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Published: Thursday, November 22nd 2012

Course Designer Uliano Vezzani gets set for the Grand Prix

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You are designing the final championship GCT Grand Prix course in Abu Dhabi - as you did for 2011 - how do you make your final decision on the height and technical difficulty of the course?
To take the last decisions for the Grand Prix course I need to see the riders/horses in the preceding days.

When designing a world class Grand Prix course, what are your priorities and what is the formula for success course designing at the top level?
My first priority is the welfare of the horse. To make a successful course, I think the course has to be well thought technically. The difficulties have to be fairly distributed on the whole course so that all the riders have to be concentrated from the beginning to the end creating suspense on each jump. In a jump-off what is more interesting for the audience is the speed and the quick turns, therefore I usually give options to the riders so that each rider can choose what is the best way for them and their horse to face the course. This captivates the public because the result is open until the very last participant.

When you are watching the riders and horses test out your course in the first round of a Grand Prix, what are your feelings and thoughts?
During the first round of a Grand Prix I follow with attention and interest the riders and horses to evaluate my work, but also to have input to define the details of the second round.

GCT outdoor arenas vary in size from the big show grounds in Hamburg and Chantilly to the small arenas in Cannes and Monte-Carlo, how do you adapt for this?
The design of the course always has to be adapted to the size of the arenas, leaving always a fluidity in the action for the horse/rider and adapting the technical difficulties.

 Uliano Vezzani
(Photo credit: Sportfot/GCT) 

What have been your highlights in designing the Global Champions Tour Grand Prix courses during 2012?
All the GCT Grand Prix have their own appeal, giving me different emotions each time. I like all the GCT courses that I have done.

Have you introduced any new techniques in your course designing for Global Champions Tour this year?
It is always an evolution in sport jumping, it is necessary to follow that evolution to keep up with the high quality of the GCT shows. I am in continuous evolution.

Is there one particular GCT course this year that you would describe as the most difficult?
All the GCT courses have their own difficulty, as to where and when in the season they are built. The variety of the venues is one of the characteristics of the GCT, together with the presence of the best riders of the of the world.

You started out as a rider, do you still ride?
Unfortunately I do not ride anymore….20 kg ago I used to ride!!!

As we approach the end of the GCT 2012 season, what is your opinion of how the standards of riders and horses have changed?
The importance of the GCT means that every horse/rider is always at a very high standard. Each GCT show offers the extraordinary possibility to the riders to always compete at the top level, giving them the opportunity to improve their standards.


Champions limber up as Johannes Ehning takes first win

The global stars of show jumping began the countdown to the final Grand Prix of the 2012 season as German rider Johannes Ehning seized the first win in Abu Dhabi.

Ehining rode a fast clear on Cayenne finishing in 26.01 over the 12-fence course - only a fraction of a second ahead of Denis Lynch on Night Train who finished in 26.07.

The floodlit Al Forsan arena was the stage for the first outing of the weekend for Rolf-Göran Bengtsson and Edwina Tops-Alexander, the only two riders left in contention for the 2012 championship crown.

With the atmosphere building towards Saturday’s GCT Gucci Grand Prix, both riders used the opening class to limber up on their star horses. Rolf picked up a single time fault on Casall La Silla and Edwina ended up with one time fault and a pole down on Cevo Itot du Chateau. 

Christian Ahlmann and Marco Kutscher, both German riders in the GCT top 10 ranking, retired.

Harrie Smolders and Roger-Yves Bost delivered speedy clear rounds. Harrie Smolders, Pius Schwizer, Maikel van der Vleuten, Nick Skelton and Michael Whitaker looked strong on their first outings of the weekend.

Here are some of the images from the first class of GCT Abu Dhabi:

 GCT Abu Dhabi

GCT Abu Dhabi

GCT Abu Dhabi
(Photo credits: Sportfot/GCT)

 


Championship series revs up as Luciana and Bluebuster triumph

Portugal’s Luciana Diniz left the rest of the field in her wake as she sailed to victory in the second 5* class in Abu Dhabi.

Riding her chestnut gelding Bluebuster, Luciana notched up a stylish first place on the 11-year-old. Underlining the speed of her win, she was second to go but held on to the lead throughout the rest of the class.

Luciana and Bluebuster made the 1m50 course look effortless as she cleared the Gucci oxer and the triple before finishing in 61.54.

Kevin Staut, of France, on Cheyenne was second in 63.57 and was lucky not to have a rail down at the triple towards the end of the course.

Dutch rider Marc Houtzager was third on the 11-year-old chestnut gelding Sterrehof’s Uppity coming home in 63.85. Johannes Ehning on Salvador and British rider William Funnell on Billy Congo were fourth and fifth in 63.88 and 64.11.

Luciana Diniz
(Photo credit: Sportfot/GCT)

The atmosphere in the floodlit Al Forsan arena is mounting as the final Grand Prix of 2012 approaches. Leading home rider, Sheikh Shakboot bin Nahyan Al Nahyan, of the United Arab Emirates, who rode clear on his bay gelding Valentino Balia, has spoken of the privilege of hosting the climax of the GCT series in Abu Dhabi.

VIP guests watched the world class jumping action from the stylish lodges surrounding the arena and special pop-up retail shops by luxury brands Gucci and Jaeger-LeCoultre have proved a hit with visitors to the show.

The course for the second 5* class of the day caught out several top riders. Several clocked up 4 faults at the Jaeger-LeCoultre third fence and the first part of the triple running up to the finish line.

As the clock ticks towards Saturday’s Grand Prix final of the 2012 series, the top riders in the world will be in action again tomorrow.

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