World number one showjumper Scott Brash’s reign as king of the Longines Global Champions Tour is over.
The 29-year-old Scotsman’s bid for a hat-trick of overall GCT titles ended in Doha, when an eighth-placed finish in the series’ final grand prix left him 11 points behind newly-crowned champion Luciana Diniz.
Diniz, riding Fit For Fun, won the Doha grand prix and the overall crown, securing a bumper pay-day of £305,000, while Brash collected £135,000 for second, just in front of Sweden’s Rolf-Goran Bengtsson.
Brash and the brilliant Hello Sanctos, the horse on which he memorably completed the Rolex Grand Slam in September, had a fence down in each round, and Portugal’s Diniz seized her opportunity brilliantly.
“I had a silly fence in the first round, coming out of the double,” Brash said. “Okay, this is showjumping, so we know it can happen. So I started the second round thinking that I had to be the fastest of the four-faulters to have any chance, so I went as fast as I could and it’s the reason I had a fence down. But Sanctos has been wonderful all year.
“I must say that I think Luciana really deserves it. She has been so consistent the whole year, as has Rolf. I think Fit For Fun jumped unbelievably — it was actually an absolute joy to watch. They jumped fantastic, as did Rolf, so they really deserved it. In the last three legs of the Longines Global Champions Tour they just ran away it, so it’s all credit to both of them.”
Germany’s Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum set a scorching jump-off time of 36.55 seconds in Doha, but last-to-go Diniz kept her nerve, crossing the line in 36.10 seconds to claim a scintillating double triumph.
“I was in a winning mood, and riding Fit For Fun makes my life easier,” Diniz said. “These two boys (Brash and Bengtsson) were gentlemen and let the lady be first, so I am very happy with that!
“Scott and Rolf are so good, and if I thought about focusing on them and what they were going to do, I would be lost. So I just said I would focus on myself and what my horse can do. My strategy was to focus on me and the horse.”
Reflecting on the series, Longines Global Champions Tour founder and president Jan Tops said: “Ten years ago, we started with six events. This year, we’ve done 15 events, with two new events in Miami and Rome. We have very much established our events this year.
“The quality is much higher. If you see what we have achieved in the last 10 years, I think it is amazing. We are not tennis, golf or Formula 1 just yet, but the gap is not what it used to be. We have had constant development for this year, and our sport has a big future.
“These three riders have been really dominating the sport throughout the whole year. Luciana’s horse was on great form to win, Rolf has been every time so consistent — everybody wanted him to win, he has been second twice — and also Scott, he has won twice. I think they have all, between them, been by far the best of all the riders.”
Images: Luciana Diniz (top) and Scott Brash (bottom), both by Stefano Grasso/LGCT, courtesy of the Longines Global Champions Tour