10 June 2023

Maikel van der Vleuten retains Championship lead in electric Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Cannes

Maikel van der Vleuten retains Championship lead in electric Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Cannes

It was like a scene for a movie… the prestigious €500,000 Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Cannes, presented by La Ville de Cannes, concluded the weekend in an awe-inspiring film festival style. 

Last to go in an electric stadium, Maikel van der Vleuten and Beauville Z N.O.P. stopped the clock half a second faster than Pieter Devos riding Mom's Toupie de la Roque to secure top spot on the podium and claim his golden ticket to the Longines Global Champions Tour Super Grand Prix at the GC Prague Playoffs later this year. 

First to go in the 13 rider jump off, Michael Duffy with Cinca 3 held on to a podium position in the lightning fast jump-off as the world's top show jumpers competed fiercely for the coveted title under the glittering night sky of the French Riviera. 

The ultra-tight jumpoff resulted in just 0.98 seconds between 2nd placed Pieter Devos and sixth placed Christian Kukuk and Mumbai. This year's event was further heightened by the jubilant celebrations of the 40th birthday of Jumping-Cannes, adding an extra layer of excitement to the occasion.

Today’s champion Maikel van der Vleuten told GCTV: “It’s a fantastic feeling, I made a plan together with my father and it's a fantastic feeling when it works out that well. My family was here today as well as the owner of Beauville, Marta Ortega Pérez with her husband, so it was a fantastic moment for me today.”

Leaving the door open for further movement on the championship leaderboard, Maikel will not be in Stockholm or Paris. Talking of his 26 point lead, Maikel said: “I will not do Stockholm, I will not do Paris - Monte Carlo will be the next one, but hopefully I've built a bit of room between the second rider now. I am really trying my best this season to win the overall, that's something I am looking forward to.”

Pieter Devos explained: “I’m super, super happy of course, it was so close it also feels a bit bitter. Maikel, he is one of the best, so I knew he was very dangerous to me and I thought ok, I do my round and see and hopefully he goes a bit slower or has one down - but he didn't because he’s the best. The atmosphere is quite special here, it's dark and it’s quite cozy and the people are really with you and the sport, especially to the last turn everybody is cheering and you feel that - you do a little bit more of course.”

In typical Irish style Michael Duffy said: “Someone has to go first, and she jumped great. When it didn't look like there were going to be that many clears, I had a different plan… and when there was thirteen clears I said ‘I’m not going to leave it behind me, may as well throw the kitchen sink at it and see what happens, you know’ - she jumped great, she jumped amazing - and she deserved it as well.”

Today’s exceptional LGCT Grand Prix under floodlights gave a huge shake up in the overall Championship ranking. Maikel van der Vleuten extended his lead to 175 points while Christian Kukuk catapulted into second place with 134.2 points. Female firepower of Malin Baryard-Johnsson and Edwina Tops Alexander see them sit in third and fourth place on 130.1 points and 117 points respectively. 

In a movie directed by course builder Uliano Vizzani, the red carpet was rolled out in an electric round 1. Pulling out three LGCT Grand Prix clears in a row and all on the same horse, Edwina Tops-Alexander and Fellow Castlefield guaranteed the enthusiastic crowd a jump-off following Michael Duffy as the first clear round. 

Thirteen earned their position in the jump off - an incredible result and demonstrating their pure skill and horsemanship navigating high atmosphere, challenging course all while under lights and up against the very best in the world. 

It was a full house at the Cannes showground and the excitement rose as the crowd went wild as first to go in the jump-off Michael Duffy and Cinca 3 entered the arena. Setting the pace and putting the pressure on the big names to come they secured the first double clear of the day. 

Unstoppable Maikel van der Vleuten: Thrilling LGCT Grand Prix of Cannes Jump-Off Win!

The race was on as Edwina Tops-Alexander took one less stride where possible on Fellow Castlefield, however an unlucky rail meant it wasn’t to be back to back double clears. However, her 8th place finish was good enough to jump up two positions in the overall season standings.  

The poles then kept coming as Nicolas Pizarro on Pia Contra, Malin Baryard-Johnsson with the iconic H&M Indiana, John Whitaker riding Equine America Unick du Francport, Gilles Thomas on Elfra van Beek Z and last year’s second place finisher in the LGCT Grand Prix of Cannes, Spencer Smith and Theodore Manciais all had one down crushing their chances of a podium finish. 

The temperature soared as Harrie Smolders and Monaco N.O.P were seconds up on the clock ready to take the win, but the last fence came tumbling down and so did his hopes of getting the lion’s share of the prize purse. Fresh from yesterday’s GCL win, Christian Kukuk just couldn’t match the pace today with Mumbi having to settle for outside the top 5. 

Proving just how consistent they are Andreas Schou and Darc de Lux, jumping yet another clear round, punching the air as they crossed the finish line, ultimately stopping the clock in 40.80s to take 5th place overall. 

Tonight’s showdown was topped off when Pieter Devos flew into the lead with Mom's Toupie de la Roque, celebrating the clear in style, galloping around the arena pointing at his horse showing the crowd just how much it meant to him. The temperature soared as young talent Philipp Schulze Topphoff and Clara rocketed around the shorter course just missing out on a podium place by 0.12s.

Last to go Maikel van der Vleuten and Marta Ortega’s Beauville Z N.O.P. gave it everything they had. The atmosphere was electric as the top combination set off flying to the first fence, but it was his flat out gallop to the final fence where he risked it all in 39.37s that handed him the win against this world-class field.

The Longines Global Champions Tour now heads to Stockholm from 16 - 18 June for the seventh stage of the dramatic Championship race.

Jump-Off Showdown: Maikel van der Vleuten vs Pieter Devos | LGCT Head to Head

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