The audience that gathered at the Longines Global Champions Tour Cannes was treated to a showdown between teammates on Friday evening. Olympic gold medalists and representatives of Great Britain, Ben Maher and Scott Brash faced off among a seven-horse jumpoff in the E. Leclerc CSI5* Prix under stormy skies in Cannes, France.
For Maher, the win was an exclamation point to the return of one of his top horses to winning form. Jane Clark’s Aristo Z, an 11-year-old Zangersheide gelding by Andiamo Z recently made his return to the ring after over more than six months off, and the compact chestnut proved that he was back in top form. Maher entered the arena just after Brash had taken over the jumpoff lead with Hello Annie, an 11-year-old Hannoverian mare by Contendro. But with a tight turn to the final fence, Maher topped him and continued to hold the lead over all others.
France’s Penelope Leprevost and Nice Stephanie laid down an early clear to place 3rd, and heavyweight riders Christian Ahlmann of Germany and Bertram Allen of Ireland were also clear to finish 4th and 5th, respectively. Brazil’s Rodrigo Pessoa was the 6th rider to go double clear, and Henrik von Eckermann placed 7th after an unlucky jumpoff rail.
Stormy skies set the mood for Friday night’s program in Cannes. Ominous clouds that had been gathering throughout the afternoon opened up during the beginning of the class, but fortunately the rain didn’t last. The competition went on without a hitch, and lingering sheet lightning kept things interesting throughout the 47-horse class.
Friday’s competition was the second qualifier for Saturday’s upcoming €300,000 Longines Grand Prix of Cannes. With a full crowd already out to watch the international show jumping on display during these first two evenings, the grand prix atmosphere on Saturday night will sure to be something to behold.
Full results of the E. Leclerc CSI5* Prix can be found here.