The next generation continue their flying form during the 2022 Longines Global Champions Tour season as Gilles Thomas and Calleryama took the final win of a sensational weekend of top sport in Madrid. The young gun pulled out an epic jump-off round in front of passionate fans to take the COPA S.M. EL REY - Trofeo Caser Seguros Trophy, denying Sergio Alvarez Moya with Malibu de Muze a home win in a dramatic ten rider showdown.
A delighted Thomas said: “I was not expecting to finish the weekend like this. Having the opportunity to ride at these shows against the world’s best at a young age, due to being a U25 rider for a GCL team, is amazing. It’s given me a fantastic platform to make a step up in my career and winning today is great!”
Calleryama was jumping amazing and she has a huge stride which helps in this grass arena. It is an amazing atmosphere here, like in Mexico, so many people are here - this is real sport!”
Currently sitting third in the overall Longines Global Champions Tour ranking, Thomas then added: “This is my third event of the Global (LGCT) season and all three have been very good. Next week I go to St Tropez as well, so I hope for a good result and I can move up in the rankings.”
The final class of the weekend, also known as ‘The King’s Cup’ is part of the long-standing tradition with this weekend marking the 111th edition of the show in Madrid. The final day’s action drew a bumper crowd, with passionate fans lining the arena to watch the competition unfold in the dusky afternoon sunlight.
Santiago Varela Ullastres pulled out another cleverly designed course, using not only the flowing grass field’s gentle slopes but producing a mix of huge oxers with long distances contrasted with delicate verticals requiring shorter, collected strides.
First, out of the starting blocks, Pius Schwizer knew he had a fast field behind him and pushed Vancouver de Lanlore to the limit. They were fast and clear until Schwizer missed the turn to the last fence costing crucial seconds and leaving the win wide open.
The crowd erupted as on form Darragh Kenny and Great-Tikila J entered the arena for the final time this weekend. A brave turn back to a blue and red Madrid vertical put them up on the clock. But it wasn’t to be as the double came crashing down and they finished with 4 faults.
Harrie Smolders was deceptively quick, daring his 10-year-old bay horse Uricas v/d Kattevennen to the fences stopping the clock in 41.28s good enough for 6th overall. The pressure was on, Pieter Devos with Mom's Isaura after their win earlier on in the week. They put in a brave attempt to be fastest of all but couldn’t quite match the pace this time having to settle for 4th place.
Temperatures rose as Gilles Thomas pulled out all the stops with Calleryama, a fiery bay who took up the challenge, galloping to the first fence in eager anticipation. A brilliant rollback, and a cut inside the flowers to the third fence put them up on time, with a perfectly timed stride to the last at a flat out gallop, he took over the lead in 40.16s.
Riding 13-year-old Vestmalle des Cotis, Hans-Dieter Dreher covered the ground effortlessly, slower initially, but picking up pace towards the end of the course to finish in 40.77s and securing third place.
Also fresh from a win already this week Simon Delestre and 9-year-old Dexter Fontenis Z looked to be within touching distance. Delestre shook his head as he looked at the clock of 41.07 only good enough for the top 5 today.
Tactics came into play for Anthony Condon and SFS Vincomte as they opted for a steady clear round to secure a double clear and hope others made mistakes. Marlon Módolo Zanotelli and Grand Slam VDL were eliminated after parting ways at the double combination. Both horse and rider were okay and walked out of the arena to a round of applause.
With the crowd readying themselves for the final showdown the final rider to go, Sergio Alvarez Moya knew he had to give everything with the 10-year-old gelding Malibu de Muze to better Thomas’ round and get a home win. He was just under two seconds up on the time halfway round but it proved unbeatable, as he lost it in the last line to the young talent as he stopped the clock in 40.29s, handing the win to Thomas.
And so ends another spell-binding Spanish leg of the Championship race, with the Tour now looking to Ramatuelle, Saint-Tropez, for the fifth leg on the 2022 season.