Straight from their Grand Prix win in Paderborn last weekend, Marcus Ehning (GER) and the 11-year-old stallion Comme il faut (Cornet Obolensky x Ramiro) continued their winning streak in the CSI5* Longines Global Champions Tour of Vienna on Saturday.
In a Grand Prix full of twists and turns, Rolf-Göran Bengtsson (SWE) and Casall Ask (Caretino x Lavall I) narrowly missed winning the overall title leaving the tour down to the wire for its very last stop in Doha.
It was an extraordinary night of tension in Austria for the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Vienna presented by LGT Private Banking, the penultimate leg of the series. Rolf needed to finish first or second to win the LGCT-title ahead of his closest rival Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS). However the evening’s result left Edwina’s hopes alive for a historic triple title, while Rolf’s dream of winning the LGCT crown is still within reach as the tour looks to Doha for the final chapter in this season.
The €300,000 Grand Prix of Vienna was won in beautiful style by Marcus Ehning with a lightning quick round on Comme il faut, a combination that is in top form at the moment. The pair crossed the finish line in 38.67 seconds, ahead of Ehning's compatriot Janne-Friederike Meyer on Goja (Wandor van de Mispelaere x Palestro vd Begijnakker) in 39.68 seconds. Following his win, Marcus said: “It was my day today. My horse was amazing, he was flying. He did a brilliant job.”
The first round track was all about power and speed under floodlights in the sand arena. There was palpable tension in the arena as ranking leader Rolf and Casall Ask entered the ring and, after a few heart stopping moments, jumped clear and in time. Edwina was under intense pressure coming into her first round on Caretina de Joter (Caretino x Contender) and despite jumping clear clocked up a painful time penalty. Edwina had a nail-biting time waiting for the final riders to complete their first rounds before she even knew if she was in the top 18 qualified for round two.
The high quality field resulted in a star-studded line up of 18 riders qualified for the second round, with names such as Scott Brash (GBR), Bertram Allen (IRL), Kevin Staut (FRA), Luciana Diniz (POR), Simon Delestre (FRA), Maikel van der Vleuten (NED) and Laura Renwick (GBR) on the list. No less than seventeen of the eighteen riders qualified produced clears in the first round, leaving the final spot to Edwina with her one time penalty.
The second round proved another challenging test for the 18 riders through. Edwina was first to go and put in a careful clear, however picked up another time fault leaving her with a tally of two. As the round unfolded, faults were picked up throughout the course; with Bertram Allen and Scott Brash just two of the names to drop out with poles down. Rolf once more raised the pressure by jumping clear, and a total of 11 riders went through to the jump-off as the packed grandstands watched on with mounting tension.
Simon Delestre was first to go, and put pressure on aboard Chesall Zimequest (Casall x Concerto II). The quick pair stopped the clock at 40.18 seconds, and the heat was on. Others tried and failed to match their pace, with Daniel Bluman and Kevin Staut both putting in brilliant times but rolling the final pole. For Rolf it was not to be either; a misunderstanding left him with a stop from Casall Ask and a total of six penalties which means the Swedish rider goes into the final stage of the tour only five points ahead of Edwina.
Janne-Freiderike Meyer however, pushed the huge striding Goja to the fences with the massive horse agile in the tight turns and flying the fences just beating Simon's time by 0.5 seconds.
But it was the penultimate rider to go, Marcus Ehning on the speedy Comme il faut who powered to the win with a round produced to perfection by the German maestro shaving the time down to an incredible 38.67 seconds.
“My horse is a real fighter, he has a super brain and is always giving his best - in a jump-off he can race and I’m very happy that it worked out. I saw Simon and knew what I had to do. I rode one and two and it wasn’t what I wanted, so I thought ‘I really have to go’, and thought I could turn a bit tighter at the final three jumps - in the end it was our day," said Ehning following his win.
Meyer was also very pleased about her result in Vienna; “I’m really happy with Goja. I’d like to say thank you to Jan Tops, because of him and the Shanghai Swans I have the great opportunity to ride in this show. I’m really proud of my horse - I saw Simon and knew I had to really ride to be faster and I tried all my best, I was so proud we were fast enough, but still I knew that Marcus could go faster - he’s unbeatable fast, so it feels like a win for me!"
Source: Press release from LGCT / Picture © Stefano Grasso/LGCT
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