It was a very fast 16-horse jump-off in Sunday’s CSI5* Grand Prix Hermès in Paris that saw Abdelkebir Ouaddar and the 12-year-old stallion Quickly de Kreisker (Diamant de Semilly x Laudanum XX) going to the top. The atmosphere in the amazing venue at the Grand Palais was electric as always during the Grand Prix, and the audience seemed as happy with the winners as if one of their own riders had been on top of the podium.
It was a technical, but fair track that was set by course designer Frank Rothenberger. Twelve fences waited for the riders with a triple combination at fence six and a double towards the end of the course at fence 11. Despite the challenges, 16 riders left all the fences intact and qualified for what promised to be an exciting jump-off.
The jump-off track was cut down to eight jumps, including 6a and b from the former triple combination. Dutch rider Maikel van der Vleuten was first to go aboard VDL Groep Arera C (Indoctro x Voltaire). Maikel rode an efficient round, but with four faults a podium finish seemed out of reach and the combination finally ended as number twelve.
Switzerland's Martin Fuchs went for a safe clear round at 42,31 seconds which turned out to be a vise decision, as it was good enough for fifth place after all sixteen riders had finished their rounds.
Christian Ahlmann is always fast and is currently on an amazing form. Riding the 12-year-old stallion Epleaser van’t Heike (For Pleasure x Nabab de Reve), the German rider was clear and nearly three seconds faster than Fuchs with 39,47.
Michael Whitaker went for a fast time, but had a brick down on the wall before he nearly crashed into a fence in his run against the clock. Both Bassem Hassan Mohammed and Emanuele Gaudiano ended at four faults, and the same went for Hans-Dieter Dreher despite a super round aboard Cool and Easy (Contender x Riverman).
Henrik von Eckermann had two down before Marcus Ehning and Pret a Tout (Hiram Chambertin x Stew Boy) crossed the finish line on a clean sheet, but 0,49 seconds behind Ahlmann.
Great Britain's Scott Brash and Hello Forever (For Pleasure x Nimmerdor) put up a brilliant performance with the most accurate turns of the day. Even with an extra stride towards the penultimate vertical the combination took over the lead 0,69 seconds ahead of Ahlmann.
The next four combinations all had four faults chasing the number one spot, but Malin Baryard-Johnsson played it safe with her relatively new ride H&M Cue Channa 42 (Cardento x Robin Z) and secured sixth place with a clear round in 48,52.
Morocco's Abdelkebir Ouaddar and Quickly de Kreisker were not named the best combination on the 2015 FEI Jumping Ranking for no reason. The crowd-favorites used their crazy fast speed from start to finish and cut off an unbelievable 2,38 seconds on Brash’ time; it was close to an unbelievable round the two delievered. The audience nearly lifted the glass roof off the Grand Palais, and no one could help but smile as Ouaddar and Quickly de Kreisker left the arena as winners.
Text © World of Showjumping // Picture © Tiffany van Halle
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