Ireland’s Bertram Allen dazzled with 11-year-old stallion GK Casper to win the speed class in the Global Champions Tour yesterday. At the Al Shaqab arena, 16 combinations qualified for the jump off in the 1.55m main class but it was Allen and GK Casper who emerged on top.
They were the only pair to go sub-33 seconds in the high quality field, with dusty conditions not making it easier. But GK Casper was all in his glory on the night.
For a long time, it looked like Julien Epaillard would be walking away with the top honours. The Frenchman and 11-year-old gelding Usual Suspect D’Auge looked all class as they negotiated the course with ease to finish in 34.12 seconds.
But Allen followed on with GK Casper with a clear plan, and was faster than Epaillard in the early section of the course and on par with him at the double. He and Casper galloped to the fence and stopped the clock at a blistering pace to come in 33.75 seconds.
Allen was gushing in his praise of Casper, crediting the stallion for his victory, which made the Irishman richer by 36,450 euros.
“I have to give a lot of credit to my horse, it was very hard to beat Julien so I gave it everything. You had to catch everywhere exactly how you wanted it. If you had one place where you had one more stride, you were out,” said Allen.
Belgium’s Karel Cox was the last rider to go in with 11-year-old Dublin van Overis, and the pair put in a scintillating run to push Epaillard to third spot.
From the 16 starters in the jump off, 10 produced a faultless second round.
Italy’s Alberto Zorzi and Danique were off to a flying start and jumped into the lead in 35.21 second setting up a tough time to beat. But they eventually had to settle for the fourth spot.
Belgium’s Gregory Wathelet and Qualido were quick with a huge effort at the finish, but at 35.64 they finished fifth.
Earlier, Belgium’s Nicola Philippaerts won the 1.50m class by a mere .03 seconds over Epaillard. Philippaerts, who had a sensational season last year, was on H&M Ikker and the pair cut corners and took out long strides to finish in 59.87 seconds.
Epaillard and Usual Suspect D’Auge went all in pursuit of Philippaerts’s time but agonizingly fell short.
New face on the Tour this year, Kim Emmen, of the Netherlands, put in a brilliant attempt but was pushed out of the final top they by Australia’s Edwina Tops-Alexander and her 10-year-old mare, Veronese Teamjoy, who were last to go.
The speed class had twenty-four starters and half of those jumped clear rounds, meaning the riders really had to step on the gas in order to be in the placings.
Today the stage is set for GCL team final followed by the first Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of the new 2019 season.
LGCT CSI5* FEI Art. 238.2.2 1.50/1.55m
1. Rider: Bertram Allen (IRI) Horse: GK Casper; Jump Off: 33.75secs; Prize: €36,450
2. Karel Cox (BEL); Dublin van Overis; 34.07secs; €29,160
3. Jilien Epaillard (FRA); Usual Suspect d’Auge; 34.12secs; €21,870
CSI5* 1.50m Table A: Against the Clock
1. Nicola Philippaerts (BEL); H & M Ikker; 59.87secs; €12,550
2. Julien Epaillard (FRA); Usual Suspect d’Auge ; 59.90secs; €10,040
3. Edwina Tops-Alexander (us); Veronese Teamjoy; 63.60secs; €7,530
9am: Open class Hathab National series in two phases 1.15/1.25m class
12pm Big Tour Hathab National Series 1.30/1.45m class At 2:30pm: CSI 5* GCL of Doha Round 2 - 1.55m (€95.000 to individual class winners)
At 5:45pm: CSI 5* Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Doha - 1.60m (€375.000)
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