Scott Brash takes the double at the Equita Masters.
Twenty riders gathered for the first round of the Equita Masters and the 10 best riders went through to the second round. Everyone keeps their points from round one and it all starts again in the reverse order of the first round’s rankings!
Two riders achieved the clear round in casual style but were penalized by a time fault; Christian Ahlmann, who stopped the clock in 44.21 seconds with Ailina (Chicco's Boy), and Martin Fuchs, who stopped it in 42.57 seconds with Silver Shine (Califax), who once again rose to the challenge.
Pieter Devos tried to up the tempo from the day before, but this time, Jade vd Bisschop (Ogano Sitte) lightly touched the oxer and the pole fell!
Mark McAuley attacked the course with his experienced Miebello (Quite Easy) and went clear in 43.00 seconds. The race for victory was on.
Marc Houtzager went next and the last obstacle stayed up! Sterrehof Dante (Canturano) was on track for the victory!
The young Swiss rider Bryan Balsinger went even better, stopping the clock in the fantastic time of 41.98 seconds... but a rail at the last obstacle relegated him to 8th place behind the two time-fault rounds!
It took more than that to stop the next riders to go. Daniel Deusser had a magnificent jump-off round of great finesse with Jasmien vd Bisschop (Larino) and, even though she was a little strong in the last line, 41.09 seconds is a magnificent time!
Lorenzo De Luca didn’t intend on letting his stablemate get away from him and worked hard with Dinky Toy van Kranenburg (Ugano Sitte). After a moment of hesitation, he decided to maintain his rhythm rather than rushing up to the final vertical... but he went fast enough to avoid a time fault!
There were only two combinations left to go and last year's winner wasn’t going to let the win go without a fight. Scott Brash attacked the course and he too went clear, everything was done at the canter, without a hitch for Hello Shelby (Stolzenberg). They stopped the clock at 41.02 seconds – seven hundredths of a second faster!
But the Lyon audience were holding their breath because the only French chance for victory in this round, Pénélope Leprévost and Varennes du Breuil (Jarnac), were yet to go. The French rider tried her luck, even though victory quickly seemed out of reach... but the Norman continued on with the encouragement of the audience for a 43.96 second round... with just the one rail falling at the final obstacle. Such a shame!
Scott Brash scored a nice double after winning last year with Hello Mr President: "I think it's a fantastic event. It’s a good format with 20 starters who need to qualify for the Grand Prix. We’re really pleased to be able to participate in this event in front of such a large and enthusiastic audience. They’re really incredible. I think that this format, which keeps the points from the first round, is more accurate compared to the winning round style. I saw Daniel's round and I thought it’d be very difficult to do better. I think I had a really good start between jumps one and two, then the rest went very smoothly. I think this jump-off tested everything in the horse with a U-turn, a sharp turn to an oxer, a sharp turn to a vertical, an open line to a combination and a final gallop to the last vertical. It was very complete, and it tested everything you can ask of a horse. It really was a very good jump-off. It's difficult to say where we bought time when the gap is so small. This event was Shelby's goal for the weekend, he did brilliantly and will have a rest tomorrow, when it’ll be M'lady's (Hello M’lady (Indoctro)) turn to take part in the World Cup. I've been riding Shelby since he was 7 years old. He was trained by Emma Stocker who did an excellent job with him. He always has an excellent attitude, always wanting to do the work requested, which makes my life much easier. I’m really happy to be able to again have a very good team of horses ready for the top level. They were inexperienced in recent years and we know that when our top horses retire, there’s always a dip in a rider's career as we have to develop new horses, and these horses have to gain experience, but I think I now have a great team of horses that I can manage properly. It gives you a good feeling coming to competitions like this knowing that you have a role to play.
I like to train young horses during this period, you have to accept that you have to be patient with young horses. They’ll make mistakes; they have to learn what the Grand Prix level is like. It takes a year for horses to learn from their mistakes... but they’ve got to compete in these events to learn and gain experience. You have to accept it... it’s not always easy, especially as I had a period when I only had young, inexperienced horses. You have to accept that and take a step back in the rankings to come back stronger later. It's difficult... but I like producing horses and it gave me so much satisfaction today. I feel like I'm on the right track."