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Darragh Kenny Untouchable in Stunning First Day at LGCT Shanghai

Release date: 28/04/2017

Photo: LGCT / Stefano Grasso

Darragh Kenny reigned supreme as the first day of the Shanghai Longines Global Champions Tour took off in style. Competing as part of the Global Champions League team, the Paris Panthers, and riding his 10 year old bay gelding Charly Chaplin S superbly, the Irish star took the prestigious top spot which saw a high-octane jump-off putting spectators on the edge of their seat in the perfect prelude to tomorrow’s action. 

Uliano Vezzani’s first round course proved a tough test for the world’s best teams, with galloping distances and a delicate poles that rolled at the slightest kiss. Many had the first fence down, a gappy green and white oxer, while the Longines Global Champions Tour double took out a few of the top contenders. The penultimate fence, a beige plank positioned alongside the gasping fans also caused problems, with the spectators groaning as the plank fell time and time again. An 18 rider jump-off saw the world’s best take centre stage again, with the stars of show jumping battling it out for the lion’s share of the prize purse. 

Niels Bruynseels (BEL) and Angel van T Hof were the first to really set the pace, with the Belgian rider jumping clear after setting off at a gallop and his careful horse picking her way beautifully around the course. John Whitaker and Ornellaia saw what was needed to take over the top spot. Setting off at an equally impressive pace, the pair nearly took out the wing at the second part of the double, but made it clear by the skin of their teeth to finish on 42seconds flat. 

Philip Houston set off at a blistering pace, with Loewenherz jumping his heart out for the young German rider. They went clear, stopping the clock at 41.37s to rocket them up the leaderboard. Ben Maher and Don Vito took the angle a little too tight to the BMW Oxer, with the chestnut gelding kicking out the back rail. The pair also picked up time faults, putting them on 7 overall and out of contention. 

Laura Kraut (USA) and her young grey mare Zeremonie put in a strong effort, but were unable to better the Belgian rider’s time, crossing the line in 41.46s. The BMW Oxer proved troublesome for Sheikh Ali Bin Khalid Al Thani (QAT) who rolled the front pole with Carolina 34, plus picked up three faults for time as the Qatari rider visibly backed off. German legend Ludger Beerbaum (GER) put in a strong performance with top mare Chiara, but were unable to shave any time off their clear, finishing in 41.40s. David Will (GER) and the fiery Mic Mac du Tillard looked set to take the lead, but stumbled at the final, unusually taking out the lower pole but jumping the top clear - this meant their round was counted as clear, but their time wasn’t quite enough to top Darragh’s, finishing off in 39.10s. 

Jos Verlooy (BEL) moved up a gear with Caracas, flying to the fences, but had to settle for second after stopping the clock in 39.82s, a second behind Darragh’s lead time to take third, while Marcus Ehning (GER) and Funky Fred showcased another masterful round to finish up in fourth overall. 

But it was Darragh Kenny (IRL) and Charly Chaplin S who were quickest of all, with the Irish star galloping to the fences and making an incredible turn back to the skinny vertical. The pair blitzed the rest of the field, crossing the line in a phenomenal 38.87s and propelling the impressive combination into the lead, and storming to the class win after an edge of the seat jump-off round. 

Tomorrow will see the Global Champions League final kick off at 12:30 local time, with the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix taking place at 16:15. Tune in Live via our live streaming, and for all the broadcast information, please click here.