Britain’s only big tour representatives on the Spanish Sunshine Tour, Wayne Channon (pictured) and Lorenzo, dominated the three weeks of competition, including wins in both the grand prix final and the kür during the final show.
The tour started well for the British duo, who won the grand prix and landed third place in the grand prix special in the first leg of the show.
During the second week, the British pair scored 71.208% in the grand prix to narrowly miss first place behind Germany’s Alexandra Simons de Ridder and Wellington on 71.292%. Their positions were reversed in the grand prix special when Channon and Lorenzo were first with 72.08%, ahead of Simons de Ridder and Wellington with 69.96%.
The last week of the tour hosted the finals for every class plus an invitation-only kür. Channon, who qualified for the grand prix with both Lorenzo and Kasjmir, managed to bag first and fifth place. “The grand prix went really well,” he says. “Lorenzo was really good.”
They achieved a very respectable 70.5%, distancing runners-up Christilot Boylen and Lucky Lemon, from Canada, by just under 2%. France’s Constance Menard-Laboute and Lianca were third with 68.208%. Boylen followed with her second horse, Agem Gachino, at 66.667%, ahead of Channon and Kasjmir, who were fifth with 65.413%.
Channon rode Kasjmir in the grand prix special on Saturday 19 March. Lorenzo had by then recovered from a virus, which had struck him earlier in the week, but Channon decided to leave him out of the special to give Kasjmir a shot. “I would have done that anyway [regardless of the virus],” he says. “I wanted Kasjmir to run two tests and I hadn’t done the special on him in a very long time.”
The pair started off well, but one costly error pushed their score down to 65.240% and fourth place. “Kasjmir was good — except that in the middle of a collected walk he decided to do a piaffe twice. They were doing music over on the other side and he lost concentration,” explains Channon. “He thought: ‘Oh my God, it must be the piaffe.’ It was one mistake, but unfortunately a very expensive one.”
The special went to Menard-Laboute and Lianca with 67.720%, followed by Spain’s Ignacio Rambla Algarin on Distinguido 2 (67.080%) and Portugal’s Carlos Pintos on Notavel Puy du Fou (65.720%).
Come Sunday, however, both Channon and Lorenzo were ready to shine. Although they were riding a new test, they averaged an impressive 72.7% and one of the judges awarded them a staggering 80% for artistic performance. Runners-up Menard-Laboute and Lianca were 1.2% adrift at 71.5%, while Boylen and Agem Gachino were third with 70.32%.
“It was the first time we had ridden that kür, so getting the timing perfect was very difficult. But almost everything came off without a glitch,” says a delighted Channon. “The music suited [Lorenzo] overall and the judges liked it. We got very good scores and that was after three weeks of competition and recovering from a virus. He is more experienced now and able to perform even if he is a bit under the weather.”
The Sunshine Tour’s intense schedule pushes competitors to their limit and Channon relished this additional challenge. “We have done the same amount of tests in three weeks that we would [normally] have done in six months,” he says. “You know how much pressure you can put [your horse] under. I didn’t ride at full blast all the time. It’s test riding and it sharpens your skills.”
Sunshine tour kür result
1. Lorenzo (Wayne Channon) GBR 72.700
2. Lianca (Constance Menard-Laboute) FRA 71.500;
3. Agem Gachino (Christilot Boylen) CAN 70.320;
4. Osado 9 (Jose Antonio Garcia Mena) ESP 68.176;
5. Robespierre (Simone Staub) SUI 67.500.