“The highlight of an extraordinary weekend,” was how Christophe Ameeuw described this fabulous Grand Prix. “When you consider the term “show jumping”, the “show” part is essential to the sport,” he underlined. This afternoon all the ingredients were brought together once again to ensure an amazing performance.
Firstly, the line-up, since today’s most renowned champions were competing. The winner was none other than Grégory Wathelet, the current European individual silver medalist, who has managed to make a brilliant return to the highest level of competition just a few months after Conrad du Hus was sold. “We are all chasing after victories like this,” said the rider visibly moved. “I love going fast. Eldorado van het Vijverhof has been great for several weeks, today he was perfect and luck was on my side! ”
Then there was the scenario, with a tough course resulting in some exciting unexpected developments during the first round and a jump-off with eight riders - including three Belgians! After France’s year in 2015, it was the turn of Belgium, the homeland of EEM, the founding company and organizers of the event, to be honored – keeping the spectators on the edge of their seats right until the very end.
Lastly there was the audience, the renowned, warm, sporting, knowledgeable Parisian spectators, who were unanimously praised by the riders. “They supported all the French and foreign riders, which is exceptional and really motivating,” said Grégory Wathelet. “This amazing audience and this incredible atmosphere spur us on to surpass ourselves,” confirmed Daniel Desseur, who was third in the class behind Bertram Allen. “The Parisian audience is what makes it all so magical!” added Christophe Ameeuw. “It is a unique part of the event. The spectators deserve to be on the podium.”
“The Grand Slam is the best communication tool in this sport,” underlined the creator of the intercontinental series once again. Indeed the incredible bonus promised to the winner of three consecutive Longines Masters created a buzz all weekend long. Could Daniel Deusser, winner of the Longines Grand Prix of Los Angeles, continue to be successful? The jump-off decided otherwise: the new hopeful is Grégory Wathelet. If he succeeds in winning in Hong Kong on February 12 2017 and in Los Angeles at the beginning of September 2017, he will win the Grand Slam Bonus of €1 000 000 for three consecutive victories over two seasons. As for the €2 250 000 Grand Slam Super Bonus, it rewards three consecutive victories in the same season (Los Angeles - Paris - then Hong Kong), which means that the slates are wiped clean in Los Angeles.
To get back to Paris, throughout the four days of thrilling competition the Invitational has emerged as a breeding ground for champions, (especially where female riders are concerned). In fact, virtually all the classes have been won by very young female riders, notably the SFAM Société Française d’Assurance Grand Prix this morning, where the winner was only 14 years old.
Several years ago, Lorenzo de Luca, a revelation of sporting prowess and showmanship at the 2016 Masters, came up through the Prestige classes.
As Guillaume Foutrier, winner of the Land Rover Grand Prix, pointed out, these very same Prestige classes are also ideal for perfecting the training of young horses destined for a 5* future.
So we look forward to seeing all these budding champions in the upcoming editions of the Longines Masters of Paris, Hong Kong and Los Angeles.