Need for Speed

10 February 2018 - EEM World

Day 2 of the Longines Masters of Hong Kong came to a white-knuckle conclusion with the fastest class in the world, the Longines Speed Challenge. Run on identical courses over 1.45m obstacles in Paris, Hong Kong and New York, it is the only speed competition of its kind in the world, and is widely acknowledged as the World Speed Championship of showjumping. Philipp Weishaupt of Germany rode to victory on Chacon in a time of 63.47 seconds, pipping Patrice Delaveau of France on Vestale de Mazure Hdc by just 0.10 seconds. Third spot was taken with a time of 66.05 seconds by Kevin Staut of France, who finished second in Paris on the same horse, Ayade de Septon et HDC.

Weishaupt said he was helped by Delaveau, who rode before him, laying down a marker with his super-fast round. “I was trying so hard out there. I was lucky Patrice went first; it showed me how I had to perform to beat him. If he hadn’t gone first, I don’t think I’d have won. It was also a great course. I got everything I wanted; it’s a really great feeling to win this class.”

This one-of-a-kind competition is presented by Title Partner and Official Timekeeper Longines, a perfect fit with the class as the world-leading expert in timekeeping. Unlike many other speed classes, faults added just two seconds instead of four, making the riders even more uncompromising in their pursuit of pace. None of them, though, managed to beat the time of 60.99 seconds set at the Longines Masters of Paris by Julien Épaillard on Cristallo A LM – which incredibly included one two-second fault – and so that remains the time to beat at the Longines Masters Series’ grand finale in New York on April 26-29, 2018.

A noteworthy inclusion in the Longines Speed Challenge in Hong Kong, and for several other classes over the weekend, was eighth-placed Billy Raymont of Australia, riding Oaks Redwood. The 2018 edition of the Longines Masters of Hong Kong is the first to include an Australian team, also featuring Jamie Kermond, as equestrian sport continues to grow in popularity and expand around the globe, with new teams also visiting from mainland China and Chinese Taipei.Raymont, whose previous overseas rides had mainly been limited to New Zealand, said his step into the big time at the Longines Masters of Hong Kong had been a hugely rewarding experience.

“It’s my first big trip away, and I’m straight into a 5* event. It’s been amazing – I’ve been blown away. I love an indoor event such as this one because you squeeze a lot of atmosphere into, and we only have two or three of them in Australia.”

Christophe Ameeuw, Founder & CEO of EEM and the Longines Masters Series Paris – Hong Kong – New York, added: “It is fantastic to see that riders from Australia are able to compete at the Longines Masters of Hong Kong alongside the best riders in the world. On the occasion of the first edition of the Asia Horse Week, the participation of riders from China, Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei and Australia shows how the sport is developing in this region and globally.”

The Longines Speed Challenge brings the action to a close on Day 2 of the Longines Masters of Hong Kong, with a hotly anticipated final day to come tomorrow. After another showing for the showjumping stars of the future in The Hong Kong Jockey Club Junior Trophy, there’s the Table A Masters One DBS, and then the one we’ve all been waiting for, as the weekend reaches a climax with Grand Slam competition the Longines Grand Prix of Hong Kong.