It was a fairytale weekend for home hero Christian Ahlmann (GER) who stormed to another stunning win in front of thrilled crowds at the Longines Global Champions Tour of Berlin.
Ahlmann (GER) has dominated the weekend, following his spectacular Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Berlin presented by Sapinda win, with the top German rider showing all the skill and class in another testing competition on the final day of action – this time with a different mount, the eye-catching Colorit.
Beating a 10-rider jump-off, the duo had the crowd on their feet in celebration as they stormed to the win, fending off a brave try from Italian Alberto Zorzi (ITA) who finished in second, and the ever-consistent Harrie Smolders (NED) who took a strong third today.
The final day of the Longines Global Champions Tour of Berlin saw enthusiastic and knowledgeable crowds pack the grandstands once again to witness the world’s best in action for the final time this weekend. With blue skies and blazing sunshine, the scene was set in the picturesque location of the Sommergarten, right in the heart of capital city of Germany.
Frank Rothenberger’s course was set back and forth across the arena, with delicacy the name of the game. The layout offered little breathing space, with fences coming up fast, no room for adjustment and requiring pin-point precision. Riders would have to stick to their game plan once the test was underway.
First to go clear was Sergio Alvarez Moya (ESP) with G&C Unicstar de l’Aumone, laying down the groundwork for the rest of the world-class field still to come. The crowd roared in appreciation as Ludger Beerbaum (GER) put in a masterful clear with his young, eight year old bay gelding Cool Down, creating a jump-off for the final class of the weekend.
The imposing wall once again caused a few troubles, as some horses took a second look at the Brandenburg Gate design. Nicola Philippaerts (BEL) was eliminated after H&M Zilverstar T took exception to the wall, a double refusal ruling them out of the jump-off. Home hero Daniel Deusser (GER) and SX Hidalgo v. also refused, as did David Will (GER) with Monodie H. The triple combination also caught a few out, with the gappy vertical element in the middle costing the likes of Maikel van der Vleuten (NED) and VDL Groep Idi Utopia a place in the final round.
Hard-luck stories came for a few – Kamal Abdullah Bahamdan (KSA) and Lacasino jumping beautifully until they took a difficult angle to the last fence, rolling the pole. Olivier Philippaerts (BEL) – who was also celebrating his Birthday today with twin brother Nicola – narrowly missed out with Icos after the pair collected one painful time fault.
Great Britian’s Ben Maher (GBR) showed all the class with Olympic mount Tic Tac, putting in a strong round to add to the jump-off excitement. He was quickly followed by Jessica Springsteen (USA) who put in a speedy round with Davendy S, the bay mare leaping enthusiastically over the fast-paced course.
Clears would also come from Harrie Smolders (NED) and Capital Colnardo, Pieter Devos (BEL) with Apart, Alberto Zorzi (ITA) with Contanga 3, Felix Hassmann (GER) with Cayenne WZ, and young Swedish star Evelina Tovek (SWE) with Castello 194.
Proving just how many talented horses he has in his string, Christian Ahlmann (GER) put a fantastic clear with stallion Colorit to make it a 10 rider jump-off, much to the delight of the crowd.
The first few riders to go tried to put the pressure on, but had mistakes around the course. Sergio Alvarez Moya (ESP) had the final fence down, and home hero Ludger Beerbaum (GER) had a costly mistake with his young horse.
First to go double clear was Alberto Zorzi (ITA) with Contanga 3, setting the pace at 40.17s. He was soon followed by Harrie Smolders (NED) who put in a calm round with Capital Colnardo, riding strategically as others rolled poles, stopping the clock in 41.12s.
Ben Maher (GBR) and Tic Tac looked sublime; Ben riding the stallion beautifully to the fences, with perfect strides and all the bravery needed to win the class. But the pair pushed it a touch too far, clipping the backrail of the final DKB oxer, the crowd groaning in disappointment for the popular British rider.
Surprisingly Pieter Devos (BEL) and Apart had a block off the wall, ruling them out of contention, and Jessica Springsteen (USA) clipped the penultimate fence with Davendy S, dropping them both down the order.
The crowd held their breath as LGCT Grand Prix winner Christian Ahlmann (GER) re-entered the ring with Colorit. Galloping through the start the pair look determined. Shaving fractions of seconds off the turns, and galloping through the course the duo were up on time, with Christian showing his talent and managing the hot Colorit beautifully. A flier to the last, and the crowd were on their feet as the home hero went clear in 38.98s, over a second faster than Zorzi’s time.
A steady clear from Evelina Tovek (SWE) and Castello 194 put them just shy of the podium. As the final rider Felix Hassmann (GER) with Cayenne WZcame into the ring, the crowd clapped in anticipation. Would it be a double win for the opening day winner of LGCT Berlin or would the popular Grand Prix winner make it a double on the trot? A mistake from Hassmann saw them drop out of the running, leaving Christian Ahlmann victorious in the final CSI5* class of the weekend.
So rounds off the first of two new spectacular locations on the 2017 Longines Global Champions Tour calendar, with all eyes now turning to London where the Royal Hospital Chelsea will host the 12th leg of action on the Championship battle. For more information on the LGCT of London, please click here.