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.
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 miss out on round two, joined by Jerome Guery (BEL), Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (GER) and leading French rider Patrice Delaveau (FRA).
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.