In a charged atmosphere at Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Cannes, presented by La Ville de Cannes, Janne Friederike Meyer-Zimmermann of Germany clinched a fitting victory on board Messi van ‘t Ruytershof at the city’s renowned football stadium Stade des Hespérides.

Belgian rider Gilles Thomas secured his third podium of the year, storming to second place with Luna van het Dennehof just ahead of last-to-go flying Frenchman Mathieu Billot and Lord de Muze.

A buzzing Janne Friederike described her round play-by-play to Rosie Tapner for GCTV, and when reaching the end of the course, she said, “I had a short second of a moment where I thought ‘now you just drop the rein and go’… and he made it, I am so thankful for this horse – what a horse. I am so thankful for the whole team’s support. What a weekend for the Cannes Stars powered by Iron Dames!”

She went on to add, “The support here this weekend has been incredible, and I really hope the whole crowd can celebrate with me later!”

Stamping his mark in the 2024 championship race with three LGCT Grand Prix podiums to his name this year, Gilles Thomas said, “It’s amazing, I have Luna, Ermitage who gained great experience last year, and me also – and the result? Three podiums this year so far. I wasn’t really thinking of the overall Championship at the start of the year, but now I have to.”

The only smile to potentially match that of winner Meyer-Zimmermann, Deborah Mayer, project founder of the Iron Dames, could not be more proud of her team and riders in their ‘home show’ in Cannes. Exclusively speaking with Marc Lewis in the GCTV Studio, Deborah was at a loss for words for what this week has meant for the team. She said, “It has been absolutely amazing. So many emotions… I really can not find my words. It has been absolutely amazing to bring the Iron Dames here to Cannes with so much support is really amazing!”

Blending the glamour of the French Riviera with the excitement of top-tier show jumping, set against the stunning backdrop of the Mediterranean, the Longines Global Champions Tour of Cannes transforms the city into a hub of equestrian excellence. Just as the Cannes Film Festival attracts the stars of the silver screen, this prestigious event draws the elite of the show jumping world, who descend upon the sold-out arena to both spectate from near and far, as well as compete for a piece of the prize money. The energy is palpable as riders and horses perform under the same skies that seamlessly blend the worlds of high society, sport, and cinematic grandeur into an unforgettable experience.

With Eduardo Alvarez Aznar not in Cannes this week he stays in the lead of the overall LGCT Champions ranking with 162 points. Christian Kukuk leapfrogs into second on 148 points while Max Kihner slips down to third on 144 points. Hunting them down are last year’s Championship runner up Maikel van der Vleuten and young talent Gilles Thomas on 140 and 132 points respectively.

In a cinematic scene orchestrated by course builder Uliano Vizzani, the red carpet was metaphorically rolled out for a thrilling first round. The first clear round by young star Thibeau Spits and Impress-K van ‘t Kattenheye Z in the horses first ever 5* and LGCT Grand Prix, the enthusiastic crowd was captivated. by delivering three consecutive clear rounds in the LGCT Grand Prix. Following Spit’s initial clear round, Edwina Tops-Alexander and Fellow Castlefield lit the fire of the class, with the sport clearly in top form with a stand out lineup of horses and riders.

As Edwina ensured a jump-off, clear rounds began to follow in quick succession, from the likes of Sophie Hinners and Iron Dames Singclair and LGCT Grand Prix of Shanghai winners, Gilles Thomas and Luna van het Dennehof, leaving everyone on the edge of their seats.

Thirteen combinations earned their spots in the jump-off in what walked a big and delicate track. Uncharacteristic rails fell for combinations such as Daniel Deusser and Killer Queen VDM, . John Whitaker and Equine America Unick du Francport and Henrik von Eckermann aboard Iliana, falling victim to the high-pressure atmosphere, leaving the door open for the 39 strong class.

It was a full house at the Cannes showground and the excitement rose as the crowd went wild as first to go in the jump-off Thibeau Spits and Impress-K van ‘t Kattenheye Z entered the arena. Setting the pace and putting the pressure on the big names to come they secured the first double clear of the day.

The race was on as Edwina Tops-Alexander took one less stride wherever possible on Fellow Castlefield, but an unfortunate rail prevented her from the win today. Nonetheless, her 7th place finish was sufficient to move up in the overall season standings.

The poles then continued to fall for Sophie Hinners and Iron Dames Singclair, Gregory Cottard and Cocaine du Val, Malin Baryard-Johnsson with the iconic H&M Indiana, Mark McAuley and GRS Lady Amaro, and last year’s LGCT Grand Prix of Cannes winner, defending champion Maikel van der Vleuten and O’bailey vh Brouwershof N.O.P., all finishing with one or more down knocking their chances of a podium finish.

With the taste of victory form the LGCT Grand Prix of Shanghai still on the tip of his tongue Gilles Thomas and Luna van het Dennehof set off from the word go. Keeping it smooth and tight he was at a flat out gallop to the last taking over the lead from fellow belgium rider Spits to stop the clock in 43.23 seconds.

In his first ever LGCT Grand Prix jump-off Duarte Seabra and Dourados 2 was on track until the 1.60m orange vertical that the horse took a disliking to so a refusal was added to their tally to come home with a time fault as well.

Tonight’s showdown was topped off when Meyer-Zimmermann and lightning-fast Messi van ‘t Ruytershof stepped into the arena. With the whole support crew from Iron Dames watching on there was silence in the arena. A rapid clear in sub 40 seconds meant she flew into the lead, celebrating the clear in style, galloping around the arena pointing at her horse showing the crowd just how much it meant to her.

The temperature rose…

Christian Kukuk and Just Be Gentle were a second up on the split time but the lightest of touches in the Longines double added four to the board and his hopes of a big championship points haul were crushed, having to settle for fifth place as the fastest on four faults.

Three time LGCT Champion Ben Maher was one to watch on Point Break. With years of experience and finesse behind him he gave it his all but today wasn’t to be with 12 faults, dashing his hopes of a twelfth LGCT Grand Prix win, leaving just one home rider to go..

With the crowd erupting and hoping for a local win Mathieu Billot and Lord de Muze nodded their head to the jury before picking up the pace. Having watched 12 riders before him the talented Frenchman knew how much he could risk the tight twisty turns. Taking a flyer to the last he stopped the clock in 40.25 seconds, going into third place and handing the win to Germany’s Janne Friederike Meyer-Zimmermann.

As the curtain falls on the Longines Global Champions Tour of Cannes, the excitement of this event lingers in the air. The spotlight now shifts to the City of Light, where the Tour continues its thrilling journey. From June 21 to 23, Paris will host the eighth stage of the dramatic Championship race. The world’s elite riders will gather once more, promising another spellbinding chapter in this prestigious series.