Scott Brash Storms to Victory in Thrilling GC Valkenswaard CSI5* Opener
GC Valkenswaard kicked off with a bang as Scott Brash (GBR) and Hello Mr President stormed to victory in the 1.45m two-phase competition - the first CSI5* class of the weekend. There was a stellar line up of A-list combinations as the world's best horses and riders took centre stage at Tops International Arena, but it was Brash who clinched victory at the eleventh hour from early leader Marlon Modolo Zanotelli (BRA) with Shane Breen (IRL) in third.
Uliano Vezzani built an exciting, fast course with a tight time allowed in the first phase where many riders were caught out. 49 combinations came forward to tackle this first class of the weekend but only 14 managed to leave all the fences up in both phases within the time.
Pathfinder Abdel Said (EGY) left all the fences intact but finished with one time fault, picked up in the second phase on Oak Grove's Laith. The first clear came from super speedy Henrik von Eckermann (SWE) and the 10 year old bay Fancy Me.
Denis Lynch (IRL) took a stride out to the last fence a wide Tennor oxer but couldn't quite match the pace on Rubens LS la Silla.
The lead was quickly overtaken by Marlon Modolo Zanotelli (BRA) with Icarus, the pair keeping up the pace around the second phase to finish clear in a blisteringly fast 26.27 seconds.
Philip Weishaupt (GER) went for a double clear with his striking mare Asathir, finishing with a clean sheet in 35.83 seconds.
Roger Yves Bost (FRA) was another rider to leave all the fences up, but picked up one time fault to drop out of the running. He was followed into the arena by last year’s LGCT Grand Prix of St Tropez winner Jessica Springsteen (USA), who piloted the chestnut mare Volage du Val Henry around some tight turns to drop just one pole to finish on four faults.
Emily Moffitt (GBR) was next to enter the arena with her eye-catching grey horse Carlson, and she took strides out around the jump-off course, finishing on 4 faults in 35.56 seconds.
All eyes were on Marcus Ehning as he set out around the twisting course on his popular stallion Funky Fred. The pair picked up just four faults in the second phase in 29.69 seconds.
Pieter Devos (BEL) looked to pick up where he left off from his consistent season in 2019, riding a skilful round on Jade vd Bisschop to leave the fences up but again pick up one time fault.
Max Kuhner (AUT) was the next rider to challenge the leaders, leaving all the fences up and taking strides out around the course to finish in 30.43 seconds, putting him into fourth place at this stage.
Shane Breen (IRE) piloted his 10 year old stallion Compelling Z to a superbly fast and accurate round, and laid down a strong challenge to Marlon Modolo Zanotelli’s lead with a clear in 26.57 seconds - only three tenths behind Marlon’s time to slot into second place.
Jane Richard Philips (SUI) took to the sweeping sand arena next on the 9-year-old Fouego de la Closiere and pulled out all the stops with some incredibly fast turns to finish in 28.62 seconds and a clear round.
Egypt’s Mohamed Talaat posted the next double clear, finishing in 31.65 seconds with Casanova Royal.
There were also clear rounds from Simon Delestre (FRA), Kevin Staut (FRA),
Scott Brash (GBR) was looking right for the win from the start, he took all the inside turns on Hello Mr President and flew over the finish line in a staggering 25.68 seconds to snatch the win with only three riders to go.
The next CSI5* class will be a thrilling qualifier for Saturday's highlight - the GC Grand Prix of Valkenswaard Presented by Tennor. The action begins at 16:15 CET - head to GCTV to watch it all live and for free!