The Longines Global Champions Tour of Vienna Grand Prix presented by Icuras was won by Marcus Ehning and 17-year-old Plot Blue (Mr. Blue x Pilot) who looked untouchable from the start and finished with the only treble clear round, following a roller-coaster class filled with thrills and spills. Second place went to Simon Delestre with Qlassic Bois Margot (L'Arc de Triomphe x Galoubet A) and third to Portugal's Luciana Diniz with Winningmood (Darco x Cassini). Tour leader Ludger Beerbaum finished 5th, one place ahead of his close ranking rival Rolf-Göran Bengtsson, enabling him to maintain his lead.
It was one of the toughest Grand Prix courses of the season set this evening by Frank Rotheberger in front of packed stands and a bustling VIP. The first round course was described as 'not nice' by one star rider. The placement of the fences was awkward, the distances were demanding and the lines were jagged. The time was also tight, meaning riders had to push when they might prefer to hold and cut corners where they would rather use the precious space available. The biggest test was the final line of the Longines combination on five long strides to a flimsy upright, similar to the line that sorted out the best from the rest in Friday night's Gaston Glock's Championat Vienna.
Ludger Beerbaum picked up four faults in the first round with his World Championship ride Chiara (Mr. Blue x Grand Veneur SF), putting him out of podium contention but high enough to make it through to the second round with the top 18. Rolf-Göran Bengtsson jumped clear with his inexperienced mare Unita Ask (Corrado I x Caretino) putting him in a great position to challenge for the overall lead. But World No1 and defending Champion Scott Brash with Hello Sanctos (Quasimodo v. Molendreef x Nabab de Reve) also made it around the course clean.
There would be some stiff competition in the second round, however, as fourteen riders went clear in the first round, including Daniel Deusser with Cornet d'Amour (Cornet Obolensky x Damiani), Cassio Rivetti with Sea Coast Forlap (Querlybet Hero x Heartbreaker), Alberto Michán Halbinger with Carusso LS La Silla (Montebello la Silla x Joost), Pénélope Leprevost with Vagabond de la Pomme (Vigo d'Arsouilles) and winner of two classes yesterday Denis Lynch with All Star 5 (Argentinus x Alme). Four riders went through on four faults.
The second round brought a few surprises as the course once again presented very difficult fences - halfway through the course a brightly coloured orange double caught the eye of a few horses who didn't jump the fence well, including Hello Sanctos who picked up faults here. As with the first round, the course asked a lot of the horses and riders, and the more experienced combinations fared much better than those with less mileage - only eventual winners Marcus Ehning and Plot Blue made every round appear deceptively straightforward.
Four made it through to the final jump-off with a double clear - Diniz, Ehning, Delestre and Maikel van der Vleuten with VDL Groep Sapphire B (Mr. Blue x Grand Veneur SF). The course took the riders on a long route around the arena, with obstacles coming in quick succession and off tight turns. First to go was Simon Delestre, who tried to set a strong time but lowered the final fence. Luciana Diniz also set off with a win in her sights, but a tight turn to the Longines double across the middle cost her the first part. Maikel van der Vleuten was next to go and though his horse rattled a few fences on his way around it looked as though he would complete the first clear, but he too lowered the final fence. With no clears on the board, Marcus Ehning had only to jump clear to win - which he did.
“I had the most work in the last round. I already had two rounds yesterday in a 1.50m class and I think he was a bit tired in the jump-off, but he had his experience to help him - I had the luck from the other three. It was not my best round, but I won. You could see in the jump-off all horses had one down because it was a hard jump-off course,” Marcus said after his win.
Source: Press release from LGCT
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