The London leg of the Longines Global Champions Tour kicked off in tremendous style at the Royal Hospital Chelsea today (Friday, 3 August). Under blazing skies, we witnessed the world number one in electric form, two talented sisters outsmarting their rivals — and a British winner! Here are our highlights from day one…
- Performance of the day: Great Britain’s Emily Moffitt, 20, for giving the world number one showjumper Harrie Smolders a very good run for his money in the CSI5* two-phase. Emily and the 13-year-old stallion Copain Du Perchet CH held the lead for much of the class, just to be pipped in the final furlong by the flying Dutchman on Zinius to finish second. “I told Harrie, ‘One of these days I’m going to beat you — it’s going to happen!’” said Emily.
- Social media post of the day: Becky Gochman on Instagram sharing the outstanding result of her teenage daughters Mimi and Sophie Gochman, who won a CSI2* class apiece — 13-year-old Mimi also finishing second to her older sister — ensuring each will return home to USA with a coveted LGCT winner’s rug.
- Most popular place at the show: under blazing skies and with temperatures soaring into the 30s, the only solution was second, third and fourth helpings of ice cream.
- Best of British: the award goes to the home city team of the London Knights — represented today by Ben Maher and Nicola Philippaerts — taking pole position in the opening round of the Global Champions League competition. “We were drawn first which isn’t the start we’d have liked, but we went in, did our plan and now the others have to chase!” said Ben. But a special mention for keeping the Union flag flying must also go to Guy Williams (Rouge De Ravel) and Scott Brash (Hello Mr President), who took the top two placings in Friday’s CSI5* 1.55m speed class. Plenty to be cheer about and it’s only day one!
- Highest number of double clears: a grand total of 29 combinations in the CSI5* two-phase left all the poles standing round Uliano Vezzani’s 1.45m track. Spare a thought for Georgina Bloomberg (Paola 233) whose lightning quick round of 23.27sec was easily quick enough for victory — until the merest touch of the final fence sent her plummeting down to finish 30th instead.
- Picture of the day: what a backdrop! Ireland’s Darragh Kenny in action in front of the imposing Royal Hospital Chelsea.
- Comeback of the day: Welcome back William Funnell and Billy Congo! Having been “poached” by his wife Pippa to finish second in the Queen’s Cup at the Royal International last weekend, the now 17-year-old stallion, with whom William won European team gold, looked as keen as ever to be back jumping over the five-star tracks in London.
- Biggest fan club: the new young rider European champion Harry Charles, competing in the CSI5* classes in London, was spotted being mobbed by hoards of young fans wanting to pose for selfies as he wandered through the showground.
- A-list visitors of the day: Ronan Keating, Bruce Springsteen, Bill Gates and Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond were all seen enjoying one of the greatest sporting events in the capital.
The Longines Global Champions Tour of London continues tomorrow (Saturday, 4 August) and don’t miss the full report on all the action — with expert comment from Nick Skelton — in next week’s issue of Horse & Hound, out Thursday 9 August.