Edwina Tops-Alexander has won the inaugural Super Grand Prix on the Longines Global Champions Tour. The Australian rider fended off 15 of the world’s top riders, including German legend Ludger Beerbaum, to take top honours on Saturday night (15 December) riding the great mare California.
“It is a huge honour and one of the most prestigious grands prix I have ever won,” said Edwina.
This brand new competition in the O2 Arena at the new GC Playoffs in Prague brought the 2018 LGCT championship season to a glittering conclusion. The sixteen riders, who had qualified from each of the grands prix in the series, battled it out over two jaw-dropping tracks set by Uliano Vezzani. But it was Edwina Tops-Alexander who collected the silverware ahead of Ludger Beerbaum of Germany on Casello in the runner-up spot, with Dutchman Frank Schuttert third riding Chianti’s Champion. All three riders on the podium finished with four faults after two rounds of jumping, with less than half a second separating the top two competitors.
“After I had the fence down, I thought I have just got to go for it,” said Edwina, who collected a whopping €313,333 (£280,000) top prize.
The Australian rider won the Longines Masters of Paris at the start of this month with California, then followed up with victory in the World Cup of La Coruna last week on new ride Vinchester before coming to Prague to claim a festive hat-trick.
“I’ve had the most amazing three weeks of my life and to finish by winning the LGCT Super Grand Prix is incredible,” she said.
Runner-up Ludger Beerbaum added: “It was quite emotional, even for an old guy like me. To me this event is a milestone and I enjoyed being part of it.”
Two British riders, Scott Brash and Ben Maher, had qualified for this €1.25million competition and Ben took fifth with a second round clear on Explosion W after picking up eight faults in round one.
“Today wasn’t our day,” said Ben, who finished just ahead of Scott in seventh. “It’s easy to forget Explosion W is only nine and has limited experience indoors but I’m happy he grew so quickly in the second round. I can’t be disappointed when he’s had such an amazing year.”
Only Edwina and Harrie Smolders had jumped clear in round one but the world number one crashed out when his ride Zinius took a strong dislike to the Rolls Royce vertical — for the second time this week — and the Dutchman once again hit the deck for elimination.
There was another hard luck story for Irishman Shane Breen, who had been vying for top honours in third on Ipswich Van De Wolfsakker after round one but elected to retire after the faults began accumulating in round two.
Don’t miss next week’s Horse & Hound, out Thursday 20 December, for the full report from this brand new event in the equestrian calendar.