Swedish sensation Peder Fredricson claimed his second Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix win of the season beating British superstar John Whitaker by just 0.14s in front of an enthusiastic sell-out crowd at the unique venue of the Royal Hospital Chelsea.
Piloting the striking grey Catch Me Not S, Peder delivered a breathtaking performance ahead of John Whitaker and Niels Brynseels. Whitaker now joins the illustrious lineup of show jumping superstars for Longines Global Champions Tour Super Grand Prix at the GC Prague Playoffs.
Fredricson has now shot back up to lead the overall season championship again on 189 points. Leading lady Edwina Tops-Alexander sits 10 points behind on 179 while Sergio Alvarez Moya drops to third on 175 as the battle gets even closer.
A beaming Fredricson said: “London is fantastic, the course designer was great, the footing is perfect, the backdrop is amazing and finally we had a lot of people watching and the atmosphere couldn’t be better. It feels amazing, really really happy with this win today - it was great sport. When you have a Whitaker behind you, you never think you’ve done enough. It was really really close so I’m happy to come out on this side with the victory today. Having already qualified for the LGCT Super Grand Prix it didn’t really lessen the pressure because I want to win anyway.”
John Whitaker said: "I could have beaten him, my horse jumped perfect. To come to a show like this with the best riders in the world and be holding my own with them is great for everything."
It was a quintessentially British scene as Royal Hospital Chelsea played host to the world’s greatest show jumpers. Families enjoyed top sport and a thrilling display of world class sport at the beautiful venue. Equine enthusiasts applauded the veterans, known as the Chelsea Pensioners who once again joined the prize-giving ceremony adding to the emotional scenes around the arena.
Uliano Vezzani set a big track for today’s LGCT Grand Prix of London - full height at the maximum 1.60m and requiring scopey horses who took a lot of care when they reached the fences. It was a 6 man jump-off featuring some of the biggest names in show jumping.
First to go in the jump-off was Gregory Wathelet riding Faut-Il Des 7 Vallons in his first ever CSI5* Grand Prix. The pair had an unlucky rub mid course to finish with 4 faults and leave the door wide open for the rest of the field.
Riding the super fast Katanga v.H Dingeshof, Nicola Philippaerts didn’t waste any time in the air. However, two hard rubs meant it was a total of 8 faults and not their day today.
The poles kept falling as Christian Ahlmann and Clintrexo Z also picked up 8 faults but in a faster time than Philippaerts to round off the top 5.
The first double clear came from Niels Bruynseels and the 13 year old Ilusionata van't Meulenhof. They didn’t push to the last losing valuable time and coming home in 36.16 seconds but claiming third and jumping up the overall season ranking.
Gold and Silver medalist Peder Fredricson flew around the arena with Catch Me Not S. He pulled out all the stops galloping through the finish line in 37.79s putting pressure on John and making him take all the risks.
66 year old John Whitaker returned to the ring with Unick du Francport and the pair set off at a gallop as silence dropped around the arena. Whitaker gave it his all taking the last at a flat out gallop but was just a fraction off the pace to stop the clock in 37.93s and had to settle for second place.
The Longines Global Champions Tour now looks to it’s spiritual home, Valkenswaard, The Netherlands, for the 10th leg of the Championship race.