Via RB Presse
Two major rendez-vous this Saturday at the Jumping International of Chantilly: the program of a Longines Global Champions Tour’s leg is intense. The wide and beautiful Meautry arena, facing the Great Stables of Chantilly, sacred two great champions: team winners of the Global Champions League, Netherlands Harrie Smolders and an hard-wearing John Whitaker. Then once again Harrie Smolders, fabulous winner of the individual class of the Longines Global Champions Tour and signs here the first-ever circuit double win.
Global Champions League: John Whitaker, the hero.
The Global Champions League knew its outcome in the middle of the afternoon. After a first leg where the Hamburg Diamonds ended provisional leader, John Whitaker and Harrie Smolders’s team confirmed its domination on the “cantilienne” league, but also on the provisional ranking of the circuit.
When John Whitaker entered the ring, he must have had all pressure of the world on the shoulders. His team was then leading, but to win this leg of Chantilly, “the British good old veteran” wasn’t allowed to one mistake. Pressure seems however to escape completely Great-Britain’s rider. Since 1984 and its first Olympic Games, the pressure has never been the reason of one of its defeat. Therefore, today, calm and confident with his grey Cassinis Chaplin, he never left any hope to the Miami Glories who had to pay the fault of USA Paris Sellon. John Whitaker allowed his teammate Harrie Smolders to have his first victory of the day for his own great satisfaction: “I think we make a great couple, don’t we?” The Hamburg Diamonds now obviously lead the provisional general ranking. Unfortunately, after that, John Whitaker has disillusioned: one refusal of Cassinis Chaplin sent him in the poles of the second fence of the triple: “he landed too close to the oxer, then the distance was a bit long and he stops. Nothing serious”. Indeed, despite his 62 years of age, Great-Britain rider got up like a young men, and got back to his horse. Harrie Smolder was himself more lucky.
Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Chantilly: Smolders, two in a row.
The best 25 riders competing individually in this class were therefore qualified for the Grand Prix, the “cantilienne” leg of the Longines Global Champions Tour. First good news for the 4 500 spectators who filled the stands, their four French heroes of Rio, but also French World vice-champions Simon Delestre and Patrice Delaveau were part of the selection! Only Philippe Rozier and Rahotep de Toscane finally succeeded to get themselves in the final quarter of the jump-off: Harrie Smolders, Scott Brash and Columbia Carlos Lopez, besides the French. Philippe Rozier was first to go and finished with a careful clear-round, because it’s never easy to take risks without landmarks: “But the horse jumped amazing. And I would like to thank Uliano Vezzani because, as always, he built a round caring about the horses, where they don’t get tired. I leave on Monday for Aachen, to compete in the Nations Cup with the French team, and with that results, I leave confident and with a fresh horse.”
Harrie Smolders was way less cautious with his fantastic Emerald N.O.P who has not committed one fault during the weekend, and won with one second ahead of Brash, who finally finish betweend the two: “I thought with Scott going last, that it was not given. And yet, it payed off.” The explanation came from the Scottish rider: “Hello Forever is still a little bit complicated in the mouth and in his turns”.
On the organization corner, Gérard Manzinali couldn’t be more happier: “Besides the quality of the sport offered by the riders today, to see these stands all filled again and these spectators stay until the prize-giving ceremony is very rare in this sport. The public of Chantilly is not like anyone else”.
Party is not over as we will find once again all these champions for the Master Del Monte & Région Hauts de France, second Grand Prix of the weekend. Rendez-vous tomorrow at 3:00pm on the racecourse, between the Castle and the Great Stable of Chantilly.