This imposing venue set in the heart of the colourful and vibrant city of Shanghai’s Pudong district is hosting three days of top class jumping and anticipation mounted as the curtain raised on a day of non-stop action.
Enthusiastic Chinese fans dressed in their beautiful outfits and hats, reminiscent of Royal Ascot, were captivated by top sport featuring global equestrian superstars, as the country commits to new investment and support to grow equestrian sport.
The formidable teams lined up for the fourth leg of the Championship all with their eye on the GCL Super Cup at the GC Prague Playoffs in November and five teams scorched home with a double clear today. But the winning performance came from last-drawn Monaco Aces. The naturally fast duo of Julien Epaillard and Marlon Modolo Zanotelli came home with breathtaking pace to top the leader board after round one.
“I was super happy for today — It’s only half of the job done, but a good day for the team,” said Frenchman Julien Epaillard, who piloted Virtuose Champeix to the team’s opening clear.
His team-mate Marlon Modolo Zanotelli added of his mount VDL Edgar M: “He’s a fantastic horse and just gets better and better — I’m very lucky to have him.”
Also part of the Monaco Aces squad and watching on from the sidelines today was Jerome Guery, who said: “They are both super good riders so I just told them if they could do the same again tomorrow, it would be perfect!”
According to Julien, no tactical team plans had been made ahead of Sunday’s decider.“I think we’ll stick with the same horses though,” he said.
Of the four other teams completing on a zero score, Valkenswaard United sit poised just behind the leaders, with Prague Lions, Hamburg Giants and Paris Panthers hot on their heels with everything to play for in tomorrow’s decider. Even sixth-placed St Tropez Pirates remain firmly in the mix on a team score of four.
Uliano Vezzani designed a technical course of 15 jumping efforts, including three sets of double combinations, around this spacious arena, providing an enticing, up-tempo challenge for this elite field of squad riders. Despite setting what looked to be a relatively tight time allowed, he’d provided plenty of options for snaking inside turns, so the ticking clock played little part but rails fell thick and fast around the track, producing a real mixed bag of scores.
The scores carry through to Sunday’s final round and determine the starting order for what is set to be a thrilling decider.