The winner of the famous Grand Prix in Aachen 2012 is Michael Whitaker and GIG Amai (Nonstop x Bacara). A well deserved win for one of the sport’s true legends and an amazing horse. Since rumor has it that Michael wrote his name on the winning wall in Aachen already on Thursday, he probably felt himself that it was time after trying to win this class for nearly 30 years.
The Aachen Grand Prix is known for its big fences and difficult lines - today was no exception. The course consisted of thirteen fences and sixteen jumps, including the difficult water combination and a water jump, as well as a triple combination that was placed towards the end of the course as fence 12. This combination really seemed to take a lot out of the horses, and nearly half of all the riders had at least one fence down.
Out of the first twenty riders only two of them were clear, and to the crowd’s pleasure - both were German. The first clear came with Thomas Voss and Carinjo (Cascavelle x Landgraf I). The stallion jumped better than ever and the two actually made some of the tricky lines look easy. Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Bella Donna 66 (Baldini II x Calido I) were also clear. The course seemed to suit the big mare perfectly, and the crowds were of course ecstatic with another clear home rider.
Between Voss and Michaels-Beerbaum other riders had more trouble. Both Guy Williams and Ludo Philippaerts retired as their horses lost it a little bit after the water jump. Olivier Philippaerts didn’t quite find the right stride to the water combination, and had to pull Cabrio van de Heffink (Cassini I x Calato) away from the b-element to avoid a crash. Philippaerts then made the smart decision to just let his wonderful ten year old stallion jump another fence instead and thereby retired. Also Ramzy Al Duhami,Leon Thijssen and Lauren Hough withdrew as things just didn’t work out.
Katharina Offel and Vivant (Fuergo Du Prelet x Landino) were the third clear pair with a brilliant round - a good warm up in front of the Olympics. At start number 27 Michael and GIG Amai came in to the arena and produced a lovely round which was much appreciated from the German crowds who always makes a great atmosphere for all the riders.
Ludger Beerbaum impressed by clearing the course aboard his young mare Chiara 222 (Contender x Coronado), and straight after him Laure Kraut had found back to her good ways with Cedric (Chambertin x Carolus I) who bounced around the course like a little rubber ball.
The top eighteen riders went on to a second round, and the score from both rounds where put together. The second round had a new course, and this time nine out of the eighteen riders were clear.
Thomas Voss was the first rider in with a clean sheet from the first round, and he rode yet another nice and clear round with Carinjo. Then Michael came and also he produced another good and stable round which also secured a jump- off. Also Meredith and Bella Donna were clear, and it was time for a battle of Germany against Great Britain.
None of the other clear riders from the first round managed another clear. Nick and Carlo took down the first fence in the second round, but besides from that their round was in their normal “Nick and Carlo” way. Both Offel and Vivant and Laura and Cedric had the b-element in the combination down, while Ludger and Chiara ended at eight faults.
First to go in the jump-off was Thomas. He did not take the biggest risks with Carinjo, but he took some short turns and made the stallion gallop on the longer stretches. The combination crossed the finish line with yet another clear and the time 54.37.
Michael was next out. He made GIG Amai use his big gallop as best as he could, and he also shortened the turns compared to Thomas. The amazing crowd in Aachen nearly cheered Michael and Amai over the last fence and through the finish line. The clock stopped at 49.73, and the only one who could take away Michael’s win was Meredith.
Meredith’s horse Bella Donna is truly amazing, nut only nine years old. That didn’t stop Meredith from speeding up though and she really made her horse stretch and turn. Towards fence number four the tight turn sent them a little too close to the oxer and a pole fell which made Michael Whitaker the Aachen winner of 2012.
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