Less than two weeks after winning the Rolex Grand Prix in Aachen, Christian Ahlmann and Codex One (Contendro I x Glueckspilz) returned to the top – this time in the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix in Valkenswaard. Full of confidence, the pair pushed all competition aside to cash in the top prize of 100 000 Euro – making the last two weeks pretty lucrative. For a second weekend in a row, Henrik von Eckermann was runner-up – this time riding Gotha FRH (Goldfever x Prestige Pilot). In third followed no other than Henrik's boss Ludger Beerbaum aboard Chiara (Contender x Coronado).
These three riders were also the only ones that managed to produce triple clear rounds, after facing three challenging courses set up by master-mind Ulliano Vezzani in the huge grass ring which is more or less the garden of Stall Tops. Thirteen out of the 45 riders managed to produce clear rounds over the opening track, and were joined by four more riders for round two – one with a single time penalty and three on four faults.
The second round track was no easier than the first, and with another twelve fences that also included three combinations – there was plenty of jumping to be done before reaching the jump-off. None of those riders coming into round two with faults could keep the fences intact, and the one that fell frequently was the first element of the vertical-vertical combination of the fence at six. This fence also caught out first-round clear Rolf-Göran Bengtsson on Unita Ask (Corrado I x Caretino) who eventually finished tenth to take over the lead in the tour.
Then the double clears started ticking in. The first one came from Alexander Onischenko on his relatively new ride Valentino Velvet (Indoctro x Burggraaf). Then followed four more as Tiffany Foster on Southwind VDL (Baloubet du Rouet x Ahorn), Sheikh Ali Bin Khalid Al Thani on Vienna Olympic (Cassini I x Contender), Cassio Rivetti on Vivant (Fuergo Du Prelet x Landino) and Christian Ahlmann on Codex One all went clear. Maikel van der Vleuten suffered the same faith as Rolf, while next-to-go Ludger Beerbaum followed with a clear round. The final two clears came from Rodrigo Pessoa on Status (Satisfaction x Sao Paulo) and Henrik von Eckermann.
The jump-off counted eight riders, and opened up for a few tight turns – but most of all for a lot of gallop. The last line to an upright was extremely long and invited for serious flat-out racing, and the fence also caught out Foster and Al Thani in their efforts to take the lead. The two Ukrainian riders – Onischenko and Rivetti – also had a fence down each, and the door was open for the last four riders.
In a Global Tour Grand Prix, time is literary money – and with this in mind Christian Ahlmann wasted no time on Marion Jauß's lovely 12 year old stallion. Getting great turns to the second and the third fence, and then riding the following line with amazing accuracy Ahlmann did not once pull back towards the combination that then came up leaving the audience with little breath as everybody realized that here was another magic moment being created by the German rider. Clearing the penultimate oxer, Christian set Codex One in top gear and came to support on the two final strides on the last vertical stopping the clock on 41.68 seconds. It looked like the winning round, and so it was.
Ludger tried to catch his compatriot, but could not match the time aboard his grey mare – slotting into runner-up position almost a second behind. Rodrigo Pessoa gave his all, and the time was good at 41.97 but the last fence fell as it did for others and the Brazilian rider went into third. As last to go it was all down to Henrik, and it was a very close call all the way down to the final line where the Swedish rider could not quite match Ahlmann's flair – and he had to settle for second with a time of 41.91 pushing Ludger down to third and Rodrigo to fourth.
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