KICKING off the last weekend of the month-long international showjumping tournament, Friday's round of top-level competitions saw a sudden surge of German and Dutch riders in the ribbons whilst the Brits failed to dominate the limelight for the first time and Ukraine’s Cassio Rivetti netted yet another Diamond 3 win.
The professional classes – the Diamond series – saw some of the toughest stakes yet, with even many of those going clear failing to scoop up any prizes.
With 30 flawless rounds – although four of those came away with one time fault each – and only the first 18 in the money, standards were high on Friday and Rivetti and his grey gelding Lord If de Chalusse earned every cent of their 5,750-euro win.
Belgium's Constant van Paesschen and Rioso van de Kapel were in the four-figure prizes for the first time in a Diamond 3 event, taking second place ahead of Holland's Michael Greeve – winner of the Diamond 2 on grey mare Chellana BZ – on Exclusive and Ireland's Shane Breen on Cos I Can.
The Diamond 2 was an accumulator round, where riders chose 10 fences of varying difficulty, each of which carried a different number of points – this meant knock-downs and refusals did not count, merely costing the rider the points for a given fence or slowing them down, respectively.
British teen Chloe Aston was pipped at the post by Greeve on Amigo T, equalling his 65-point score in time just 0.13 seconds slower than the winner – and only 0.15 of a second behind France's Harold Boisset and Woodstock, who equalled her on points.
The coveted 65-point score was still not enough to get into the money, with prizes given to 25th place and 32 achieving the highest-possible number.
Finally, the Diamond 1 – where the fences are a 'mere' 4'6” (1.35 metres) was won by Ireland's Conor Drain on his bay mare, Fine Filly, following a stiff class with 101 entrants which included Her Royal Highness Princess Lama Bint Turki Al-Saud on her mare Venus, although 22 faults put her out of the running.
The Premium 1, 2 and 3 classes – for international-level amateur showjumpers – were won by the UK's Martin Lucas, Germany's Helen Stormanns and 19-year-old British rider Pippa Allen, respectively.
Saturday's Diamond 3 once again saw a British victory with Peter Charles on Murka's Odie de Frève after a clear round in just 61.38 seconds, and a well-deserved first place in the Premium 1 went to Valencian youngster Carmen Llácer on Padua.
German, Swiss and Dutch riders proved to be unstoppable in yesterday's Diamond rounds, with Lars Nieberg on Galippo (Germany), Angelique Hoorn on Eurocommerce Damas and Maaike Ten Berg-Bijlsma on Uncle Berry (both for Holland) taking second, third and fourth place respectively in the Diamond 3; Arthur da Silva on Virginia II and Deborah Lazzarotto on Alpaga DB (both for Switzerland) taking first and third in the Diamond 2, and Germany's Marc Bettinger on Elvis van der Vrunte and Fritz Fervers on Z Acodate DDL coming second and fifth.
The Diamond 1 lap of honour was headed up by three German riders – Thomas Weinberg on Dorian Red and on Escobar 20 in first and third place, and Gerald Nothdurft on Caligola R second.
It was very nearly an all-German top four line-up, had it not been for Lars Nieberg and Gianna 135 being knocked into fifth place by Conor Drain on Fine Filly by a mere 0.02 seconds.
Today (Sunday) is Grand Prix day for Diamond and Premium competitors, and the final round of the competitions before riders and horses pack up and head home on Monday.
Photos: (1) Cassio Rivetti on Lord If de Chalusse; (2) Peter Charles on Murka's Odie de Frève; (3) Arthur da Silva on Virginia II; (4) Conor Drain on Fine Filly; (5) Carmen Llácer on Padua