Sameh and Suma’s Zorro Win French Hearts and LGCT Grand Prix of Paris

Sameh El Dahan and Suma's Zorro. Photo: Stefano Grasso/LGCT
Sameh El Dahan and Suma’s Zorro. Photo: Stefano Grasso/LGCT

Paris, FRA – July 8, 2018 – In emotional showdown as the sun set behind the Eiffel Tower, Sameh El Dahan (EGY) was given a standing ovation as he celebrated a breathtaking victory in the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Paris.

The young Egyptian and his plucky mare turned the tables on the heavyweights of show jumping triumphing against 10 world class riders in an electrifying jump off on the spectacular stage of the Champs de Mars; the Longines Global Champions Tour – Longines Paris Eiffel Jumping.

Almost speechless after his win Sameh said: “I can’t explain my emotions. My mare tried her heart out. I am loving the crowds, everyone was behind us. I am so chuffed it hasn’t really sunk in yet.”

Sameh is now the 10th rider to qualify for the LGCT Super Grand Prix at the GC Playoffs in Prague in December joining an incredible start list including Peder Fredricson (SWE), Ben Maher (GBR), Scott Brash (GBR) and Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS).

The result shook up the overall series ranking with Ben Maher’s phenomenal form rocketing him into the lead knocking Edwina Tops-Alexander back into second place with Harrie Smolders (NED) moving up into third place.

Bertram Allen and Molly Malone V. Photo: Stefano Grasso/LGCT
Bertram Allen and Molly Malone V. Photo: Stefano Grasso/LGCT

The 10th leg of the LGCT championship was a stunner with Sameh, who originally qualified as a doctor, taking the top spot on the podium with Bertram Allen (IRL) in second and Harrie Smolders in third.

In the first round of the 1.60m LGCT Grand Prix, 35 starters faced a formidable technical course designed by Uliano Vezzani although the slightly generous time allowed took off some of the pressure.

It was quickly clear that fence nine, the Paris Metro vertical flanked by a model Eiffel Tower, would be the bogey fence along with the Arc de Triomphe obstacle and the final fence itself, a chocolate brown oxer that caught out multiple combinations.

Bertram Allen and Molly Malone V clocked up the first clear round swiftly followed by Pieter Devos (BEL) and Claire Z – the jump off was on.

Frenchman Philippe Rozier (FRA) lifted French spirits as he pulled off a faultless round booking his place in the jump off. Gregory Wathelet (BEL) and MJT Nevados S and Marc Houtzager (NED) on Sterrehof’s Calimero both impressed with clear rounds.

Harrie Smolders and Don VHP Z N.O.P. Photo: Stefano Grasso/LGCT
Harrie Smolders and Don VHP Z N.O.P. Photo: Stefano Grasso/LGCT

It was setting up to be a blockbuster as the maestro Harrie Smolders and his powerful stallion Don VHP Z delivered a brilliant round staying clear despite a nerve jangling clip of that tricky final fence.

As the shadows lengthened Edwina Tops-Alexander and California began their campaign to stretch her ranking lead and raised their chances with a fast, buzzing clear.

The starting grid for the phenomenal jump off was completed by on fire Ben Maher and Explosion W, Olivier Philippaerts (BEL) and H&M Legend of Love, Sameh and Suma’s Zorro and Peder Fredricson (SWE) on Hansson WI.

First in the ring for the jump off Bertram Allen and his grey mare Molly Malone V tore around the course from the word go. The speedy young Irishman pumped the air as he finished clear in 36.86 throwing down the gauntlet to the rest of the pack.

Pieter Devos (BEL) and Claire Z galloped to the last but were slower in 38.72. Philippe Rozier (FRA) ended with 12 faults and Gregory Wathelet (BEL) finished on four faults putting them out of podium contention.

Dutchman Marc Houtzager was clear in 38.09 but his compatriot Harrie Smolders and Don VHP Z pulled off a super tight turn after the vertical to the double combination to finish in 37.06 putting him in third place.

Edwina’s uncharacteristic 8 faults on California impacted her ranking lead and when Ben Maher (GBR) went clear on Explosion W finishing in 37.71 it was enough for his to take the overall series lead.

Bertram was still in the lead and watching on nervously with younger brother Harry as Olivier Philippaerts and H&M Legend of Love took the first part of the Longines double at an angle and clocked up four faults.

Standing ovation for Sameh El Dahan, winner of the LGCT Grand Prix of Paris Eiffel. Photo: Stefano Grasso/LGCT
Standing ovation for Sameh El Dahan, winner of the LGCT Grand Prix of Paris Eiffel. Photo: Stefano Grasso/LGCT

Penultimate rider Sameh was fast from the start producing the round of his life on his 14-year-old chestnut mare Suma’s Zorro, co-owned with Joanne Sloan-Allen, flowing perfectly round the course to stop the clock in a winning 36.32

Last to go Peder Fredricson was a major threat but with four faults at the Renault fence, Sameh was home and dry.


Ben Maher – LGCT Overall Ranking Leader

“I will just be trying to do my best every week. It was a very good show this weekend with Explosion W. He is an incredible horse and jumped a lot of clear rounds, but I couldn’t keep up with these guys today. It was a great jump off. There is still a long way to go and I just try to do my best.”


Harrie Smolders – Third place

“To me the fences were really high and we must give a compliment to Sameh as it was probably one of the toughest Grand Prix to win and he’s deserved it, he was the best one today. My horse gave everything, he was superb, and this was the highest position we could get today.”

Bertram Allen – Second place

“It was very hard to be first of 11 in the jump off but I just went in with the attitude to give it everything and I’m so delighted to see Molly jumping so well again. I thought it would be enough for the podium, but the line up in the jump off was unbelievable with Peder, Edwina, Ben, Sameh and Harrie so it wasn’t going to be easy to hang on.

Sameh El Dahan – LGCT Grand Prix winner

“To be honest Bertram’s round was very hard to beat. I said I think it is already done, but I have been riding my mare seven years so I dared her a bit too much to the double, I was really tight and she really helped me and that put me on the right side of the clock today. As I came into the warm up they said you won. It didn’t really sink in. It was one of the best wins of my life to be sat here with them today is already a big thing for me.

“I have been with Sycamore Stables and the Sloan Allens for eight years through thick and thin but it paid off today. It was a big thing for us to come to Globals this year. I am over the moon with my horse the way she jumped today, to the second to the last jump it was like a race, she is a horse of a lifetime.

“[Qualifying for the GC Playoffs] was one of our aims and at least now we have done it and can focus on bringing the mare there in best form and competing with the best 16 riders in the world and hopefully we’ll pull out a great result there.”


Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Paris
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / R1 Faults | Time / R2 Faults | Time
1. Suma’s Zorro / Sameh El Dahan / EGY / 0 | 69.91 / 0 | 36.32
2. Molly Malone V / Bertram Allen / IRL / 0 | 68.61 / 0 | 36.86
3. Don VHP Z N.O.P. / Harrie Smolders / NED / 0 | 71.71 / 0 | 37.06
4. Explosion W / Ben Maher / GBR / 0 | 68.83 / 0 | 37.71
5. Sterrehof’s Calimero / Marc Houtzager / NED / 0 | 71.62 / 0 | 38.09
6. Claire Z / Pieter Devos / BEL / 0 | 71.91 / 0 | 38.72
7. H&M Legend of Love / Olivier Philippaerts / BEL / 0 | 68.88 / 4 | 36.55
8. MJT Nevados S / Gregory Wathelet / BEL / 0 | 70.66 / 4 | 36.97
9. Hansson Wl / Peder Fredricson / SWE / 0 | 71.49 / 4 | 38.44
10. California / Edwina Tops-Alexander / AUS / 0 | 69.69 / 8 | 39.28
11. Cristallo A LM / Philippe Rozier / FRA / 0 | 70.25 / 12 | 39.17
12. Lizziemary / Danielle Goldstein / ISR / 4 | 69.49

For full results, click here.

Diamonds Shine Under Pressure in Power-Packed GCL Paris

Lap of honour for Harrie Smolders and Jos Verlooy. Photo: Stefano Grasso/GCL
Lap of honour for Harrie Smolders and Jos Verlooy. Photo: Stefano Grasso/GCL

Temperatures soared in France’s capital city as Montreal Diamonds’ Harrie Smolders and Jos Verlooy kept cool under pressure to take their first win of the season at the GCL Paris.

With all eyes on the GC Prague Playoffs, where only the top 16 teams will qualify, the Diamonds’ win today has boosted the team’s chances of fast tracking to the quarter finals which sees the leading four teams guaranteed a place. With clear intent and full focus on the GCL, team anchor Harrie Smolders said: “We will be putting our best horses forward for the GCL – that’s our first priority. It’s very close from 3rd to 7th, so there will be a battle to get into the top four – but that’s our aim and that’s our goal for the next few shows.”

Harrie Smolders and Don VHP Z. Photo: Stefano Grasso/GCL
Harrie Smolders and Don VHP Z. Photo: Stefano Grasso/GCL

And the Diamonds have started that campaign with vigour, moving up to fifth in the overall standings with 154 points, just one point away from the Scandinavian Vikings and Rome Gladiators who sit on 153 apiece and in joint third.

Following today’s results, the London Knights keep hold of the overall ranking lead, with a total of 214 points, 12 ahead of rivals Valkenswaard United who have 202 and have narrowed the gap slightly.

Italian course designer Uliano Vezzani put together a flowing but changeable track, with riders switching back and forth across the square sand arena. A gappy delicate treble set along the diagonal towards the impressive VIP hospitality required caution and power in equal measure, a huge oxer out needed bravery and scope. A yellow and black Renault oxer was set close to the far side of the arena, picking off a few of the combinations with less focus. The Massimo Dutti plank tumbled time and time again, and a Longines double crossing back along the arena towards the end of the track caught out a few as energy began to waver.

Overall ranking leaders London Knights had an uphill battle following Thursday’s eight faults, with team anchor Ben Maher kicking off the charge with Explosion W. The British rider has won an incredible three CSI5* classes already this weekend, and continued his strong form with a foot perfect clear today before passing the baton to teammate Olivier Philippaerts and H&M Legend of Love, the grey mare jumping her heart out for the Belgian rider to deliver the first double clear of the day.

A double clear from Miami Celtics’ Jessica Springsteen with RMF Swinny du Parc and Cameron Hanley with Quirex kept the green team on a score of four, with the rest of the world class field yet to come.

First of the double clears, Madrid in Motion, took centre stage putting Eduardo Álvarez Aznar and Rokfeller de Pleville Bois Mar out in front. The pair delivered, opting for a steady and careful round which paid off – keeping a clean score and passing the pressure to teammate Marc Houtzager with top horse Sterrehof’s Calimero. But the Dutchman kept his cool, piloting the expressive horse to another clear, shooting the team to the top of the leaderboard.

Jos Verlooy and Igor. Photo: Stefano Grasso/GCL
Jos Verlooy and Igor. Photo: Stefano Grasso/GCL

Montreal Diamonds were the penultimate team to go, with U25 rider and Jos Verlooy putting in a brilliantly quick clear with Igor. The young Belgian star gave teammate Harrie Smolders as much space as possible with the large striding stallion Don VHP Z, and the World Number 1 delivered, putting the team in first place with just the Hamburg Giants yet to go.

Sameh El Dahan of the Giants pulled out a magnificent clear with Suma’s Zorro, with the win down to the wire as final rider to compete René Lopez and Twig du Veillon set off a steady canter. But two poles and a time fault would prove costly, dropping the team in pole position off the top of the leaderboard and off the podium.

So the win would go to the Diamonds, with Madrid in Motion in second and Miami Celtics taking third after a spell-binding afternoon of top sport in Paris. The League now look to Chantilly for the 11th round of action in the Championship, as the battle for a place in the GC Playoffs hots up.


Jessica Springsteen – Miami Celtics, third place

“We’re happy to be here. I had a rail the first day but Cameron jumped amazing and I’m excited to be on the podium. Hopefully we’ll keep having some good results and move up a bit. All my horses jumped amazing this week, I’m really happy with them and excited for Chantilly next week.”

Marc Houtzager – Madrid in Motion, second place

“We had a good result and are happy with the clear rounds. We’ve moved up a little bit [in the rankings] so we hope to keep going like this. I’m happy to ride Sterrehof’s Calimero and he’s on super form at the moment. We have a good team, good riders and today it came out well.”

Jos Verlooy – Montreal Diamonds, first place

“I was really happy today – it was my job to go clear, I thought Harrie would go clear so we just stuck to our plan. We want to win in Prague!”

Harrie Smolders – Montreal Diamonds, first place

“Now we have our strategy focused on the GCL. I think Don and Igor are in great shape at the moment so we had the feeling we would have a chance here which is why we took them. You’re never sure of a clear! I checked the time before I went in, and Jos did good so I knew we would be ok, but Don did a great job. We will be putting our best horses forward for the GCL – that’s our first priority. It’s very close from 3rd to 7th, so there will be a battle to get into the top four – but that’s our aim and that’s our goal for the next few shows.


Global Champions League of Paris
Place / Team / Horse / Rider / R1 Faults | Time / R2 Faults | Time
1. Montreal Diamonds 
Igor / Jos Verlooy / 0 | 67.77 / 0 | 79.51
Don VHP Z N.O.P. / Harrie Smolders / 0 | 79.53 / 0 | 79.86
Team penalties | time / 0 | 159.37
2. Madrid In Motion
Rokfeller de Pleville Bois Mar / Eduardo Alvarez Aznar / 0 | 71.01 / 0 | 80.44
Sterrehof’s Calimero / Marc Houtzager / 0 | 77.96 / 0 | 82.63
Team penalties | time / 0 163.07
3. Miami Celtics
RMF Swinny du Parc / Jessica Springsteen / 4 | 77.28 / 0 | 76.81
Quirex / Cameron Hanley / – / 0 | 80.35
RMF Cadeau de Muze / Denis Lynch / 0 | 80.40 / –
Team penalties | time / 4 | 157.16
4. Valkenswaard United 
Molly Malone V / Bertram Allen / 4 | 75.66 / 4 | 76.95
Pret A Tout / Marcus Ehning / 0 | 69.31 / 0 | 71.42
Team penalties | time / 8 | 148.37
5. Scandinavian Vikings
VDL Groep Beauty / Leopold Van Asten / 4 | 74.15 / 4 | 75.39
Clintrexo Z / Christian Ahlmann / – / 0 | 76.76
Ailina / Christian Ahlmann / 0 | 70.86 / –
Team penalties | time / 8 | 152.15
6. Rome Gladiators
Zeremonie / Laura Kraut / 0 | 75.37 / 0 | 77.15
Sirene de la Motte Marlon Módolo Zanotelli / – / 4 | 77.86
Jeunesse van’tParadijs / Lorenzo De Luca / 4 | 75.52 / –
Team penalties | time / 8 | 155.01
7. London Knights
Explosion W / Ben Maher / 8 | 72.93 / 0 | 78.63
H&M Legend of Love / Olivier Philippaerts / 0 | 70.98 / 0 | 77.37
Team penalties | time / 8 | 156.00
8. Cannes Stars
Dublin van Overis / Karel Cox / – / 0 | 79.08
Carlo / Sergio Alvarez Moya / 0 | 70.92 / 4 | 77.06
Evert / Karel Cox / 4 | 72.68 / –
Team penalties | time / 8 | 156.14
9. Hamburg Giants
Suma’s Zorro / Sameh El Dahan / 0 | 72.04 / 0 | 76.17
Twig du Veillon / Rene Lopez / 0 | 75.04 / 9 | 84.20
Team penalties | time / 9 | 160.37
10. Shanghai Swans
Cornetto K / Alexandra Thornton / – / 9 | 86.91
Uccello de Will / Pedro Veniss / 1 | 84.29 / 0 | 79.13
HHS Figero / Alexandra Thornton / 1 | 84.28 / –
Team penalties | time / 11 | 166.04

For full results, click here.

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