Numero Uno 1 and 2 at GCT Shanghai
30 04 2016
A breath-taking Shanghai Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix jump off had fans on the edge of their seats as Abdullah Al Sharbatly and Tobalio emerged victorious ahead of Marco Kutscher and Van Gogh, also by Numero Uno, and Marc Houtzager with Sterrehof's Calimero.
Thousands packed the grandstands and filled the chic shopping village as families flocked to enjoy the show jumping spectacle and world class entertainment. Autograph sessions, meet and greets and photo opportunities with riders were a hit with the audience. VIP guests made the social scene sizzle sporting ‘Ascot Ladies Day’ outfits and hats. Model Lin Chi-ling created a stir in a striking black dress as she watched from the VIP where Longines President Walter von Känel joined guests.
The result of the $485,000 Grand Prix dramatically extended Christian Ahlmann’s ranking lead to 129 points, with Emanuele Gaudiano leaping up to second in 96 points, and John Whitaker in third on 85 points.
The 1.60m Grand Prix saw a few big names return to the arena for the first time this season, with Ludger Beerbaum’s prolific stallion Chaman in action and Marco Kutscher’s Van Gogh back in the show ring for the first time after a long break. Maikel van der Vleuten’s top horse VDL Groep Verdi TN N.O.P. was one of the headliners, as was Christian Ahlmann’s eye-catching stallion Colorit, both of whom looked on fantastic form throughout the Grand Prix.
The world’s top three riders were among the starters for the 2016 Shanghai LGCT Grand Prix. Uliano Vezzani’s course demanded horse and rider use delicacy and power with full height verticals, intimidating oxers and a spook-inducing liverpool fence which caught out a few combinations. It was Switzerland’s Pius Schwizer and his nine year old bay gelding Tarioso Manciais who lead the way after a captivating first round performance.
Hot on his heels was World Number 1 Simon Delestre with Chesall, and Olivier Philippaerts with H&M Legend of Love, who put in an impressive performance to finish round one at the sharp end of the grid. A total of 13 riders went clear, with notable names such as Ludger Beerbaum and Chaman, Scott Brash and Hello Forever, LGCT Ranking Leader Christian Ahlmann with Colorit, Edwina Tops-Alexander with Caretina de Joter, Sheikh Ali Bin Khalid Al Thani with Vienna Olympic, and Rodrigo Pessoa with Ferro Chin v. Lindenhof leading the way into the next round of competition.
Round two saw a longer course, making full use of the arena, and requiring plenty of energy left in the tank. Michael Whitaker and Viking picked up an unlucky four faults after clipping a fence towards the end of the course, and compatriot Scott Brash (GBR) had an unusual refusal with Hello Forever at the combination. Maikel van der Vleuten and VDL Groep Verdi TN N.O.P, Olivier Philippaerts with H&M Legend Of Love, Emanuele Gaudiano with Caspar 232 and Simon Delestre all picked up four faults putting them out of contention.
The jump-off saw five riders line up to take their shot at the title. First to go was LGCT Grand Prix of Miami Beach winner Edwina Tops-Alexander who looked on phenomenal form with Caretina de Joter. Edwina rode a class round across the galloping course, setting the pace at 43.45s as the time to beat. Next up was Marc Houtzager with Sterrehof's Calimero - a bigger striding horse with paces that ate up the distances - and the pair pipped Edwina’s time to cross the finish in 43.26s, just tenths of a second ahead.
The crowd were now on the edge of their seats as Marco Kutscher with the beautiful dark bay stallion Van Gogh entered the arena. Right from the outset the pair set off at speed shaving every corner possible, Marco and Van Gogh flew to the last stopping the clock in 42.27s - just shy of a full second ahead of the previous two riders. Watching intently was LGCT Ranking leader Christian Ahlmann with his stunning stallion Colorit. Careful, powerful and fast, horse and rider galloped through the course, with Christian taking out strides and guiding Colorit beautifully around the circuit, maximising shortcuts and showcasing a foot-perfect round. The crowd were on their feet as they approached the final fence ahead on time. But it was not to be. The crowd groaned as Christian collected four faults despite his impressive time of 40.68s.
Last to go were the combination of Abdullah Al Sharbatly and Tobalio, who knew they had Marco Kutscher and Van Gogh to beat. Abdullah and Tobalio set off at a blinding pace. They raced to the last, and with a stag-like leap cleared the final fence and crossed the finish line in 41.97s as the crowd erupted in cheers.
The Tour now returns to Europe and to Hamburg for the fifth round of action as the 2016 championship picks up pace.
Abdullah Al Sharbatly: “Last year I had the last fence down in the Grand Prix and was unlucky, but this year was a great win. Tobalio is my best horse - he is amazing."
Marco Kutscher: “Van Gogh had a break of two and a half months breeding, and he came back just one day before departure. I’m really satisfied with the way he jumped, and I’m happy to be second in this class."
Marc Houtzager: “Calimero is only nine years old and it was his first serious Grand Prix at CSI5* level. When you have a good horse, it makes riding a little easier! I think Uliano did a fantastic job with the course and I’m really happy with my result.”
Source: press release