Fuchs Flies To Victory In Electric LGCT Doha 1.55m Jump-Off Class at Al Shaqab
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In the perfect prelude to the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix, it was Martin Fuchs and 11-year-old Conner Jei who stormed to the top of the podium with ease., Under the bright lights of the stunning Longines Arena at Al Shaqab, Germany rounded off the podium with Christian Kukuk and his 9-year-old Nice van't Zorgvliet finishing a second behind to claim silver while Christian Ahlmann and the stunning black stallion, Solid Gold Z, took third place in a lightning-fast jump-off.
A delighted Fuchs said: “It was a great jump-off. I tried to go as fast as I could. I left one out into the double and (my horse was) so careful with such an amazing ability that allowed me to do something a little bit crazy like this, and I’m glad to be sitting on a horse like that. Tomorrow, I’m going to be riding Leone Jei, my championship horse. He is also in very good shape so I’m going to try to produce 3 more clear rounds.”
The first round proved testing with poles falling all around the course, keeping some of the biggest names out of the jump-off. The first two riders into the arena, Shane Breen and John Whitaker, both had the first fence down, keeping spectators on the edge of their seats, until Simon Delestre proved it was doable, putting in a faultless performance in with Dexter Fontenis Z.
The nine-rider jump-off was a thrilling end to a magnificent day of jumping performances. Trailblazer Delestre set the pace for the start on Dexter Fontenis Z, as the duo kept all the fences up in 37.38sec, piling pressure on the rest of the field, as they now had to risk it all to inch ahead of the Frenchman.
Raising Nice van't Zorgvliet up to this level, Kukuk didn't hold back, and laid down the gauntlet to cut a second and a half off the time to beat.
Leaving all the strides out where possible, the in-form Fuchs and Conner Jei set off at a flat-out gallop to the first fence in the jump-off. The crowd cheered as the pair stopped the clock a second faster than Kukuk to snatch the lead.
Belgium's Jérome Guery cruised Napoli vh Nederassenthof round the expansive arena, but an unlucky pole falling knocked them out of contention for the win.
Youngest in the jump-off, 20 year old Jack Whitaker lived up to his name giving it his best shot with the bay mare, Q Paravatti N. The pair flew with ease over the testing track, but the lightest of touches coming into the double across the middle of the arena knocked them out of the top 5.
Setting himself up perfectly for the final-day Super Saturday Showdown, Ahlmann and Solid Gold Z kept all the fences up in a time of 36.75sec to slide into third place.
Gregory Wathelet, astride Faut-Il des 7 Vallons, and Irishman Denis Lynch, on the stunning grey, Cornets Iberio, both had two poles down, pushing them to the bottom of the order.
Yesterday's winning combination, Marlon Modolo Zanotelli and Like A Diamond van het Schaeck, looked like they were set to repeat their previous smooth and slick winning round, beating Fuchs’ time, but they knocked a tall upright and had to settle for 5th place.
The maiden Super Saturday of the year will reveal the first team to pick up maximum points in the thrilling GCL of Doha Round 2, and who will get a head start in the LGCT Championship race, claiming the first prestigious golden ticket for the LGCT Super Grand Prix at the GC Prague Playoffs in November.
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