Daniel Bluman (ISR) proved it was a case of saving the best for last in today’s 12-rider jump-off after he stormed to an electric win on the final day of the Longines Global Champions Tour of Madrid. With the grandstands packed once more, the crowd were kept on the edge of their seats during the final day of competition, right up to the final fence as an electric COPA S.M. EL REY – Trofeo Volvo tested the very best show jumpers in the world.
With 9 out of the world’s top 10 in action this weekend, the high calibre of competition drew in the crowds who were treated to three days of top sport and entertainment. A shopping village, Longines carousel, children’s area and refreshments featuring local delicacies, there was something for all the family at the fourth round of action on the 2017 Championship series
Santiago Varela Ullastres’ 1.50/1.55m course was a cracker for the final competition of a wonderful weekend full of action. Fences three and four featured a curving line to a triple bar, 1.50m in height, before a imposing oxer, 1.90m in spread. Questions were asked of the riders all around the course with two signature water trays thrown in to mix up the competition. The triple combination down the grandstand side required the riders to balance their horses perfectly as they galloped downhill following a full height 1.55m vertical, with two strides on the way out before checking the horses ahead of a light Massimo Dutti vertical. A committed six strides over another imposing oxer towards home to finish would see the best riders in the world tested to perfection in the final class. Top names such as Eric Lamaze (CAN) with Fine Lady 5, Christian Ahlmann (GER) with Dolocia, and Marcus Ehning (GER) with Cristy were all caught out at the combination, and all around the course hopes fell as poles were rolled.
Bertram Allen (IRL) looked to be a strong contender until he had the last fence down with Izzy By Picobello, and unusual retirements came from Marco Kutscher (GER), Jack Towell (USA), Darragh Kenny (IRL) and Henrik von Eckermann, as the 46 starters took their turn.
But it was a total of 12 who went through to the jump-off, including home heroes Eduardo Álvarez Aznar (ESP) with Uqualin du Saulcy and Manuel Fernandez Saro (ESP) with Coreall, keeping the local fans dreams of a home rider win alive.
First to go Jérôme Guery (BEL) and the big striding Garfield de Tiji Des Templiers knew he had to put in a valiant effort to try for the win, and galloped around the jump-off from the off. The Belgian rider make his intention clear with some phenomenal turns and shaving off as much time as he could, putting in so much effort to the last he was almost unseated on landing. With a beautiful rhythm throughout, Jérôme put the pressure on the riders to come, hoping to force mistakes for the world class field to follow and setting the time to beat at 38.45s. Next to go was Laura Kraut (USA) who also pushed it to the max with Constable II, however couldn’t match the impressive time, finishing two seconds down from Jérôme’s time in 40.35s.
Maikel van der Vleuten (NED) took the first fence at a superb angle, setting himself up nicely for the rest of the course. The top Dutch rider guided his nine year old mare VDL Groep Idi Utopia around, but cut the corner too tight to an imposing double and decided to pull her up at the last minute. Wisely he circled, but collected four faults on his way and out of contention for the win. Ludger Beerbaum (GER) took the same angle to the first fence with Chacon, and despite some fantastic turns the pair were unable to match the time to beat, stopping the clocks at 40.79s.
The crowd erupted as Manuel Fernandez Saro (ESP) and Coreall entered the ring, galloping around with local spectators on the edge of their seats. The pair looked strong on time, until agonisingly crashed through the final fence, pushing too hard to try beat Jérôme’s time. Nicola Philippaerts (BEL) also gave it his best shot with Chilli Willi, however finished just short of the time to beat in 40.72s, slipping the combination down the pack.
Jérome’s time looked impossible to beat until compatriot Pieter Devos (BEL) and Apart took centre stage. With the eye-catching chestnut blasting around the ring, the pair galloped throughout the course, turning back tightly and flying over the fences. A scary moment at the final fence had the spectators’ hearts in their mouths, but the pair came through, stopping the clock at 38.17s.
Flying Frenchman Simon Delestre (FRA) looked formidable with Chadino until an unfortunate slip after the penultimate fence lost the pair a split second. It was enough to drop Simon down two places, costing them the top spot and seeing them cross the finish in 38.46s. Similarly, Pedro Veniss (BRA) and For Felicila gave it a brave try, with the galloping course suited to the large-striding horse. Up on the time, silence fell around the arena as the pair came towards the final phase, but rolled a pole agonisingly, stopping the clock faster at 37.86s.
Last to go Daniel Bluman (ISR) gave it his all with the short-striding Bacara d’Archonfosse. Bravely galloping flat out, but keeping all the balance and delicacy required for the full height course, the pair pushed their efforts to the limited, and were rewarded by a phenomenal time, finishing just tenths of a second ahead in 38.07s. Daniel punched the air in delight as he cantered around the arena with his stunning horse to the appreciative crowd who cheered the pair out of the arena.
It was the perfect end to three days of thrilling action, as the Tour now looks ahead to Hamburg and the fifth round on the 15-event Championship, which kicks off from the 24th – 28th May.
Edited press release courtesy of: Global Champions Tour