Elated Luciana Diniz said her “dream came true” today as she claimed her first Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix win. Scott Brash is back on top of the championship ranking for the second time in the 2015 season. But the British rider, on 73 points, is only four points ahead of Luciana who has rocketed up to second place in the overall ranking. In one of the most unpredictable Grand Prix in the history of the Tour, many of the world’s top riders stacked up uncharacteristic faults and time penalties. For the first time since 2011 there was no jump off.
Tens of thousands of passionate fans lined the arena and filled the grandstands in the beautiful Spanish country club in anticipation as the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix presented by Caixa Bank got underway. But no-one would have predicted the extraordinary story that unfolded today as top rider after top rider clocked up “cricket scores” with multiple faults, time penalties and retirements.
The sweeping grass arena and the course designed by Santiago Varela Ullastres proved to be unusually challenging for many of the combinations. In the first round the Longines combination caught out some of the maestros including Christian Ahlmann. But the mistakes were all over the course and not isolated to particular obstacles pushing riders like Ludger Beerbaum, John Whitaker and Ben Maher firmly out of the running.
After the first round there were only four clear rounds - Jane Richard Philips, Philippe Rozier, Luciana and Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum. Scott Brash’s Olympic gold medal mount Hello Sanctos stumbled slightly before the first fence and had an unusual rail down but Scott went on to a clear in the second round putting him in fourth place overall.
The second round delivered fascinating twists and turns. Jane Richard on Pablo de Virton was unable to remain clear and ended on eight faults. Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum on Fibonacci 17 lost her chance when she had a rail down for four faults.
Spanish rider Manuel Fernandez Saro thrilled the home crowd riding a double clear on Enrique of the Lowlands but picking up unfortunate time penalties during both rounds. His third place on the podium was greeted with loud cheers from the crowd around the arena.
France’s Philippe Rozier went clear in the first round on Rahotep de Toscane and was heading for a penalty-free double clear when he picked up a time fault to put him in second place.
So it was down to the last rider Luciana and her stunning grey Winningmood to deliver the coup de grace. As the crowd fell silent Luciana and the 16-year-old stallion, a tried and tested long-time partnership in show jumping, delivered a superb clear in 60.24 seizing first place on the podium and a prize purse of €105,600.
It was a night when strong long-term partnerships paid off, with Luciana and Winningmood and Philippe and Rahotep de Toscane taking the honours on a balmy night in the Spanish capital.
Press Conference Quotes:
Alvaro Arrieta Konyay, CEO of Oxer Sport - "Congratulations to the winners, they did great performances here tonight. First of all I want to thank the Longines Global Champions Tour for its confidence and thank Jan Tops for trusting our horse show. Thanks also to the City Council and the Club de Campo Villa de Madrid.… It’s a special place, there has been a lot of tradition here for 105 years . A unique mix of an historic very old show and an innovative concept of competition such as the Longines Global Champions Tour. I always say that it’s like a patchwork of a black and white picture and a color picture. Amazing performance, top sport, perfect atmosphere, the riders have tried their best and I’m very happy with the results."
Jan Tops, Founder and President of LGCT - "It's great to see a Spanish rider on the podium today, and also fantastic to see Philippe Rozier, who has come in as a wild card, on the podium also. It is good to see that someone from the outside who is not directly in the top ranking has the chance to be able to compete on this level. Of course, Luciana has had a great partnership with her horse for years, so coming to this grand finale as the only double clear is very, very special. To mention our partnerships, this year is our tenth edition and it's great that my friend here Alvaro and Oxer Sport has been working with us since the start, and we have had the trust and confident to build together what we have over the years. So I'd like to thank them and the Club de Campo Villa de Madrid for this long term relationship."
Luciana Diniz, Winner - "First of all, as Jan said, everything in life is a question of partnership; I have developed a partnership with this horse and I can only thank him, thank Edouard, thank my team, thank my family who support me at home and who are watching the television now - they are sitting there and cheering for me. I thank the public who really support me, the whole organisation who makes this possible. So a dream came true today and I'm very very happy. I want to thank you all; everyone.
"This morning I read something, not by chance, that said happiness is the way you achieve your dream, not just when you achieve your dreams, but in the way of achieving them. This gave me a lot of trust to believe that I could do it. It gave me a lot of confidence today and I felt so good; I started the morning by saying I feel good and it really was an amazing day. I felt a lot of energy which gave me a lot of power. So this win was a response to all these things I've been doing."
Philippe Rozier, Runner-up - "It’s a dream for me today. I have a super horse. He is young, I have been lucky enough to ride him since he was 5 year-old, it’s his first Grand Prix today within the Longines Global Champions Tour the last 6 Grand Prix so far with him are clear, I feel 20 years old again tonight!."
Manuel Fernandez Saro, Third place - "I’m proud, especially in Madrid in my own country. It’s an unbelievable feeling. I am very happy with the horse because it’s the first time we do a 5* Grand Prix, and we win! I am extremely happy."
Scott Brash, LGCT rankings leader - "Today was a bit strange; my horse stumbled on take off at number one, so we jumped straight through the first fence which was just one of those things. You can't help a stumble on take off, and it doesn't happen very often. Then he jumped super and in the second round he was fantastic. So I was slightly disappointed, just with what happened, but I was really pleased with the horse overall as he jumped fantastic. I think the course builder has done a great job; we always love jumping here in Madrid as it's a fantastic venue, so I'm delighted to be jumping here and I'm delighted to be heading the series at this moment in time."
The Longines Global Champions Tour was founded in 2006 by Dutch Olympic Team Gold medallist Jan Tops. The series attracts the top ranked riders in the world who compete for ranking points and the highest prize money in the sport. World-class sport in breathtaking locations has become the hallmark of the Longines Global Champions Tour experience. All of the 2015 season’s exciting Grand Prix action will be broadcast on Eurosport and can be viewed live via GCT TV at globalchampionstour.com.
Constant van Paesschen Wins in Madrid
Packed grandstands and Spanish sunshine delivered perfect conditions as the final class before today's Grand Prix was won by Belgium's Constant van Paesschen. The young star stole the lead from Philippe Rozier (FRA) with a phenomenally quick clear round against the clock in the 1.45m class. Constant completed the course with his chestnut stallion Citizenguard Taalex with no faults in just 66.99, and took the Repsol Trophy.
Philippe Rozier (FRA) also completed a blindingly quick but careful clear round with his bay eleven year old stallion, Unpulsion de la Hart, racing the clock to come home in 67.29, just 0.3seconds behind the leader. America's Lauren Hough finished in third place, with her ten year old mare Royalty Des Isles, clear in 68.52.
The class saw thirteen clear rounds out of forty starters, with the Spanish crowd cheering for the local riders throughout. Spain's Pilar Lucrecia Cordon was the highest placed Spanish rider, finishing just outside the top five in sixth with her gelding Barnaby. The stage is now set for the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Madrid, with many riders taking the spotlight with new mounts. The action kicks off at 17:00 local time; watch the action live on GCTV or keep up to date via our social media channels.