Saturday’s Longines Global Champions Tour grand prix track set by Uliano Vezzani was long and flowing but caught out several combinations with its inside turns and imposing combinations with horses having to go full stretch to reach the back rails of some of the oxers.
But six combinations crossed the line without faults to make it through to the jump-off on Saturday evening.
We had to wait for the 11th rider to appear before Gregory Wathelet of Belgium, fresh from his bronze-medal winning performance at the Tokyo Olympics, jumped Faut-Il Des 7 Vallons, on her five-star grand prix debut, became the first to leave all the poles up.
Nicola Philippaerts then made it two in a row for Belgium riding Katinga VH Dingeshof.
Christian Ahlmann and Clintrexo made it three, this time for Germany.
Then the red-hot Belgian squad added the fourth clear round of the evening, this time from Niels Bruynseels on Ilusionata Van’t Meulenhof.
The individual silver medallist and team gold medal-winning Swedish rider Peder Fredricson gave us a fifth clear round in impressive style with the lovely grey Catch Me Not S.
Then the cheers filled the arena as John Whitaker made sure there was a British representative when jumping a sensational sixth clear on Unick Du Francport.
All six riders now jump-off to be declared the winner of the prestigious Longines grand prix at the London GCT.
Among the British riders to drop out were Ben Maher (Ginger-Blue) and Holly Smith (Fruselli) while Alexandra Thornton jumped clear but later realised she’d exceeded the time allowed with Cornetto K to collect one time-fault.
We’ll bring you all the news from the jump-off as it happens…
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