In front of a sold-out crowd in Mexico City, Nicola Philippaerts secured his third-ever Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix victory, aboard H&M Luna van’t Ruytershof. The crowd erupted in applause as Philippaerts triumphantly crossed the finish line in a thrilling five-rider jump-off in the €327,000 Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Mexico City presented by GNP Seguros, ultimately securing his first LGCT Grand Prix win since 2018!

The LGCT Mexico City event, renowned for being a kaleidoscope of colour, its energetic vibe, and enthusiastic crowd, provided a once-in-a-million experience for spectators and competitors alike. Against the backdrop of a pulsating atmosphere, Philippaerts and Luna van’t Ruytershof held their nerve to claim top spot as the Longines Brand Director of Mexico, Erwin Walton presented Nicola with a Longines watch on top of the podium.

Speaking with Rosie Tapner for GCTV, Nicola paid tribute to his winning partner. He explained, “She has a heart of gold, she is a real lion when she gets in the ring… and it looks like she really likes Mexico City! She really deserves this win, and it’s a fantastic event here – Mexico City is one of my favourite shows and I am always happy to come back here.”

Picking up the third Golden Ticket to the Longines Global Champions Tour Super Grand Prix for 2024 at the GC Playoffs in November, Nicola couldn’t hide his relief to return to such an esteemed event. He said: “It means a lot, of course to be able to jump the LGCT Super Grand Prix is a real honour and I just can’t wait to compete there.”

And for the Philippaerts family dynasty? It of course did not go unmentioned during Nicola’s winner’s interview. Ludo Philippaerts, Nicola’s father, was the very first Longines Global Champions Tour Champion of Champions, securing the 2006 overall Championship, proving that talent runs in their blood. After his emotionally charged win, he said, “To be honest, my family behind me and all my team at home, it’s unbelievable what they mean to me, it’s a win for them of course, and without them I would never be here now.”

In a close second, Luiz Felipe Cortizo Gonçalves De Azevedo Filho and Sierra du Piedroux Z were the only other double clear but was over 3 seconds slower than Philippaerts, while LGCT Championship leader Eduardo Alvarez Aznar and the 19-year-old Rokfeller de Pleville Bois Margot demonstrated their consistency once again by jumping clear in every LGCT Grand Prix round 1 this year, solidifying their reputation as the best to take third as the faster on four faults in the jump-off. (Canada’s sole representative in this event was Erynn Ballard riding Libido Van’t Hofken, who had two rails in the first round to finish in 22nd place overall.)

Extending his overall LGCT Championship lead Eduardo Alvarez Aznar now has a 5-point advantage on Max Khuner with 92 points. Simon Delestre jumps up three places on 66 points as the race hots up heading to Shanghai for the fourth stage in a couple of weeks.

Riding his incredible Rokfeller, Eduardo paid tribute to his consistency in the 2024 championship so far, “I am very happy with the result here in Mexico City, my horse jumped amazingly. This year in the three Longines Global Champions Grand Prix’s, he has been three times in the top five, so that’s very impressive regularity from Rockefeller.”He went on to add, “The championship is definitely going the right way so we keep going. The next show for me is going to be Madrid, a home show for us, so of course I will try my best there.”

Featuring an exceptional roster of both equine and human talents, boasting an impressive tally of 12 past Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix winners, the closely contested competition had equestrian enthusiasts and sports fans alike gripped with anticipation. Whether present at the event or following the action from home via GCTV, spectators were kept on the edge of their seats throughout.

A formidable course set to full height presented a challenging yet manageable task in Round 1, with eleven out of the 37 entrants incurring a single rail and accruing four faults including the likes of Max Kühner, three-time LGCT Champion Ben Maher, Simone Delestre and Maikel van der Vleuten. Proving how testing the track was there were shock retirements halfway round from Malin Baryard-Johnsson, Richard Vogel, Katrin Eckermann, Philipp Schulze Topphoff and yesterday’s GCL winner Fernando Martinez Sommer.

Following this, an illustrious international contingent of athletes earned their place in the jump-off, representing nations including Belgium, Spain, Brazil and two heroes from the host country, Mexico.
In what proved to be one of the most exhilarating jump-offs of the season thus far, five of the globe’s top equestrian pairs stepped forward to vie for victory against the backdrop of the radiant Mexican flag and the towering Campo Marte, its lush grass arena which is renowned worldwide.

First up, Eduardo Alvarez Aznar and the gift that just never stops giving 19 year old Rokfeller de Pleville Bois Margot set off before the first fence at pace. With thousands riding every stride with Edu, an early fence as he turned too tight left everyone guessing if the pair had done enough for a podium, stopping the clock with the fastest time of the class in 43.36s but with four faults against their names.

Local fan favourite Jose Alberto Martinez Vazquez took to the arena piloting Quinley. The crowd fell silent as they started their round but it wasn’t to be with three down, the pair went to the bottom of the order for now.

In his very first Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix, Carlos Hank Guerreiro and H5 Porthos Maestro WH Z, jumped one of the five illusive clear rounds in Round 1, much to the home crowd’s delight. They then exploded as the stylish duo entered the arena. With nothing more supportive than a passionate home crowd, everyone was on their feet. Bringing home an unfortunate 8 faults, the pair ultimately finished just off the podium in fourth.

With no double clears yet there were just two to go.

Nicola Philippaerts and H&M Luna van’t Ruytershof Z entered the ring determined to do better than last week’s competition in Miami Beach where he had to retire. Setting off at a blistering pace, the pair produced an explosive clear but not wanting to risk a fault added extra strides. However, the picture-perfect pair finally secured the first double clear to take the lead in 45.03 seconds with just one challenger left.

Last to go Luiz Felipe Cortizo Gonçalves De Azevedo Filho and Sierra du Piedroux Z knew exactly what they needed to do. With only one clear round so far in the fast jump-off Luiz opted for a steady pace hoping to keep all the fences up and secure second place. The tactic paid off as he canted home clear in 48.51s punching the air to his first ever LGCT Grand Prix podium.

Looking ahead, the LGCT now sets its sights on Shanghai for the fourth stage of the season. With anticipation building and competition fiercer than ever, riders and spectators can expect another exhilarating showcase of world-class show jumping talent in the bustling metropolis of China.

Full results HERE.