Tag Archives: Christian Ahlmann

Taloubet Triumphs One Last Time for Germany’s Christian Ahlmann at Leipzig

Photo: Christian Ahlmann and Taloubet Z. (FEI/Daniel Kaiser)

In a fairytale finish to his fabulous career, the 18-year-old super-stallion Taloubet Z carried Christian Ahlmann to victory in front of their home crowd at the tenth leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2017/2018 Western European League in Leipzig, Germany. Last to go in an edge-of-the-seat 15-horse jump-off it seemed it would be almost too good to be true if they could beat the rest of the world-class field at a show where they enjoyed so many successes over the years. But they did it and, in his usual style, the extraordinary Taloubet made it look like a walk in the park one last time. There was hardly a dry eye in the house during the prize-giving ceremony in which the German duo took centre stage ahead of runners-up Carlos Lopez and Admara from Colombia and Dutchman Harrie Smolders with Zinius.

Ahlmann isn’t normally one for big emotion, but the 43-year-old rider’s voice kept breaking when he tried to talk about the horse that was such a prolific winner, and that carried him to four World Cup Finals, who claimed the FEI World Cup™ Jumping title at this very same venue in 2011 and who was so tough that he was still capable of claiming team bronze and individual ninth place at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The German star admitted that he felt under incredible pressure.

“I really didn’t want to mess it up for him! This was just a normal World Cup, like we have every week. But it was very special because it was the last class for Taloubet, and we took the risk to jump him so he could say goodbye, here where everyone knows him, and leave the sport in great shape. So to have a good result and to finish with a proper round like that under pressure, it makes me so happy! It’s the greatest day of my life for sure, not for the points or for the money; it’s much more than that. It’s because this great horse who still has all this power even at this age is ending his career in a great way, with a great win!” — Christian Ahlmann GER (1st)

“Yes, for everyone else today was a dream, but for me it was a nightmare!” said course designer Frank Rothenberger after 15 horse-and-rider combinations made it into the jump-off. It was a cracker, however, and Lopez appeared to have it in the bag when scorching through the finish in 43.39 seconds with the gelding Admara who seems to have found his perfect “other half” since partnering up with the Colombian rider two years ago. Smolders and Zinius, winners at the previous leg in Mechelen (BEL) last month, gave it their best shot but fell short by two-tenths of a second when second-last to go.

The arena fell silent as Ahlmann and Taloubet set off on their final adventure together, but it exploded with sound when, turning to the last full of running and at a flat gallop, the German duo broke the beam two-tenths of a second quicker than Lopez for the win. Even the Colombian runner-up wasn’t disappointed: “Today is all about Taloubet anyway,” Lopez said.

And with just three qualifiers still left to go, the next in Zurich (SUI), Ahlmann has now qualified for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2018 Final in Paris (FRA) in April. Like Smolders, who has also made the cut, that wasn’t on the German rider’s radar until now. “I’ll have to have a re-think about that now,” he said.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Christian Ahlmann and ‘Caribis Z’ Triumph at Longines Masters of Hong Kong

Photo Credit: PSI for EEM.

(Hong Kong, February 13, 2017) – Asia’s most glamorous showjumping event, the last leg of the second season of the Longines Masters Series “Grand Slam of Indoor Show Jumping,” came to a thrilling climax in Hong Kong. The prestigious 3-day event, created and organized by EEM, took place Friday, February 10 through Sunday, February 12 and combined heart-pounding competition between the world’s top show jumpers with stylish lifestyle and entertainment for equestrian sports enthusiasts of all ages.

“The 6-star series continues to grow from strength to strength with record-breaking attendance, and the final leg in Hong Kong is now firmly established as a major ‘must-go’ sporting and social event in Asia,” said Christophe Ameeuw, Founder and CEO of EEM.

Highlights of opening day were two exciting competitions presented by The Hong Kong Jockey Club, founding partner of the Longines Masters of Hong Kong and the EEM Trophy. New to this year’s lineup, the EEM Trophy was won by Spanish show jumper, Pilar Lucrecia Cordon, in the first class of the day, and Swiss rider Martin Fuchs jumped to victory in the Hong Kong Jockey Club Trophy.

Also on Friday, February 10, was The HKJC Race of the Riders, which paired four Hong Kong jockeys – Joao ‘Magic’ Moreira, Neil Callan, Derek Leung and Vincent Ho – with star showjumpers in an entertaining team sprint relay competition. Cheered on by thousands of local fans, it proved to be an enthralling competition involving world-class riders from different disciplines working together. To the crowd’s delight, Hong Kong’s own Joao ‘Magic’ Moreira and French champion show jumper Roger Yves Bost clinched the trophy.

Day two of the competition on Saturday, February 11, was headlined by the world’s fastest class, the thrilling Longines Speed Challenge. This is the only speed competition of its kind in the world, designed to encourage top show jumpers to improve on their times from one continent to the next over an identical course in Los Angeles, Paris and Hong Kong.

The crowd was on the edge of their seats in the final round of this nail-biting competition ridden against the clock. In the end, German rider, Daniel Deusser and horse Happiness van T Paradijs triumphed, clocking a time of 67.01, just ahead of Pius Schwizer and Bertram Allen.

The excitement of the competition culminated on Sunday, February 12, as Christian Ahlmann on his horse ‘Caribis Z’ took top honors after a spectacular winning round in the Longines Grand Prix. He was joined on the podium by fellow German rider, Ludger Beerbaum on ‘Casello’ and 3rd place Austrian rider, Max Kühner on ‘Cornet Kalua’.

The technical, Olympic-level course, with twelve obstacles and fifteen challenging jumps up to 1.6 metres high with tough sequences and double and triple combinations, required horses that are perfectly trained and focused, and experienced riders avoiding the slightest error of judgement. With this Longines Grand Prix win, Christian Ahlmann is in the running for the Grand Slam bonus of 1 million Euros for consecutive wins if he triumphs in the Longines Grand Prix in Los Angeles and in Paris this year, in the third season of the Longines Masters.

Legendary “horse whisperer” Santi Serra and his team of performing horses mesmerized audiences throughout the event, with his daily “natural dressage” show, presented by Shanghai Tang. Choreographed especially for Hong Kong, the unique performance highlights the historical links between Chinese culture and horses, combining classic Chinese music with stunning costumes.

Throughout the three days, over 5,000 socialites and VIPs made an appearance at the Longines Masters Club, including Jackson Lai, Mr. Hong Kong 2016, Freeyon Chung, Mr. Hong Kong 2016 second runner up and Tiffany Lau, Miss Hong Kong first runner up. Over 25,000 equestrian sports fans, celebrities and Hong Kong high-society packed the arena for the Longines Masters of Hong Kong, which has become Asia’s equestrian social event of the year.

“I can safely say that this has been our best edition yet, capacity crowds have turned out to marvel at the skills of the world’s greatest show jumpers as well as to cheer on their own local, up-and- coming equestrian stars, also to enjoy the whole lifestyle elements of the event,” said Ameeuw. “Thanks to the support of our Title Partner Longines, the Hong Kong Jockey Club, founding partner and indeed all our partners, it’s been an incredible three days and we look forward to returning to Hong Kong again in 2018 with an even more spectacular show.”

After an amazing second season, in Los Angeles, Paris and Hong Kong, EEM is already preparing for the Longines Masters’ third season and looks forward to seeing everyone there!

Capturing some spectacular moments from the Longines Speed Challenge, this video highlights the best of the second season from Los Angeles through to Hong Kong: https://youtu.be/n5hFODavtHw.

Ahlmann Steers Taloubet to Another Sweet Success in Stuttgart

Christian Ahlmann and Taloubet Z. (Stefan Lafrentz/FEI)

Stuttgart (GER), 20 November 2016 -Germany’s Christian Ahlmann and the brilliant Taloubet Z cruised to victory in the fifth leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2017/2017 Western European League on home ground in Stuttgart. Marathon jump-offs have become something of a standard this season as even the world’s best course designers can’t seem to contain the extraordinary talent of the horses and riders now at the top of the game. And in a 19-horse race against the clock it was the gentlemanly 16-year-old stallion and the world no. 1 rider who showed the rest a clean pair of heels to win by more than a two-second margin.

“Everything worked out the way I wanted; we had an amazing run and Taloubet did an amazing job!” said 41-year-old Ahlmann after pinning defending Longines champion, Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat, into runner-up spot. Guerdat has now moved into pole position on the Western European leaderboard ahead of the next leg of the series in Madrid, Spain next Sunday.

It was Ireland’s Cian O’Connor who set the jump-off target in 45.03 seconds when fourth to go with the extravagant Good Luck. Guerdat shaved a fraction off that when putting his foot to the floor over the final two fences to break the beam in 44.95 with his exciting 10-year-old mare, Bianca, but, with six left to go, Ahlmann produced a breath-taking round from the horse with which he won the 2011 World Cup title.

This partnership are the epitome of the #TwoHearts dream-team, understanding each other so well that Ahlmann’s slightest movement is clearly interpreted by the stallion. Stopping the clock on 42.85 seconds they were untouchable for the win.

“He was in great shape today and he has been for the whole season,” said the rider who also won the Stuttgart leg of the series last year with Codex One. “Taloubet is a very fast horse but I had no real plan in the jump-off. I just knew I had to take every risk if I wanted to win!” Ahlmann said. Taloubet won’t go to the 2017 Longines Final, however, because it has been decided that the horse who helped secure Olympic team bronze as well as the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ title for Germany this year will be taking it relatively easy in future.

“He feels fresh, like a young horse; he knows every situation in the world and it’s easy to train and keep him fit, so he will do some big shows and continue to enjoy the sport, but no more big finals for him,” Ahlmann explained.

Full result here

Quotes:

Christian Ahlmann GER (1st), talking about how he keeps the 16-year-old Taloubet Z at the top of his game: “He has a super team around him; they take care every single step he does – his home groom, his show groom, his rider, his blacksmith – everyone does a good job to make sure he’s always in top shape.”

Christian Ahlmann GER (1st), talking about his jump-off round: “The whole round was for me and the horse almost perfect! The tight turns were to our advantage at the black vertical (former fence 8) and the wall (fence 9). Also we took one stride less to the last fence, and of course you always need some luck!”

Steve Guerdat SUI (2nd): “I’m very proud to be second today. Christian is a great rider and very fast. This mare is very special; she gives me an amazing feeling and she has improved a lot this year.”

Cian O’Connor IRL (3rd): “I’m very happy to be up there with Christian Ahlmann and Steve Guerdat! This is the first season indoors for this horse. Jumping indoors it is sometimes difficult to get him relaxed and concentrated but here in Stuttgart the ring is big and spacious.”

Full Standings here

Don’t miss a hoofbeat! Watch it all LIVE on www.feitv.org.

Social media: #FEIWorldCupWEL #RidetoOmaha #FEIWorldCupFinals #TwoHearts

Rider biographies: view online and download from www.fei.org/bios.

By Louise Parkes

Media Contacts:

At Stuttgart:

Joerg Klopfer
Press Officer
joerg.klopfer@in.stuttgart.de
+49 711 955 43128

At FEI:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Christian Ahlmann Master of Dinard

Christian Ahlmann (ALL)/Cornado II. Photo: Pixels Events.

Out of 37 contestants in the Grand Prix CSI5* of the city of Dinard 2016, 15 managed to qualify for the jump off, but the German Christian Ahlmann, up to his reputation, clinches victory with Cornado II.

The jump off, very competitive, took place in front of fully packed grandstands and overexcited spectators. Since the design of the course did not allow the riders to cut short, the only solution to bring the time down was to turn immediately after landing from the fences. Second to go, the Belgian Jérôme Guéry chose to ask everything to his grey horse Papillon Z, and set the time at 42″73. Nobody could imagine this incredible performance could ever been beaten, but the German genius Christian Ahlmann, world n°2, associated to Cornado II, brings the time down to 42″72, by one hundred of a second, that will allow him to win this CSI5* of Dinard for his first visit and participation. “First of all, I have to admit that I am really impressed by the quality of the site and by the arena. To clear here, you need a very good and experienced horse, but the course was fun to ride. The fact that the public is so big makes a real difference although it puts more pressure on our shoulders.”

The Belgian rider had to do with the second place. “I miss this victory by a fraction of a second, but I am very pleased with this placing. I am very happy to be part of this competition with so many talented riders.”

The Irish Darragh Kenny, in great spirits since the beginning of the Jumping of Dinard, places 3rd, after clearing the course with Go Easy de Muze in a time of 43″25.”This show is fantastic; it is my second time here; my horse jumped incredible. I only had him for eight weeks; he already places 3rd twice in CSI5*.”

The first French, Timothée Anciaume, decided not to play the time, but to clear. His strategy was obviously right, since, associated to Kiamon, he places 6th behind the Belgian Peter Devos/Dream of India Greenfield (4th) and the Swedish Douglas Lindelow/Zacramento (5th).

Results of the Grand Prix of Dinard:
www.worldsporttiming.com/results/jumping-international-de-dinard-2016-107/grand-prix-de-la-ville-de-dinard-6/results.html

Link to download the free highlights of the Grand Prix of Dinard:
http://transfert.datanaute.com/download-742de1a6e3fd0a23577c02576c4de8fd

www.jumpingdinard.com

Véronique GAUTHIER / Agence Consulis
veronique-gauthier@club-internet.fr
mob: +33 672 770 600

Bruno OPPENHEIM / O.I.C
bruno.oppenheim@wanadoo.fr
mob: +33 614 422 795

Ahlmann Wins Dramatic Second Competition, but Guerdat Holds Lead

Christian Ahlmann and Taloubet Z won the second leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2016 Final in Gothenburg, Sweden. (FEI/Dirk Caremans)

Gothenburg (SWE), 26 March 2016 – Germany’s Christian Ahlmann won the dramatic second leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2016 Final in Gothenburg, Sweden, but defending champion, Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat, leads the standings going into Monday’s third and last competition.

Ahlmann and the brilliant 16-year-old stallion, Taloubet Z, set the standard in the seven-horse jump-off against the clock and couldn’t be caught, but Ireland’s Denis Lynch rocketed up the leaderboard when producing the only other double-clear of the competition to finish second ahead of The Netherlands’ Harrie Smolders and Emerald in third, while Guerdat and Corbinian slotted into fourth place.

Marcus Ehning finished fifth with Cornado NRW to keep the potential for a record-breaking fourth series title still very much alive for this popular German star, while his compatriot Marco Kutscher lined up sixth with Chaccorina ahead of America’s Peter Lutz and Robin de Ponthual in seventh spot.

Degree of difficulty

Course designer, Santiago Varela from Spain, increased the degree of difficulty with today’s tough first-round track that tested power, accuracy, rideability and courage. The triple combination at fence eight proved influential, but it was the line from the oxer at 11 to the vertical at 12, the following water-tray oxer at 13 and the final vertical at fence 14 that decided the fate of many. Horses that jumped big at 11 often arrived deep at the tricky vertical at 12 with its gold-coloured poles offset by a rocking horse fence-filler. And some also put their eye on the water-tray under the penultimate oxer at 13 to put themselves out of contention as they rode down to the last.

There were no clears until Ahlmann set off, ninth of the 33 starters, and the pure class of the round he produced from the stallion with which he won the FEI World Cup™ Jumping title on home ground in Leipzig (GER) in 2011, always suggested that today he would be the man to beat.

First to go against the clock, he again just cruised home in 36.85 seconds without appearing to be under the slightest pressure, and although Lynch also left all the fences intact with his stallion All Star who has been in the form of his life in recent months, he seemed to have left the door wide open for those following him when stopping the clock in 41.42 seconds. But as it turned out, none of the rest could leave all the fences in place, both America’s Peter Lutz and Germany’s Marco Kutscher collecting eight faults while Harrie Smolders lowered the oxer at fence two, now the third-last obstacle on the track, and then Marcus Ehning clipped the second element of the double at fence three and the penultimate vertical to put paid to his chances.

Guerdat looked set to threaten Ahlmann’s lead when last to go, but the crowd gasped when Corbinian hit the opening vertical. When asked afterwards if this unnerved him and made him change his plan, the Swiss rider said, “No, I just wanted to make sure I didn’t have another fence down, I wasn’t going to catch Christian anyway so I was going for second place. That was the plan – it was never about winning the class today; it was to be in the lead tonight. The championship overall is more important than a single class,” he said wisely.

One of the favourites

Ahlmann was one of the firm favourites to take the 2016 title before the Final got underway, but he was lying well down the leaderboard after two mistakes with Colorit.

He talked about his disappointment when things didn’t quite go his way in the first leg. “The plan was a little bit different, but it’s the sport. I tried to take one day (of jumping) off Taloubet and to use another horse, it was a risk but not a big risk because he did well over the past few weeks, but yesterday was not our best day, and at the end two down left me in 25th place. It was a really bad start, but this is a championship and the possibility is still there and we had a very good second day apparently!” he pointed out.

Talking about his plan for the jump-off, he said, “I sure wanted to go fast; I have a really fast horse, an unbelievable horse and my only chance to move forward in the rankings was a good result today so I had no other option – so I tried to put my colleagues under pressure and it worked out!”

He now lies joint-10th alongside Irishman Lynch and America’s Lutz going into the final afternoon and well within sight of that coveted Longines FEI World Cup™ trophy.

Reason to be pleased

Lynch, meanwhile, also had every reason to be pleased. “My horse (All Star) is not a very quick horse, but today I was lucky because my colleagues had fences down so I finished second. I’ve taken a long time with this horse. I’ve had him since he was six years old and he likes playing around, bucking and messing a lot, so he’s not always that easy, but we know each other really well now,” he said of his 13-year-old stallion. “And he’s been in great form since December and through January and February with lots of good rounds,” he added.

Harrie Smolders admitted that his stallion, Emerald, is also feeling pretty good, in fact so good that he very nearly unseated his rider in the first round today. “He jumped just amazing, almost too well in the first round – I almost came flying off but luckily I stayed on him! I knew I needed a top place today to be in touch for Monday so I’m pleased with how it has worked out, and now I’m waiting for Monday,” he said.

Guerdat, meanwhile, reflected on how things have fallen in place for him over the last two days. The possibility of taking his second Longines title in a row looks very much on the cards.

A lot of questions

“I’m really happy. There were a lot of questions before the Final started that I really didn’t know the answer to… my horse has lot of ability; he has quality and he will be a very good horse one day, but we are still a bit looking for each other and I didn’t think he would be good enough to be in the lead before the final day,” he pointed out. But the defending champion is not getting too carried away with it all just yet. “It was just another day today; I’m going to enjoy myself tomorrow and I’m really looking forward to Monday now!” he added.

Talking about his horse, Corbinian, he explained, “He’s done quite a few big classes with me just we haven’t been so much in the results; we’ve had a lot of four faults and sometimes eight faults, never really because of a lack of quality but because I can’t get to his quality. He’s a bit difficult to ride for me; I did two or three nations cups last year and maybe four or five five-star Grand Prix classes and he was very good in the World Cup in London. I felt then he was the horse for this final; I had the luck to be already qualified so I didn’t have any pressure to get the points.”

Guerdat also made a joke at his own expense as the post-competition press conference was coming to a close. When asked what made him decide to come back for the jump-off knowing that there are two more rounds of jumping and that he might already be leading the standings, he replied, “I’m not that good at calculating, but I thought if I don’t mess it up completely I would be in the lead, but I wasn’t exactly sure – I’m here for the sport and not the mathematics!” he said.

When it comes to the crunch on Monday, however, it looks very possible that the Olympic gold medallist and defending Longines champion may well have the last laugh.

For further information on the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final 2015/2016 in Gothenburg (SWE) from 23-28 March 2016, visit www.gothenburghorseshow.com or contact Press Officer Lotta Amnestål, lotta.amnestal@ridsport.se, +46 709 79 56 35.

Full result here.

Full standings here.

Facts and Figures:

33 horse-and-rider combinations started in the second competition at the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2016 Final in Gothenburg, Sweden.

The winner was Germany’s Christian Ahlmann riding Taloubet Z, the horse with which he won the FEI World Cup™ Jumping title in Leipzig, Germany in 2011.

However, it is the defending champion, Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat, who heads the leaderboard going into Monday’s third and final competition when adding a fourth-place finish to his fifth place in the opening Speed class.

Course designer, Spain’s Santiago Varela, presented a 14-fence challenge, with a time-allowed of 79 seconds.

7 first-round clears.

A total of 13 horse-and-rider combinations picked up four faults in the first round.

America’s Katie Kindan was eliminated for two refusals for Nougat du Vallet in the first round, and fellow-American Charlie Jacobs retired with Flaming Star.

The bogey fence in the first round was the vertical at fence 12 which consisted of two gold-coloured poles with a golden rocking-horse as the fence filler.

The top 30 riders after today’s competition will qualify for Monday’s third and last competition, and 20 of those will advance to the second round.

Any riders who jump clear in the first round, even if they will finish outside the top 20, are also permitted to go again in the second round but their result will not count for the final classification.

Quotes:

Santiago Varela, Course Designer: “I want to congratulate all the riders; they rode really well and it was a nice competition. I feel good about how it went.”

Christian Ahlmann GER (1st), when asked about the formula for keeping Talboubet so fit and competitive five years after winning the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping title with him in Leipzig: “It’s nothing special; I just think you need a real Ferrari like him and it makes it a bit easier!”

Steve Guerdat SUI (4th), when asked if he thought he could repeat his winning performance of last year: “We’ll see; I’m delighted to have so many good horses and I can definitely ride better than I did in the final last year!”

Rider biographies: view online and download here.

By Louise Parkes

Media Contacts:

At Gothenburg:

Lotta Amnestål
Press Officer
lotta.amnestal@ridsport.se
+46 709 79 56 35

At FEI:

Grania Willis
Director Press Relations
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 787 506 142

Shannon Gibbons
Manager Press Relations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Ahlmann Makes It a Hat-Trick with Another Longines Victory at Mechelen

Germany’s Christian Ahlmann produced his third win of the season in today’s Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2015/2016 Western European League qualifier at Mechelen in Belgium riding Taloubet Z. (FEI/Dirk Caremans)

Mechelen (BEL), 30 December 2015 – Germany’s Christian Ahlmann galloped to his third victory of the season at the eighth leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2015/2016 Western European League at Mechelen in Belgium. The competition came down to a 10-way decider against the clock, and, third-last into the arena, the 40-year-old rider and his brilliant 15-year-old stallion Taloubet Z produced another of their trademark thrillers to seal the result in style.

On a day when the focus was otherwise on all things Belgian, however, home riders filled three of the top four placings and five of the top ten slots. Niels Bruynseels threw down an extraordinary jump-off performance with the nine-year-old Cas de Liberte to claim runner-up position, while Jerome Guery lined up third with Papillon Z. And fourth-placed Jos Verlooy has rocketed up to second spot in the Western European League standings after finishing fourth this evening with his nine-year-old gelding, Sunshine.

With 77 points now to his credit, Ahlmann has a 26-point lead over Frenchman Simon Delestre at the top of the series leaderboard with just three qualifying legs left to run. So along with Verlooy, Penelope Leprevost from France and young Belgian star Nicola Philippaerts, the 2011 FEI World Cup™ Jumping champion is well-qualified for the 2016 Longines Final which will take place in Gothenburg, Sweden in March.

Rapid rate

Belgian course designer, Lucien Somers, set them a tough task with tall verticals, wide oxers and obstacles coming up at a rapid rate around his 13-fence track. This was no day for the faint-hearted, with absolute commitment required from horse and rider from start to finish, and Verlooy showed all of that when opening the class with a great clear from his relatively novice gelding.

There were consistent errors at the oxer at fence four, but the majority of mistakes were made along the line that followed, from the double at fence five – vertical to oxer – which led on a right-hand curve to the vertical at six and then on a left-hand bend to a big oxer at fence seven. The skinny planks at 11 also fell frequently, as did various elements of the following triple combination which consisted of a triple bar and two verticals before the last demanding turn to the final oxer which also took its toll.

A total of 10 found the key to the challenging track, but before the jump-off began there was an emotional tribute to Belgian jumping legend Ludo Philippaerts who retired from competition this year. During his stellar career he competed at four Olympic Games, three FEI World Equestrian Games, 11 European championships and in 13 FEI World Cup™ Jumping Finals. Amongst his many achievements, Ludo took individual European silver in 2001 and, with the great stallion, Darco, claimed European team gold in 1991. Yolande Wauters, wife of the late Eric Wauters who, 35 years ago, founded the Mechelen event which is dedicated to his name, made a special presentation to Ludo today, as did FEI President Ingmar De Vos.

Superb target

With five Belgians into the jump-off, the home crowd had plenty to keep them on the edges of their seats, and they roared with excitement when Verlooy, who just turned 20 earlier this month, set a superb target when clear in 42.09 seconds. But it was Niels Bruynseels who really set the competition alight when, three horses later, he blazed through the timers in 39.37 seconds to put it up to the rest of the field.

His compatriot, Jerome Guery, has established a great bond with the former Gregory Wathelet ride Papillon Z and the grey raced home to slot temporarily into second place when crossing the line in 40.57 seconds. Ahlmann and Taloubet Z, however, followed that with a jump-off master-class, working in perfect harmony and taking a stride out on the gallop to the last to shave 0.15 seconds off Bruynseels‘ target.

There were still two left to run, but when Great Britain’s Laura Renwick and the ever-more-promising Bingtang ll posted their clear in 42.47 seconds that would slot them into fifth place leaving only 2014 Longines champion, Daniel Deusser, left to challenge. The German rider who lives in Mechelen hit the last fence in a valiant effort with First Class van Eeckelghem and had to settle for sixth place.

Quite confident

Ahlmann admitted that he was feeling “quite confident” going into today’s jump-off. “Taloubet did a great job in the first round and gave me a super feeling – when he’s in that shape I can ride fast and take the risks. To be honest, he just played with the fences today – he has produced some really great rounds over the last few weeks, but this one was possibly the best!” he said.

Runner-up Niels Bruynseels said he wasn’t in the least disappointed with such a close second place. “No, I’m very happy; my horse is only nine and this was her first World Cup. It is a dream for every rider to win a competition like this in their home country but it was very close, and with Christian to come I knew it wasn’t over. Maybe if I made one stride less to the last – who knows?” he mused afterwards.

Following his victory with Codex One in Stuttgart in November which was quickly followed by another with Taloubet Z a week later and now his third success today with the same great horse, Ahlmann will be one of the hot favourites when the 2016 Longines Final gets underway in Gothenburg in three months’ time. He’s already looking forward to it, but is no hurry to decide which of his brilliant string he will take to the Swedish fixture.

It could be Taloubet Z, but first the stallion will take a well-earned break. Asked this evening about restoring the horse which earned him the coveted FEI World Cup™ Jumping trophy four years ago to his best after a long injury break, the German rider said, “It’s always a big challenge for the whole team to keep horses fit for many years, and to bring him back now in such great form when he is almost 16 is only possible if you have a really strong team behind you. We are all very happy and very proud that Taloubet is really enjoying himself again!” Ahlmann added.

For further information on the eighth leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2015/2016 Western European League at Mechelen (BEL), go to www.jumping-mechelen.com or contact Press Officer Edith de Reys, edith.dereys@skynet.be, +32 475 65 92 81.

The next leg will take place in Leipzig (GER) on 17 January 2016. For details of the German fixture, visit www.engarde.de or contact Press Officer Andreas Kerstan, andreas.kerstan@comtainment.de, +49 177 75 32624.

Full result here.

Facts and Figures:

Mechelen in Belgium presented the eighth leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2015/2016 Western European League.

A total of 40 riders representing 16 countries competed and 10 of those flew the host nation flag.

Belgian riders filled five of the top-ten finishing places.

The winner was Germany’s Christian Ahlmann riding Taloubet Z, the 15-year-old stallion with which he claimed the FEI World Cup™ Jumping trophy at the Final in Leipzig, Germany in 2011.

This was Ahlmann’s third victory in the current series and he now holds a commanding lead on the Western European League table ahead of French rider Simon Delestre in second while his fourth-place finish today moved Belgium’s Jos Verlooy into third and leaves him well-qualified for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2016 in Gothenburg, Sweden in March.

Course designer was Belgium’s Lucien Somers.

10 horse-and-rider combinations qualified for the jump-off.

5 horse-and-rider combinations produced double-clear performances.

Following the first round of today’s competition, there was a tribute to mark the official retirement of Belgian star Ludo Philippaerts during which FEI President, Ingmar de Vos, made a special presentation to the 52-year-old rider.

This was the 35th edition of the show in Mechelen, which was created by the late Eric Wauters and which continues to be staged by his family in memory of the Belgian Olympic bronze medallist.

Quotes:

Christian Ahlmann GER (1st) when asked if the round produced by Niels Bruynseels looked almost unbeatable: “I knew I had the best horse and the fastest horse. Niels also had a great round so I tried to do almost the same but be a little faster and it worked!”

Jeromy Guery BEL (3rd) – “It’s been a great season and my horse, Papillon, is amazing! I’m just really happy to have a great result in my home country – I’m surprised, motivated and delighted today!”

Peter Bollen, Mechelen Event Director: “It was very nice to see Belgian riders doing so well, and I’m very happy with a win for such a great star as Christian.”

Peter Bollen, when asked about the challenges facing the Organising Committee ahead of this year’s event: “It wasn’t easy, the arena changed ownership but new contracts were signed a week ago for another five years so all is good, and we’ve had a fantastic crowd this year – even better than last year!”

Christian Ahlmann GER (1st), when asked about training a horse like Taloubet who does not have the biggest stride: “The strides of my horse in general are fast; even if he is doing the same strides as other horses he would still be faster than them. However, I can do that (take a stride out) only once during a round; otherwise he’ll get flat and lose the jump, so I saved it for the last jump today, and it worked out really well!”

Christian Ahlmann GER (1st), when asked if he knew he had won after his brilliant jump-off round: “You can’t think like that with Laura (Renwick) or Daniel (Deusser) following you. They can always beat you; today was difficult and the chance is always there, so I had to wait until the last fence was done!”

Full standings here.

Social media: #FEIWorldCupWEL

Rider biographies: view online and download from http://www.fei.org/bios.

By Louise Parkes

Media Contacts:

At Mechelen:

Press Officer
Edith de Reys
edith.dereys@skynet.be
+32 475 659 281

At FEI:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Grania Willis
Director Press Relations
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 787 506 142

Emotional Ahlmann Makes It Two-in-a-Row in Madrid

Germany’s Christian Ahlmann, galloping to victory with Taloubet Z. (FEI/Hervé Bonnaud)

Madrid (ESP), 29 November 2015 – Just seven days after coming out on top on home turf in Stuttgart, Germany’s Christian Ahlmann made it a back-to-back double with victory in the sixth leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2015/2016 Western European League in Madrid, Spain this afternoon. Last weekend he partnered Codex One, but this time around it was his old friend, the 15-year-old stallion Taloubet Z, who carried him to success, and the 40-year-old rider couldn’t help but feel emotional in the aftermath.

“My horses are going so well at the moment; it’s amazing – we’ve had some very, very hard days not so long ago, but now we are having some very nice days, and Taloubet was jumping fantastic this afternoon. He’s always a very good horse, but today felt special because I was thinking and hoping that Mr Melchior was looking down and watching him win, and that he would be feeling proud once again!” he said. He was of course referring to the late master of the world-famous Zangersheide Stud and the father of his partner Judy-Ann, Leon Melchior who passed away just a few short weeks ago.

Only five horse-and-rider combinations made it through to the jump-off against the clock today, and runners-up were the pair who won the Madrid leg of the series 12 months ago, Colombia’s Carlos Lopez and Prince de la Mare. Belgium’s Pieter Devos lined up third with Dream of India Greenfield while Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann finished fourth with Cantinero ahead of Germany’s Marco Kutscher and Chaccorina in fifth spot.

Tantalising four faults

It was a tough afternoon’s jumping, with 24 of the 40 starters picking up a tantalising four faults in the first round. But when she produced the quickest of these, in a time of 56.03 seconds, Britain’s Laura Renwick slotted into sixth spot with Bintang ll.

The 12-fence track designed by Spain’s Javier Trenor presented a fascinating challenge, with mistakes made from the very first to the very last. The double of oxer to vertical at fence five was followed by a 360-degree left-hand turn to the following vertical at six, and then it was on to a big oxer at fence seven and a tall vertical with a water-tray at the back of it at fence eight which proved a bit spooky for some. There were consistent errors at all of these obstacles even before riders faced into the triple combination at fence nine, while the last two fences – an oxer followed by the final Longines planks – were further complicated by the fact that they needed to be ridden on a short five-stride distance.

As Ahlmann explained afterwards, “Today was a proper Grand Prix. There were nice classes until today in Madrid, not always easy but with plenty of clear rounds. But when we walked the course this afternoon we could see it was going to be different. It was big and technical, but it was not unfair so there were no bad pictures even though only five of us managed to qualify for the jump-off.”

Set the target

Last year’s victor, Lopez, was first to go against the clock and with the long, loping stride of Prince de la Mare he set the target with a great clear in 41.37 seconds. Belgium’s Devos followed with a mistake at the second of the two remaining elements of the triple combination while Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann and Cantinero ran out of luck even earlier when hitting the opening oxer for a slower four faults.

And that annoying first fence also fell for Germany’s Marco Kutscher who then decided not to put too much pressure on his lovely nine-year-old mare Chaccorina, posting a slow time of 45.32 seconds but once again making it all look very elementary indeed. So the door was wide open as Ahlmann entered the ring. Despite all his experience, the German rider knew he still had a job to do.

Good position

“I was in a good position as the last to go – the pressure was there, but not more than usual,” he said afterwards. “The time to beat was quick but I knew from the first fence that it was going to be good. I just rode from fence to fence and the feeling got better and better, but it was still quite close in the end,” he pointed out, after registering the winning clear round in 40.98 seconds.

Ahlmann talked about his winning ride, the stallion Taloubet Z with whom he has recorded many of his greatest successes including victory at the FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final in Leipzig (GER) four years ago, and more recently team silver at the FEI European Championships 2015 in Aachen. Together they claimed runner-up spot at the third leg of the Longines Western European League in Lyon (FRA) earlier this month.

“Taloubet has been owned by the Melchior family since he was six years old, so he has been with Zangersheide for seven or eight years now. It was Judy (Judy-Ann Melchior) who rode him originally and she brought him up, and then I got to ride him when he was nine. He has been very successful; he has done so much for me in my sporting career and he has done a lot for the sport and for breeding also. He is just a great horse!” he said.

Today’s result has rocketed Ahlmann up to the top of the Western European League table with a massive 57 points and a firm qualifying place for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Final 2016 in Gothenburg, Sweden next March. French riders Simon Delestre and Penelope Leprevost now lie second and third while Henrik von Eckermann is in fourth going into the seventh leg of the series which will take place at the hugely popular Christmas show at Olympia in London (GBR) on 20 December.

For further information on the sixth leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2015/2016 Western European League in Madrid, go to www.madridhorseweek.com or contact Press Officer Alejandra Cámara, a.camara@madridhorseweek.com, +34 609 915 944.

The next leg of the series will take place at Olympia, London (GBR) on 20 December 2015. For details of the British fixture, visit www.olympiahorseshow.com or contact Press Officer Jo Peck, JoPeck@hpower.co.uk, +44 1753 847 900.

Full result here.

Facts and Figures:

The sixth leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2015/2016 Western European League took place at Madrid Horse Week in Spain today.

40 starters representing 22 nations in today’s competition.

During today’s competition, a special presentation was made by the Organising Committee to Spain’s Pepe Alvarez de Bohorques who was Chairman of the FEI Jumping Committee for eight years and silver medallist at the FEI World Jumping Championships in Buenos Aires (ARG) in 1966.

1 horse-and-rider combination eliminated – Spain’s Manuel Fernandez Saro and Enriques of the Lowlands, for a rider fall at the penultimate fence on the 12-obstacle course.

Course designer was Spain’s Javier Trenor.

Only 5 horse-and-rider combinations qualified for the second-round jump-off against the clock.

The winners were Germany’s Christian Ahlmann and the 15-year-old stallion Taloubet who together claimed the FEI World Cup™ Jumping title at the Final in Leipzig, Germany in 2011.

This was Ahlmann’s second Western European League victory in a week. He also came out on top last Sunday in Stuttgart (GER) with Codex One.

Runner-up was the 2014 winner at this leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Western European League, Colombia’s Carlos Lopez with Prince de la Mare.

Just five more qualifying rounds remain in the Western European League and the next takes place at Olympia in London (GBR) on 20 December.

Full standings here.

FEI YouTube here.

Social media: #FEIWorldCupWEL

Rider biographies: view online and download from http://www.fei.org/bios.

By Louise Parkes

Media Contacts:

At Madrid:

Alejandra Cámara
Press Officer
a.camara@madridhorseweek.com
+34 609 915 944

At FEI:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Grania Willis
Director Press Relations
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 787 506 142

Awesome Ahlmann Steals the Longines Limelight at Stuttgart

Germany’s Christian Ahlmann and Codex One were presented with a Longines watch by Rainer Eckert, Longines Brand Manager Germany, after winning the fifth leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ 2015/2016 Western European League at Stuttgart, Germany. (FEI/Karl-Heinz Frieler)

Stuttgart (GER), 22 November 2015 – Christian Ahlmann and Codex One secured a home nation victory at the fifth leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2015/2016 Western European League in Stuttgart, Germany today. In a classic five-way jump-off, the 40-year-old rider and his 13-year-old stallion crushed the opposition with a devastating turn of speed when second-last to go against the clock, and Ahlmann has now moved up to third place on the Western European League leaderboard ahead of the sixth leg of the series in Madrid, Spain next Sunday.

Sweden’s Douglas Lindelow set the jump-off target time and held on for runner-up spot ahead of Germany’s Patrick Stuhlmeyer in third, while Ireland’s Cameron Hanley lined up fourth. Frenchman, Patrice Delaveau, had to settle for fifth place when his jump-off round didn’t go to plan, but his compatriots – Simon Delestre and Penelope Leprevost – continue to head the league table as the qualifying series moves towards the half-way stage.

Seemed lenient

An intriguing course designed by Belgium’s Luc Musette initially seemed a little lenient when two of the first three riders jumped clear. But there was a sting in the tail here, with the final line of fences taking a heavy toll as the competition evolved. A very narrow vertical at fence three was the undoing of many, while the triple combination at fence seven also clocked up plenty of faults, but it was the negotiation of the water-tray oxer three from home and the decision whether to go on four or five strides to the following double of verticals that proved decisive, with many also losing their line and balance to the last if they ran into problems here.

Amongst the starting field of 39 there were many superstars of the sport, but the list of first-round retirements included a number of them. World and European double-gold medallist, Jeroen Dubbeldam, called it a day with the 10-year-old Classic Man V, a relative newcomer to this level of the sport, while three-time FEI World Cup™ Jumping champions Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Marcus Ehning from Germany also retired. Michaels-Beerbaum’s grey, the spectacular Fibonacci, was clearly not firing on all cylinders while Ehning’s Singular LS La Silla was also not on form. And although the home crowd was spellbound when Michael Jung, the unchallenged supremo of the sport of Eventing, set off with Sportsmann S, there excitement was short-lived as the pair pulled up after a mistake at the oxer fence four.

The veteran John Whitaker was one of three denied a place in the timed round when exceeding the 73-seconds time limit in an otherwise foot-perfect run with the 10-year-old mare Ornellaia but the British legend secured some valuable points towards the Final when securing sixth spot before the jump-off got underway.

A hot one

And it was a hot one from the outset, with Lindelow’s 12-year-old chestnut gelding’s deceptive pace bringing the Swedish pair home in 51.02 seconds which would prove a tough time to beat.

Musette presented them with an unusually long jump-off track of nine fences and 10 jumping efforts that asked for dare-devil turns and blistering speed in order to be in with a shot. Ireland’s Hanley showed he is right back in the game when winning yesterday’s Winning Round with Antello Z, but he was more than a second adrift when breaking the beam with Z Acodate DDL today and while Patrick Stuhlmeyer and Lacan posted 52.03 to go ahead of the Irish duo, the German pair was still more than a second behind the Swedish leaders.

Ahlmann, however, threw caution to the wind, his figure-of-eight turns through the new oxer at fence 18 to the two remaining elements of the triple combination and on to the vertical at fence eight shaving off valuable fractions of seconds and his gallop to the penultimate oxer at fence 10 and to the final vertical left the crowd screaming with delight. The clock showed 49.78 seconds and now only the flying Frenchman, Patrice Delaveau, could spoil a big German party. But while it all fell into place for Ahlmann, the fences just didn’t come up right for Delaveau and when Lacrimoso kicked the bricks out of the wall, formerly the first and now the third obstacle on the course, he wisely retired.

Gave it his all

Ahlmann said afterwards that he gave it his all against the clock. “I thought I could do it, but I had to try everything – I was really focused on being fast enough and I took every risk from jump to jump – it worked really well from the start to the finish! I saw exactly what Douglas did and I knew I couldn’t take fewer strides, so I just needed to take tighter turns and to go a bit faster,” he explained.

He was delighted with Codex One who had a relatively quiet summer season. “We did the Nations Cup in Rotterdam and I tried for the European Championships but we didn’t make it, so I gave him some time to rest,” said the man whose massive haul of career medals includes double-gold at the 2003 FEI European Championship in Donaueschingen (GER) in 2003 and the FEI World Cup™ Jumping title which he won on home turf in Leipzig in 2011 with Taloubet Z.

Codex One returned to action at Brussels (BEL) in September and was in the ribbons in Munich (GER) two weeks ago, so the rider knew he was coming back to his best. “He’ll have a week off now and then I’ll take him to either Paris or Geneva – I’m planning one more show for him before the end of the year but I’m in a lucky situation because I have a few Grand Prix horses I can take to shows right now which is very nice, so I’ll be keeping busy myself, going to Madrid, Paris, Geneva and Mechelen,” said Ahlmann who added, “and I really want to qualify for the Final in Gothenburg.”

Ahlmann has enjoyed a brilliant week at Stuttgart, winning two cars in the process, and as the post-competition press conference was winding up this evening, he was asked how he intends to get the two of them home to Belgium. “I don’t know,” he replied with a grin, “but I’m looking forward to solving the problem!” He will have no shortage of transport options for getting to Gothenburg for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final which will take place in the Swedish city from 23 to 28 March 2016.

For further information on the fifth leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2015/2016 Western European League in Stuttgart, Germany, visit www.stuttgart-german-masters.de or contact Press Officer Joerg Klopfer, joerg.klopfer@in.stuttgart.de, +49 (0)7 11 / 95 54 31 28.

The next leg of the series will take place in Madrid, Spain on Sunday 29 November. For details, go to www.madridhorseweek.com or contact Press Officer Alejandra Cámara, a.camara@madridhorseweek.com, +34 609 915 944.

Full result here.

Facts and Figures:

The Schleyer Halle in Stuttgart, Germany was the venue for the fifth leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2015/2016 Western European League today.

The winning rider was Germany’s Christian Ahlmann partnering the 13-year-old Codex One.

5 horse-and-rider combinations qualified for the second-round jump-off against the clock.

Course designers were Belgium’s Luc Musette and Germany’s Christa Jung.

The youngest horse in the competition was the 8-year-old grey stallion Chardonnay 79, ridden by Austria’s Max Kuhner.

The oldest horse was the 15-year-old stallion H&M Tornesch ridden by Sweden’s Malin Baryard-Johnson.

4 world-famous riders retired in the first round – former Olympic and reigning World and European double-gold medallist Jeroen Dubbeldam from The Netherlands (Classic Man V), three-time FEI World Cup™ Jumping champions Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (Fibonacci) and Marcus Ehning (Singular LS La Silla) from Germany and reigning Olympic, World and European Eventing champion Michael Jung (Sportsmann S) from Germany.

The time-allowed in the first round was 73 seconds and 3 riders picked up just a single time penalty – John Whitaker (GBR), Max Kuhner (AUT) and Cedric Angot (FRA).

Today’s result promoted winning rider, Ahlmann, to third place on the Western European League behind French riders Penelope Leprevost in second and Simon Delestre in pole position.

The sixth leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2015/2016 Western European League will take place on Sunday 29 November in Madrid, Spain.

Quotes:

Christian Ahlmann (GER) 1st, talking about the last line of fences in the first round of today’s competition: “It was big, but not difficult in distance – it was a long four or short five strides (from fence 11 to 12), but it was at the end of course so horses were not that fresh any more. If they had a problem there they had to deal with the situation and quite often they didn’t succeed.”

Event Director Gotthilf Riexinger: “It was a fantastic competition and a perfect course from Luc Musette because it wasn’t easy but every fence caused problems, so it was a very balanced track.”

Douglas Lindelow (SWE) 2nd: “I was happy with both my rounds today; I’m really hoping make it to the Final in Gothenburg in March. This was my first time to compete here in Stuttgart and it’s a great show.”

Patrick Stuhymeyer (GER) 3rd: “My horse jumped great – he’s not the fastest horse so for him the jump-off course was difficult but I’m still very happy with his performance.”

John Roche, FEI Jumping Director: “Congratulations to the riders and the course designer, and thanks to the Organising Committee who have once again shown that Stuttgart is one of the gems in the Longines Western European League.”

Christian Ahlmann (GER) 1st: “I must say all week my horses were amazing. Today’s jump-off was very fast but my horse was very concentrated. Congratulations to Luc Musette for his course that was very technical but not too big. Of course it’s easy to say that when you’ve won, but it’s the truth!”

Full standings here.

Social media: #FEIWorldCupWEL

Rider biographies: view online and download from http://www.fei.org/bios.

By Louise Parkes

Media Contacts:

At Stuttgart:

Joerg Klopfer
Press Officer
joerg.klopfer@in.stuttgart.de
+49 711 955 43128

At FEI:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Grania Willis
Director Press Relations
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 787 506 142

Christian Ahlmann Faultless in His First Rolex Grand Prix Victory at CHIO Aachen

Winner Christian Ahlmann riding Codex One. Photos © Rolex/Kit Houghton.

20 July 2014, Aachen, GER: Germany’s Christian Ahlmann today produced a faultless display of riding to win his first Rolex Grand Prix at CHIO Aachen, and in so doing, became the new live contender for the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.

Riding his stallion Codex One, who has only recently returned to top flight competition following a long injury, Ahlmann was one of only five riders who produced double clear rounds on a challenging Frank Rothenberger designed course. The jump-off resembled an international penalty shoot-out, with three riders representing Germany and two from the USA. Going into the ring first Ahlmann rode a deliberately aggressive but clear round setting a tough challenge for his fellow riders.

Knowing that only a clear round would make the grade, the four who followed Ahlmann into the ring, Marcus Ehning, Kent Farrington, Daniel Deusser and Lauren Hough, clearly felt the pressure and each had one fence down. Ahlmann was the only rider to ride three clear rounds to win the Rolex Grand Prix crown and the first equestrian Major of 2014.

Ahlmann, like many of this year’s competitors, had dreamt of winning the Rolex Grand Prix at Aachen from a very young age and felt the pressure going into the stadium for the jump-off. “The pressure was there when I went into the jump-off first, and I therefore tried to not take a major risk but put my colleagues under pressure so that they would be forced to take some big risks. This is a dream come true for me and for sure, I will be at the Spruce Meadows Masters in September!”

Second place Kent Farrington riding Voyeur
Second place Kent Farrington riding Voyeur

Over 360,000 spectators enjoyed not only top class competition but superb weather during the ten days of competition at CHIO Aachen, with the final week temperatures soaring to the mid 30 degrees centigrade four days in a row. Sunday came with a cooling breeze, making conditions ideal for the highlight of the show, the Rolex Grand Prix.

This year’s CHIO Aachen featured many of Rolex’s equestrian Testimonees, including all the Show Jumping riders Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, Steve Guerdat, Kevin Staut, Eric Lamaze and Rodrigo Pessoa, as well as Zara Phillips and Isabell Werth. Recently selected to represent Great Britain at the World Equestrian Games, Zara was part of the team who came second in the Nations Cup Eventing at Aachen, her first major contest since the birth of her daughter Mia in January. Isabell enjoyed an excellent few days of competition in the Dressage arena with an individual victory and four Top 5 finishes in the nine competitions.

But the glory goes to Christian Ahlmann with a victory which will etch his name in the record books. As Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, a former winner of the Rolex Grand Prix at CHIO Aachen, said, “The Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday at CHIO Aachen is, in my opinion, the equivalent to winning a gold medal at the Olympic Games. To win is a highlight of a rider’s career and to potentially become a Grand Slam winner is just a dream come true.”

Rolex is a partner to some of the greatest equestrian shows in the world, including the three Majors: CHIO Aachen, the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’, and CHI Geneva. These shows form the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping which is the first global initiative to reward the outstanding rider who wins the Grand Prix at each show in succession.

Rider Quotes:

Kent Farrington:

“This is an amazing show; you know, I’d say this is the best show in the world. There are unbelievable crowds here; you know I think this is by far the pinnacle of our sport.

Rolex has done amazing things for our sport and I think that it’s brought it to a higher level around the world with their support now in the United States in addition to what they’ve always done here and at venues like Aachen and Geneva. You know, it really brings our sport to a new level of professional sport.

For me it was really exciting just to be here. I was thrilled with how my horses performed this week… unfortunately a little bad luck at the last fence here – I was hoping we could pull it all off. If I had to do it again I don’t know if I would have changed anything; I think that was just bad luck.”

Third place Marcus Ehning riding Plot Blue
Third place Marcus Ehning riding Plot Blue

Marcus Ehning:

“I was really proud of my horse; he’s 17 years old. He’s already jumped amazingly in the Nations Cup and two rounds clear and one fault in the jump off… the time was good, a bit unlucky but I’m really happy with him.

For me this [Aachen] is the best show in the world and for sure as a German it’s always amazing how the crowd is, how the public is… so many spectators, lovely weather this year and I think it was the perfect show this week.

Rolex is an amazing sponsor for us and we are very proud about it and for us it’s a really big goal. Rolex pushed the sport forward in the showjumping and we are really happy about it.”

For further media information, please contact:
Georgie Wells
Tel: +44 207 592 1207
Email: georgina@revolutionsports.co.uk

www.rolex.com
www.rolexgrandslam.com

Ahlmann and Aragon Are Victorious in Verona

Elisa Gasparini, Brand Manager Longines Italy, presents Christian Ahlmann with his winner’s watch. Photo: FEI/Stefano Secchi.

Verona (ITA), 10 November 2013 – Germany’s Christian Ahlmann was a very happy man after winning today’s third leg of the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Western European League series at Verona in Italy.  The 2011 FEI World Cup Jumping champion borrowed a horse from his partner, Judy-Ann Melchior, at the last moment, and he could hardly believe how well the 12-year-old gelding, Aragon Z, performed for him in front of the packed house of wildly enthusiastic spectators this afternoon.

“Judy has loaned me her horse for two shows – Verona and Doha – because my top horse had a rest and just before Verona was not ready to come here.  With Aragon it has been working really well from our very first moment together, so I’m delighted!” said the 38-year-old rider who fended off some fearsome opposition in a thrilling 12-horse jump-off against the clock.

Great Britain’s Scott Brash lined up second with Ursula Xll while Italy’s Luca Moneta pleased the home crowd when slotting into third with Neptune Brecourt.  It was a ferocious battle for maximum points today, but Ahlmann looked completely in control and looks well set for another strong campaign on the winter-long Longines FEI World Cup Jumping circuit.  Brash, meanwhile, moves to the top of the Western European League leaderboard having already accumulated 41 points after his opening leg win in Oslo and his prominent finish today.

Plenty to think about

Course designer, Italy’s Uliano Vezzani, gave them plenty to think about this afternoon with a track that required a clear understanding of each horse’s stride-capacity and attention at every turn.  Ahlmann said, “There were faults everywhere but, when I walked the course, I thought the most difficult part of the track was the triple (combination).  It was big enough, and the white planks (fence 12) were really big.  The last fence was a big oxer into the corner, and the black fence (vertical at four) didn’t jump so well yesterday or again today, but it was a good course and really fair and we had a really great jump-off,” he pointed out.

It was the triple-bar at fence five that provided the early drama however, when, second to go, three-time FEI World Cup Jumping champion, Germany’s Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, ended up on the ground after her lovely mare, Bella Donna, uncharacteristically jammed on the brakes after an attempted take-off.  But the biggest surprise was the number of horse-and-rider combinations who made it all the way to the final oxer, fence 13, only to leave that one on the floor.  Its high-profile victims included Germany’s Marco Kutscher with Cornet’s Cristallo, Canada’s Eric Lamaze with Powerplay, Sweden’s Malin Baryard-Johnsson with H&M Tornesch, last year’s Verona winner Sergio Moya from Spain, this time riding Carlo, German super-star Ludger Beerbaum with Chiara and Brazil’s Doda de Miranda with AD Uutje.  It was like the “who’s who” of the sport all faulting at exactly the same point.

Another whose luck was out today was the promising young Italian, Lorenzo de Luca who won a class earlier at the show.  He seemed en route to record just the third clear round of the competition until the 11-year-old Vignet Cooper suddenly switched off on the turn to the narrow oxer at fence 11.  Once the lines of communication opened up again the chestnut horse jumped on effortlessly, but six faults would leave the 26-year-old rider well down the order in the final analysis.

Red-hot bunch

The 12 who made it through to the jump-off however were a red-hot bunch and Moneta instantly threw down the gauntlet with one of his trademark caution-to-the-wind rides.  The 45-year-old and his top horse, Neptune Brecourt, have enjoyed a superb year and finished 10th individually at the PSI FEI European Championships in Herning, Denmark this summer.  Skilled against the clock, they posted a tremendous target time of 44.93 seconds, and now it was up to the rest to catch them if they could.  And it wouldn’t be easy.

Vezzani this time set them turn upon turn around the ring, and then asked for a strong gallop down to the infamous black vertical that Ahlmann earlier described.  Second to go, Athina Onassis de Miranda chose a cautionary approach with her lovely mare AD Camille Z, jumping clear but collecting three time penalties, and when Portugal’s Luciana Diniz and Winningmood hit the first of the two remaining parts of the former triple combination and Australia’s Edwina Tops-Alexander and Ego van Orti picked up one time fault it was definitely not going to be a lady’s day today.

A real threat

Germany’s Daniel Deusser and Cornet d’Amour looked a real threat as they scorched home more than a second up on the clock, but the top pole on the last fence rolled in the cups and then hit the floor for four tiresome faults.  Ireland’s Denis Lynch has often spoken of his childhood dream of riding on a racetrack and, putting All Star into over-drive even before the start-line, he was well in contention until hitting the oxer at fence two, now the penultimate obstacle on the jump-off track. Simon Delestre and Valentino Velvet were next to go, and they guaranteed themselves some valuable qualifying points when clear, but not quite fast enough, in 46.78 seconds.

Ahlmann would reset the target however when next in with Aragon Z who didn’t seem to be under any pressure at all when cruising home in 44.38 seconds.  Now they were the ones to beat, and when The Netherlands’ Maikel van der Vleuten and VDL Groep Verdi were clear in 47.12 seconds it was down to the final three to upset the German rider’s celebration party.  The formidable Swiss, Pius Schwizer, didn’t succeed when stopping the clock on 45.09 with Picsou du Chene, but Ahlmann’s fellow-countryman, Marcus Ehning, was well ahead on time with Plot Blue only to hit the bogey black vertical at the end of the course. Now only Olympic team champion, Great Britain’s Scott Brash, stood between the 2011 FEI World Cup Jumping champion and his first win of the new season.  Setting off at a cracking pace, it seemed he might just do it, but, as he later explained, he took a cautionary pull going to the last with the 12-year-old mare Ursula, and when he broke the beam in 44.47 seconds he would have to settle for runner-up spot.

Brash is attempting to curb the acute competitiveness which has brought him so much success but which, he believes, needs to be kept in check.  Today, for him, was all about self-control.  “It was important for me because in the past I have been inclined to go as fast as I could to try to win but I’ve matured a bit more and now I try to only do what the horse is capable of at that moment in time, so today we weren’t quite right and I took an extra stride to the last which cost me time,” he explained.

More than pleased

Ahlmann, meanwhile, was more than pleased to stand at the head of the line-up. The last German winner at Verona was Alois Pollmann-Schweckhorst with Lord Luis in 2008 and Ahlmann said, “It was really time we had another German winner here!” He complimented his horse who, he said, “helped me a lot!” and explained, “We got Aragon 18 months ago and from the very start he was fantastic.  He won the Grand Prix at Spangenberg and the championship at Estoril and produced many good results in a very short time.  Judy then bought him and won a Grand Prix with him; he’s a really nice horse and he’s fast.  You can win without taking all the risks with him. I’m really happy to get him back for a few very important show and he allows me to be competitive – I didn’t expect we would come together so well so quickly – I’m really delighted!” he said.

Brash was quite satisfied with his second placing.  At the post-competition press conference, it was announced that a record crowd of 160,000 spectators attended the gigantic Fieracavalli horse fair this year, and Brash said, “This is my first time in Verona and I’ve really enjoyed the show – the public here are fantastic, and I think all 160,000 of them were shouting for Luca in the jump-off, but they were really nice and got behind everyone else too!”  He said he fully intends to compete at the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final in Lyon, France next April.  “Yes, this year is it my aim to go to the Final.  In the Olympic year (2012) I was qualified but I didn’t go, but I do plan to do it this time,” he said.

Moneta was his usual modest self, declaring his amazement at finding himself at the press conference table with riders of such a high calibre.  But this is a man who has clearly demonstrated, over the past 12 months and more, than they are indeed his peers.  “I’m very excited because it is a very great pleasure to be again double-clear.  I was under a lot of pressure because the public really needed me to do a good job today.  Yesterday was a very bad day for me, but I talked to my trainer (Italian team manager Hans Hoorn) and he told me I have nothing to prove – he said, ‘Just ride your horse and do your best,’ and that was what I did today,” he said. “I’m very proud to be here,” he added.

He is now lying 12th on the Western European League table as the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping 2013/2014 series moves on to Stuttgart, Germany next weekend.

For more information on the third leg of the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Western European League 2013/2014 series at Verona, Italy, go to www.jumpingverona.it or contact Press Officer Caterina Vagnozzi, c.vagnozzi@gmail.com, Tel: M +39 3356107070.

The next leg of the series takes place at Stuttgart, Germany on Sunday 17 November.  Details of the German fixture at http://stuttgart-german-masters.de/aktuell/ or contact Press Officer Joerg Klopfer, Email joerg.klopfer@in.stuttgart.de, Tel: +49 (0)7 11 / 95 54 – 31 28.

Full result here.

Facts and Figures:

Jumping Verona is the highlight of the world-famous Fieracavalli, an annual equestrian extravaganza that includes competitions, demonstrations and a massive trade fair and which has been running since 1898.

40 riders competed in today’s third leg of the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping 2013/2014 Western European League.

19 nations were represented – Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

12 qualified for the second-round jump-off against the clock.

6 horse-and-rider combinations jumped double-clear.

Today’s winner was Germany’s Christian Ahlmann who claimed the FEI World Cup Jumping title in 2011.

The winners of the first two rounds of the current series also competed in today’s third leg – Great Britain’s Scott Brash who came out on top at the opening fixture in Oslo, Norway with Hello Sanctos, and Patrice Delaveau who topped the line-up for France at the second leg in Helsinki, Finland partnering Orient Express HDC.

After taking runner-up spot today, Olympic team gold medallist, Great Britain’s Scott Brash, takes over from individual Olympic champion Steve Guerdat from Switzerland at the head of the leaderboard ahead of the fourth round of the series at Stuttgart, Germany next weekend.

Marcus Ehning rode the oldest horse in today’s competition, the 16-year-old stallion Plot Blue which helped the German rider secure his third FEI World Cup Jumping title in 2010.

Course designer for today’s third leg of the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping series was Italy’s Uliano Vezzani who also designed the courses for the last season’s Final in Gothenburg, Sweden.

The Longines FEI World Cup Jumping 2013/2014 Final will take place in Lyon, France from 17 to 21 April 2014.

Quotes:

Luca Moneta (ITA) talking about Connery, the horse he rode in the previous qualifiers at Oslo and Helsinki – “I was riding in a bad way but I need to improve my relationship with him – it is not the horse’s fault; it is my fault if I cannot ride him.  I must work to do better with him.”

FEI Jumping Director, John Roche – “Congratulations to the riders and also to Uliano Vezzani for a fantastic course and top-class sport.  And congratulations to FiereVerona and FISE and all the sponsors, in particularly Longines who do so much for our sport – it’s been another great day!”

FEI YouTube: http://youtu.be/Fb402ioMSUw

FEI TV: don’t miss a hoofbeat – www.feitv.org

Longines Live Timing Jumping application: available free for download from The App Store (iPhone) & Android Markets. Combining precision and performance, this is a detailed and exclusive application designed especially for Jumping fans – follow live results, see latest Longines Rankings, view competition schedules, obtain exclusive information and alerts on your favorite riders and get all the latest FEI news.

Longines FEI World Cup Jumping press kit: download from www.feipresskits.org (contains series calendar, competition schedule, online media tools and history).

Rider biographies: view online and download from http://fei.org/fei/your-role/media/biographies.

Longines has been based at Saint-Imier (SUI) since 1832. Its watchmaking expertise reflects a strong devotion to tradition, elegance and performance. It has generations of experience as the official timekeeper at world championships and as a partner of international sports federations.

Longines’ passion for equestrian sports began in 1878, when it produced a chronograph engraved with a jockey and its mount. Over the years, the brand has built strong and long-lasting links with equestrian sports. In 1912, Longines was proud to partner with its first Jumping event, the Grande Concurso Hippico Internacional, in Portugal.

Today, Longines’ involvement in equestrianism includes Jumping, Endurance and flat racing.

Longines is a member of The Swatch Group S.A., the world’s leading manufacturer of horological products. With an excellent reputation for creating refined timepieces, the brand, whose emblem is the winged hourglass, has outlets in over 130 countries.

By Louise Parkes

Media Contacts:

At Verona:

Caterina Vagnozzi
Email: c.vagnozzi@gmail.com
Tel: +39 335 610 7070

At FEI:

Grania Willis
Director Media Relations
Grania.willis@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 42

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
ruth.grundy@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 45

Malina Gueorguiev
Manager Media Relations
Email: malina.gueorguiev@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 133

At Longines:

Longines International Public Relations
publicrelations@longines.com