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Ahlmann attacks from behind to win the second round of the 2016 Longines FEI World Cup Final, while Guerdat takes the overall lead

Saturday, 26 March 2016
2016 Longines FEI World Cup Final

Christian Ahlmann and Taloubet Z. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
Christian Ahlmann and Taloubet Z won the second round of the 2016 Longines FEI World Cup Final. Photos (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

The second round of the 2016 Longines FEI World Cup Final was what showjumping is all about, and changed the scenery in Gothenburg from day one. Germany’s Christian Ahlmann bounced back from yesterday’s disappointing round to take the win, this time on his 2011 World Cup Champion Taloubet Z ( Galoubet A x Polydor). Steve Guerdat delivered an incredible strong performance to take the overall lead on a day that proved to be a hard one for some of the world’s very best riders.

Santiago Varela’s fourteen fence track was a testing one; huge and delicate at the same time. In the end, it was the final line from fence eleven on five strides to fence twelve – a vertical – followed by and oxer and then another vertical – that proved to be the real heartbreaker of the competition. Again and again, the vertical at fence twelve fell and so did the following oxer.

For today’s round, 33 riders had lined up to compete for fame and glory – but only seven of them managed to go clear over the testing track. The American riders started where they left off yesterday; with disappointing performances from Charlie Jacobs who retired, Quentin Judge who finished on twelve faults while Jack Towell recorded sixteen faults and Katie Dinan was eliminated.

After an opening full of faults, Christian Ahlmann – who had two down yesterday on Colorit (Coriano x Capitol) to finish 25th – returned strong with his faithful 16-year-old stallion Taloubet Z to set a magnificent clear round underlining his consistency through this indoor season. Two riders later Ireland’s Denis Lynch jumped a sky high round on the 13-year-old gelding All Star 5 (Argentinus x Alme) to again go clear and then it was USA’s Peter Lutz who gave his Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland something to smile about when keeping a clean sheet aboard Robin de Ponthual (Elf d'Or x Calypso d'Herbier).

For those in between, it was again and again the final line that caused heartache. Maikel van der Vleuten, Jos Verlooy – and a very well riding Chris Chugg who again impressed on the only 8-year-old Cristalline (Cristallo x Caretello B) all had one down on fence twelve or thirteen while Marco Kutscher on the other hand set the second clear for Germany on the 10-year-old mare Chaccorina (Chacco-Blue x Larenco). 

Denis Lynch and All Star 5. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
Second placed on day two: Denis Lynch and All Star 5.

Harrie Smolders continued his good work from yesterday, and it was indeed a job to be done. Motivating the fantastic 12-year-old stallion Emerald N.O.P. (Diamant De Semilly x Carthago) continuously through the course towards a clear round, the Dutch rider delivered his second clean round for the weekend to move on to the jump-off.

Germany’s Marcus Ehning yet again displayed his fantastic abilities on the horse back, and did a clear round on the 13-year-old stallion Cornado NRW (Cornet Obolensky x Acobat) to enter the jump-off as the third German rider – and then the real shake-ups started.

Patrice Delaveau – who was sitting 6th after yesterday’s round – surprisingly had the planks down on Lacrimoso HDC (Landjunge x Cascavelle), that then later on in the course ran outside on the oxer at thirteen to have it down on the second attempt. It was game over for the French rider. Yesterday’s fifth placed Nicola Philippaerts had to see the back pole on the oxer at fence ten fall to the ground to finish on four faults, but that seemed quite undramatic compared to what was to follow.

But first: Steve Guerdat was next to go on the 10-year-old Corbinian ( Cornet Obolensky x Pilot) – that still is relatively inexperienced at this level. The Swiss rider – also reigning World Cup Champion – delivered one of the rounds of his life, working all the way thorugh and crossed the finish line on a zero penalty score after an amazing performance. 

Harrie Smolders and Emerald N.O.P. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
Harrie Smolders and Emerald N.O.P. finished third.

Then, the competition went from drama to a thriller.

2014 World Cup Champions Daniel Deusser and Cornet D’Amour (Cornet Obolensky x Damiani) – third yesterday in the opening round – saw the a-element of the triple combination falling to the ground to finish on four faults. France’s Simon Delestre – second yesterday – was to suffer the same faith; although on the bogey fence at no. twelve that hit the sand for him and Qlassic Bois Margot (L'Arc de Triomphe x Galoubet A).

The hardest blow of the day came for yesterday’s winner though, as Penelope Leprevost remained clear all the way on Vagabond de la Pomme (Vigo d'Arsouilles x For Pleasure) – to then towards the very last vertical make the decision to add a stride, doing six instead of five, leaving her four-legged partner with little chances of clearing it and adding four faults. Needless to say, it was a disappointed Penelope and Team France that left the ring behind. 

In the jump-off, it was Christian Ahlmann from beginning to end. Few can match him and Taloubet Z against the clock, and today was no exception. The man who has been on fire in the Western European World Cup League this season – taking no less than three World Cup wins – was just not to match and dared to take the inside turn to the vertical placed as the fourth fence. Ahlmann’s trademark tight turns proved to be the winning formula today, and nobody was even near to catching up with his time of 36.85 seconds. 

Lynch took a safe and wise option to finish as runner-up in 41.42 seconds, while Lutz saw two poles fall to the ground – eventually finishing seventh. Marco Kutscher also had two down to finish sixth, while Emerald kicked out a pole on the H&M oxer in a good time of 39.18 seconds to put Harrie Smolders in third. Ehning had to settle for fifth, also he with two fences down while Steve Guerdat was maximum unlucky to have the top pole of the first vertical down to slot into fourth place – still taking the overall lead as a very exciting round two of the Longines FEI World Cup came to and end in Gothenburg. 


Text ©  World of Showjumping // Pictures ©  Jenny Abrahamsson

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