Photo: LGCT / Stefano Grasso
Ludger Beerbaum took a sensational second Grand Prix win on the 2016 Longines Global Champions Tour following a stunning competition set against the beautiful backdrop of the Chateau de Chantilly. Riding his 13 year old grey mare Chiara 222, the master of the sport took his second Gold medal on the 2016 season, claiming the full 40 points available and shooting up to second on the overall rankings. Compatriot Daniel Deusser (GER) came a close second, just tenths of a second from the lead with the chestnut First Class van Eeckelghem, and Columbia’s Daniel Bluman (COL) took third place with his 11 year old bay stallion, Conconcreto Apardi.
The cream of show jumping featured heavily in Chantilly for the seventh leg of the Tour, with a nail biting eight rider jump-off which left the thousands of passionate crowds right on the edge of their seats. The high calibre field in the jump-off produced extraordinary split second finishing times, repeatedly shaking up the final result.
It was a chic VIP scene with high profile figures from the worlds of entertainment and business watching on as the action unfolded on the expansive grass arena. Despite the threat of stormy weather, crowds packed the grandstands with no seat spare to witness a true battle of the Titans in France’s ‘Capital of the Horse’.
In the LGCT Ranking battle, Christian Ahlmann (GER) still leads the way on 186 points overall. Ludger Beerbaum (GER) moves to second in 126 points, and Rolf-Göran Bengtsson (SWE) moves up to third, just one point behind, in 125 overall.
50 riders took centre stage as the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Chantilly got underway. The first round course set by Luc Musette required careful horses and scopey jumping; light poles and full height verticals demanded precision jumping, with the temptation to gallop at the fences in the large grass arena. With wide oxers followed by delicate 1.60m verticals, the course tested the elasticity of the horses, and the forethought of the riders.
A few big names were caught out, including LGCT Ranking leader Christian Ahlmann (GER), who unusually tipped two fences with his stallion Colorit during round one – breaking his six consecutive run of Grand Prix placings on the Tour so far. Last year’s winner Gregory Wathelet (BEL) was another to missed out on round two, joined by Jerome Guery (BEL), Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (GER) and leading French rider Patrice Delaveau (FRA).
Those through and at the sharp end of the grid were Luciana Diniz (POR) with the chestnut mare Fit For Fun 13, Pieter Devos (BEL) with Espoir, home rider Robert Breul (FRA) with Arsouille du Seigneur, young talent Jos Verlooy (BEL) and his phenomenal grey stallion Caracas, Daniel Bluman (COL) with Conconcreto Apardi and Hans-Dieter Dreher (GER) with Cool and Easy. Other big names through included the legendary Ludger Beerbaum (GER), Rolf-Göran Bengtsson (SWE) with his formidable stallion Casall ASK, Lauren Hough (USA) with the eye-catching Cornet 39, Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS) with Caretina de Joter, Jessica Springsteen (USA) with Cynar V and Daniel Deusser (GER) on First Class van Eeckelghem. Home rider Julien Epaillard (FRA) lead the way into round two, much to the delight of the packed local crowd, after a blistering round with his 12 year old bay gelding, Quatrin de la Roque Lm.
The second round saw a testing course, with a tough triple catching out many of those through. The same delicate poles cost a few their place in the jump-off, as the crowd watched in anticipation to see who, if any, would jump clear and ensure a third round.
David Will (GER) and Olivier Philippaerts (BEL) both put in two brilliant clears, however carried the four faults through from round one, meaning they would not progress any further. Jessica Springsteen (USA) rode two stunning rounds with the grey Cynar V, however narrowly missed out on the jump-off after Cynar V put in an extra stride to the penultimate fence, tipping through the fence and collecting four faults. Compatriot Lauren Hough (USA) was also caught out by an unlucky first rail at the triple, and unable to go through to the jump-off, and Jos Verlooy (BEL) jumped a stunning double clear with the grey stallion Caracas, however were a touch over the time and picked up an agonising time fault.
A total of eight riders went through to the jump-off with a world class line up promising scintillating competition. Ludger Beerbaum (GER), Rolf-Göran Bengtsson (SWE), Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS), Luciana Diniz (POR) and home rider Robert Breul (FRA) were just a few of the name who lined up for the final round of action, with the crowd clapping and chanting the riders into the arena. The jump off course can only be described as a gallop, full of sharp turns and long distances ensuring an exhilarating final.
First to go were the mighty combination of Rolf-Göran Bengtsson (SWE) and Casall ASK, however the pair took the corner a touch too tight to the second fence – the full height 1.60m vertical – knocking the light pole and side-wing and leaving them with four faults and a base time of 39.75s. Next up Leopold van Asten (NED) also had an unlucky pole down at the wide oxer, proving the final round would be a test for even the world’s top riders.
Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS) and Caretina de Joter were the first to ride a beautiful clear round, putting the pressure on the remaining riders as they crossed the line with a spectacular time of 39.77s. Next to go was Germany’s Daniel Deusser (GER) and First Class van Eeckelghem who rode a beautifully crafted round; they took a stunning line to the double, taking a stride out which suited the long striding horse, and crossing the line in 38.98s.
Ludger Beerbaum (GER) and Chiara were next to go and took six strides to the double however their turn was sensational, with the pair pipping Daniel to the line in 38.28s, just tenths of a second ahead.
Columbia’s Daniel Bluman (COL) and his stallion Conconcreto Apardi rode a flat out round, but couldn’t beat the German’s time, coming home in 39.45s. The final rider to go was 2015 LGCT Champion of Champions Luciana Diniz (POR) who looked to be a huge threat for the win, until she and Fit For Fun clipped the final pole at the last following a flat out gallop and collecting four faults.
So it was legend of the sport Ludger Beerbaum (GER) who took the win, his second out of four competitions on the Longines Global Champions Tour so far. The Tour now turns to leg 8, where it will return to France and the star-lit city of Cannes for the next stage in what is turning into a fascinating 2016 season. Tomorrow will see the Global Champions League of Chantilly take place, with twelve teams fielding world class riders as the GCL Ranking points battle intensifies.
Jan Tops, Founder and President Longines Global Champions Tour: “It’s seven years we have been coming to Chantilly, it’s a great partnership here with Gérard. Even with these weather conditions we were able to have great sport this afternoon. Everything is very close – in the class, the first four or five are within half a second of each other which shows how much the precision counts, how the turns are so important – even if the field is big. German are very dominant, and Christian is still in a very comfortable position – even if Ludger wins the next one [Christian] will still be in the lead. On the other hand, Ludger has had two great results – he won in Hamburg and he’s won here again, so I think it will be exciting until the end.”
Gérard Manzinali, President Jumping Chantilly: “Everything was perfect except the weather conditions! On Monday we were prepared to cancel, however the ground was good and with the great work from all the team it was able to happen. It is a great place and a great set up, and congratulations to the great winner, Ludger Beerbaum.”
Ludger Beerbaum: LGCT Grand Prix of Chantilly Gold Medallist: “I saw Daniel [Deusser’s] round and it gave me the right kick. I think he really went for it, leaving one stride out. I wasn’t really sure if I should go for it also at that point – I jumped the double and went for it, saw the five and put in six, so thought “**** I have to get going!” I spun back to the vertical, hoping there was a stride, and luckily there was one, so I think I made it on that turn. I’m really happy I have the opportunity to ride [Chiara] – she’s a horse I can really rely on. She’s fast, it’s only our second CSI5* win and she’s only jumped three, so I’m really pleased. I’m also pleased with my overall standing position; of the seven legs, I’ve only competed in four. One in Shanghai, I was clear in the first round but couldn’t go in the second as Charman didn’t feel right. Originally the plan was to go to Madrid, however I had to cancel due to Charman’s breeding schedule. This was also the reason I didn’t go to Miami and Mexico – I suffered a bit watching from home via GCT TV, and watching them go! For the moment with the four results I think I can be really pleased. At the very end only the seven best [results] count, so I still have some hope.”
Daniel Deusser, LGCT Grand Prix of Chantilly Silver Medallist: “My strategy was absolutely to try my best to win today. I knew that I didn’t have the naturally fastest horse, so I decided to try and do five strides to the combination, which I think no one else could do afterwards. Still at the end it was just not enough, but nevertheless I was very happy with the way he jumped the three rounds today, and I’m going to try again!”
Daniel Bluman, LGCT Grand Prix of Chantilly Bronze Medallist: “It feels good [to be on the podium again]. I always say the first time is beginner’s luck, with my first podium in Hamburg, but twice on the podium means we’re doing one or two things right so we’re feeling really good. Being part of the Global Champions Tour definitely makes you a better rider, just by seeing the best riders in the world and the team’s work. I’m delighted to be here today.”
Christian Ahlmann, LGCT Ranking leader: “I can feel [Ludger’s] breath already! Today was not our best day as we didn’t make the second round. My overall position is good for the moment, but it’s also maybe time to take the reins a little bit shorter and ride clear again!”