It was a display of sheer brilliance as Darragh Kenny set hearts racing with a sensational victory on Idalville d'Esprit in the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix du Prince de Monaco. The Irishman was in unbelievable form this weekend also triumphing earlier today for Paris Panthers in the GCL team showdown.
Barely a second separated the top three riders in a breathtakingly fast 6-way jump-off where Max Kühner stepped up to the podium in second place on the young Eic Coriolis des Isles and third spot was snached up by first to go in the jump-off Olivier Philippaerts and the talented H&M Legend of Love.
Kenny’s win means he is the latest addition to the GC Prague Playoffs, with a ticket to the elite line-up in the Longines Global Champions Tour Super Grand Prix which will take place in Prague this November.
A thrilled Kenny said: “My horse felt fantastic! I have been a bit unlucky recently having one down in my recent Grand Prix. I said to my owner last week that I just need to ride him better and he jump better and all weekend he was fantastic. He loves this ring in Monaco. I was just thinking about today and I just wanted to do a good job for him.”
There were also dramatic changes on the overall LGCT Championship leaderboard. Edwina Tops-Alexander flies into the lead with 152 points. While Peder Fredricson drops to a close second just 3 points behind and Ben Maher clings onto third spot with 132 points.
Under the patronage of HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, the 7th leg of the Championship race is a long-standing and popular stop on the calendar, with illustrious names listed on the winners roster over the years. Crowds lined the edge of the arena, including passionate fans of the sport and new visitors who had never witnessed show jumping before but were delighted to see the world’s top riders and horses in such a magical venue.
With 33 riders qualified for the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix du Prince de Monaco the stage was set for a thrilling climax to the weekend of top-level sport. There were plenty of distractions and challenges throughout Uliano Vezzani’s course as the first round delivered upsets for some and highs for those who booked their place in the jump off. A fashionable crowd were on parade along the red carpet lining the port side, with spectators ringside to watch the stars of show jumping in action.
First to take on the tough jump-off course were Olivier Philippaerts and H&M Legend of Love. The combination gave it everything they had left in the tank and pushed on to set the pace coming home in a fast and furious clear in 38.66 seconds.
Looking to do one better than her second place in Stockholm, Edwina Tops-Alexander was on board the 13 year old bay mare Identity Vitseroel. They had the lightest of touches at the castle fence crushing their chance for a win today and dropping them to fifth place overall.
Knowing only a clear would do Max Kühner had a real look of determination and all the credentials to take the win with Eic Coriolis des Isles. He took a breathtaking shot to the final fence and it stayed up catapulting them straight into the lead with a time of 38.07.
The crowd erupted in cheers as previous winner Alberto Zorzi entered the arena. He took a brilliantly calculated round with Clarina, keeping a consistent rhythm but the Palace fence also fell and the penultimate fence dropping him right to the bottom of the order crushing his chances of the double.
Monaco never fails to deliver with a F1-style finish and it was Darragh Kenny and Idalville d'Esprit who increased the pace even further and had the magic touch to cut half a second off the time to fly into top spot under the floodlights.
The final rider to go, young American talent Spencer Smith rocketed around the arena. He was faster at the split time and looked to be on for a winner but the reaction from the crowd as the GC oxer fell clearly meant it was all over in a second with Theodore Manciais. They took on the fences with all the scope and bravery required of the compact Monaco arena and stopped the clock in a faster time, but with a gut wrenching 4 faults on the board.
The thrilling prize-giving ceremony was attended by Princess Caroline of Hanover and her daughter Charlotte Casiraghi and the CEO of Longines Matthias Breschan.
The Championship race now looks to Berlin, for the 8th leg of the 2021 season as the battle for LGCT and GCL glory intensifies.