Ahead of today’s Global Champions Tour in Hamburg course designer Frank Rothenberger had warned about a challenging course - it started up with a clear round though. Home crowd favorite Janne-Friedrike Meyer and Cellagon Lambrasco (Achill Libero x Coriolan) showed their qualities and sat the standard for the rest to come.
The arena in Hamburg is beautiful and big. The horses really had some galloping to do to get through the course that consisted of 13 jumps and 16 fences in total - including the big water jump that caused some difficulties in the middle of the course. Also the triple combination at 3A, B and C proved to be tricky as well as the lines both before and after the water. But the horses and riders competing in Hamburg today can only be described as amazing and after round one 15 riders were clear.
The second clear came with another German female rider - the up and coming Katrin Eckermann who has brilliant results to show to from the last year. Then Gregory Wathelet proved his class riding before another young rider Andreas Kreuzer was clear with Chacco-Blue (Chambertin x Contender).
Then followed the more experienced riders with Luciana Diniz, Michael Whitaker, Steve Guerdat, Edwina Tops-Alexander, Nick Skelton, Penelope Leprevost and Marcus Ehning who were all clear. Maikel van der Vleuten and VDL Groep Verdi (Quidam de Revel x Randgraf) also had a good clear round as well as Philipp Weishaupt and his great ten year old Monte Bellini (Montender x Ramiro). The last two to produce clear rounds were Rolf-Göran Bengtsson aboard a well jumping Casall la Silla (Caretiono x Lavall I) and Christian Ahlmann riding Codex One (Contendro x Gluekspilz).
The 18 best riders went on to the second round. These riders included three riders on four faults - Gerco Schröder, Lauren Hough and Richard Spooner. Schröder rode a safe clear round and finally ended as number seven, while both Hough and Spooner had two more fences down and ended at a total of 12 faults.
It looked like Christian Ahlmann would be the first double clear after a great round, but then the second last fence fell. Andreas Kreutzer had the b-element down in the triple combination which made the crowds make a disappointing sound.
Then it was time for last year’s winner and number one in the world - Rolf-Göran Bengtsson who produced another great clear round with Casall la Silla. Michael Whitaker retired with GIG Amai after several fences came down, but then Meyer and Cellagon Lambrasco secured a jump-off with a clear round.
Luciana Diniz took the last fence and Penelope ended at eight faults. Nick Skelton rode a new perfect round, and Big Star (Quick Star x Nimmerdor) looked like he jumped houses instead of fences.
Weishaupt, Ehning, Guerdat, Wathelet and Tops-Alexander all had four faults, but their horses jumped well. Especially Cevo Itot du Chateau (Le Tot de Semilly x Galoubet A) and Edwina looked sure to clear also the second round, but the penultimate fence came down, while Maikel van der Vleuten and Katrin Eckermann managed to keep their heads cold and qualified for the five-horse jump-off together with Bengtsson, Skelton and Meyer.
The jump-off consisted of eight fences and several long stretches where the riders could speed up - and they did! As the first to go Bengtsson sat off in a high speed trying to repeat last year’s victory. He almost had the Jeager le Coultre vertical down as fence number four, but you need some luck as well as skills in this game and he crossed the finish-line on a clean sheet and the time 49.32.
Meyer didn’t want to prove herself any less and Cellagon Lambrasco was put in the highest gear all the way from start. They barely managed to clear fence three - the Mercedes vertical - but it was the GCT oxer that ultimately fell after a tight turn. At the end their time 49.13 was good enough to secure fourth place.
Then it was time for a man who is on fire these days. Skelton left Big Star’s breaks by the entrance and the horse once again jumped stunning. As they crossed the finish-line the clock stopped at 47.97 and the British duo pushed Bengtsson down to a second place.
Van der Vleuten tried his best, but first fence four fell, and then he had to make an extra circle in front of fence six, the GCT oxer.
Last to go was Katrin Eckermann who did her first Global Champions Tour in Hamburg. That didn’t stop Eckermann from trying to win and she made Carlson 46 (Casco x Sable Rose) speed up as much as he could. Their luck lasted until the first fence fell in the combination that was placed at the end of the course. With only two clears Eckermann’s time 48.87 was still good enough for third place - a great achievement from the young girl.