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Rolf reigns in Monte Carlo

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Rolf-Göran Bengtsson and Casall la Silla take their second GCT win within a month. Photo by Stefano Grasso/GCT.The Global Champions Tour in Monaco had it all; precision, style, drama and excellence. In the end it was Rolf-Göran Bengtsson on Casall la Silla who fittingly took home the win at this stylish venue located in the harbor of Monte Carlo, Monaco. The arena in Monte Carlo is beautiful, and designed to take your breath away – all build from the ground for this very special event. And in these surroundings some of the world’s best riders competed for glory in this season’s fifth Global Champions Tour Grand Prix.

“My stallion Casall la Silla has always performed brilliantly, be it on the grass at Hamburg or the small course here at Monaco. He’s fantastic. In fact, the son of Caretino, he’s been a favorite with breeders. I am overjoyed this evening having not dared to hope for two GCT victories, especially as I am now the proud owner of another Jaeger-Lecoultre watch,” Rolf said after his big win.

The first round saw a total of twelve riders going clear. The ever stylish Luciana Diniz on Winningmood (Darco x Cassini) produced an early and fast clear to stay at the top of the leader board after the first round. Young and talented Manuel Anon Suarez seems unstoppable in his chase to improve, and was also clear on Baldo DS (Kannan x Darco). Ten more clears followed, and amongst these were in-form Ludger Beerbaum on his Grand Prix-winner from Wiesbaden Chaman (Baloubet du Rouet x I Love You ), who produced an immaculate clear. Marcus Ehning also produced a lovely clear on his Sandro Boy-mare Sabrina. GCT-winner from Hamburg, Rolf-Göran Bengtsson made it all look easy on Casall la Silla (Caretino x Lavall I), as did World Cup-final winners Christian Ahlmann and Taloubet Z (Galoubet A x Polydor).

Billy Twomey’s mare Tinka’s Serenade (Tinka’s Boy x African Drum) is certainly not the easiest horse to ride, and also has her own special style, but Twomey gets the best out of her – and today Tinka jumped wonderful in the first round. Kevin Staut also produced a great clear on the super-careful Zeta de Hus (Zandor Z x Atlantus Z) – a horse that carries great horse for the future.

Christian Ahlmann and Taloubet Z; runner-ups in Monte Carlo. Photo by Stefano Grasso/GCT.Five of the four-fault riders went through to the second round; Lauren Hough on Quick Study, Edwina Alexander on Itot du Chateau (Le Tot de Semilly x Galoubet A), Pablo Barrios on G&C Quick Star II, Rodrigo Pessoa on Let’s Fly (Lordanos x Forrest xx) and Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum on Shutterfly (Silvio x Forrest xx). Some fell victim when they chased the time in hope of getting to the second round, like Alvaro de Miranda on his Drosselklang-gelding AD Ashleigh Drossel Dan.

Drama showed up in Monaco as well, when Laura Kraut’s Cedric slammed on the breaks to the massive vertical at fence eight – just like in Cannes. This time Laura managed to keep on, but hit herself hard in the face and had to withdraw with the hand to her mouth while riding out of the arena.

The course for the second round was reduced to eleven fences, but it proved to be very challenging for most of the riders and only one rider was to ride a double clear in the floodlit arena – and it was Sweden’s Rolf-Göran Bengtsson.

Lauren Hough on Quick Study opened the second round, and had to pull her gelding up twice to cause elimination. Edwina Alexander then followed on her tiny French bred chestnut Itot. They produced a lovely clear round to end up on a total score of four penalties. Rodrigo Pessoa rode a beautiful clear on Let’s Fly, and with a faster time than Edwina he went into the lead. Pablo Barrios on G&C Quick Star had two down, while Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum got into trouble when Shutterfly slammed the breaks on in front of the Eurosport vertical – the same fence that Cedric refused to jump in the first round. The pair ended up on a total score of 19 penalties. Clarissa Crotta had two down, and Judy-Ann Melchior’s lovely young Asca Z struggled a bit to end up with 13 penalties – but Judy-Ann was happy with the stallion’s performance considering his eight years and inexperience.

Surprisingly, Billy Twomey heared the bell ring as he had to pull up Tinka ahead of the last element of the triple combination – and the Irish rider decided to withdraw his mare. Ludger Beerbaum on Chaman also had an uncharacteristic three fences down, and proved Edwina’s comment on the fact that “the lines rode more difficult than they walked”.

Third; Rodrigo Pessoa and Let's Fly in Monte Carlo. Photo by Stefano Grasso/GCT.Rolf-Göran Bengtsson and his lovely Casall la Silla then entered the arena, and Rolf rode a picture perfect round and made the many challenges all look easy. Phillip Weishaupt had two down, while Christian Ahlmann and Taloubet Z looked really secure and set to produce another clear. Unfortunately for this super-pair they crossed the finish-line just outside the time allowed and had to settle for one time penalty – probably caused by the German rider choosing to ride on seven instead of six strides on the line from fence eight to nine. Both Marc Houtzager and Pius Schwizer had to see a pole fall to the ground, while Kevin had two. Manuel Anon Suarez on Baldo DS rode so well, and had an undeserved fence down. Marcus Ehning on Sabrina hit the front pole on the oxer at fence two – and then it was only Luciana Diniz and Winningmood left. Time stood still when the stylish Portuguese rider entered the ring. Winningmood jumped great, but out of the turn to the last combination the stallion hit the vertical at fence ten and victory belonged to Sweden.

This was Rolf’s second GCT Grand Prix win in a month, and the Swede has now climbed to rank five on the GCT leader board – which now sees Edwina at top, with Ludger Beerbaum right behind her.

For full results click here.

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