Luciana Diniz & Winningmood. Ph. ©LGCT/Stefano Grasso
Luciana Diniz of Portugal and the impressive Winningmood had the crowd on the edge of their seats after an electric jump-off in the opening day of the Longines Global Champions Tour of Chantilly CSI5*. Racing to the finish a full second ahead of the rest of the field, the pair made a triumphant return to the Tour, with their result the perfect prelude to hot competition ahead of Saturday’s Grand Prix.
Diniz was the individual winner of the €92,000 Global Champions League CSI5* First Competition, and the GCL team of John Whitaker and Harrie Smolders gained great advantage as the team winners for their Hamburg Diamonds.
Set against the backdrop of the Chateau de Chantilly, spectators flocked to the grandstand to watch the world’s best horses and riders take to the lush grass arena as the sun burst through the clouds for an afternoon of top sport. Uliano Vezzani put together a challenging but fair track.
It all came down to fractions of a second, as the Diamonds jumped clear just tenths of a second faster than second place team Miami Glory. Scott Brash and Paris Sellon threw down the gauntlet, with the strong pair jumping clear in a combined time of 155.41s. Following a clear from teammate Smolders and top stallion Emerald, Whitaker of the Diamonds managed to shave fractions of a second off Team Glory’s time with Cassinis Chaplin, stopping the clock in 155.30s. Third place went to the young team of Cascais Charms, with David Will and Philip Houston picking up just four faults.
A 13 rider jump-off saw Brash and the eight year old Hello Senator first in. After a beautiful clear first round, the top British rider carefully guided the young gelding around the jump-off, putting in a fantastic display of horsemanship to stop the clocks clear in 42.84s. Although a good time, the Olympian had left the door slightly ajar, with some of the fastest riders on the grid yet to come.
Miami Glory’s Paris Sellon and her expressive grey mare Cassandra put in another strong clear, but the duo couldn’t match Brash’s time, stopping the clock in 43.63s and slipping in just behind the lead. Others went for the gap, but it came undone at difficult fence on the field – the Longines double, with many taking out the front rail including John Whitaker and Cassinis Chaplin, Carlos Lopez with Cuplandra, David Will with Cento du Rouet and the speedy Kent Farrington with Sherkan d’Amaury.
It looked as though Brash had played the percentages, until former LGCT Champion of Champions Diniz re-entered the arena with her eye-catching stallion Winningmood. Setting off at a gallop, the pair looked determined for the win, racing around the arena. Turning back tight to the vertical and taking a galloping flier to the last, the formidable strong combination wowed the crowds, stopping the clock a full second ahead of the rest of the field in 41.37s.
Saturday will see the GCL Chantilly final kick off at 13:45 local time, with the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Chantilly taking place at 17:15.