Scott Brash and Tokyo-bound ride score major grand prix win on final start before Olympics

  • Scott Brash and his Tokyo Olympic ride Hello Jefferson will head to Japan on the back of a five-star grand prix victory, having won their final pre-Games competition in Valkenswaard.

    The pair claimed the €75,000 (£64,000) first prize in the CSI5* €300,000 Tops International Arena 1.60m grand prix (11 July) by a two-second margin over Belgian rider Pieter Devos and his Tokyo ride, Claire Z. Third place went to Brazil’s Luiz Francisco de Azevedo and My Way. Luiz is also on the Olympic entries list, with Cosmic.

    “I am delighted with the way Jefferson is jumping, he feels in great form and you couldn’t have a better preparation for the Olympics,” said Scott, who will join teammates Ben Maher (Explosion W), Holly Smith (Denver) and alternate rider Harry Charles (Romeo 88) in Tokyo.

    The British Olympic showjumping horses enter pre-departure quarantine on Friday (16 July) and will fly from Liège airport in Belgium on 26 July.

    The grand prix was held in Tops International Arena’s new grass ring.

    “The grass arena is fantastic, there was a little bit of rain last night and I think it made it even better today, the ground is absolutely super and has great spring off it, just brilliant!” added Scott.

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    A total of 12 of the 36 combinations answered all course-designer Uliano Vezzani’s questions in the first round to make it through to the jump-off.

    Portuguese rider Luciana Diniz and Conchento PS, who were the first combination to jump clear in the opening round, kicked off the jump-off with determination and were unlucky to have a surprise run-out at the second fence.

    France’s Simon Delestre was the first to put the pressure on, speeding across the finish line clear in 51.18 seconds with Berlux Z. Pieter and Claire Z rose to the challenge, stopping the clock in 47.17.

    German showjumping legend Marcus Ehning and Stargold produced the fastest time of the class (43.59), but a rail dropped them down the leaderboard, finishing sixth overall.

    Even with a sticky moment on the roll-back turn from the oxer to the Roelofsen upright, Scott and the 12-year-old gelding, owned by Lady Pauline Harris and Lady Pauline Kirkham, still managed to shave a clear two seconds off Pieter’s leading time. Last to go Luiz and the grey My Way gave a strong chase, but could not match the pace of the top two combinations, and slotted into third in 47.86 seconds.

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