US rider Lauren Hough turned her luck round after a fall in the jump-off last night by winning the speed class this afternoon (14 November) at the Longines Global Champions Tour (GCT) Final show in Doha.
Yesterday Lauren ran into trouble when she turned Royalty Des Isles to the red double (original fence 4ab) in the decider. She had the first part down, then Willow Grace Farms’ mare refused the second element and her rider was decanted over her head.
“It was really my mistake — she’s very careful and I held her too much,” she said.
This afternoon Lauren had her foot to the floor from the start of the round.
“When I did the five strides between fences one and two [rather than six] that set the tone for the whole round and she was fantastic,” she said.
France’s Simon Delestre laid down the gauntlet today as the second rider into the arena. He piloted Chesall to a time off 55.43sec, which wasn’t bettered until Germany’s Hans-Dieter Dreher came in some 25 riders later. Hans-Dieter and Colore took second with a time of 55.3sec, with Lauren overtaking in 54.82sec just five horses from the end of the class.
“When you are second to go it’s always more difficult than when you go at the end in this sort of class,” said Simon. “But he’s a fast horse and had a super round today — he jumped really well and that’s the most important thing.”
Two Brits rode in the speed class. John Whitaker set a fast time (56.02sec), but Lord Of Arabia touched the front bar off the final double at 11a. And Ben Maher had the middle part of the treble at seven and also 11a down with Pacome Des Plains. Scott Brash originally had Hello Forever entered for this class, but withdrew him after his victory last night.
The event’s feature class, the grand prix, starts at 5.15pm local time. In it, Britain’s Scott Brash will be bidding to hold onto his position as overall leader of the GCT rankings — if he wins, it will be the first time a rider has achieved this feat three years in a row. Portugal’s Luciana Diniz and Sweden’s Rolf-Göran Bengtsson are the other jockeys in the running for the title.
Check back later for an update on the grand prix. Full report in H&H magazine next week, out Thursday, 19 November.