Jack Hardin Towell of the USA stole the show at the Longines Global Champions Tour Shanghai on Friday, April 29, winning the CSI5* 1.50/1.55m feature class of the day, and taking the lion’s share of the $377,500 prize money.
A phenomenal 15-rider jump-off meant that Towell, who was riding Jennifer Gates’ 10-year-old KWPN gelding New York (Verdi x Watzmann), had his work cut out for him, especially with the world’s top three riders on his tail.
World No. 3 Scott Brash of Great Britain finished agonizingly close – just a tenth of a second behind the American – after an impressive showing with the 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding Hello Forever (For Pleasure x Nimmerdor). Italy’s Emanuele Gaudiano continued his exceptional form after winning the first class of the day; he placed third on the 10-year-old Oldenburg stallion Caspar 232 (Casper x Padarco).
The intensity of the competition was fierce, with many of the world’s best horse-and-rider combinations on form ahead of Saturday’s Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Shanghai. The show is being held for the third year in Shanghai, China, in front of the historic China Arts Palace. The crowd was on the edge of their seats until the very last fence of the class, with final rider Michael Whitaker and his 14 year old KWPN gelding, the eye-catching Viking, powering round the full height class, and looking strong to take the win. But it was not to be, as groans erupted from the watching audience as they rolled the final pole, and despite crossing the line in 34.95 seconds, which would have won the class, they picked up four faults to finish in 12th.
The jump-off course called for every trick in the box, with the double of verticals requiring careful set up, seeing a delicate combination before a flat out gallop spanning three quarters of the arena to the last, with a solid hedged fence to finish.
World No 1, Simon Delestre of France, came a strong fourth with the 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding Chesall Zimequest (Casall x Concerto), with other combinations of note Maikel van der Vleuten with VDL Groep Verdi TN N.O.P; Gerco Schröder and Glock’s Zaranza (showing for the first time on the 2016 season); Christian Ahlmann with Cornado II; Ludger Beerbaum and Chaman, Edwina Tops-Alexander with Lintea Tequila and Gregory Wathelet with Eldorado van het Vijverhof all in the fast paced jump-off.
But it was Towell and New York who took the title this afternoon, crossing the line in 35.18 seconds, and winning the class at the final gallop ahead of Brash and Hello Forever’s time of 35.28 seconds.
Earlier in the day, speed demon Gaudiano of Italy was simply untouchable in a sensational showcase of speed and agility in the opening CSI5* class of the Shanghai Longines Global Champions Tour. The Italian rider, well known for his prowess and incredible pace, took out every stride possible, riding his big striding dark bay 10-year-old mare Guess 6 to win the two phase 1.45m competition, with the second half of the round in an incredible 19.84 seconds, almost a full three seconds clear of the field.
David Will of Germany and his experienced 16-year-old chestnut mare Mic Mac du Tillard put in a strong performance to come in second but crossed the line in 22.34 seconds. He was closely followed by Delestre who rode Stardust Quinhon to third in 23.10 seconds. Other notable performances saw Eduardo Menezes of Brazil with Caruschka 2 in 4th, Puis Schwizer of Switzerland and Electric Z come in 5th, Great Britain’s Laura Renwick with MHS Washington in 6th, while Hong Kong’s Kenneth Cheng and Dragon Leon finished 8th.