Barefoot and bootless chestnut mare wins London LGCT grand prix

  • The brilliant barefoot and bootless chestnut mare Mom’s Toupie De La Roque gave her all to head the Longines Global Champions Tour (LGCT) grand prix of London for Belgium’s Pieter Devos.

    Drawn third in a six-strong jump off — which included Brits Ellen Whitaker and Scott Brash — Pieter executed a heart-stopping tight turn to the second fence, which the mare cleared from a near-standstill.

    The home side were kept off the podium for the first time since this grand prix’s inception when Olivier Philippaerts (H&M Miro) cruised into second place to secure a Belgian one-two.

    Jur Vrieling (NED) and the 12-year-old gelding Comme-Laude W collected third, pushing early leader Ellen and the exciting grey mare Equine America Spacecake into fourth.

    A bold try from Scott Brash, in final draw on a keen Hello Mr President, failed at the second fence, when he tried to follow Pieter’s tight line but had a rail, leaving them in fifth, ahead of pathfinder Edwina Topps-Alexander (Fellow Castlefield), who tipped the same vertical.

    Britain’s Jodie-Hall McAteer finished in seventh as the fastest first-round four-faulter, having jumped a brilliant clear on a spring-heeled Salt N’ Peppa up until the final fence.

    Pieter’s win earned him €100,000 of a €300,000 prize pot, as well as qualifying him for the LGCT super grand prix in Prague (17-20 November).

    “The horse was doing absolutely everything she could to jump the fences clear,” Pieter said. “She is a bit difficult to turn, so I knew [the turn to the second fence] was the more difficult part for me. I knew if I could jump that fence then I could go full ahead.”

    Pieter has been jumping the Kannan x Nabab De Reve 15-year-old since last autumn and originally bought her to be part of Mares of Macha, the breeding initiative he runs with Frederik de Backer and Klaas de Coster, selling frozen embryos from five-star mares.

    She was previously competed by French riders Michel Hecart and Julien Epaillard – with whom she won the World Cup qualifier at Olympia in 2017. He was the first to jump her barefoot, which Pieter continued.

    After deciding to keep her in the sport while she was still fit and sound, Pieter found early success, finishing fourth in the GCT grand prix in Samorin last October.

    “I felt a good result was coming and it was the cherry on the cake for her to take a win today,” said Pieter,

    Ellen’s fourth place was her best result to date with Andrew and Tilly Shaw’s 10-year-old grey, who has “bunny hopped” up the levels this year.

    “She’s really quite inexperienced and I am so happy with her,” said Ellen, who started out jumping the mare at 1.10m and 1.20m in summer 2021.

    The partnership started their 5* career in Rome this year, before competing at Rotterdam, Falsterbo and Hickstead.

    “Before that she’d just done the Sunshine Tour and a few 3*s, so she really has climbed ranks,” she said.

    “I had a lot of confidence in her though as she is so tough and a real sportshorse – she rises to big occasions and copes with pressure really well.

    “She is my only horse at this level I really need some more to wingman for her! It was a difficult track and she felt good today.”

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