Daniel Deusser and Cornet d’Amour (Cornet Obolensky x Damiani) delivered two breath taking rounds in the Rolex Grand Prix in Den Bosch to snatch the win from Michael Whitaker as last to go in a marathon jump-off. With no less than 16 riders out of 40 producing first clear rounds, it was little doubt that it would be a race against the clock with the world’s best riders and horses ready to battle it out for the 87 500 Euro top prize.
The clears in the first rounds came like pearls on a string. As no. five, six and eight to go Christian Ahlmann, Leopold van Asten and Michael Whitaker set the first clears, then followed three more in a row four riders later and then another four in a row another four riders later. And so it continued, until the jump-off counted sixteen in total.
The track was big and technical enough though, and ahead of the class most worried about the final lines. After the triple it was a little tight on five to a vertical, and following a tall blue gate as fence eleven it was four tight strides to a big oxer then followed by six forward or seven supporting strides to the last oxer. In real life, most got in trouble in the vertical-oxer combination at 6ab though and also in the triple combination placed on the diagonal close out of the corner as 9abc.
Christian Alhmann and his winning partner from the 2014 Rolex Grand Prix in Aachen – Codex One (Contendro I x Glueckspilz) – put pressure on the rest when they posted a blistering fast clear round to stop the clock on 35.40. The heat was on, and those who wanted to catch the two had to take a risk. Home rider Leopold van Asten did exactly that, but unfortunately on the expense of a rail down on the penultimate vertical ironically enough provided by his sponsor VDL.
Michael Whitaker was next in the ring, and the British veteran delivered aboard the quirky Viking (Jacomar x Almox Prints). Leaving the breaks long behind Michael set off around the shortened track, were it was all about tight roll-back turns before a long stretch waited from the penultimate vertical to the final Rolex oxer. Cheered on by the crowds like he was their own, Michael went flat out to the last crossing the finish line on an amazing 34.97 seconds to take over the lead.
One of the only two female riders in the jump-off was next to go, but like Leopold van Asten Katharina Offel had to see the penultimate vertical fall to the ground. Roger Yves Bost went for an unusual safe clear in 38.30 seconds, while Olivier Philippaerts had a pole down in the combination halfway. Marcus Ehning did not have luck on his side and had two down, while his compatriot Ludger Beerbaum produced a fast clear on Chaman (Baloubet du Rouet x I Love You) to slot into a temporary third place.
It did not last long in the top three for Beerbaum though, as Scott Brash and Hello Sanctos as next to go (Quasimodo v. Molendreef x Nabab de Reve) squeezed into second place behind Michael after another blistering fast round to stop the clock on 35.15 seconds.
It would go six riders in and out of the ring in Brabant Hallen that all would leave Michael and Scott on top of the list. Kevin Staut had two down, Gerco Schröder went for a safe clear, Maikel van der Vleuten took the final oxer down after an extremely fast round, Luciana Diniz did another clear on the amazing veteran Winningmood (Darco x Cassini I) eventually ending fourth – while Patrice Delaveau and Steve Guerdat both had rails down in the combination.
Daniel Deusser took the challenge though, and with a breath taking turn from the third oxer to the combination and also two fantastic jumps over the two following verticals the German rider took all possible risk to the final oxer as he was whistled, cheered and lifted on to the last by a very vocal Dutch crowds and punched his fist in the air with joy as the score board showed that he had not only won the Rolex Grand Prix – but by 1.28 seconds, leaving second to Whitaker and third to Brash!
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