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The Grand Prix Hermès takes a tied twist; victory to Ahlmann and Hemeryck!

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Rik Hemeryck on Quarco de Kerambars and Christian Ahlmann on Taloubet Z win in Paris. Photo by Frederic Chehu.An extremely rare occurrence: the Grand Prix Hermès ended with two winners – the German rider Christian Ahlmann and the Belgian rider Belgian rider Rik Hemeryck. Frank Rothenberger had set a tough course in the Grand Prix. Out of the 36 riders, eight went through to the jump-off. The twelve fence course in the stunning Grand Palais included a combination and a triple combination, and had tricky lines and some huge oxers.

That didn’t bother Jeroen Dubbeldam and BMC Van Grunsveen Simon (Mr. Blue x Polydox) or Christian Ahlmann on Taloubet Z (Galoubet A x Cord de la Bryere); they both rode wonderful text-book rounds and made it all look easy. Sergio Alvares Moya continued his good form on a very well jumping Action-Breaker (Heartbreaker x Lys de Darmen). Another five riders made it through the course without faults; Kevin Staut/Silvana de Hus (Corland x Widor) were spotless, and Malin Baryard-Johnsson/H&M Tornesch (Lux Z x Libero H), Rik Hemeryck/Quarco de Kerambars (Darco x Skippy II), Ben Maher on a fabulous jumping Tripple X III (Namelus R x Catango Z) and Richard Spooner/Cristallo (Caretino x Cicero) were also clear.

The jump-off was kicked off by Jeroen, but as first to go and in need of putting pressure on he and Simon had three poles down in a row. Christian Ahlmann and Taloubet Z followed, and with super tight turns and a racing gallop down to the last oxer, they crossed the finish line on a clean sheet and a time of 40.71. Sergio took it easy on Action-Breaker, securing a clear round on the time 47.57.  Kevin tried his best on Silvana, but couldn’t catch Ahlmann. Malin produced a great round on Tornesch, but lost some time in her last turn landing on a time of 42.25. Rik Hemeryck was super fast, and raced down the final stretch – and nobody could believe their eyes when his time was just the same as Ahlmann’s! Ben Maher and Tripple X took the a-element in the combination, and Richard Spooner and Cristallo were unfortunate to have the wall and the a-element in the combination down. It was tied in the top, and Swedish on third!

The last time such a thing happened was in 2001, at the Grand Prix de Bordeaux where the Belgian rider Ludo Philippaerts and the Swiss rider Willi Melliger finished with exactly the same times on their grey horses Parco and Calvaro V.

“This is the first time I’ve seen this happen, whether in a Grand Prix or lower level classes. I’ve already lost by a few tenths of a second, but winning in these conditions is just incredible,” exclaimed Christian Ahlmann, whose horse Taloubet Z was back to the competitive levels he showed at the start of the indoor season, when they won the World Cups in Oslo and Helsinki: “Yes, he needed several competitions to get back to form, but here at the Grand Palais, he felt comfortable right from day one.”

It was more surprising to see Rik Hemeryck as one of the winners: “Yes, I’m aware that I was the outsider here, especially as the world champions Philippe Le Jeune or Jos Lansink were supposed to be competing. They had to withdraw and I seized the opportunity. We are just two weeks away from the World Cup final in Leipzig and all the best horses and riders in the world are here, so that make the victory all the more satisfying.” Like many Belgian riders, Rik finds and trains his horses himself, and this is the case with Quarco de Kerambars: “It’s almost like I raised him. I’ve been riding him since he was four years old. Today, he’s eleven and he started winning important competitions last year, like the Grand Prix in Bourg-en-Bresse, and then Calgary.” Quarco de Kerambars is a son of Darco, as was Parco, the Belgian joint-winner in Bordeaux all those years ago. Belgian history repeats itself!

For full results go to

Sunday’s 5* 1.45 class was won by Alvaro de Miranda and his young horse AD Wilbert Z – an eight year old Picasso Z-gelding. The Prix de la Ville de Paris was set up like a Grand Prix featured 31 riders, whereas thirteen went through to the jump-off. There were a lot of faults in the jump-off and just when it seemed that Beezie Madden had secured her win aboard Coral Reef Via Volo, Alvaro de Miranda entered the scene and stole the show with AD Wilbert Z. The Brazilian rider shaved off almost two seconds on Beezie’s time, securing the win. Third place went to Eric Lamaze on the Darco-daughter Coriana Van Klapscheut.

“It’s a wonderful competition that is impeccably organized”, said the Brazilian in equally impeccable French. “To win a class such as this with a horse that is only 8 years old, which won the Grand Prix of San Remo last week and then here again today, against all the world’s best riders, you cannot imagine how happy I am! He is a sensational horse and that makes the rider’s life much easier.” AD Wilbert Z’s father Picasso Z is a horse with whom Alvaro de Miranda was also successful at international level.

For full results go to

Dutch riders Don Kortrink and Patrick van der Schans win the Les Talent Hermes final. Photo by Frederic Chehu.The Les Talents Hermes Final was a special in the way that the teams were to be coached by one of the participating 5* riders. Well coached by the Sydney Olympic silver medalist Jeroen Dubbeldam, the young Dutch riders Don Kortrink and Patrick van der Schans handled the jump-off of the Talents Hermès final with great composure to take the win. The Dutch were the only ones to finish with a set of clear rounds, ahead of the Belgian team that consisted of Karline de Brabander and Constant Van Paesschen.

The Dutch team’s coach was extremely proud of his pupils’ performance: “They did a very good job. They calculated things very well in the jump-off.” Jeroen Dubbeldam played his role in this victory, even though he prefers to pay tribute to his riders first: “They know their horses better than I do, and you can’t try to make too many changes in such a short time. What you can do as a coach is to give them the right advice about the course: distances, number of strides, ways to save time… It’s more about observing the other competitors on the course and relaying my observations about possible problems to my riders. But trying to change something in their riding style is out of the question.” Has Jeroen found his new calling? “Coaching is especially satisfying when your team wins. I suppose I would not have enjoyed it as much if they hadn’t.”

For full results go to

Source on quotes: Press releases from

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