lucky for him it was just an upright and Like a Diamond cleared it.
With all the upsets in the turn Robert now led by half a jump and Atwood had caught up a fraction on the frontrunners.
From there on all 3 rode the same number of strides. From the vertical to the Street Lights on 9, 8 into the double and 10 to the last. So it would come down to speed to figure out who would win the 9th Grand Prix of the season and the Golden Ticket to the Longines Global Champions Tour Super Grand Prix that comes with a win.
When all wen on 9 o the Street Lights, Zanotelli again rode the wider turn to, but with the highest pace, closing in on Robert who was still leading. Zanotelli also went a few meters wider into the double, feeling very confident about the mares ability to judge the double of Upright to Oxer well.
Robert found himself more on the inside and had to reduce the pace ,opening the door for Zanotelli to get level jumping into the double and even a fraction ahead when landing out of it.
The outside bend with pace is becoming a signature move from the man born in Imperatriz, in the state of Maranhão, north-east inBrazil. Often in short lines he has made a habit of it to jump the first fence on the angle to easily create more metres for himself and his horses, making the lines fit much easier. Now he used the same technique by going wide in the line and having more pace than his rivals.
Turning 180° from home, all rode the same 10 strides. Atwood had a great shot on 10 even, fast strides to produce a career best result after her first ever appearance in a Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix Jump-Off. Robert on his turn didn’t have his 10 as even as the 20-year-old British and upon take of he got a bit long to the vertical without squaring up, resulting in the final fence falling and stopping the clock more than a second faster than Atwood.
Zanotelli had to hold on 10 strides coming fairly tight through the turn with all that pace from the previous lines. The mare and the Belgian-based Brazilian kept their cool and were 1.48 seconds quicker to clinch his first ever LGCT GP win.
LGCT Grand Prix Analysis
In this weeks episode LGCT Grand Prix Analysis Frederik De Backer looks deeper into the events that took place in the jump-off and in the 1st round where the slope played a major factor on at least 2 lines. The program is available with a GCTV Pro Pass.