Henrick von Eckermann & Chacanno. Ph. ©LGCT/Stefano Grasso
The Longines Global Champions Tour of Madrid kicked off under sunny Spanish skies on Friday, May 19, 2017, with Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann picking up a double title in the single, featured CSI5* competition of the day.
Why a double title? Because the €67,750 Trofeo Caikabank 1.55m CSI5* class recognized an individual rider, and a team leader in Global Champions League standings.
With all 18 GCL teams competing their paired representatives, and another 20 riders in as individuals, it made for a big, competitive jumpoff class.
Course designer Santiago Varela Ullastres made full use of the arena, throwing in a spooky water tray and an imposing treble combination down the long side in front of the crowd. Best suited to large galloping horses, the course was a suitable test for the world’s best, and with 9 out of the Longines FEI World Top 10 riders in attendance and in action for the fourth round of the 15 leg LGCT season.
Von Eckermann, who rode two perfect clears aboard the 10-year-old Oldenburg stallion Chacanno, earned 1st place prize money on his quick jumpoff time. There were eight, double clears over a big jumpoff order, so speed was a factor.
But von Eckermann could have easily—and concurrently—found himself down in the GCL standings if his Mexico Amigos teammate Evelina Tovex hadn’t put in a strong performance as well. However, the young rider and her own Castella, a nine-year-old Westfalian gelding (Cristallo x Lifestyle) stepped up to the plate to match with a strong, clear round.
Young German rider Philip Houston wowed spectators after he put in a stunning round with his 13 year old bay mare Kannella, holding the lead for the majority of the competition. GCL teammate David Will rode his fiery chestnut horse Mic Mac du Tillard beautifully around the course and looked to be on for a clear. Unluckily, the hot mare just clipped a vertical, and then rolled a pole in the treble combination, knocking the German rider out of contention.
Denis Lynch put in a fantastic display with his new mount RMF Echo, with the large striding horse powering around the course and the Irishman guiding the horse beautifully through the fences. Another young star to impress was U25 rider Emily Moffitt who made a strong return to CSI5* level competition, jumping a stylish clear with Hilfiger van de Olmenhoeve for her team the London Knights and earning herself a place in the jump-off.
A total of 15 riders went through on zero faults, however it was a 12-way jump-off after Ludger Beerbaum, Marco Kutscher and Alberto Zorzi elected to sit out.
France’s Simon Delestre had the audience on the edge of their seat as he put in a blistering round with Hermes Ryan, setting the new time to beat at 38.36 seconds, just two tenths faster than Lynch. But it was the penultimate rider von Eckermanm who stole the show, challenging the brave Chacanno around the field and taking a flier to the last to stop the clock at 38.27 seconds, just tenths ahead of Delestre and taking over the top spot.
Four GCL teams in total went double clear, with Hamburg Diamonds’ Audrey Coulter and Harrie Smolders showcasing a superb partnership and the formidable heavy-weight duo of Ludger Beerbaum and Marco Kutscher of Cannes Stars joining St Tropez Pirates and Mexico Amigos on a zero score.
The teams will now reset ahead of Saturday’s GCL final round, which takes place at 15:30 local time. With the option to change horses and riders within the team, all eyes will be on the start list to see what strategies and tactics will come into play.
Tune in to watch all the action live via GCL TV, with behind the scenes content, expert analysis and live studios featuring top riders.
See the individual results of the €67,750 Trofeo Caikabank 1.55m CSI5* by clicking here.
See the Global Champions League of Madrid standings after round 1 here.