John Whitaker narrowly misses out in Global Champions Tour of London

  • Britain was denied a third consecutive home win by the narrowest of margins when Sweden’s Rolf Göran-Bengtsson took the Longines Global Champions Tour (GCT) grand prix of London.

    Partnering his consistent campaigner Casall ASK (pictured below), he headed an unusually strong jump-off field of 12 with the quickest of four treble clears.

    With an early fifth draw in the third phase, he went all-out to establish an unassailable lead on the 16-year-old stallion.

    Longines Global Champions Tour of London on 25 07 2015

    An exhilarating bid from John Whitaker, in penultimate draw on the 13-year-old Argento (pictured top), came within an agonising 0.08sec of the target time.

    The crowd at Syon Park had one more contender to invest their hopes in — last to jump were Scott Brash and the inimitable Hello Sanctos — but they tipped a rail at the final fence to dash all hopes of a home victory.

    Britain had a flawless track record at the first two runnings of the London leg. Ben Maher and Cella claimed the spoils at Stratford’s Olympic Park in 2013 while Scott and Sanctos were last year’s victors at Horse Guards.

    While missing out on the €132,000 winner’s reward, Scott’s sixth place finish in this year’s London leg was enough to elevate him to the head of the Longines Global Champions Tour rankings, with four more events left to jump.

    He knocked Portugal’s Luciana Diniz from the top spot as he added to points from three victories already this season — at Miami, Monaco and Estoril.

    “It’s nice to be top at this stage,” said Scott, who also heads the FEI Longines world rankings list. “I’ll compete at the other venues from Rome onwards so I have a couple of extra chances.”

    Jan Tops, president and founder of the Longines Global Champions Tour, said: “London is pivotal to the rankings and always an exciting leg: To have a jump off of 12 meant it was fast and a difficult class to win.”

    Don’t miss Horse & Hound’s full report from the Longines Global Champions Tour of London in 30 July magazine

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