The speed experts had a field day this evening in the fastest class on the circuit, cheered on by the enthusiastic spectators. “The stands were jam packed, which is amazing for a Friday evening”, gushed Christophe Ameeuw, organiser of the Gucci Paris Masters. “Seeing these 7,000 people on their feet, cheering on all the riders and experiencing their round so enthusiastically, is extremely rewarding.” The precision of Longines’ timekeeping was required to determine the winning rider.
Boasting prize money of 100, 000 euros, the Longines Speed Challenge has become an event which is eagerly expected by the public on all three continents. Created by EEM World in 2010, its distinguishing feature is that it takes place on identical courses during the three legs of the Masters Grand Slam, in Hong-Kong, Los Angeles and Paris.
Despite the fact that in Los Angeles, no rider managed to go faster than 60 seconds, this evening two of them accomplished this without making any mistakes. Alvaro “Doda” de Miranda, who is always very fast, took all the risks with AD Nouvelle Europe Z, and went into the lead. Despite the attempts of the other riders, none of them managed to beat him.
However Christian Ahlmann tried very hard and came within a hair’s breadth of winning. “I must have lost some time between the beginning and the end”, he said tongue-in-cheek. He was nonetheless delighted with his second place and above all considered himself very lucky that after the pole on the last fence was lifted up, it fell back… on the safety cups.
But they were still some very talented riders to come and in particular the public’s favourite, Bosty, two-time winner of the Longines Speed Challenge in Paris in 2010 and 2012. Cheered on from the start to the end of his round, the current European champion, who is also one of the world’s fastest riders, made his intentions clear and his relatively young Sydney Une Prince, an eight year-old mare, performed a major feat by achieving the third fastest time.
Longines’ passion for horses dates back to 1878. As Juan-Carlos Capelli, Vice-President of Longines and Head of International Marketing points out, “In the Longines Speed Challenge, the riders fight it out to be the fastest.” Each one has his own technique: galloping fast, tight turns, using fewer strides in the lines- it depends on the horses.
“My mare is very quick over the jumps”, the winner explained. Maybe that’s what made the difference tonight. “When I first had her, she felt so at ease when she was going fast that I tended to overdo it. As a result, I often finished two seconds faster… but with one fence down. Now I realise that I must ease off the pace slightly.” And Bosty notes that the gaps between the riders are getting even narrower and that the speed classes and the Longines Speed Challenge in particular are even more keenly contested. This is where an ultra-reliable timekeeping system is paramount.
“As riders, we are very fortunate to have the support of Longines as one of the partners on the circuit,” underlined Christian Ahlmann during the press conference. “The best thing we can do to thank them is to provide them with a great show which will delight the public.” Tonight they achieved this perfectly.
The list of winners of the Longines Speed Challenge:
2010 – Paris – Roger-Yves Bost (FRA)
2011 – Paris – Philippe Rozier (FRA)
2012 – Paris – Roger-Yves Bost (FRA)
2013 – Hong-Kong – Katharina Offel (UKR)
2013 – Paris – Scott Brash (GBR)
2014 – Hong-Kong – Kevin Staut (FRA)
2014 – Los Angeles – Jane Richard Philips (SUI)
2014 – Paris – Alvaro de Miranda (BRA)