A technical first round looked deceivingly easy when the first rider in the order of go, Rik Hemeryck (BEL) rode a double clear round over the 1.60-meter track with 13 obstacles, including a triple combination and two double combinations. But rails quickly began to fall, and only seven riders, out of a starting field of 36, qualified for the final round that decided the champion.
Time also played a role in the course designed by internationally acclaimed Luc Musette (BEL). Two riders, Piergiorgio Bucci (ITA) and McLain Ward (USA), left all the rails up but just a single time fault each kept them from riding a second time today.
Kent Farrington (USA), Steve Guerdat (SUI), Sheikh Ali Bin Khalid Al Thani (QAT), and Patrice Delaveau (FRA) joined Kutscher, Brash, and Hemeryck to vie for top honors over a looping jump off that required competitors to ride tight, inside turns to have a chance of winning.
Brash set a fast, clear pace, but he didn’t think that his lead would hold. Farrington nearly did overtake Brash’s time, but it wasn’t until the last to go in the final round that dethroned the number one ranked rider in the world from winning the show’s headlining grand prix.
“I’m absolutely delighted with the horse,” Brash said, before hurrying off to the airport to fly to China. “I was just annoyed at myself that I didn’t do a smoother round. Marco’s horse was so smooth and it was a joy to watch really if you weren’t sitting where I was. All credit to Marco he’s done a great round.”
“I thought it was a great competition,” Farrington said. “It was a great finish, with some of the best riders in the world, so it’s really top sport and I think it’s really exciting that they brought that level of competition to our country. Marco had an amazing round at the end. I wish next time he goes before me and Scott and then we can watch him go.”
“My advantage was that I was last to go in the jump off, and I saw Scott and Kent,” Kutscher said. “I knew there was a little door open. I almost thought to the last fence I added one, and there was one too many, and I could have done one less and it was not quick enough, but I was lucky when I watched the screen and it was still fast.
“I had a very good start to the jump off, the second part was maybe a little bit slower but anyway I’m super pleased with my horse because for the rest of the weekend nobody realized that I was here. So I took my chance and I’m very pleased, and very happy to go home tonight.
“It was the beginning of the jump off, where I made the time in the end to the last where there was one less, I didn’t take that opportunity, but anyway I was quick enough and I’m super pleased and happy.
“It’s the second time now (that I’ve competed at this show). Last year I was here, and I think this year, the crowd, the spectators, were even more than last year; the atmosphere is great and it’s fun to ride here. I would like to come back next year to see all you guys.”
The Longines Masters series continues from Los Angeles to Paris in December before finishing the season in Hong Kong in February 2016.