Valkenswaard, The Netherlands – August 11, 2019 – The fast and furious combination of Julien Epaillard (FRA) and Alibi de la Roque were victorious in the €25,000 Speed Class CSI 5* on the final day of the Longines Global Champions Tour of Valkenswaard CSI 5*/2*. Home rider Leopold van Asten (NED) flew into second place with VDL Groep Elexia, while Nayel Nassar (EGY) followed closely behind on Hermelien vd Hooghoeve.
The penultimate class of LGCT Valkenswaard saw 22 combinations fly around the huge arena to try and take top spot in the 1.45m speed class. Uliano Vezzani built the course with multiple holding related distances to let the riders take out strides if they really wanted to win.
Cindy van der Straten (BEL) was the pathfinder around this forward flowing course with a time allowed of 72 seconds. She picked up four faults coming out of the Tulip double on her grey Cartaro 2 leaving the rest of the field to try and produce the fast clear.
The tight time allowed caught Bassem Mohammed (QAT) and 15 year old Dejavu out as they crossed the finish line in a time of 75.12 seconds with one time fault. Niels Bruynseels (BEL) and Christian Kukuk (GER) also got time faults.
The first clear round was produced by Christophe Vanderhasselt (BEL) in a time of 68.20 seconds on Derby du Seigneur however he was quickly overtaken by Leopold Van Asten (NED) who knew exactly what he had to do. His mare VDL Groep Elexia trusted him on every stride and the pair set a rapid time to beat of 59.46 seconds.
There was drama when Henrik Von Eckermann (SWE) stepped on the gas pedal but Forever decided the turn back to the second to last line was too tight. This refusal caused them to also pick up time faults putting them right down the order.
But it was speed demon Julien Epaillard (FRA) who was as fast as lightning on his 9-year-old chestnut Alibi de La Roque. The combination cut over two seconds off the leading time to storm into the lead and leave everyone else to chase him down.
William Whitaker (GBR) jumped a smooth and forward clear round to take fourth place in this very competitive speed class. Hoping for his second win of the weekend Roger-Yves Bost (FRA) came out all guns blazing however a pole fell and he was quickly out of contention for the win on Castleforbes Talitha.
The super-speedy combination of Nayel Nassar (EGY) and Hermelien vd Hooghoeve tried their hardest to land the top spot. They took all the inside turns and cut out strides where possible but finished in third place in 60.69 seconds.
Julien Epaillard (FRA) & Alibi de La Roque
For full results, please click here.
Source: Press release from LGCT – Longines Global Champions Tour
Photos: © LGCT / Stefano Grasso