Ben Maher won the opening CSI5* Class in Madrid and Bertram Allen in speedy win ahead of Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix

2 May-A sunny and bustling Club de Campo Villa de Madrid set the backdrop for the first of the CSI5* International show jumping events in the Spanish leg of the Longines Global Champions Tour, with riders completing the 1.45m Coca-Cola course in two phases. Ahead of Saturday's LGCT of Madrid Grand Prix a stellar line up, including many of the world's best show jumpers, took part in the early competition, and saw Ben Maher (GBR) race the clock to take a clear round of 35.13 and win with his nine year old bay gelding, Contigo 37. John Whitaker (GBR) brought his dark bay stallion, Argento, to his first event of the year and kicked off his 2015 debut in style finishing in second place with another clear round and time of 35.55, making it a British 1-2. Third place was taken by Marcus Ehning (GER) and his nine year old bay mare, Cristy who also went clear with a time of 36.01; less than a second off the winning time and a clear indication of the calibre of competition in this stage of the event.

Jessica Springsteen (USA) set the initial pace, taking an early lead with her nine year old stallion, Carolina 31, with a clear round and a best time of 40.52 however finished in sixth place. 14th to start Jane Richard Philips (SUI) soon bettered her time after completing a clear round on her bay gelding, Pablo de Virton, with a strong speed round of 39.13 and finished the class in 5th. Both however, were eclipsed by Ben Maher (GBR) who took a less conventional and far shorter path with his gelding, going clear with a speedy 35.13, and maintaining the lead ahead of the thirty seven remaining competitors.

In the other competition of the day, the winner was Bertram Allen.

A passionate crowd turned out to see 57 international riders compete under the dusky early evening sky in the beautiful grass arena at the Club de Campo Villa de Madrid. The 1.50m class was a true test of ability for the world class horse and rider combinations ahead of tomorrow' showdown.

A challenging course, designed by Spain's own Santiago Varela, quickly proved tricky for the early combinations until young Bertram Allen, eighth to go in the line up, took a powerful early lead with the 11-year-old chestnut gelding Quiet Easy 4, shaving every corner possible to complete the course clear and with a stunning time of 68.83.

Switzerland's Pius Schwizer came second on the 14-year-old bay gelding Newton du Haut Bois, but he was almost three seconds behind the leader with a clear round of 71.92.

German maestro Ludger Beerbaum took third with his trusty grey twelve-year-old mare Chiara with a clear round in 74.39. Phillipe Rozier (FRA) and Henrik von Eckermann (SWE) completed the top five with their respective mounts, Unpulsion de la Hart and Cantinero, just 1.35 seconds apart.

Britain's Scott Brash completed a calm and steady clear round in 82.56 on Hello Forever to finish in the top 10 but only eleven combinations went clear throughout the competition, with many strong times caught out in the final segment of the course as the difficulty level took its toll. Young American Paris Sellon rode a strong clear on her bay mare Adare in 80.37. Canada's Tiffany Foster also clocked up a clear in 80.96 on Brighton.

Press release

Image:S Grasso