Articles: Press Release
Rodrigo Romps Home in Cannes......Louise Parkes reports from France for PhelpsSports.com
Kenneth Kraus of Phelps Media Group, Inc.
at (561) 753-3389 or at email@example.com
Cannes, FR – June 8, 2006 - In Europe they are sometimes described as "boutique shows" and you can see why.... so neat, and so sophisticated.....imagine a cross between a beach party - a particularly elegant one - a fashion extravaganza and a top-class horse event. A marina packed with hundreds of private yachts and cruisers of all sizes is only a short stroll away and the arena, which is located in a small soccer stadium called the Stade Hesperides in the Palm Beach area, is surrounded by extremely up-market hospitality marquees decorated with that unique flair that could only be French. Welcome to Cannes Jumping International, and the second leg of the Global Champions Tour......
The brainchild of Dutch rider Jan Tops, the GCT takes in six major events at six unique locations and offers a total prize fund of €2.5million with an extra bonus of €600,000 going to the top eight on the leaderboard at the end of the series. It kicked off in Palm Beach, Florida in March where Noman Dello Joio and Glasgow took the main honours ahead of Bulgaria's Samantha McIntosh and Loxley, and after Cannes this weekend the series moves on to Monaco later this month, to Estoril in Portugal in July, to Valkenswaard in Holland in August and finally to Lanaken in Belgium in September.
With World Ranking points available in all six competitions at each fixture there is an extra incentive for the world's best riders to take part and the start-list includes Britain's Nick Skelton, still riding high after his double of Grand Prix victories in Rome and Lucerne over the last two weeks, Austria's Thomas Fruhmann who rode a storm through the 2005/2006 FEI World Cup series last winter, Sweden's Rolf-Goran Bengtsson, Brazilian ace Rodrigo Pessoa and World No. 2 from Ireland, Jessica Kuerten, along with many French stars. Schuyler Riley, Kim Prince, Saint-Tropez Grand Prix champion Michael Morrissey, Candice King, Georgina Bloomberg and Laura Kraut all lined out for the USA in tonight's opening speed class which offered a prize-fund of €20,000 but the big one happens on Saturday night when there is €150,000 up for grabs in the Kia Grand Prix.
Tonight's first winner was Belgium's Ludo Philippaerts who set the target time at 56.01 seconds with his lovely little black horse Timber VH Kapelhof when 16th of the 39 starters in the Prix du Conseil General des Alpes Maritimes 1.40m speed. Galloping from flag-fall Philippaerts never took a pull and despite their best efforts the rest could not catch or match him, although Brazil's Alvaro Miranda and Peanuts were faster when breaking the beam 55.93 but leaving one on the floor. The interesting moments in this one included what looked like an extremely competitive challenge from Britain's Nick Skelton when fifth into the ring which turned into a disappointment when As Good as It Gets drifted wildly as the British rider asked him to open up coming to the last, resulting in a run-out. Rodrigo Pessoa looked set to pile on the pressure with a scorching round but the poles at the vertical fence nine fell like skittles when Cantate Z lowered his landing gear too early on the left-hand t
urn while Austria's Thomas Fruhmann lived up to his reputation as one of the tough guys when setting the class alight with a thrilling run from Limited Edition - good enough in the end for sixth place.
Philippaerts finished top of the line followed by former Belgian team-member Jean-Claude Vangeenberghe who rode Osta Rugs Coronation into runner-up spot for his new nation, The Ukraine. Roger-Yves Bost was third for France with Jalis de Riverland, Holland's Harrie Smolders was fourth with Indiana and Finland's Mikael Forsten was fifth ahead of Fruhmann but one of the nicest performances of the competition came from 27 year old French girl Marie Pellegrin, a successful competitor at Young Rider level who looks likely to also succeed in the senior ranks and who steered Unique Van de Donkhoeve home to slot into seventh in considerable style. Sweden's Rolf-Goran Bengtsson did particularly well to claim eighth spot with Quanta Costa considering that he was sporting a badly-blackened eye after one of his horses threw his head back and hit him in the face yesterday. Best of the American crew was Laura Kraut who steered Joyous into ninth spot without attempting to apply too much pressure.
Pessoa was in top gear for the first day finale, the Prix Jaeger Lecoultre 1.50m Jump Off in which 12 went through to the jump-off and Baloubet du Rouet led them all a merry dance. Third against the clock the USA's Candice King produced a lovely rhythmic clear from Coco Cabana in 46.81 seconds but, three horses later, Pessoa and his sensational stallion did what they do best and left the rest with an impossible job as they tried to measure up to his foot-perfect performance in 37.10. Gregory Wathelet, another former Belgian now flying the Ukrainian flag, finished second with Leroy Brown when almost two seconds slower and, last into the ring, the electrifying Frenchman Jean-Marc Nicolas brought JPC Modesto Equifoam home to slot into third and King had to settle for eighth, just behind Samantha McIntosh whose gelding Loxley was jumping big and clean.
Amateur classes take place each day prior to the international competitions and the French have had it all their own way so far with Amelie Lompont winning the opening speed class and Ceclie Bensadoun following suit later in the day. Bensadoun, who lives just 15 minutes drive outside of Cannes, is a self-taught show jumper who won the Ladies Championship in Fontainbleau in 2004 and she has competed at both 1-Star and 2-Star level and looked the thorough professional when scooping the €1,500.00 top prize this afternoon with Iris des Grez when last into the ring.