Martin Fuchs (SUI) took his first win aboard new horse The Sinner in a perfect prelude to Saturday’s Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix du Prince de Monaco presented by Tennor.
In the spectacular harbour-side setting, Fuchs added the Trophy Casino de Monte-Carlo win to his accolades, the on-form Swiss rider clearly building a formidable partnership with the 11 year old bay gelding.
Martin said, “It’s a great win, it’s a new horse for me, but it’s our first win together so I’m very happy. Henrik was fast, but I was a bit faster from fences one to two and I left out a stride at the last oxer [which is where it was won].”
HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco attended the event, which is under His Patronage each year, and met international guests at the venue which sits under the shadow of the Palace. To the delight of spectators Prince Albert presented the winner’s trophy for the Prix Safe Riding, awarding the athletes their prizes and applauding their lap of honour. As dusk fell glamorous guests arrived for this evening’s Longines Pro-Am competition, of which Charlotte Casiraghi is Honorary President.
The Trophy Casino de Monte-Carlo competition saw a thrilling eight rider jump-off at the sparkling port-side arena. Fuchs took the win ahead of Henrik von Eckermann (SWE) with Best Boy 2 and Alberto Zorzi (ITA) with Danique.
This afternoon’s 1.50m course set by Frank Rothenberger was a short but fast-paced track, with fences spaced up and down the small arena and set on flowing turns. A wide Massimo Dutti oxer caught out a few of the best, and two delicate Monaco verticals set side by side required complete focus from every challenger. A delicate GC vertical with a liverpool set behind caught the eye of a few horses, another wide Longines oxer needed power and precision and a light treble as the penultimate challenge would also see a few hopes tumble today.
First to go clear was young British talent Harry Charles (GBR), the rising star piloting his 13 year old bay gelding Borsato around the course with pin-point precision.
Even the most experienced riders found the technical course a challenge today, with Ludger Beerbaum (GER) and Chacon collecting an unusual 18 faults, and earlier LGCT Monaco CSI5* winner Abdel Saïd (EGY) retire with Etos HBC, as did Yuri Mansur (BRA) with Catenda.
Henrik von Eckermann (SWE) and Best Boy 2 were the next to go clear, the bright 11 year old chestnut gelding responding perfectly to his Swedish rider’s requests and finishing on a clean score creating a jump-off.
There was surprise after Ben Maher (GBR) and Don Vito parted ways at the Monaco vertical, Maher visibly disappointed as the pair walked out of the arena unharmed.
Alberto Zorzi (ITA) – the 2017 LGCT Grand Prix of Monaco winner – opted to ride Danique for this competition, the duo pulling off a smooth and effortless round to finish clear and into the jump-off.
But it wasn’t to be the same result for the 2018 LGCT Grand Prix of Monaco winner Shane Breen (IRL), an unlucky four faults at the first Monaco vertical with Clyde V. Another former winner Kevin Staut (FRA) would contest today’s class with Urhelia Lutterbach and would deliver a clear to add their names to the jump-off list.
They would be joined by Lucia Le Jeune Vizzini (ITA) with Cabalgaro Z, Martin Fuchs (SUI) with his relatively new mount The Sinner, Marco Kutscher (GER) with Charco and Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS) with Casquell.
So it would be an eight rider jump-off with young star Harry Charles (GBR) first to return to the ring. The enthusiastic Borsato powered to the fences, keeping up a speedy pace and finding the perfect stride to each challenge. But there would be heartbreak for the pair as the final AirFrance oxer fell, the horse just leaving a toe behind to drop them down to four faults.
Henrik von Eckermann (SWE) moved the eye-catching chestnut Best Boy 2 around the course, taking smooth but efficient lines to the fences. A tight turn at the roll back to the La Casino vertical kept them up on time and they finished clear in 36.02s.
Alberto Zorzi (ITA) and Danique looked deceptively steady at the start, but as the course unfolded their speed increased. A brave try at the La Casino roll back gave them a chance, with Zorzi pushing to the final line. But they finished just moments behind von Eckermann’s time, in 36.20s.
Frenchman Kevin Staut (FRA) made a smart turn to fence three, but the slower moving Urhelia Lutterbach couldn’t match von Eckermann’s time and had to settle for a double clear in 37.38s.
Disappointment came at the Monaco plank for Lucia Le Jeune Vizzini (ITA) with Cabalgaro Z, the pair unable to contest the win today.
Despite their fairly new relationship Martin Fuchs (SUI) and The Sinner kept the pedal to the metal, the 11 year old gelding responding admirably to the Swiss rider’s requests. They took one less stride to the double and flew to the finish line, setting a new time to beat of 35.40s.
Marco Kutscher (GER) and Charco were razor sharp on the roll back to La Casino, but there was further heartache as the final fence, the AirFrance oxer fell, dropping them off the top spot despite their faster time of 35.25s.
Final rider to go Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS) kept the fiery Casquell under complete control and delivered another clear, but slower in 37.43s.
So it would be another win for Martin Fuchs (SUI), but his first on the LGCT circuit with The Sinner. Henrik von Eckermann (SWE) would take second and Alberto Zorzi (ITA) in third.
Tomorrow will see the final day of competition in Monaco, with the GCL Monaco second round taking place at 17:00 local time before the LGCT Grand Prix du Prince de Monaco presented by Tennor taking place at 20:15.