GCT’s Grand Prix took place in the presence of His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco and other royal guests including Queen Noor of Jordan, Princess Caroline of Hannover, daughter Charlotte Casiraghi, and Princess Beatrice of York. Global business figures including Anuncio Ortega watched as the action unfolded, with a glittering turnout of Monaco society and guests from around the world. Prince Albert was joined at the prize giving by Grand Prix presenting sponsor Sapinda Chairman of the Board Lars Windhorst at the prestigious ceremony.
Luc Musette set the bar high for the first round of competition, designed to challenge the best international riders in the world. Nestled between the super yachts and the Formula 1 pitlane, 42 top combinations took to the arena and centre stage in the heart of the Principality.
Audrey Coulter (USA) was the first to jump clear with Capital Colnardo, making the 1.60m jumps look effortless as the stallion took them in his stride. She was quickly joined by Christina Liebherr (SUI), Janne-Friederike Meyer (GER) and Jos Verlooy (BEL) with Caracas, all of whom earned their place into round two.
Nicola Philippaerts (BEL) set the initial early pace after a beautiful round with his 11 year old bay stallion Bisquet Balou C, however he was soon pipped to pole position for round two by Germany’s David Will (GER) who set off at a blistering pace around the tight course. David rode his chestnut mare Mic Mac du Tillard beautifully, turning sharply but allowing enough time to allow for careful jumping.
Scott Brash (GBR) showcased another masterful round with the relatively young Hello Guv’Nor, and was joined by compatriot Laura Renwick (GBR) with Bintang II. Final rider to go John Whitaker (GBR) and Ornellaia didn’t disappoint, with the legendary British rider finishing second in the Grand Prix here last year.
Round two saw the top eighteen return to the sand arena as the floodlights came on. The course was technical and asked many questions once more, with tight cut backs and galloping distances creating a challenge for the top riders. Both Scott Brash (GBR) and Laura Renwick (GBR) were caught out by the double combination, rolling a pole to the groan of the crowd who watched just metres away from the action. John Whitaker (GBR) set a blistering place with his mare Ornellaia, putting them in prime position for the jump-off, with Nicola Philippaerts (BEL), Jerome Guery (BEL) and Emanuele Gaudiano (ITA) all looking racy ahead of the final round.
Nine went through to the jump off, the jump-off moved straight into top gear, with Rolf shaving off a full two seconds off the leading time to stop the clocks at 37.95s. Next to go Emanuele Gaudiano (ITA) and Caspar 232 galloped around the course, turning tight to the fences and covering the ground with the grey horse’s large strides to finish in 36.64s. His compatriot Piergiorgio Bucci (ITA) and Casallo Z pushed to beat the time, but had to setttle splitting the top two to finish in 37.37s. Jerome Guery (BEL) and Alicante looked impressively fast, but the gallop to the last was too much for the grey stallion and he refused the final fence. Last rider to go John Whitaker (GBR) entered the ring with Ornellaia, and took some brave shortcuts, with the crowd on the edge of their seats. But the pair couldn’t match the timing of the top three, finishing fourth and handing the win to an ecstatic Emanuele.
Jan Tops, Founder and President Longines Global Champions Tour: “It was a very Italian day! Emanuele took off at the final fence and I think he could have taken one fence more! He’s a great trier, he’s always a great trier, and today was his day. Piergiorgio was also fantastic, I think it’s the first time we have him on the podium. It’s great to see new faces do so well. Rolf has been with us for the past 10 years, he’s a machine of clear rounds, and I don’t think there are many more who have been on the podium as much as he – Casall is incredible. In the Rankings everything has become closer together – Christian is still very comfortable but only eight results count, so it’s still open. Monaco is unique; all the riders are happy and pleased to ride in such nice environment – the crowd are amazing, the setting is beautiful.”
Emanuele Guadiano, LGCT Monaco Gold Medallist: “We bought Caspar when he was young, and have worked together to this point today. Today was his first 5* Grand Prix win, he jumped every round better and better. He’s not a typical horse for this ring but he did an amazing job. I think for every rider to win a Grand Prix is good, but to win a Global Champions Tour Grand Prix is special – it’s amazing.”