8-11 September 2016
- 8-11 September 2016
Remarkable Rome: The Scene is set for magnificent Grand Prix
Release date: 10/09/2016
Photo: LGCT / Stefano Grasso
The stunning global capital city of Rome will see show jumping's gladiators in a high octane battle as the race to the final of the 2016 Longines Global Champions Tour hits top gear.
With only three events left before the Tour climax in Qatar in November, the high stakes €300,000 Grand Prix in Rome will be a critical test for the leading contenders. A fascinating duel is developing once more between ranking leader Edwina Tops-Alexander (265 points) and second place Rolf-Goran Bengtsson (240 points). Rolf will be riding his famous stallion Casall and is determined to win the championship this year having just missed out in previous seasons. Christian Ahlmann, currently 3rd in the ranking, could be overtaken by his nearest rival Bertram Allen who will be riding Hector van d'Abdijhoeve.
Edwina will be riding Caretina de Joter and during an interview with Rolf about their battle for the championship she said of her 25-point lead going into the Rome Grand Prix: "There still three events to go and it's still all to play for.”
She also spoke about the extra pressure that comes with the prestigious Leader arm band: “It's true, I have a lot of attention focused on the fact I’m in the lead. I must say though that I don’t feel pressure for this, it's not the first time it has happened. In fact I like to feel the adrenaline rise. I will compete with Caretina in the Grand Prix - I love Rome and really enjoy coming here.” Hot on her heels is Swedish rider Rolf-Göran Bengtsson - with two Grand Prix wins under his belt he’s in prime position to take over the lead: "It 's wonderful to compete in this beautiful city. For me it's even nicer to return this year after having won last year and with the same horse. Casall ASK is in excellent shape, so it will be exciting to ride in the Grand Prix.”
The 1.60m competition will also feature a cast of world class riders and horses including Ludger Beerbaum and his mare Chiara, Harrie Smolders and Don VHP, Luciana Diniz and Lennox, Lauren Hough and Cornet 39, Maikel van der Vleuten on VDL Groep Arera, John Whitaker on Ornellaia and local rider Emanuele Gaudiano and his super fast horse Caspar. Bertram Allen, fourth in the overall standings, spoke about being in Rome: “It’s the first time for me in Rome. Every show of Global is beautiful, well organised, and they give very important opportunities for riders. For me it is very useful to grow in my training because I can compare myself with the top riders at many different stages. These are experiences that develop. Today I’ll ride Hector for the Grand Prix - he's in excellent shape, the location and the facilities are great, everything seems to be going well. So we'll see!”
2015 Champion of Champions Luciana Diniz agreed: "The Global Champions Tour is a beautiful circuit that allows you to compete around the world with the best horses and riders - Rome is definitely one of my favourites! Everything here is beautiful!” World No3 Simon Delestre has already shown blistering form winning yesterday's 1.50m/1.55m class on Chesall Dimequest. And Maikel van der Vleuten set the pace with a win on the first day with VDL Groep Quatro clinching victory a split second ahead of David Will.
Thousands of spectators are due to pack the Stadio dei Marmi arena in Rome, lined by over 50 classical marble statues and next to the city's Olympic Stadium. Home rider Emanuele Gaudiano won the stage in Monaco this year with Caspar, the same horse he’ll ride in today’s Grand Prix, and currently occupies the 11th place overall: "I really like this Championship, it's a new way of understanding riding. The concept is similar to that of Formula 1 or MotoGP - it inspires the public and us as riders who have a chance to compete in beautiful places. The aim is to keep consistency throughout the season for the overall win.The new Global Champions League is exciting too as it makes it possible for many riders of the highest level to compete next or even together in one team, making it the best in the world."
Compatriot Piergiorgio Bucci (ITA) was the LGCT Grand Prix of Cascais Gold medallist and came a close second to Emanuele in Monaco with Casallo Z. Speaking about the Grand Prix of Rome he said: “It will be a great day of sport with many of the best riders in the world here in Rome. The victory in Portugal in Global came at the right time, after a series of good results and victories and gave me a nice position. I had missed a first place on a Global Grand Prix and finally it arrived. Am I among the favorites tomorrow? Maybe, but what matters is that Casallo Z is a horse that has the potential to win. I will try. To do it in front of the home crowd would be a dream come true."
The Tour has crossed continents since the first event of 2016 in Miami Beach and the excitement continues to build as the championship race heads to Vienna next weekend and the magnificent stage of Al Shaqab, Qatar, for the final showdown from 3rd - 5th November.
Heading into the final only 50% of each rider's scores count towards their final points tally, so it’s all to play for in this exciting round of action. Tune in via GCT TV to watch as the battle unfolds!