German showjumper Daniel Deusser added to an unforgettable year when winning the Longines Global Champions Tour (LGCT) Prague Super Grand Prix at the Global Champions Playoffs in the Czech Republic, on Saturday night (19 November).
Riding the superstar 14-year-old stallion Scuderia 1918 Tobago Z, Daniel jumped the fastest of only two double clears from the 13 starters to take home the lion’s share of €1.25m in prize money in spectacular style in front of over 8,000 spectators in the vast Prague O2 Arena.
“I’m speechless about how my horse performed tonight – I think he underestimated a bit the height of the fences but he really tried his heart out,” said Daniel, the only rider to have qualified for every Super Grand Prix in the four years since its inception.
The German rider’s victory in Prague comes on the back of a phenomenal winning streak over the past year – he won the CP International presented by Rolex in Spruce Meadows in September and qualified for this event in Prague by winning the Cannes and New York legs of the LGCT, the Rolex Grand Prix at the Dutch Masters as well as some big wins in Florida at the start of the year.
The 14-year-old stallion took some time out earlier in the year but has returned better than ever.
“The performance from my horse was unbelievable,” said the Stephex Stables-based Daniel, whose groom Sean Lynch was awarded in the prize giving along with the other podium-winning grooms.
“He had a break and came back very strong. I know he is very handy in these small indoor arenas and he jumped here three years ago in the Super Grand Prix and the form he’s had in the past few weeks was why I chose to bring him here,” explained Daniel, currently ranked 12th in the world.
“I wasn’t expecting to win but I knew he had a chance. After the first round we said this is really big and maybe not jumpable but then we saw seven of the 13 riders jump without a fault, some just with time faults. But that shows how good the class was and how good the competitors were. At the end it was fantastic sport with two double clears and of course I’m delighted I was the fastest one.
“This is one of my best wins ever.”
Prague Super Grand Prix podium
Taking second in the Super Grand Prix with the only other double clear in this two-round competition was another German rider, 32-year-old Katrin Eckermann riding the very smart nine-year-old mare Cala Mandia, by Capistrano 2.
“My horse was unbelievable, he made it so easy for me,” said Katrin, who finished ahead of a rueful McLain Ward of USA in third.
McLain also jumped a double clear on the outstanding 16-year-old mare HH Azur, but added a crucial time-fault in round one, which he described as a “sloppy mistake”, underlining just how small the margins are in the sport these days.
“I just misjudged it slightly – I thought I was quick enough – but my horse is incredible,” reflected McLain. “I can’t be grateful enough for her.”
With late withdrawals from Ludger Beerbaum, who wished to save his great mare Mila for the following day’s GCL team Super Cup Final and Malin Baryard-Johnsson, whose mare H&M Indiana picked up an injury in the field in the run-up to the season finale, we were down to 13 contenders, all of whom had qualified at one of the 15 grands prix during the 2022 season of the LGCT.
Five of the 13 finished faultless in round one and Belgium’s Pieter Devos with his London LGCT winner, the barefoot and bootless Mom’s Toupie De La Roque, had come into round two in pole position. However a heartbreaking four faults at the curved plank in the second round dropped them to fourth, with Harrie Smolders also dropping to fifth after a four-fault round on Monaco NOP.
There were no British qualifiers for the 2022 running of the Prague Super Grand Prix, but Mikey Pender was best of the two Irish contenders, finishing seventh with one fence down in each round riding HHS Calais.
You can read the full report including insight and analysis from the Global Champions Playoffs in next week’s issue of Horse & Hound, in the shops 24 November.
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