Connolly’s RED MILLS Brand Ambassador Scott Brash with Hello M’Lady, photo Stefano Grasso LGCT
Connolly’s RED MILLS Ambassador Scott Brash grabbed the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix Du Prince De Monaco, in spectacular style with Hello M’Lady after an incredible jump-off featuring many of the very best horses and riders in the world. His victory catapulted him up the championship ranking into second place, and in touching distance of the leadership going into the eighth leg of the Tour in Paris next week. John Whitaker (GBR) came a close second with Argento. Emanuele Gaudiano (ITA) kept up his streak of success, riding Admara 2 home in third place.
The first opening CSI5* competition ahead of Saturday’s Grand Prix of Monaco set the tone for the main event with a British 1-2 making the headlines. Scott Brash (GBR) wowed the crowds once more as he took the win for the CSI5* Prix Sapinda class, riding Hello Annie (pictured below) clear almost two seconds ahead of his compatriot John Whitaker (GBR) who delivered another fast round with his talented mare Ornellaia. The battle for the top spots was intense, with four riders all within just tenths of a second apart, however the third place position went to Santiago Lambre (BRA) who finished just three tenths of a second John’s time, with a 47.51s.
The first round saw 15 riders jump clear, with three more making up the top 18 who would test the new course. Jessica Springsteen (USA) set the pace early on with a beautifully balanced clear ride with her bay 14 year old mare Lisona, showcasing both talent and class as she completed the fast course. Guided by her new trainer, Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS), Jessica won through the jump-off and rode a triple clear, finishing in 5th place – a sensational achievement for the young American as she was watched by her father Bruce, and mother, Patti.
HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, Princess Caroline of Hannover and Charlotte Casiraghi also joined international guests to watch the top riders in the world battle for glory. Chelsea FC tycoon Roman Abramovich had earlier watched his daughter Sofia compete and stayed to watch the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix. Anuncio Ortega, billionaire head of the Inditex fashion empire, joined guests during the evening.
As night fell, nine riders went clear in the second phase of the competition and through to the jump-off, while the VIP guests and visitors looked on. The battle intensified when Sheikh Ali Bin Khalid Al Thani (QAT) set the bar high early on, after a phenomenal round with Vienna Olympic to cross the line in 29.96. He was just beaten by John Whitaker (GBR) who once more galloped to each fence, pushing the pace as his bay stallion responded to the electric atmosphere and managed to shave off precious tenths of a second, coming home in 28.83. Third last to go, Scott Brash (GBR) took to the course, riding Hello M’Lady with fantastic pace and agility to take further tenths of a second off John’s time, finishing clear with 28.45. Emauele Gaudiano (ITA) made a valiant attempt to better the time, but crossed the line in 28.90, finishing in third place.
The Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Monaco was the first win for the nine year old mare Hello M’Lady, who’s athletic ability shone during this intense battle, earning her place as a strong back up to Hello Sanctos, Scott’s number one ride. The co-owners of Scott’s horses, Lord and Lady Harris, were in attendance to witness their super mare showcase her skills under Scott’s careful guidance.
Scott has now closed the gap to just 36 points behind ranking leader Luciana Diniz (POR) who now has 181 points. Rolf-Göran Bengtsson (SWE) is now in third place on 128 points, and Sheikh Ali Bin Khalid Al Thani (QAT) moves up to 4th with 123 points. Next week the Tour moves to Paris, where the top riders in the world will descend on the incredible venue at the Eiffel Tower; as the world’s premier show jumping circuit passes the halfway stage.
Scott Brash, Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix Du Prince De Monaco sponsored by HSBC Private Bank (Monaco) winner said: “It’s good to have a horse who can take the pressure off Sanctos. She’s a phenomenal horse, she’s young, she’s only nine, so she’s inexperienced and it’s only the third or fourth time I have pushed her against the clock and she’s a fantastic mare and I’m privileged to be riding her. Whenever my owners come I seem to win so they must be my lucky mascots, they need to come more often!
“There’s still a long way to go, I’m going to take one leg at a time and it’s great to be in this position at this stage, but there’s still a lot of jumping to go so a lot will change round yet.”