Via R&B Presse
The German Philipp Weishaupt took top honours on the second day of the Longines Masters of Hong Kong, snatching victory by just 0.10 seconds on Chacon in the prestigious Longines Speed Challenge. It was a day on which a broad range of equestrian skills were showcased: pure pace in the Longines Speed Challenge, the World Speed Championship of showjumping; formidable jumping ability in the Maserati Masters Power; and both style and performance in The Hong Kong Jockey Club Junior Challenge.
Weishaupt pipped the French Patrice Delaveau on Vestale de Mazure Hdc to the Longines Speed Challenge title with a time of 63.47 seconds, ahead of third-placed Kevin Staut, from France, who finished second in the equivalent competition in Paris on the same horse, Ayade de Septon et HDC. Run on identical courses over 1.45m obstacles in Paris, Hong Kong and New York, the Longines Speed Challenge is the only speed competition of its kind in the world. 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.
The day began with the Maserati Masters Power, a whole new competition for the Asian leg of the Longines Masters Series. The British legendMichael Whitaker scored an impressive victory in the six bars class from among a field of nine riders on veteran stallion Valentin R. The Dutch MarcHoutzager, riding Sterrehof's Edinus, took the second place, while there was a tremendous result for China, with Meng Quanwei finishing third on Clintorado. This class was a knock-out contest which isn't timed, it requires riders to make their way through a course of six obstacles (2 + 4) rising from 1.20m to 1.55m, the last of which, as long as no rider knocks the bar off, is continually raised. Featuring several horses who were new to such events, it took four rounds to decide the Maserati Masters Power, with the bar eventually raised to 1.90m in the final round. Whitaker's was the only faultless performance; 16-year-old grey Valentin R didn't even brush a single fence in four rounds. "He really jumped it well today; he was really up for it," said Michael Whitaker. "He had only done one competition like this before, but it felt like he left some height out there - he could have gone again."
Hong Kong's equestrian stars of the future also got a chance to shine on Day 2 of the Longines Masters of Hong Kong, with The Hong Kong Jockey Club Junior Challenge. Leung Oi Man ran out winner of the class on Bamako M'Aurea, ahead of Nathaniel Chan riding Lay Your Love On Z in second, and Michelle Li on Fiona D'Ecaussinnes in third.
And so the Longines Masters of Hong Kong heads into its climactic final day. After another opportunity for young local riders to show what they're made of in The Hong Kong Jockey Club Junior Trophy, there's another highly sought-after Masters One class, the Masters One DBS, followed by the undoubted highlight of the weekend's competitions, the Longines Grand Prix of Hong Kong.