Photo: LGCT / Stefano Grasso
Denis Lynch (IRL) and RMF Echo proved rounded off a successful day at the Longines Global Champions Tour of Hamburg after the top Irish rider took the Mercedes-Benz Championat trophy, and contributed to putting his Global Champions League team, Miami Glory, in pole position ahead of Saturday’s final.
Fending off the likes of Lauren Hough (USA) and Sanne Thijssen (NED), a delighted Denis said: “I have a very fast horse, I am experienced, and we had luck on our side today. My horse is really a fighter, who gives everything.”
In an electric 14-rider jump-off the Irish star wowed the thousands of fans who had packed into the grandstands and surrounding grassy banks to witness the very best international riders in action, enjoying the sunshine and thrilling top sport on display.
Frank Rothenberger set a true test for the world’s best in the picture-perfect grass arena; the time allowed of 80 seconds threw in a few upsets, with riders cutting corners to save time and consequently rolling poles. The penultimate fence featuring a solid-looking wall threw in a few spooks, with Maikel van der Vleuten (NED), rolling the pole on top and Jessica Springsteen (USA) having a scary moment with Cynar V.
The treble combination, featuring bright yellow poles with a fast six strides to the final element, and a double combination along the grandstand side which had the option of six or seven strides were the other most significant troublemakers, with many of the top combinations caught out. Top French riders Simon Delestre (FRA) and Julien Epaillard (FRA) both fell foul of the both, with big names such as Ludger Beerbuam (GER) with Chiara, Christian Ahlmann (GER) with Colorit, Marcus Ehning (GER) with Funky Fred and Ben Maher (GBR) all out of contention. Olympic silver medallist Peder Fredricson (SWE) looked set to join those through to the jump-off right up to the final oxer clipping the pole as the crowd groaned in disappointment.
Others also picked up costly time faults, with Sheikh Ali Bin Khalid Al Thani (QAT) with First Devision, Bertram Allen (IRL) with Hector van d’Abdijhoeve, Bassem Hassan Mohammed (QAT) with Gunder and John Whitaker (GBR) with Cassinis Chaplin all collecting one agonising time fault and ruling them out of the jump-off.
14 riders went through to the jump-off, with local rider Andreas Kreuzer (GER) and Cavilot leading the field in the galloping course, and a further three German athletes in the mix. The turn back to fence three would be the telling turn, with long distances and the possibility of taking a stride out to the final fence. First to go clear was Martin Fuchs (SUI) with his grew horse Clooney 51, setting the time to beat at 40.21s.
Denis Lynch (IRL) and relatively new mount RMF Echo put in a blistering performance to stop the clock in 40.21s, with the brave chestnut leaping the fences and galloping boldly across the grass arena. The Irishman set the precedent, putting the pressure on the rest of the field to come – Olivier Philippaerts (BEL) and Ikker were forced into an error at the turn back to the penultimate fence, rolling the pole and dropping them out of position. Similarly, Daniel Bluman (ISR) and Ladriano Z had the first pole down, with the pressure too much for the combination, and home hero Janne-Friederike Meyer-Zimmermann (GER) clipped the wall with Goja.
It looked as though poles would continue to roll, as Jack Hardin Towell (USA) and Lucifer V took out the first part of the double combination, until Lauren Hough (USA) with Ohlala put in a valiant performance, jumping clear but just shy of Denis’ time in 40.70s. Lauren’s little firecracker of a mare jumped her heart out for her rider, but took 8 strides to the final, slipping them to 2nd overall.
The huge striding Don VHP Z flew around the course, turning in air with Harrie Smolders (NED) perfectly balancing the tall horse and looking strong to be with a chance of the win. But a slip before the penultimate fence cost them time, and the stunning liver chestnut stallion just took out the front part of the oxer. Scott Brash (GBR) and Hello Forever set off at a gallop, living dangerously with the enigmatic chestnut gelding leaping to the fences. Pushing for time, the pair took out the back rail of the GCL penultimate oxer, and down into fifth overall. The penultimate fence caused further drama still, after young German rider Laura Klaphake (GER) and Silverstone G were caught out on the turn back, crashing through and keeping them away from the top spot.
Young Dutch star Sanne Thijssen (NED) and Con Quidam Rb put in a stunning try, full of bravery and keeping the crowd on the edge of their seats as they flew around the arena. The pair look 41.85s overall, meaning Denis Lynch (IRL) would claim the top spot, including a brand new Mercedes-Benz car.
Tomorrow will see the €62,000 CSI5* class kick off at 18:00 local time, ahead of Saturday’s Global Champions League final and the Longines Global Champions Grand Prix of Hamburg, which takes place at 16:00 local time.