Belgian rider Niels Bruynseels astride bay gelding Delux van T & L put on a blistering run to clinch the Grand Prix of Doha, – the marquee completion of the season-opening Longines Global Champions Tour on Saturday.
Bruynseels, who had missed out on winning Friday’s feature class, made up on the big stage as he tackled the tricky 1.60m CSI5* class with power and precision at the Longines Arena at Al Shaqab. It was a blistering jump-off featuring seven of the world’s best horse and rider combinations and it all came down to precision and speed under the floodlights in breezy conditions. Bruynseels and Delux van T & L trailed Lorenzo De Luca and Nuance Bleue by three-tenths of a second at the midway checkpoint, but a speedy second half saw them stop the clock in 39.93 seconds, 0.27 inside the Italian rider’s time. Canada’s Beijing 2008 Olympic champion Eric Lamaze, with Dieu Merci, took third in 40.35 seconds after going fastest in Round A.
Friday’s feature event winner and one of the strong contenders Scott Brash looked set to land the marquee event as the Brit, riding Hello Vincent, was well ahead on the clock. But the pair had the last two fences down to end up in sixth place ahead of Germany’s Marcus Ehning (Stargold). Bart Bles of the Netherlands was fourth on board Kriskras DV with German Christian Kukuk and Mumbai in fifth.
“Sometimes you just have to be lucky,” Bruynseels laughed afterwards, as he took home a whopping €123.750 in prize money. “I’m really happy with my performance in Doha, it’s been an extremely good two weeks here. I wish to thank the competition’s organising committee for doing a great job during these special times. I’m very happy to emerge on top while competing against some of the world’s best horses and riders,” he added.
Bruynseels’ strategy of saving his gelding Delux van T & L only for the Grand Prix paid him rich dividends. “That was a conscious choice. My horse felt so good last week that I decided to start him only in the GP this weekend. I didn’t think it was useful to make him tired unnecessarily and wanted to save his strength for today. So that turned out really well. I have to really thank my horse. I think he is one of the best horses in the world. He made a difference for me,” the 37-year-old said.
With this Grand Prix victory, Bruynseels also has won a ticket for the LGCT Super Grand Prix at the GC Prague Playoffs in November. “Of course I’m very happy. This is a championship at a very high level. The best riders and horses in the world are competing here. So I’m very pleased to have secured my place in the final so early in the season,” he said.
Lorenzo De Luca paid credit to his 10-year-old Nuance Bleue for the runner-up finish, even though he admitted that his horse was not ready for the big event. “She’s quite new at this level and it was my mistake to push her into such a high-level competition. She gave me everything she had. I’m really happy to be standing on this podium now,” De Luca said.
Earlier, Valkenswaard United won the Global Champions League in spectacular style with unbeatable performances by the team’s top guns in the opener of the 2021 championship race.
Heavyweights Peder Fredricson and Marcus Ehning took full advantage of the extraordinary horsepower of Hansson WL and Stargold with flawless rounds to seal the coveted first win of the season. Shangai Swans with Christian Ahlmann (Dominator 2000 Z) and Max Kuhner (Elektric Blue P) finished in second place. They were both able to jump a clear round and clocked off in a combined time of 145.22 seconds. The Berlin Eagles with Christian Kukuk (Mumbai) and Philipp Weishaupt (Asathir) followed in third place.
A delighted Marcus Ehning said “It’s always great to be here in Doha. I think I can talk for everyone to say it is a very special event. Peder made my life easier he jumped a fantastic clear round, I know my horse is fast but you also need some luck. I am really lucky to be in a strong team like this. We have 6 very strong riders and I am very lucky to ride with them.”
Peder Fredricson said: “It’s really amazing to be back jumping at top level sport again. It is fantastic to ride with Marcus and I am really looking forward to the rest of the season!”Last updated: March 06 2021 11:49 PM
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