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Christian Ahlmann and Solid Gold Z cut corners to win the 1.55m Allianz-Prize at CHIO Aachen

Saturday, 02 July 2022
CHIO Aachen 2022

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ
Christian Ahlmann and Solid Gold Z en route to victory in the CSIO5* 1.55m Allianz-Prize at CHIO Aachen. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.


Text © World of Showjumping



Saturday's CSIO5* 1.55m Allianz-Prize at CHIO Aachen offered excitement from start to finish, with Germany's Christian Ahlmann and the 11-year-old Zangersheide stallion Solid Gold Z (Stakkato Gold x Calvin Z) taking the top honours. 

"First of all, as a winner I am always happy, so far the Aachen week was not the best for me, my horses jumped more or less well, I had a good feeling, but the big results were missing so far, so that is why I am really, really happy that today the shape is back. Hopefully we can carry this to tomorrow with Dominator in the Grand Prix and have there also, if possible, as good a result as today,” Ahlmann said after his victory. 

A total of 32 horse-and-rider combinations had qualified earlier during the week at CHIO Aachen to compete in the €100,000 1.55m Allianz-Prize, where the ten best from round one continued to the second, winning round. The course set by Frank Rothenberger (GER) counted 14 obstacles and it was the combinations that turned out the trickiest in round one; an airy triple combination at fence five fell over and over again, while a blue oxer-liverpool double in the middle of the course at fence eight caused havoc as well. Ending with a related line from a Rolex vertical to the open water followed by a final, massive oxer, the course saw exactly ten pairs deliver a clear round. Jumping clear until the penultimate line, Lillie Keenan (USA) on Agana van het Gerendal Z (Aganix du Seigneur x Topas), Jana Wargers (GER) on Clash Royale (Clarimo x Wellenspiel), Nicolas Delmotte (FRA) on Ilex V (Diamant de Semilly x Darco) and Jérôme Guery (BEL) on Margriet de Mariposa (Nabad de Reve x For Pleasure) were all stopped from joining the winning round by a foot in the water. 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ
Christian Ahlmann and Solid Gold Z. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

The winning round turned out to be quite an action-packed affair. First out, Nicolas Pizarro (MEX) and Atlantica du Soleil Z (Atlantus van de Roshoeve x Felin Pierreville) ran into trouble on the wall, while Martin Fuchs (SUI) opted to retire Commissar Pezi (Commissario x Böckmann's Lord Pezi) after two poles fell at the beginning of the course. As Gregory Wathelet (BEL) on Beau Gosse Du Park (Quaprice Bois Margot x Kannan) also had a stop at the wall and Wilm Vermeir (BEL) on Enola Gay Of Two Notes Z (Emerald van'T Ruytershof x Chin Chin) saw two poles fall, it was Harrie Smolders (NED) on Uricas vd Kattevennen (Uriko x San Patrignano Cassini) that posted the first double clear of the day. Bryan Balsiger (SUI) and Dubai du Bois Pinchet (Kashmir van Schuttershof x Andiamo) followed, jumping clear in a time of 54.79 and took over the lead from Smolders.

However, next up was home hero Christian Ahlmann on Solid Gold Z. Steering the little black stallion around the track with the tightest of turns, Ahlmann stopped the clock on 53.55 and took over the lead – pushing Balsiger to second and Smolders to third. Harry Charles (GBR) and Borsato (Contendro x Nijinski) were determined to challenge the German, but had a scary fall at the wall and were eliminated. Luckily, both horse and rider seemed fine as they left the arena on foot. After Nayel Nassar (EGY) and the wonderful El Conde (Loro Piana Filou de Muze x Final Shot) opted not to jump in the winning round, Gerrit Nieberg (GER) and Blues d'Aveline CH (Baloussini x Coriall 2) were the last pair out. Crossing the finish line in 56.28 seconds, Nieberg slotted into fourth place ahead of Vermeir, leaving the win with Ahlmann while Balsiger placed second and Smolders third. 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ
Bryan Balsiger celebrated his birthday by placing second in Saturday's CSIO5* 1.55m Allianz-Prize on Dubai du Bois Pinchet. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

"When I walked the course, I must say I thought it was big enough,” Ahlmann said of the track. “In Aachen we actually have a Grand Prix every day and today it should have been less than a qualification or a Nations Cup, but it was still tough enough, because of the big water and the double with the water – so with special fences. When I walked it, I expected less I must say, but at the end it felt good. The ground was perfect and with the best riders and horses, even if some riders jump their second or third horses, they are ready to go. In the end the course builder was right, result-wise it was a perfect situation. In the jump-off, the first option was to go left or right of the water and I chose the right side, took a little bit long with the turn because he was really strong and I tried to go forward with a forward distance to the double – as fast as possible." 

"Solid is always a little bit in the shadow of Dominator, I would say – the last two years he jumped so many perfect rounds,” Ahlmann said of his winning mount. “Often, he had to qualify for him [Dominator] and he had some Grand Prixs but the bigger ones Dominator did. But more and more, he did a step up and he jumped the Grand Prix in Cannes, he jumped the five-star Grand Prix in St. Tropez and was placed in both. Now he feels even more scopey than last year, so he did the Prize of Europe on Wednesday and had a really unlucky rail. In his career, this is one of the biggest things that he did, but like I said, how he feels today and especially in this season, I really think there is more to come." 

"Solid Gold is a real stallion, especially today was not the easiest day to warm him up. The small paddock was quite full, so I warmed him up in the other, with the carriages going with the ponies, so it was actually not better," Ahlmann laughed. "In general, at home, he is a very, very nice horse, he is unbelievable nice to ride. You sit on the horse and he is like a car, in the ring he is in an absolute sport modus, he is focused and knows his job to 100%. He helps as good as he can and I am really happy to have him in my team."

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ
Harrie Smolders and Uricas vd Kattevennen posted the first double clear of the class, but had to settle for third place in the end. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

"For me, Aachen is the best show in the world by far,” Ahlmann said. “I think not only the Germans are looking forward to this week, we have no other show with this people, with this amount of support. It is a special week from Tuesday, everybody knows the Grand Prix of Aachen. If you can win it once, it is very, very special."

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