Photo: Stephano Grasso/ LGCT
Ireland’s Shane Breen has achieved the biggest win of his career in the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix du Prince de Monaco.
Shane finished just 0.16sec ahead of Italy’s Alberto Zorzi – who won the Monaco leg in 2017 – with fellow Irishman Denis Lynch in third.
“This is my biggest career win and my first time winning at the LGCT Grand Prix,” said Shane. “Ipswich is quite a green horse at this level and has had a few fences down this season. We’ve been knocking on the door, but he jumped fantastically.”
It was a star-studded event and not just because of the rider start list. The audience included Prince Albert II of Monaco, royal families from around the world and billionaire Bill Gates, who was cheering on his daughter’s trainer Harrie Smolders.
World number one Harrie was one of six riders to make it into the jump-off, however the first round saw many of the world’s best go out, including the top three LGCT ranked riders. Both Scott Brash (Hello Mr President) and Ben Maher (Winning Good) had one down, while ranking leader Edwina Tops-Alexander (California) finished on an uncharacteristic eight faults.
First to tackle the tough jump-off course was Belgium’s Jerome Guery riding Celvin, but an early four faults left the door wide open for the last five. Harrie and Cas also had one down, but were two seconds faster than Jerome’s time.
Pius Schwizer and Chidame Z had two down, which meant a clear would win Denis Lynch a podium place. Denis achieved just that, coming home with a steady clear in 40.43sec with RMF Bella Baloubet to take the lead.
His lead didn’t last for long, however, as defending champion Alberto Zorzi also jumped clear with Fair Light van T Heike and managed to knock nearly five seconds off Denis’ time, breaking the beam in 35.72sec.
Shane and Ipswich van de Wolfsakker were the final combination to jump. The pair looked slower at the off, but managed to pick up the pace and flew through the finish gates, to stop the clock on 35.56sec.
“When I turned for number one, I didn’t have a flier at it, then I went nine strides to the second jump and I had to remind myself not to panic,” said Shane. “I got the double jumped and moved on a bit then and fortunately when addressing the last I saw a good stride and took it.”
Shane’s win means he is the latest addition to the GC Playoffs in the Longines Global Champions Tour Super Grand Prix, which will take place in Prague this December.
“I’m elated – it’s an elite group of riders, so I hope I can take Ipswich there again and do well,” Shane added.