Photo: LGCT / Stefano Grasso
It was a case of “Happiness” by name, happiness by nature as Daniel Deusser (GER) ensured the spotlight was on him with a stunning opening class on his talented 9 year old chestnut mare Happiness van T Paradijs. Shining bright under the brilliant floodlights, the World Number 5 took the lion’s share of the €25,000 prize money, setting up his weekend in Qatar perfectly.
Both LGCT Ranking leader Rolf-Göran Bengtsson (SWE) and Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS) rode their Grand Prix horses in this two phase competition, with Casall ASK and Lintea Tequila jumping clear. The two Olympic riders looked pretty evenly matched, both picking up 1 time fault apiece and finishing just tenths of a second apart. Edwina and Lintea Tequila finished on 61.01s, with Rolf and Casall ASK finishing on 61.84s, giving an early preview into just how evenly matched the Championship contenders are.
Uliano Vezzani’s course was a clean test for the world class combinations as they took to the magnificent floodlit arena for the first of the Longines Global Champions Tour competitions, with AL SHAQAB illuminated in the depth of the Qatari night. The triple combination along the full length of the arena caused a few troubles, with the final element signifying the end of the first phase rolled by the lightest of touches. Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (GER) had a surprise refusal from the huge striding Fibonacci, and World Number 1 Christian Ahlmann (GER) collected 7 faults with stallion Taloubet Z.
World Number 2, Simon Delestre (FRA) fared better with Chadino, finishing in 10th overall, and Ludger Beerbaum (GER) with Chiara rounded out the 11 riders who jumped clear. But it was Daniel Deusser (GER) and Happiness van T Paradijs who took the victory, storming to the win in 24.47s.
Great Britain’s Laura Renwick (GBR) and MHS Washington looked set to challenge for the lead, however galloped to the finish just shy of Daniel’s time, in 24.75s. Third place went to Olympic Silver medallist Peder Fredericson (SWE) with H&M Zaloubet, Jos Verlooy (BEL) and Farfelu de la Pomme took fourth, John Whitaker (GBR) and Argento were 5th and brother Michael Whitaker (GBR) rounded out the top six with JB’s Hot Stuff.