It was standing room only at the stunning Spanish round of the Longines Global Champions Tour as Marcus Ehning took a sensational win with the 13-year-old chestnut gelding Pret a Tout (Hiram Chambertin x Stew Boy). In front of packed passionate crowds, an eight rider jump-off had spectators on the edge of their seats right until the final fence as last combination to go, Marcus and Pret a Tout, galloped the course in a stunning display of skill and speed.
Following his win, Marcus praised his phenomenal horse Pret a Tout, saying: "I knew he was a good horse, but I didn’t expect him to be that good or that quick! [He] showed all the experience and all his quality and I’m really happy to win today." Marcus also spoke of the momentous and ground-breaking impact of the Global Champions Tour on improving the sport of show jumping internationally: "It is one of the biggest improvements in the sport in the last 20 years for all of show jumping worldwide - for other shows it’s a big goal to come close to the Global Tour. I think over the years you could see how the sport improved, and what kind of countries we have now with all the stages. It’s amazing what Jan did and I think for the sport it could not be something better.”
To the delight of the home crowd, who packed the grandstands to watch the action unfold and cheered passionately throughout the competition, local rider Eduardo Alaverz Aznar took home the third place aboard Rokfeller de Pleville Bois Margot ( l''Arc de Triomphe). Speaking of what it mean to take the podium on home turf, Eduardo said: “It’s really special to be on the podium in my city and in my club where I have been riding for so many years.” Abdullah Al Sharbatly and his LGCT Grand Prix of Shanghai winning horse, the 16-year-old Tobalio (Numero Uno x Jacorde), took second place, and were the ones to beat after setting the initial early pace as the first combination into the jump-off.
Against the stunning Spanish setting, the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Madrid presented by CaixaBank got underway with a full field of 50 international riders in action for round six of the Tour. Course designer, Guilherme Nogueira, who will be building the showjumping courses for the 2016 Rio Olympics, set a fair but challenging Grand Prix, to test the best in the world.
The initial round proved tough, however first rider in Paris Sellon and Adare (Royal Bravour x Burggraaf) went clear, setting the pace for the rest of the international field. Compatriot Georgina Bloomberg lead the way for most of round one after a beautiful showcase of showjumping with her mare Lilli (Lefevre x Diamir). 18 riders went through, including Bertram Allen, Kevin Staut and Gregory Wathelet. LGCT ranking leader Christian Alhmann had an unlucky fence down, but pushed to the final fences, just squeezing him into the top 18 and through to the next round.
The second round was met with further tests for the riders who jumped clear. Eight riders went through to the jump-off, including Roger-Yves Bost with Qoud'Coeur de la Loge ( Ideal de la Loge x Tenor de la Cour), Rolf-Göran Bengtsson with Unita Ask (Corrado I x Caretino), Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum with Fibonacci 17 (For Feeling x Corland) and Olivier Philippaerts with H&M Legend Of Love (Landzauber x Corgraf).
Abdullah Al Sharbatly was first to go, setting the pace at an impressive 36.08s. He put the pressure on the rest of the field who were unable to beat his time as the final stages played out. Each round had the crowd on the edge of their seats as they cheered the horses and riders on. But it was the last combination to go who triumphed, and with his foot to the floor Marcus Ehning galloped the course, pushing at every opportunity but keeping Pret a Tout careful over the full 1.60m height verticals and intimidating oxers. A flat out gallop to the last, and the pair finished in a blistering 35.17s, with an ecstatic Marcus celebrating as he passed the cheering crowd.
“I’m very happy to win here today. For me it’s one of the nicest Globals that we have - it’s a fantastic atmosphere with unbelievable conditions here. Two years ago I came very close, but now I’m happy to win here in Madrid, it’s a traditional show," said Marcus Ehning.
Abdullah Al Sharbatly was also full of praise: “I would like to thank everyone and all the organisers, especially our friend Jan Tops, our sponsor Longines and everyone who arranged this amazing event. It’s amazing to have the Global Tour - it’s super for the riders, for the owners and everyone. It’s improved the sport. I’m really happy with my horse - he won LGCT Shanghai and was second here. We were first to go in the jump-off, which is always a difficult situation when you start at the beginning. But I set a good time without taking a risk before my colleague Marcus did a good round and beat my time - I was really happy for him as he deserved to win today. My horse is 16 now, but really in great health, and I hope he’s going to jump a couple more years.”
Source: Press release from LGCT // Pictures © Stefano Grasso/LGCT
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