Stage 11 of the Longines Global Champions Tour reached a climax in the thrilling LGCT Grand Prix of Riesenbeck. Held at the magnificent venue, the event drew an enthusiastic crowd, witnessing top-notch sport and providing an epic day for all.
The electric atmosphere at the prestigious event soared to new heights as Smolders clinched the top spot by just over half a second, with Max Kühner aboard Elektric Blue P earning the coveted golden ticket to the Longines Global Champions Tour Super Grand Prix, closely followed by local favorite Daniel Deusser and Killer Queen VDM in third place.
Making history as the third-ever person to secure a third consecutive LGCT Grand Prix podium Harrie Smolders told GCTV that records could come, but his focus remains on his horses and results that follow: “I am focusing on my horses, if they feel well, I have to ride well, and then the results will come. I just need to be patient, take my chances, and if that leads into records then that is of course brilliant.”
Max Kühner told GCTV that horse Elektric Blue P really settled into the brilliant grass arena at Riesenbeck International:
I tried to be as quick as possible, now afterwards I can see I could have done one stride less in a turn, but I am very happy with the result. I know that he can be quite fast on a big place like that, I felt really good in the first round – he really needs two rounds to feel good on the big arena.”
He added, “There were a lot of people cheering, you could see that there were a lot of horse people here – they were riding with us!”
Jumping in front of a home crowd, Daniel Deusser questioned whether he could push it in the second to the final line. He told GCTV: “It’s always easier said than done, of course I was always doubting whether I could go to the second last fence with one stride less like Max did. Today I did what I could do and I am very happy with my third place. It is a fantastic show with big arenas with good ground. Everything is done for the horses, grooms, and riders and it attracts a lot of public which makes it brilliant!”
After stage 11 of the LGCT Championship race Maikel van der Vleuten still leads, staying on 231 points. Christian Kukuk moves up to 205 points while Harrie Smolders leapfrogs up to third place on 194 points after collecting maximum points today. Henrik von Eckermann sits in fourth place with 181 points and Simon Delestre rounds off the top 5 just three points behind on 178.
With Championship leader Miakel van der Vluenten not qualified for the LGCT Grand Prix of Riesenbeck, Christian Kukuk had a prime opportunity to gain some valuable points. Riding Mumbai, an unlucky rail coming out of the double knocked his chances of a home jump-off. Opting not to ride King Edward this week due to the grass arena, world number one Henrik von Eckermann finished on a fast four with Iliana.
The time allowed in Round One was fairly tight, causing a testing last line as riders had to choose whether to open up on 7 strides or wait for the 8 strides. Jack Whitaker was caught out by this option, looking set to jump his first ever clear in an LGCT Grand Prix with Equine America Q Paravatti N, but the final fence came tumbling down. Proving how testing the track was today some of the biggest names in the sport opted to retire with the likes of Malin Bayard Johnsson, Olivier Philippaerts, Andre Thieme and Pieter Devos tipping their hats at the jury box.
First to go in the dramatic jump off, Championship contender Abdel Said was back in the game with Bonne Amie after an impeccable first round. It wasn’t their day as he took too much risk at the roll back, knocking it down and adding four faults to his score.
Having finished third in an LGCT Grand Prix three times in his career, Micheal Duffy wasn’t going to let this happen again. Cinca 3 covered the ground but lost a bit of time in the turns as they kept all the fences up in 48.86s which ultimately secured them top 5.
Jumping his first LGCT Grand Prix clear of the season Daniel Deusser entered the arena to a round of applause from the home crowd. Killer Queen VDM flew across the huge grass arena taking strides out in all distances. The German duo crossed the finish in 46.60s setting the pace for the rest of the field.
A gut wrenching early fence down for Gerrit Nieberg and Ben meant they were out of contention today. Challenging the time of Deusser, Eoin Mcmahon had all the pressure on his shoulders riding at his home event with Ludger Beerbaum’s two time LGCT Grand Prix winner Mila. As the third last fence came tumbling down the whole arena signed in disbelief finishing faster than Desusser but with 4 faults on the board.
Playing a tactical game on his homebred Highland President, Trevor Breen was smooth and efficient but didn’t take too much risk to secure a double clear and slot just ahead of fellow Irishman Duffy in 48.56s and picking up his highest-ever finish in an LGCT Grand Prix. i
Securing the twenty-third podium of his Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix career, taking him level with Rolf Goran Bengtsson, Harrie Smolders and Uricas v.d.Kattevennen were lightning fast in the jump-off. Making the roll back mid-course look easy the pair aced it from start to finish cutting over a second off the time to beat, stopping the clock in 45.56s with just one left to go.
Having the luxury of horsepower Max Kuhner pulled out his fourth LGCT Grand Prix horse of the year Elektric Blue P. Last to go, they only just down on the clock at the halfway point. Risking it all to the last, Kuhner looked up at the clock through the finish line with the whole crowd thinking he had done it but a fraction too slow he secured second place to give the win to Smolders.
The Championship race now has a few weeks off before heading to Royal Hospital in Chelsea, London from 10 – 13 August.