Action at the second day at the Longines Masters of Los Angeles culminated with Friday night’s Longines Speed Challenge. Bertram Allen and Quiet Easy 4 raced against the clock with a remarkable time of 58.91 seconds. Scott Brash and Piergiorgio Bucci rounded out the podium, Brash with a time of 58.96 seconds on Hello Annie and Piergiorgio Bucci and Cuarta with a time of 62.94 seconds.
The energy was palpable as the microphoned jumps enhanced the sounds of the ring. Every spectator felt the electricity emanating between horse and rider as they raced around the course. 2014 Longines Masters of Los Angeles Longines Speed Challenge winner Jane Richard Philips returned in an attempt to reestablish her dominance but couldn’t keep pace with the 20 year-old Irish phenom.
The only speed competition of its kind in the world, the Longines Speed Challenge with $130,000 in prize money is a staple of all three Longines Masters events, in Paris, Hong Kong, and Los Angeles. The emotion and suspense were palpable as top-ranked international show jumpers raced through a course designed by renowned Belgian designer Luc Musette. With the launch of the Longines Masters series, the Longines Speed Challenge introduces the new 1.45m course design that will be carried to the Paris and Hong Kong events, challenging the riders to improve their time at each leg.
The Longines Speed Challenge format created by EEM emphasizes speed by and precision, as each fault is penalized by 2 seconds instead of the standard 4. A fallen rail needn’t be cripping, therefore, and riders can still hope to make up these two penalty seconds by going just a little bit faster.
“Scott Brash’s round was unbelievable,” said Allen in reaction to watching the World Number 1’s pace-setting round. “My horse really tried.”
John Whitaker rode to victory on Argento in the Prix Airbus, the day’s first 5* level competition. He beat Edwina Tops-Alexander and Lintea Tequila by a mere 0.59 seconds in the jump-off. The win adds to his recent success in the series as the winner of the Gucci Gold Cup and Longines Grand Prix at the Longines Masters of Hong Kong. Whitaker and Argento are in great form and heating up in time to compete in Sunday’s Longines Grand Prix in hopes of winning the second leg of the Masters Grand Slam Super Bonus of €500,000.
“With the way he [Argento] jumped today, I should give him the day off. He’s a fighter, he’s tough. He wants to do the job, and that’s 95 percent of the battle. You know he’s going to jump the jumps,” said Whitaker.
Recent “Veep” Emmy winner Tony Hale, actor Kaley Cuoco, director Steven Spielberg, rock and roll legend Bruce Springsteen and his wife Patti Scialfa and more cheered on their favorite riders from the Masters Club. Steffen Peters performed a dressage demonstration, and families enjoyed the first day of the Kids Village with face painting, a mini horseless jump course, and ponies.
The world’s best international show jumpers will continue to compete at the Los Angeles Convention Center throughout the weekend. To witness the champion caliber riding and enjoy the Kids Village, one-of-a-kind art pieces from Opera Gallery and more, purchase your tickets at mastersgrandslam.com/en/ticketing.
About the Longines Masters
Established in three of the biggest cities - Los Angeles, Paris and Hong Kong - the unique Longines Masters series is recognized by the Fédération Equestre Internationale and is one of the most prestigious equestrian competitions worldwide. Created by EEM, the concept of the Masters was born in 2009 with the first edition of the Gucci Paris Masters, now renamed the Longines Masters of Paris. Inspired by the Grand Slam tournaments in tennis, the circuit rapidly developed abroad, with the Longines Masters of Hong Kong in 2013 and the Longines Masters of Los Angeles in 2014.
The world’s best riders and horses will compete for one million dollars in prize money at each leg of the series. In addition, any rider who consecutively wins the Longines Masters Grands Prix in Paris, Hong Kong and Los Angeles will be rewarded with one million euros Masters Grand Slam bonus. For two successive victories, the rider will be awarded €500,000, and winners of two non-successive victories within a series of three Longines Masters Grand Prix will receive a €250,000 bonus.
These events are broadcast in more than 120 countries and reach up to 550 million households.. Every edition of the Masters is must-attend event that brings together sports enthusiasts, amateurs, celebrities and corporate decision-makers from around the world, who come to enjoy a unique experience, boasting exceptional sport, entertainment, glamour, gastronomy and contemporary art.
• Longines Masters of Los Angeles October 1st to 4th 2015
• Longines Masters of Paris December 3rd to 6th 2015
• Longines Masters of Hong Kong February 19th to 21st 2016