Epaillard Collects LGCT Doha GP Prize

Credit : LGCT

Saturday 02 March - 21h49 | Edited Press Release

Epaillard Collects LGCT Doha GP Prize

Julien Epaillard and Usual Suspect D’Auge triumphed in the first Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of 2019 with a masterful galloping victory in Doha. The reigning LGCT champion, Ben Maher, was second on his leading ride Explosion W.

The French star was first into the five-strong jump off and punched the air in delight when he realised last man in Ben Maher and Explosion W had narrowly failed to beat him. Epaillard became the first qualifier for the prestigious LGCT Super Grand Prix at the GC Prague Playoffs later this year.
Thrilled by his victory Epaillard said: “It is crazy for me today. I had planned to ride a different horse. But I changed my plan I was so surprised to be clear in the first round. And I was first in the jump off. I was not thinking to win the GP but it was fantastic.”

The first round saw multiple top combinations struggling to master the challenges of the substantial track across of 500m track with 13 obstacles and 16 jumping efforts. It was top sporting entertainment for the Qatari and international spectators in the grandstands and the bustling cafes alongside the arena.
With 35 combinations fired up for action it was soon clear one of the trickiest lines in the course was the oxer to the double combination and the stars of the sport fell victim one after the other. Top talent including Daniel Deusser, Pius Schwizer, Scott Brash, Bertram Allen and Philipp Weishaupt were among a big bunch of disappointed competitors on 8 and 12 faults.

Epaillard and Usual Suspect D’Auge set the pace and took a tight angle to the GC gate and sailed over the Longines final fence to cross the finish line in 40.11.
Alberto Zorzi and Contanga had an unexpected mistake at the vertical and ended up in fourth place. Frank Schuttert and Chianti’s Champion had four faults at the GC Gate after coming in too tight.
With two champion riders left to go the tension mounted as Nicola Philippaerts and H&M Chilli Willi were quick off the mark and executed a polished clear round but too slow in 43.43.
As Ben Maher and Explosion W came into the arena there was high expectation that the stunning combination, dominant for most of the 2018 season, would triumph.
It was hearts in mouths as Explosion W efficiently covered the ground and the fences ensuring perfect strides all the way. But as he cleared the final fence the clocked stopped at 40.55 and Ben’s grimace said it all as he finished in second place.

What they said

Julian Epaillard, LGCT Grand Prix winner: "I feel very happy - I have had three second placings this weekend, and when Ben started I thought one more time I would be second! My horse doesn’t look fast but he is.I was number one to go so I tried my best and the horse was amazing. My plan was to ride a different horse, but in the end it worked out perfectly today."

Ben Maher, 2nd place: "I am very happy - Explosion has been incredible all weekend, he hasn’t jumped since Prague. I just misjudged it today and we just were not good enough to beat Julian, but that’s sports and I am just excited for the season. I didn’t take too much of a risk, I would have taken second and I’m happy to be on the podium."

Jan Tops, Co-Founder GCL: “It is a real art to get this result, our course builder [Uliano Vezzani] knows the facility and the riders. It was the right number today, Julian was knocking on the door all week - he always gives his maximum, and I’m very pleased he will have the first ticket for the LGCT Super Grand Prix. Ben was so close - last year he won four LGCT Grand Prix so I think he will be there as well."

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