Swedish sensation Henrik Von Eckermann and the huge striding Glamour Girl blasted away the competition in a sizzling final CSI5* 1.50m jump-off class on the final day of competition at the Longines Global Champions Tour of Rome.
Von Eckermann stopped the clock just fractions of a second ahead of first to go Julien Epaillard and Calgary Tame who took second. It was local hero Emanuele Gaudiano who rounded off the podium after a lightning-fast clear round on board Nikolaj de Music.
A beaming Von Eckermann said: “Today was Glamour Girl’s day, I really think she deserved it. I knew I could do one less than Julien in the first line so I was at a slight advantage. It was extra special having my whole family cheer me on. Yesterday I was too slow on King Edward so I really wanted it today.”
The final day of thrilling competition also featured exciting CSI2* small, medium and large tour finals with a home win for Francois Spinelli and Chacco Amicor Zm in the action-packed CSI2* Grand Prix presented by Premiumares in front of a full crowd.
As the sun began to set across the stunning Circus Maximus, fans packed the grandstand to witness a world-class field in a racy jump-off. Italian designer Uliano Vezzani’s course was another technical test for the world’s top international horses and riders. The track asked for plenty of pace but left little margin for error as riders pushed to meet the forward distances, wide oxers demanding scope and power, with gappy verticals tumbling at the lightest of touches.
It was a 12 man jump-off featuring top Olympic combinations as well as local heroes to keep the home crowd on the edge of their seats.
Leading the charge, the flying Frenchman Julien Epaillard set off at a pace with Calgary Tame hoping to put pressure on the competitors to come. He did exactly that as the crowd cheered with delight when he crossed the finish line in a blistering time of 33.08 while leaving all the fences up after a flat out gallop to the last.
Young gun Andrzej Oplatek gave it everything from before the first fence on the striking Conthinder. Looking to be up on the pace it was the Longines vertical that fell putting them straight out of contention today.
If there was a roof in the Circus Maximus it would have been lifted by the cheers of the crowd as Emanuele Gaudiano and Nikolaj de Music delivered a faultless round and stopped the clock less than a second behind Epaillard in 33.97s.
Both Titouan Schumacher riding Eliot Brimbelles Z and Francesco Turturiello on Made In't Ruytershof had two fences down each knocking the right down the order.
Belgium’s Olivier Philippaerts and Miro started off quietly but made a phenomenal turn on the rollback. They built throughout the course but couldn’t quite match the pace and had to settle for a time of 35.95 seconds.
Bart Bles and Fernando- H had a slower tempo, but kept the rhythm throughout, cruising through the smoothest of turns to finish just behind the leading pack in 36.28 seconds.
Riding his team Olympic Gold Medalist rider H&M All In Peder Fredricson was the hot favourite. Taking strides out easily where possible they were half a second up at the split time. But he turned too tight in the roll back to the coin upright causing it to fall and crushing their chances of a podium today.
With VDL Groep Quatro looking in phenomenal form, Geir Gulliksen powered through the course flying from the first to the second fence. The duo tried, but it wasn’t quite enough, stopping the clock in 35.87 seconds and slipping into third.
Henrik von Eckermann set off at a gallop, roaring through the starting gates with Glamour Girl and keeping up the pace throughout the course. They were up from the start and the momentum built, the Swedish talent shaving an incredible half a second off the time to turn up the heat in Rome with a new time to beat of 32.66s.
An unlucky one down each for Jur Vrieling on Fiumicino van de Kalevallei and Shane Breen with Lady Star van Dorperheide meant they were kept out of the top 5 placings this time.
So it would be a win for Henrik von Eckermann and Glamour Girl just ahead of Julien Epaillard on Calgary Tame and Emanuele Gaudiano with Nikolaj de Music in a sensational display of horsemanship in the heart of Rome.
The Longines Global Champions Tour stays in Rome for another week as the 2021 race continues for the 13th leg of the season as the battle for the Championship reaches fever pitch. Next week will also feature more CSI2* class providing a fantastic opportunity for young talent to shine in the competitions at the incredible new venue.