A stellar jump off won in dramatic style by Frenchman Roger-Yves Bost set the GCT on fire with less than 24 hours to tomorrow’s championship final. Some of the world’s greatest speed riders were among the 14 clear rounds in tonight’s 5* class with Christian Ahlmann (GER) first in. He set an electrifying pace on Asca Z, and left out a stride to the Gucci oxer and going flat out to the final fence. His time of 41.47 looked hard to beat as he was followed by a fantastic series of rounds.
Kevin Staut (FRA) took off the brakes on Cheyenne, but finished third in 41.51 despite shaving off time with a series of tight turns. Johannes Ehning (GER), who was victorious in the opening 5* yesterday, took a tight turn at the Al Forsan double and was quicker at the halfway point by finished in 41.98. Dutch riders Maikel van der Vleuten and Gerco Schröder impressed with precision rounds but could not match Ahlmann’s time.
It was down to the Bost and he did not disappoint the excited Emirati crowd as he blasted through the first part of the jump off course at the Al Forsan arena on his 11-year-old mare Nikyta d’Elle. With spectators cheering he was in full flight from the Jaeger-LeCoultre fence to the last, finishing in 40.24 - over a second faster than Ahlmann in second place. Bost said after the prize giving: “My horse is very fast and I have to not lose control because she is very fresh. It is the second year I have been riding her. She had a rest and I rode her in the GCT Vienna. The arena is good, the lighting is good and it was a technical course not so big, so I expected quite a lot to go into the jump off.”
The electric atmosphere for the jump off was just a taste of the drama to come in the series final tomorrow evening. Rolf-Göran Bengtsson and Edwina Tops-Alexander - joint first in the GCT ranking and the only two riders who can win the championship - gave their star Grand Prix horses Casall and Itot a rest tonight. The stakes will be high for Rolf and Edwina in the most thrilling end to a GCT season. But they will also be high for the world class competitors who turn out to every GCT event. The top riders will be pulling out all the stops for a place in the final top 18 and a share of the nearly €1million prize money.
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