Ph. Stefano Grasso/LGCT
Julien Epaillard took top honours in the opening Mercedes-Benz CSI5* competition on Thursday, July 7th, 2016 at the Longines Global Champions Tour of Cascais in Portugal to open the three days of competition.
Mirroring his nation’s success in the 2016 Euros, the Frenchman tacked up Quatrin de la Roque LM and wiped the floor with the opposition, clearing the field by three seconds to win the 1.45m two phase competition.
Forty international riders took to the picture perfect grass arena, with top horses and riders flexing their muscles for the first time ahead of Saturday’s Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Estoril. As the dusky light faded, the floodlights came on for the world’s best.
Olivier Philippaerts of Belgium and H&M Henna de Goedereede were the first to set the pace, powering around the second speed phase of the class in a time of 39.44 seconds, and setting the time to beat. Their time was soon topped by young Spanish talent Gonzalo Añón Suarez and AD Amigo B, with the pair shaving off yet more time but turning tighter to the full height jumps. Hot on his heels was Rio-bound Daniel Bluman of Colombia with Believe; the pair stormed to the top of the timesheets after they stopped the clock at an impressive 36.15 seconds, two tenths of a second faster than Gonzalo’s time.
Bluman would finish in 2nd place, with Suarez in 3rd overall. Jane Richard Philips of Switzerland rode a precision-perfect round with the fiery Foica van den Bisschop to cross the line in a close 37.64 seconds, showing the calibre of show jumping to be high during this opening day of action and the 2nd – 4th positions split by just tenths of a second.
But as one of the final riders to go, Epaillard, and the 12 year old Selle Francis gelding Quatrin de la Roque LM (Quick Star x Kannan) stole the show, taking some phenomenal turns and galloping across the distances to make up valuable time. The duo stopped the clock in the second phase at 32.86 seconds, three seconds faster than Bluman’s time and impressing early on in this weekend’s action. The pair stood stock still and proud as the French national anthem rang out and collected the lion’s share of the first day’s prize purse.
Friday’s competition will start at 11:00am local time, with all the action streamed live via GCT TV. The feature class of the day will kick off under the lights once more, taking place at 20:30 local time.
See the full results list for the Mercedes-Benz CSI5* at this link.