A scintillating weekend of equestrian action at the Longines Masters of Hong Kong came to a suitably dramatic conclusion in its final and most important competition, the Longines Grand Prix of Hong Kong. The race could hardly have been closer, with Patrice Delaveau of France snatching victory on Aquila HDC from Max Kühner of Austria on Cielito Lindo 2 by just 0.07 seconds in the jump-off. It was a return to a happy hunting ground for Delaveau, who took an incredible four of the six competitive classes at the inaugural Longines Masters of Hong Kong in 2013, including the Longines Grand Prix. Longines Grand Prix of Paris 2017 winner Daniel Deusser of Germany on Cornet D’Amour, who was in with the chance of a €2.25 million bonus if he’d also won in Hong Kong, finished just 0.08 seconds behind Kühner in third.
“It was great today, and my horse was fantastic,” said Delaveau. “I love it here in Hong Kong.”
A win for Deusser, victorious in Paris also on Cornet D’Amour, would have put him in with a shot at the bumper Grand Slam Indoor super bonus for winning three consecutive Longines Grand Prix in the same season in Paris – Hong Kong and New York. After his second round, riding ninth of the 12 remaining competitors, few would have bet against him doing so, but he was immediately followed into the arena by Delaveau, who shaved a fraction of a second off Deusser’s time, racing to victory in 37.81 seconds amid scenes of frenzied excitement from a packed-out crowd that got behind the riders with full-throated gusto, as they have all weekend. Kühner, who came third at last year’s Longines Grand Prix of Hong Kong on Cornet Kalua, rode straight after Delaveau, and only just missed out on snatching the title from the Frenchman’s grasp.
Presented by Title Partner & Official Timekeeper Longines, the Longines Grand Prix, over 1.60m obstacles, also came with the biggest prize purse of the weekend attached: a total of US$382,800. Twenty riders from 12 countries battled it out for the title over two rounds, with the 20 riders whittled down to 12 for the jump-off. A fiendish course was created for the first round by course designer Louis Konickx, featuring a particularly tricky triple at fence 10, although it was the challenging choice of possible stride patterns into fence 7 that caused riders the most problems. Faults from the first round carried through to the jump-off, with the five riders who went clear in both rounds – the others were fourth-placed Jamie Kermond of Australia on Yandoo Oaks Constellation and fifth-placed Michael Whitaker of Great Britain on Calisto Blue – separated by their jump-off times.
Delaveau has a chance to collect the Grand Slam Indoor bonus of €1 million if he can win the Longines Grand Prix at the final leg of the current season of the Longines Masters Series, in New York, and follow it up with a win in Paris at the start of the 2018-19 season.
The conclusion of the Longines Grand Prix of Hong Kong brought the 2018 edition of the Longines Masters of Hong Kong to a suitably action-packed close. But more top-quality showjumping action is never far away with the Longines Masters Series, which comes to its grand finale in New York on April 26-29, 2018. See you there.