Thirteen of the world’s best show jumpers, including world champion and FEI Longines World No. 1-ranked Henrik von Eckermann of Sweden, German Olympians Daniel Deusser and Katrin Eckermann, and U.S. Olympian McLain Ward, went head-to-head in front of a packed house in Prague’s O2 Arena on Friday, Nov. 19, for the $1.28 million Longines Global Champions Tour Super Grand Prix.
The season finale event included 13 riders who were winners of each LGCT grand prix during the 2022 season, or runners-up if the winner had already qualified for the event. The original field of 15 was narrowed by two non-starters in Malin Baryard-Johnsson, who withdrew due to a small injury to her H&M Indiana, and Ludger Beerbaum, who chose to save his multi grand prix-winning mount Mila for Sunday’s team event, the Global Champions League Super Cup Final.
In the first of the 1.65-meter, two-round competition, five riders went clear—including Deusser and Eckermann—and two jumped clear but notched 1 time penalty, including Ward, who was riding his longtime partner HH Azur in her first indoor show in more than three years.
All 13 riders advanced to the second round and jumped in reverse order of standing. Ward, the only U.S. rider in the field, put pressure on the top five clear riders yet to go when he and HH Azur produced a clear second round in a careful time of 71.76 seconds.
“Out of respect for the level that was going to be at this competition, I chose to bring the best horses I have, and HH Azur is really something now later in her career,” Ward said. “I am really blessed that she is still competing at this level, and she is a spectacular partner for me.”
Eckermann, the first of the five riders who went clean in Round 1, followed Ward and jumped faultlessly on Cala Mandia in 66.47 seconds to put in the night’s first double clear performance and vault into the lead. When the next two riders, Christian Ahlmann and Harrie Smolders, accumulated rails, Eckermann was guaranteed a podium spot.
Deusser jumped next on his pocket rocket Scuderia 1918 Tobago Z, a 14-year-old Zangersheide stallion owned by the rider, Scuderia 1918 Capital SRL and Stephex Stables. A blistering clear in a time of 65.22 seconds put him firmly in the lead with only Belgium’s Pieter Devos aboard Mom’s Toupie De La Roque left to go. In a time (64.15) that would have firmly secured him the win, Devos fell short with a single rail at the ultra-delicate plank in front of the packed VIP viewing platform, resulting in Deusser being crowned Champion of the Longines Global Champions Tour Super Grand Prix at the 2022 Prague Playoffs.
Watch Deusser’s winning second round aboard Scuderia 1918 Tobago Z:
See complete results here.