Marcus Ehning and Plot Blue rode two picture perfect rounds in Gothenburg to take home the Grand Prix Saturday evening. Marcus left Denis Lynch on Abbervail van het Dingeshof and Edwina Tops-Alexander on Titus II behind him in second and third. The atmosphere was as usual amazing in the packed arena of Scandinavium, with the spectators taking completely off when home hero Rolf-Göran Bengtsson and other Swedish riders entered the ring.
The first round saw eight of the 34 riders go clear and on to the jump-off. Faults were spread around the twelve fence track, but many of the faults came in the triple combination at 5abc – an oxer, vertical, oxer – and at fence eight which followed on a bend line from a narrow oxer at seven. The airy vertical-vertical combination at fence 11a and b with water trays underneath also caused trouble for some.
The first rider to enter the ring was also the first to go clear; Edwina rode a great round on Titus II (Kanjer x Topas) who she has only had for a couple of months. Danish rider Linnea Ericsson also rode a lovely clear on Damgaardens Extens (Crelido x Aleksander). Drama followed when Marc Houtzager was shot out of the saddle at fence four when Sterrehof’s Tamino (Numero Uno x Farmer) put a little too much power into his jump. Marc had no chance to keep on, and fell off. Luckily all went well with the Dutch rider.
The next clear came from Ludger Beerbaum – who is very popular in Sweden – on Chiara (Contender x Coronado).Denis Lynch also did a great job on Abbervail van het Dingeshof (Nonstop x Jus de Pomme), but had to work hard in the penultimate combination. Katharina Offel also did well and produced a clear round on the Cornet Obolensky-son Charlie, who competed against his own father in this class. Home rider Linda Heed was really unlucky to have a stop on fence one, and then ride clear for the rest of the course.
Pius Schwizer rode a textbook clear on Ulysse (Nonstop x Jus de Pomme), as did Marcus on Plot Blue (Mr. Blue x Pilot). When Rolf-Göran Bengtsson entered the ring on Ninja La Silla (Guidam x Lys de Darmen) the roof almost lifted – and then when he set off one could hear a pin fall to the ground. When Rolf crossed the finish line leaving all the fences intact the crowds exploded.
The jump-off track had seven fences, and opened for a few short turns and one long stretch to the last oxer. Edwina put pressure on the remaining seven riders with a clear and fast round on the time of 33.92. Linnea also stayed clear, although a little slower than Edwina – eventually it was good enough for fourth. Ludger really went for it, and rushed down to the last oxer on Chiara but the front pole of the oxer fell to the ground in the effort.
Denis was next and really tightened the turns as well as putting Abbervail’s big gallop to use down to the last fence. The Irish rider managed to shave off 0.13 seconds on Edwina’s time and went up in the lead. Katharina Offel produced another clear, but was not fast enough for the top. Pius gave it a go though, but a race to the last oxer resulted in one down. It didn’t help that the time was good; 32.32 seconds.
Marcus has such precision it’s hard to see that he is even riding fast. On Plot Blue he rode a lovely balanced and rhythmical round, and managed to shave off an incredible 1.75 seconds after really turning tight everywhere possible and galloping on to the last oxer . His time of 32.04 was the one to beat when Rolf arrived as last to go and had no choice but to go for it. Rolf and Ninja La Silla really did their best, but unfortunately the last oxer fell after the two raced down the last stretch and got a way too big stride to the oxer in an effort to catch Marcus. The home crowds did a little ‘Noooooooooo!’ before it was all forgotten and Rolf was wildly applauded for his try.
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