Lausanne, Switzerland - September 15, 2012 - The GCT championship race intensified dramatically tonight with only five points between Edwina Tops-Alexander and Rolf-Göran Bengtsson after one of the most electrifying Grand Prix of the season.
American rider Laura Kraut won the first-ever Global Champions Tour Grand Prix in Switzerland on the 14-year-old grey Cedric, owned by Cherry Knoll Farm of West Grove, PA - even beating her partner and Olympic gold medalist Nick Skelton in the jump off. Laura admitted she was "over the moon" and the jump off had a nail biting twist with Australian rider Edwina facing a tough challenge for the No.1 ranking spot from Swedish rider Rolf.
The smooth Swede cranked up the pressure dramatically by jumping clear in 45.37 on his champion horse Casall La Silla. Edwina came into the ring on Cevo Itot du Château but notched up 4 faults putting her in third place. Laura was next in and set off at a dazzling pace on Cedric, putting in a brilliant turn to the double and chasing down Rolf's time to finish in 42.53 seconds.
"I'm very happy, very excited-I was not expecting this tonight," Kraut remarked. "Cedric just felt really on form tonight, like he was eight years old again. Both rounds were really big so I was nervous."
Kraut continued, "These events are the best, the best horses and riders in the world. But I was feeling good tonight and my horse is fast. I took a shot and got lucky."
The GCT now moves to Vienna for its debut event in Austria next week, and then to the final in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates in November. Tonight's Grand Prix result shifted the overall GCT ranking significantly. Edwina remains the leader with a 196 point total, with Rolf in the second place with 191 points. It means the final two events in Vienna and Abu Dhabi are set to be cliffhangers as Edwina - 2011 champion - aims to become the first-ever rider to win two GCT seasons in a row. Tonight's third place in the Grand Prix has also pushed her overall GCT prize money earnings even closer to the €2m mark.
The climax to GCT's debut in Lausanne, Switzerland, was played out on the shores of Lake Geneva against a breathtaking backdrop of the Alps. Thirty of the top 35 riders took part, and the top-level action was watched by an international audience on Eurosport.
Photo Credit: Laura Kraut and Cherry Knoll Farm's Cedric set a blazing time of 42.53 seconds, riding to the victory in the Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Switzerland. Photo By: SportFot/GCT.