Leading German rider Christian Ahlmann leaped to victory in the Prix Massimo Dutti at tonight’s GCT in Estoril on his new star Aragon. The dramatic grey gelding flourished around the Cascais showground with huge leaps in the jump off to clinch the unbeatable winning time of 43.26.
Forty riders came to start in the first round that consisted of 13 fences designed by Frank Rothenberger. With the picturesque grass arena lined on one side by national flags and with the VIP areas full, spectators were treated to some stunning first rounds by Ahlmann, Whitaker, Lynch and Lauren Hough. The seventh GCT oxer and the triple combination caused problems for some of the top ranked riders and others went clear but failed to finish inside the time allowed.
Ten riders went through to the jump off in the 1m50 class and the big, long track between fences proved pivotal in the final results. Highly talented British speed rider Laura Renwick got off to a flying start and took second place on Oz de Breve in 44.06, her second placing of the day in her first GCT appearance. Legendary British rider Michael Whitaker on Viking received a big cheer finishing third in 44.17. Irish rider Denis Lynch was fourth on his stunning bay stallion All Star.
The biggest applause was reserved for home rider Luis Sabino Gonçalves who was first in the arena and jumped the first clear of the night on his grey stallion Imperio Egipcio Milton. In the jump off Luis delivered the first clear again and raced to the final Massimo Dutti fence in 47.47 thrilling the home crowd in the grandstands.
Ahlmann, winner here at the GCT Grand Prix in Estoril last year, said he was completely surprised at the huge success he is having with Aragon, by Askari and Kolibri, as they have only been a combination for four weeks. They had another success in a 5* class at GCT Monte-Carlo only last month. "I am really, really surprised. It is a great result. It is working so well with this horse. I have had Aragon for four weeks only. He has a lot of scope and I’m really surprised at how it is working."
Source: GCT press release
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