PAGINA WEB AMBASCIATA D'ITALIA NEL PRINCIPATO DI MONACO
Pictured Above and below: Christian Ahlmann and Taloubet Z
The Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Portugal
As last to ride in the jump-off German Christian Ahlmann won the Grand Prix of Portugal with the stallion Taloubet Z beating Portugal’s leading rider Luciana Diniz (Winningmood) and fellow countryman Ludger Beerbaum (Chaman).
Having to settle for second place in the feature class the previous night and to be runner up at the GCT Grand Prix of Monaco the week before, Ahlmann was a relieved man as he left the arena upon winning. “He has jumped so well all day, in fact all weekend and last week in Monaco. It is great to win a GCT.”
The GCT Ranking has changed once again as Ludger’s third placing rocketed him to a clear lead with 186.50 points and Diniz has moved to 3rd position.
The beautiful grassed arena in Estoril welcomed 45 starters to the Global Champions Tour of Portugal. The stands were packed to capacity and the VIP’s swilling their champagne.
Round One Course
The first round was big with the first few fences on course encouraging riders to open up. Fence 5, the Massimo Dutti oxer, was met via seven strides on a wide curved line coming from a tall wall. The six strides from the Eurosport vertical, (fence 7) to the open water did not see the flag come up too often and riders had to be on their game to directly ride 5 strides to a wide oxer.
The area that created most difficulty was the treble combination positioned second from home. The distances were short within and the related seven-stride approach had to be executed well with a wide curved line.
German Course designer Frank Rothenberger commented on a couple of aspects about the course prior to the start. “We will run the first round without light as we don’t want to be disturbing the horses. It is a mixed field of experienced horses and less experienced riders at this type of competition and the reverse of that in experienced horses and less experienced riders. I would like 10 clear for the second round.”
He was not far off the mark as nine combinations executed clean rounds.
It took only 6 horses into the first round before Swiss Rider Clarissa Crotter recorded the first clear with the careful chestnut gelding Imperial West Side van Meerputhoeve.
However it was the following competitor Portugese Marina Frutuosa de Melo who the crowd went wild about, as she jumped the final Jaeger-LeCoultre oxer to be home free of penalties with Coltaire Z.
Half way through the list there were only two clear rounds and Dutch rider Leopold van Asten the next best incurring just one time fault with VDL Groep Santana B.
Kevin Staut (FRA) with Banda De Hus jumped clean. French investor Haras de Hus, who also has purchased eventing, jumping and dressage horses for his home country riders owns this horse.
Another clear through for the Portugese with Luciana Diniz and Winningmood putting the home crowd to shouts of praise.
Two-time winner of the Grand Prix of Estoril (2008 and 2010) Meredith looked set to make history if she could win with Shutterfly. And what has this horse not won.
She was on schedule being the fifth clear round. Her fellow team riders Marco Kutscher posted a clear with the grey stallion Cornet Obolensky and Philipp Weishaupt had one rail to in hand that saw him also qualify for the second round.
Ludger Beerbaum jumped clean with Chaman, so a happy team Beerbaum with their four German riders through to the second round. In fact the team nearly didn’t make it to the event, as they had to be roadside for an extra eight hours on the trip to Estoril with a blown tyre on their trailer.
One time fault last GCT in Monaco for Christian Ahlmann and Taloubet Z but not this time as they were faultless and through to the second round.
Rolf-Goran Bengtsson(SWE) incurred one time fault with Casall La Silla in an otherwise spotlessly executed round. Ironic that Ahlmann ran second last week in Monaco with one time fault and this week the winner in Monaco has a time fault.
Round two was also in reach for seven of the four fault rounds, except French rider Julien Epaillard (FRA) who posted the slowest four faults and was in 19th position dropping out of contention.
Round Two Course
The riders faced a total of 11 obstacles with 13 efforts presenting plenty of challenges with many riders having to go for time in order to better their scores
President of the Global Champions Tour, Jan Tops, commented on the course. “I think this is a rather delicate track with a few short distances and then a few long ones. It will require good riding. It is different here than in Monte-Carlo on the big open grass arena.”
“The line to the GCT fence at the fifth obstacle is hard enough. This may count in the end, as those chasing a good time will have to be careful.” Jan added. “The second last fence is the Jaeger-LeCoultre oxer that is very big but the riders have space to go to it. The last fence, the brick wall, is delicate and with the long ride approach this may be an interesting fence of the competition.”
As it turned out the second round course did not cause too many issues with 11 of the 18 jumping clean, six that were double cleans proceeding to jump-off.
And what a jump-off this was!
Marco Kutscher took two down, the big oxer at fence 2 and the ‘Estoril Cicuito’ vertical that was painted a muted grey and deceptive to the eye. Meredith and Shutterfly also had this fence down but she took a very short route where possible and came home in a time of 48.68 clearly putting pressure on those to come.
Spurred on by the home crowd Luciana (pictured above) jumped impeccably with Winningmood and cut a stride out to the Jaeger-LeCoultre fence second from home to finish clear in 47.32.
Clarissa Crotta was not as fast and pulled a rail at the big ‘Jaeger-Le Coultre’ oxer.
Ahlmann out on the big striding scopey stallion didn’t look to be going that fast early on, but once he had jumped the first two fences he opened up across the arena. The round looked like a walk in the park and they were across the finishing line to win in a time of 45.21 a clear 2 seconds in front. Christian was happy to take home the 92,000 euros cheque and a great timepiece - The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso watch.
Taloubet Z is owned by the Leon Melchior (Zangersheide) sold to him by Jan Tops as a 7 year old. The stallion has had an exceptional year winning the World Cup final in Leipzig and now a Global champions Tour Grand Prix. Christian has competed at each of the GCT events this year and plans to continue to follow the tour to the reaming destinations – Chantilly (22-24 July), Valkenswaard (12-14 August) Rio de Janeiro (2-4 September) and Abu Dhabi (24-26 November).
At the conclusion of the press conference Ludger was presented with the GCT Ranking lead armband that he snugly ensconced around his arm stating; “I am never going to give this back now.” Ludger had to hand the armband over to Australian Edwina Alexander after the Monaco event.
For the departing GCT Ranking leader, Australian Edwina Alexander it all didn’t go to plan in the Grand Prix with Ciske van Overis retiring after the ninth fence in the first round. Edwina now holds second position on the GCT ranking with 155 points (31.50 points behind Ludger).
The top riders meet again in two weeks for the 7th leg of the Global Champions Tour in Chantilly, France (22nd – 24th July).
With the Global Champions Tour since the beginning, Estoril hosts for the 6th time the best riders of the world in show jumping. The park in the city centre of Cascais provides the riders and
horses with the excellent show jumping.
Known worldwide as host of supreme sports events in tennis, golf, sailing, surf and motorsports, Estoril from July 1to July 2 is the world capital of show jumping. Enjoying a pleasant climate all the year round, the Region offers a surprising variety of landscapes and attractions. Just two steps from the capital Lisbon and its international airport, one could say that this whole area is a mosaic made up of natural and human microclimates, an ideal destination for tourism. There is a wide assortment of hotels, restaurants, bars and different attractions to choose from, of which the Estoril Casino and the Cascais Marina are amongst the most outstanding.
There are remarkable palaces, convents, museums, national parks, cultural and leisure centre’s to visit. The Region offers a perfect combination for rest, sport and the opportunity for business meetings at the Congress Centre, one of the best in Europe.
For the 6th year riders, families, friends, teams and officials, participating in the GCT, are most welcome at the Portuguese Riviera.