Rome was a game changer for the 2022 Championship race!
In a thrilling finish to the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Rome, Christian Kukuk aboard his impressive stallion Mumbai finished top of the podium and earnt his golden ticket to the LGCT Super Grand Prix this November at the GC Prague Playoffs.
With a blistering time of 42.68 seconds, Kukuk finished ahead of two-time LGCT Champion Ben Maher on Faltic HB who posted an impressive 43.35 seconds. Rounding off the podium was the winner of the LGCT Grand Prix of Paris, Marlon Zanotelli and Like a Diamond van het Schaeck in a time of 43.62 seconds showing just how close it was.
Another chapter of the Longines Global Champions Tour was written in Rome with an exhilarating jump-off with 12 of the 34 starters qualifying for the second round. Commenting on his win, Kukuk said: “It means everything to me. I have put enormous effort into this sport and all the horses, especially Mumbai over the last 10 years, since I started at Ludger’s and I always dream about winning one of these (Longines) Global Champions Tour Grand Prix’s.”
I am so so happy in this moment, I really can not believe it. I can’t find the words and I am also a little bit shaky, but it’s just amazing. I just realised that the breeder of Mumbai is here and it is her birthday – I mean I think the day was just made for us.”
Ben Maher’s silver medal in Rome has catapulted him self closer to Christian Ahlmann (238 points) who now only has a 6-point lead in the edge-of-you-steat championship battle. Heading into the last two stages of the season Pieter Devos is still in contention with 221 points so it is all to play for in New York (23 - 25 September) and the Final in Riyadh (21 - 23 October).
Smiling as he found out he also secured his place in the elite LGCT Super Grand Prix Kukuk said: “My groom has always said - ‘I want to win one of these Grand Prix and I want to be in Prague for the Super Grand Prix’, and I said I will try my best and today it worked out for us. It means a lot to us.”
Every year I always love to come to Rome, you always have the feeling that the people really enjoy our sport here – they’re really with the riders and with the rounds – you can feel the emotions it’s just such a beautiful event.”
With an unbelievably close jump-off, all eight double clear riders were all within 2.88 seconds of each other, giving the crowd a nail-biting finish to an epic day of top sport in one of the most iconic locations in the world. Circus Maximus, in the heart of ancient Rome yet again plays host to the Longines Global Champions Tour of Italy, with horses again in the incredible historical location for the second time in over 2000 years.
As the first rider out into the jump-off, Great Britain’s young gun Jodie Hall McAteer showed us what she is made of with a strong clear round and quick time of 45.11 seconds, and ultimately finishing seventh, just 2.43 seconds behind the leading pair and some of the biggest names in show jumping.
Winner of the recent LGCT Grand Prix of London, Pieter Devos and Mom’s Toupie de la Roque finished an impressive fifth, making light work of the courses set by Italian course designer Uliano Vezzani on his home turf. With the ultra-careful Longines branded double combination across the centre of the arena and a rollback to a big red oxer in front of the VIP, riders had to throw caution to the wind to be in with a chance of finishing in podium position.
There was disappointment for Peder Fredricson who still hasn't qualified for the LGCT Super Grand Prix yet as he had one down with H&M Christian K. World number one Henrik von Eckermann aboard pocket rocket Iliana finished just outside of podium position with a time of 44.20 seconds, thrilling the crowd. Using his mare’s natural pace, Eckermann saw a rolling stride down to the final fence and ultimately finished 1.52 behind the leader.
But it was last to go Daniel Deusser and the lightning-fast stallion Scuderia 1918 Tobago Z who handed his German compatriot the win when his risk to the roll back didn't pay off adding 4 faults to their score.
As the curtain falls on day two of the Longines Global Champions tour of Rome, riders and spectators around the world look ahead to another day of top sport in an iconic location, the Circus Maximus.