Germany’s Christian Ahlmann and Taloubet Z proved today they just may be the pair to beat at the Gothenburg World Cup Final after securing a win in the eighth leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2015/2016 Western European League at Mechelen. This was Ahlmann’s third win in the Western European League World Cup Qualifiers, his second aboard Taloubet Z.

Christian Ahlmann & Taloubet Z.  Photo: Dirk Caremans/FEI

Christian Ahlmann & Taloubet Z. Photo: Dirk Caremans/FEI

A field of 40 took on the Lucien Somers-designed course that consisted of 13 obstacles and 16 efforts. When Belgium’s Jos Verlooy and Sunshine, first in the order, put in a fantastic clear it appeared that a big jump-off was in store. But a triple combination comprised of a triple bar and two verticals proved menacing for many of the combinations, the uprights coming too fast after the big effort on fence A.

The final fence, a substantial purple-and-white FEI oxer, also served as a bogey fence. Many riders and their mounts lost focus after the tricky triple combination, misjudging the gallop to the final effort.

In all, ten moved on to the jump-off while five retired on course. Jos Verlooy put the pressure on early in round 2, he and the 9 year-old gelding Sunshine jumping clear and quick to cross the finish at 42.09 seconds. Niels Bruynseels and Cas de Liberte, fourth in the order, jumped clean and set a blistering pace to come in 2.72 seconds faster than Verlooy.

Bruynseels stayed on top for another two rounds, but when Ahlmann and Taloubet Z entered the arena it was all business. The combination put in a textbook jump-off to edge their way into the number one spot with a time of 39.22, stealing the win by just .15 seconds.

Niels Bruynseels & Cas de Liberte nearly won it all. Photo: Dirk Caremans/FEI

Niels Bruynseels & Cas de Liberte nearly won it all. Photo: Dirk Caremans/FEI

Belgium’s Bruynseels was pleased with his second place finish, “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 fantasized afterwards.

The day’s winner admitted he felt “quite confident” going into today’s jump-off, and that confidence showed in his face when he began the 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.

Ahlmann is sitting pretty in the lead-up to Gothenburg, with two top horses competing brilliantly. He’ll have to choose between Codex One, who won in Stuttgart, or Taloubet Z who is approaching sixteen but back in top-form after a long injury hiatus.

“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.

Whichever horse he chooses, Ahlmann is well-positioned for another World Cup victory.

Results:

1. Taloubet Z – Christian Ahlmann – 0 39.22
2. Cas de Liberte – Niels Bruynseels – 0 39.37
3. Papillon Z – Jerome Guery – 0 40.57
4. Sunshine – Jos Verlooy – 0 42.09
5. Bintang ll – Laura Renwick – 0 42.47
6. First Class van Eeckelghem – Daniel Deusser – 4, 39.36

Article by Ashley Fairfield-Remeza
Source: FEI.org, Louise Parkes