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Smolders sizzles while British Riders Battle It Out For Top Ten Finishes for Opening Class Of LGCT London

Release date: 04/08/2017

Photo: LGCT / Stefano Grasso

It was a great start for the home talent on the first day of day of action at the Longines Global Champions Tour in London, with four British riders in the top ten of the first CIS5* of the show. However, they did not have enough to beat Harrie Smolders (NED) - the current leader of the overall LGCT Rankings. He came through the starting gate on his bay gelding Zinius with big ambitions and rapid pace, taking the top spot with a very fast clear of 26.39s.

I have a quick horse – he’s here for this class and Sunday, which only gives us two options to win and we had a good start! This horse does really well and he wins a lot! I was fast in the beginning of the second phase – I knew I had the time!

William Funnell (GBR) on Billy Angelo held the top spot for most of the first CSI5* class, finishing a beautiful clear round on 23.91s, putting him into second. There was not even a breath between him and fellow Brit Laura Renwick on her 14 year old chestnut stallion Van de Vivaldi, who did an impressively economical round, stopping the clock at 27.05s, finding a place on podium and taking third.

Hosted for the first time in history at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, spectators have been treated to some glorious sunshine and stunning performances from some of the best riders in the world, all set against the beautiful and iconic grounds. Amongst those watching the action from the covered grandstands have been several of the three hundred Chelsea Pensioners who live on site, resplendent in their scarlet coats.

Despite having some challenging combinations, including a large oxer heading into a triple combination taking inspiration from the London Underground tube sign, the course was one of the softer ones of the Tour. It meant a number of fast clears and there was not a lot of space between any of the top riders.

Swiss rider Martin Fuchs took the fourth spot finishing on 28.32s, with two more Brits chasing him in fifth and sixth. John Whitaker (GBR) who turns sixty-two on Saturday went clear on 15 year old stallion Argento, finishing on 28.59s, and Olympic Gold medallist Ben Maher followed behind him on his bay mare MTF Madame X with 29.58s, wowing the crowds with some nifty turns.

Later this afternoon (16:15 local time) will be the CSI5* Global Champions League first round with €92,000 up for grabs for the winner. All the weekend’s action will be streamed live on GCT and GCL TV.