High Wire GCL Duel Sees Valkenswaard United Close In On Hamburg Diamonds
Three teams started out in hot contention for today’s win. But, in early drama, Miami Glory’s Denis Lynch clocked up four faults dropping the squad out of contention from pole position. It was down to the two top-ranked teams to prove themselves in front of thousands of fans in the Sommergarten arena in Germany power capital.
The 11th round of the Championship circuit sees Berlin join the glittering calendar of destinations and proved to be a popular debut. Crowds packed the picturesque location, lining the grassy banks and filling the grandstands – the natural amphitheatre set up giving fans a perfect view of the arena.
The course was big all the way, with a galloping blind corner to finish. A tight turn back to an imposing wall featuring the Brandenburg Gate, and a treble combination featuring a gappy vertical in, and wide oxer out, threw in a few tests for the ride and horse combinations in the unusual oval-shaped sand arena.
Ludger Beerbaum of the Cannes Stars had the crowd on their feet with one of the early clears, after the four-time Olympic Gold Medallist put in a flawless round with Cordess. The crowd had plenty to cheer about after teammate and compatriot Marco Kutscher pulled out a class round with Clenur to keep the team clear in the second round. Ludger was quickly followed by Lorenzo de Luca of the Rome Gladiators who managed the hot chestnut Halifax van het Kluizebos beautifully to add another clear to the team’s tally.
Both Alberto Zorzi of Valkenswaard United and Eric Lamaze of the Hamburg Diamonds put in a clear round each, keeping their respective teams on a zero score, passing the baton back to their teammates and keeping the Championship race alive.
Drama came early on, after pole position riders Miami Glory picked up four faults when Denis Lynch and RMF Bella Baloubet agonisingly rolled a pole in the formidable oxer. Extra pressure would land on the ice cool shoulders of teammate Scott Brash and Hello Forever needing to keep a clean score to stay in with a chance of the podium.
Home city Berlin Lions treated the crowd to a sensational double clear after Max Kühner and Chardonnay 79, and U25 talent Anna Kellnerova and Classic put in a flawless effort. Sadly the faults carried through meant the team would not be on the podium today, but the crowd were delighted with their home city team performance.
Up and down the order every pole became costly, and after Ben Maher and Kent Farrington of the London Knights put in a stunning double clear the team shot up the scoreboard.
The crowd watched in anticipation as Jos Verlooy entered for the Hamburg Diamonds. A clear would mean a podium, but a pole down could cost them a chance of the win, worse still, the overall ranking should they drop too far down the order. Riding Igor quickly but carefully, Verlooy galloped to that last taking a tight angle at the final vertical. But it would prove costly, as the pole rolled, putting the team down on four faults.
All eyes would be on his friend and rival Bertram Allen of Valkenswaard United. A clear would secure the win and earn the team valuable ranking points, but the pressure was intense for the young Irish talent and his horse Izzy By Picobello. The crowd watched on as Allen delivered a masterful clear, securing the win and closing the gap to Hamburg Diamonds in the overall rankings.
The action would come down to the wire, as final rider to go Scott Brash and Hello Forever of Miami Glory had everything to do to keep the team on the podium, with only a fast clear to do. Watched on by teammates Georgina Bloomberg and Denis Lynch, the ice cool Brash flew around the arena, taking the course in his stride. But it wasn’t to be, as a pole down at the oxer would drop the team down to 8 faults, and agonisingly off the podium.
So it was the third win of the season for the blue and orange Valkenswaard United putting them tantalisingly close to regaining the Championship lead. The next round of action heads to the spectacular new destination of London, where the Royal Hospital Chelsea will be the backdrop for the 12th round of thrilling action in the battle for the title.
For full results, click here.
German One-Two in Berlin as LGCT Championship Race Tightens
Christian Ahlmann’s powerful home victory on Codex One in the Longines Global Champions Tour of Berlin Presented by Sapinda set German hearts racing and intensified the race to the finish line for the overall title.
The home hero had the crowd on their feet in ecstatic scenes as world class show jumping proved a huge hit in the German capital city. Their joy soared as 28-year-old German national rider Simone Blum held her nerve and galloped to second place on the podium leaving some of the world’s heavyweights in her wake. It was a career result she described as “unbelievable”.
Ahlmann’s über special win in the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Berlin Presented by Sapinda capped a stunning weekend of top sport. He described Codex One as an “absolute talent” and delivered an unforgettable, turbo-charged lap of honour for the home fans. He has now climbed to third place in the overall ranking on 220 points – only one point behind Alberto Zorzi (ITA) on 221 points. Harrie Smolders (NED) holds the lead on 252 points but with a smaller margin.
There were thrills and spills throughout the 1.60m competition which ended in disappointment for a string of top names including Bertram Allen (IRE), Daniel Deusser (GER), Eric Lamaze (CAN), Marco Kutscher (GER) and Lorenzo de Luca (ITA).
There were several bogey fences in Frank Rothenberger’s tricky course in the first round in the oval-shaped sand arena including a Longines double of liverpools towards the in-gate and a solid final fence featuring an image of the Brandenburg Gate. This caused headaches for Bertram Allen (IRE) and Izzy By Picobello who had a knock down and for Daniel Deusser (GER) and Hidalgo v who refused.
But the biggest test was the treble combination which proved to be a challenge too far for popular names such as Janne-Friederike Meyer (GER) with Goja, and Piergiorgio Bucci (ITA) with Driandria. The horses needed power to clear the oxer in, but then restraint to be checked back for the tall skinny plank. Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Chacco Kid were caught out at the second part of the Longines double but then went on to clock up an uncharacteristic 16 faults.
Ludger Beerbaum (GER) put in a phenomenal round with Chacon, a relatively new horse to his string, jumping clear. But cheers quickly turned to groans as the multiple Olympic gold medallist picked up a costly time fault, agonisingly close to a flawless round.
With eight out of the world’s Top 10 riders in Berlin the battle was on. But six stellar combinations clocked up four faults including Jack Towell (USA) and New York, Max Kuhner (AUT) and Chardonnay, Kent Farrington (USA) and Creedance, Alberto Zorzi (ITA) and Cornetto K, Simon Delestre (FRA) and Hermes Ryan and Bassem Hassan Mohammed (QAT) and Gunder. All were out of contention for a jump off.
Ranking leader Harrie Smolders (NED) had a crushing four faults at the LGCT oder on Capital Colorado and a painful time penalty pushing him down the points order and shrinking his ranking lead.
Leopold van Asten (NED) was greeted with a huge cheer as he delivered the first clear round on VDL Groep Beauty. Would there be a jump off?
The crowd did not have to wait long as the next rider, Simone Blum (GER) and her chestnut mare Alice set off in impressive style and delivered a polished clear to roars of approval from the grandstand and grass banks filled with thousands of spectators. Hot on her heels Christian Ahlmann powered around the course on Codex One setting up a three-way fight for the win. The jump off was on.
There was deflation was van Asten as he fell foul of the Longines double and a tricky brown oxer to put him on 8 faults.
The crowd collectively held their breath as 28-year-old biology and chemistry student Simone Blum entered the ring and proceeded to clear fence after fence. The crowd stood and could barely contain their excitement until the final fence when the arena exploded as Blum finished clear in 41.01s.
Either way a home win was assured. Ahlmann and Codex One bolted out of the starting blocks taking no prisoners. It was a masterclass and the combination stopped the clock in 40.56s to take the win.
The Championship now heads to another dynamic capital city with the debut in London at the prestigious Royal Hospital Chelsea next weekend.
Marco Danese, Sporting Director Longines Global Champions Tour:
“Frank Rothenberger did a very good job – it was not an easy course, but I think is normal as it’s only for the very best riders. It was technical and difficult course so I think that the three riders with clear rounds can be really proud as they did a fantastic job today.”
Volker Wulff, President Global Jumping Berlin:
“Berlin has waited for a long time for a big equestrian show. Everyone came to me and said please can we have a show in the city. Two years ago I spoke to Jan Tops and we decided to work on the idea to have a show in Berlin on the Longines Global Champions Tour. We decided to do it and it started getting exciting, and in the end it’s been [great].”
Christian Ahlmann (GER), 1st place:
“I’m really, really happy. I’m climbing up the rankings. I’m really happy with the show, as a German rider it’s great to have a show here, with such great support from the crowd. It was a lot of fun to ride! It was good to ride Codex here after his time off, it’s only his third show after his break. He jumped special today. He makes me very proud. Codex is a huge talent, he can do any ring – in the jump-off he knew what to do, Simone did a brilliant job and she has a very fast horse. I knew I had to take a risk. He was a little tired but his jump was the same and his head was really fighting for it makes him really, really special and it was enough to win.”
Simone Blum (GER), 2nd place:
“This year was really amazing. I won the German Championship, which is already a big success for me. I was able to come here, and that I could get second place is unbelievable. I think everyone wants to take [Alice] home! She’s an unbelievable horse – she’s so full of power, she’s a fighter. She makes me so proud. She’s a very fast horse – I think I was a little nervous in the jump-off, that’s why it was not my best, but I’m really pleased.”
Leopold van Asten (NED), 3rd place:
“My horse jumped very good today, particularly in the first round. I was quite confident going into the Grand Prix – I had a good feeling all the way. Today was the best feeling I had [with my horse] and it worked out well. [Coming first into the jump-off] you know you have two very good riders behind you. I tried a little but my horse felt a little empty for the jump-off. I had a fault straight away and then the concentration was gone. But at the end of the day I was very pleased with my horse today.”
Harrie Smolders (NED), overall LGCT Ranking Leader:
“I’m really pleased today – it was only the second show for me and Capital Colnardo so we have to learn each other a little bit. I have improved my ranking a little bit, but with Zorzi and Alhmann behind me it’s getting closer and will be really exciting until the end.”
For full results, click here.