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Exceptional Ehning pilots Pret A Tout to a second Major-victory in the Rolex Grand Prix of Geneva

Sunday, 09 December 2018
CHI Geneva 2018

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson Marcus Ehning and Pret A Tout celebrating their second Major victory of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping 2018-season. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

Marcus Ehning (GER) and Pret A Tout (Hiram Chambertin x Stew Boy) took their second Major of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping 2018-season at CHI Geneva today, banking a bonus of 250,000 Euro as well as 400,000 CHF in prize money. Just like in Aachen five months ago, the German rider and the Swiss-owned 15-year-old gelding won the Rolex Grand Prix – but unfortunately Ehning missed out on the three-in-a-row-bonus of 1 million Euros after retiring in the CN International presented by Rolex at Spruce Meadows back in September.

Ehning’s Spruce Meadows-experience was however all history this afternoon in Geneva, as he yet again showed off his masterful horseman skills when piloting Pret A Tout to another Major-victory – this time on Swiss soil. “I think it was an amazing course, with the right winner,” laughed Ehning after the Rolex Grand Prix. “Last time I was sitting here was after the Rolex World Cup Final with Plot Blue, and that is a while ago, so I am very happy to be back here!”

Eleven out of the forty riders in the class made it to the jump-off after clearing the massive 1.60m track set by Gerard Lachat (SUI) and Louis Konickx (NED). Faults spread out, although the yellow plank coming out of the Rolex double at 4ab had the tendency to fall again and again – claiming many victims. One man was perhaps more disappointed than the rest however, as Rolex Grand Slam contender Sameh El Dahan (EGY) – winner at Spruce Meadows – opted to retire after having three poles down on Suma’s Zorro (Douglas x Horos XX).

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson The podium in the Rolex Grand Prix of Geneva: Marcus Ehning (1st), Steve Guerdat (2nd) and Darragh Kenny (3rd). Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

There were some big names returning to the jump-off, with several of the true legends of the sport battling it out in the Palexpo arena. First out was Scott Brash (GBR) and the 17-year-old Ursula XII (Ahorn x Papageno), that after a fantastic first round had to see a pole on the oxer midway fall to the ground – eventually ending 6th. Nicolas Delmotte (FRA) and Ilex VP (Diamant de Semilly x Darco) had an early pole on the second oxer, while world no. one Harrie Smolders (NED) and the big-strided stallion Don VHP Z N.O.P. (Diamant de Semilly x Voltaire) set the first clear in a time of 42.32. Ben Maher (GBR) gave it a good shot on the exceptional Explosion W (Chacco-Blue x Baloubet du Rouet), but like his compatriot Brash he had to see a pole fall. 

Marcus Ehning was up next, and set Pret A Tout in top gear from the very beginning. A clear advantage for Ehning is that the chestnut gelding is highly effective in the air and wastes the minimum amount of time over each jump, and when the German maestro made his trademark turns coming in to and out of the double it seemed like those to follow would have a hard time catching up – and that would be the case. Ehning’s time of 38.41 seconds would not be to beat, although home hero Steve Guerdat (SUI) and exuberant Albführen’s Bianca (Balou du Rouet x Cardento) gave it their very best try – only to cross the finish line 0.45 seconds behind Ehning. 

Those that tried to risk it – such as Nicola Philippaerts (BEL), Kent Farrington and Peder Fredricson (SWE) – had to pay the price in the form of a rail down. For Darragh Kenny (IRL) however, the man who was 4th in the Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen this summer, everything went according to plan and although he was 0.97 seconds behind Ehning the Irish rider could settle into third place with in-form Balou du Reventon (Cornet Obolensky x Continue). As last to go, Pieter Devos (BEL) opted for a steady clear on Espoir (Surcouf de Revel x Laudanum XX) and slotted into 4th ahead of Smolders in 5th. 

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson Marcus Ehning and Pret A Tout en route to victory in Geneva. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

After his victory, Ehning was full of praise for Pret A Tout – saying: “This horse is so clever, and has so much experience. He was always a winner, also with his former rider. He is really an incredible horse, you can leave strides out and you can add – and he is always fast.” 

“There is no secret,” answered Ehning when asked about whether or not he has any hidden tricks up his sleeve to constantly outclass his competitors. “I am only as good as my horses,” he said while thanking his owners and team. 

“When I watched Marcus’ round, I thought it was an amazing round,” runner-up Steve Guerdat said about what he was up against on home soil this afternoon. “We all don’t understand how he can be so fast, and ride so good at the same time. I really wanted to try, and I gave it a go. I thought I had a good jump-off, there was nothing that I really missed (…). My mare Bianca jumps so high over the jumps, it’s always a few hundredths of seconds that we lose and that is where I lost the half-second in the jump-off I think.”

“I knew that Marcus was unbelievably fast,” third-placed Darragh Kenny commented. “He is an incredible rider in the jump-offs, and it is amazing to watch him. He is so good at turning, and still going really, really fast. My horse jumped incredible, I did one little mistake after the third jump and added a stride. But, I am very happy with my horse and my third place today.” 


Text and photos © World of Showjumping

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