It was delight for the packed grandstand in Berlin, as local rider Felix Hassmann (GER) and Balzaci his 14 year old chestnut stallion, stormed to this evening’s CSI5* class win by three quarters of a second.

The first day of action on the debut Longines Global Champions Tour of Berlin saw world-class sport and a star studded line-up featuring 8 out of the world’s top 10 riders take centre stage in the picturesque Sommergarten.

Frank Rothenberger set a tough but fair course in the 75m x 42m sand arena, and anything but a walk in the park for the world’s best teams. The unusual oval shaped arena featured some tricky distances, and dog-leg turns, plus a purple and white treble across the diagonal. Imposing oxers followed by delicate verticals, and an intimidating wall featuring the Brandenburg Gate all thew questions for the best riders in the world. For the full first round report, please click here.

Galloping and risk-taking was order of the jump-off, with power, long strides and a relentless galloping pace key to success in Frank Rothenberger’s carefully crafted course. First rider to go, Simon Delestre (FRA) showed true class with Chadino, absolutely blazing around the small oval arena and taking strides out to put the pressure on the rest of the field. Taking remarkable strides at the two final oxers to finish, Delestre and Chadino put in a brave effort, hoping to force the following riders into mistakes as they chanced their luck at the win.

Sergio Alvarez Moya (ESP) and G&C Unicstar de l’Aumone pushed to the third fence, taking a sharp turn and paying the price by clipping the vertical despite a strong stride, dropping them out of the order. Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Chacco Kid, a combination always considered a force to be reckoned with, galloped around the course with a brave try. But they couldn’t match the Frenchman’s time, stopping the clock in 38.24s, over two seconds behind the leader.

Ben Maher (GBR) made a smooth turn inside the skinny fence to the “Spooks” vertical, until a last minute stop from Tic Tac ruled them out of the running. Indeed, the pressure was too much for many, with poles rolling all around the field for many of the top riders including Denis Lynch (IRL) and RMF Bella Baloubet, Lillie Keenan (USA) and Super Sox, Leopold van Asten (NED) and VDL Groep Miss Untouchable, Georgina Bloomberg (USA) and Manodie H, Scott Brash (GBR) and Hello Annie

Danielle Goldstein (ISR) put in a deceptively quick round with Lizziemary, shooting up the order with a time of 37.86s. Young talent Jos Verlooy (BEL) put in a phenomenal try with the nine year old Igor, setting fire to the course to blaze around in 36.98s, and lifting him up the order.

The crowd cheered in appreciation as Christian Ahlmann (GER) took a gallop to the last with Colorit, soaring on a brave stride to the cheers of the local spectators. It was good, but not quite enough for the lead, with the pair having to settle for a time of 36.83s just behind Delestre’s time and in third overall.

It looked set to be the Frenchman’s day until home talent Felix Hassmann (GER) and Balzaci entered the ring. Galloping through the start gates and taking a stride out to the first, the pair flew around the course, coming tight inside the fences to take brave angles and soaring to the final oxer in flamboyant style. The crowd were on their feet as their German rider crossed the finish line, stopping the clock in 35.55s, just ahead of Delestre’s time.

So it would be a popular win to round off the first day of action at the Longines Global Champions Tour of Berlin, with the German national anthem ringing out for Felix Hassmann (GER). Simon Delestre (FRA) would take second, and Christian Ahlmann (GER) in third.

Tomorrow will see the Global Champions League of Berlin final take place at 12:30, with the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Berlin presented by Sapinda taking place at 16:15 local time. All the action will be streamed live on GCT and GCL TV.

Nayel Nassar. Photo courtesy of LGCT/Stefano Grasso.

Nayel Nassar Takes Opening CSI5* Win

The opening CSI5* class of the weekend at the Longines Global Champions Tour of Berlin kicked off in style under blue skies with a stunning win for Nayel Nassar (EGY) with his 9 year old bay gelding Dee Jee.

Speaking about his win today, Nayel said: “I’m really proud of my horse, he’s nine but a late bloomer, I’m happy and he rose to the occasion today. Frank {Rothenberger} did a wonderful job, [the course was] very flowing and with a few options to turn.”

Second went to young Belgian star Jos Verlooy (BEL) with Domino, and third to Denis Lynch (IRL) with RMF Zecilie.

Frank Rothenberger’s first course of the weekend was fair but no mean feat. Tight turns, and big fences coming up fast, all set within the natural amphitheatre of the Sommergarten’s layout. Spectators lined the edge, with a busy grandstand and bustling VIP adding to the atmosphere of anticipation and excitement.

Of the 50 starters, first to go clear was Nicola Philippaerts (BEL) who put in a tidy effort with top stallion, the nine year old Chilli Willi, but the duo picked up a time fault in the second phase. Quick to follow clear, and the initial pace setter was Denis Lynch (IRL) with RMF Zecilie, setting the time to beat at 28.48s.

The Longines oxer, featuring a liverpool underneath seemed to cause the most trouble, with many pulled in too deep and taking out the first rail, including Jessica Springsteen (USA) and Davendy, Pieter Devos (BEL) and Gin D, Sheikh Ali Bin Khalid Al Thani (QAT) with Carolina and Leopold van Asten (NED) with VDL Greop Beauty to name just a few.

Shocks came when Bertram Allen (IRL) and his relatively young horse GK Casper were eliminated after an unusual tumble, and Lorenzo de Luca (ITA) had trouble at the first after Balou de Coeur Joye crashed through the DKB oxer after trying to add another stride, with the top Italian rider having to hop off to adjust his horse’s bridle.

Nayel Nassar (EGY) with Dee Jee soon raised the temperatures in the first CSI5* class of the weekend, riding a stylish round to stop the clock in 27.94s, a full second ahead of the rest of the pack. Hot on his heels came young gun Jos Verlooy (BEL) with Domino, who put in a foot-perfect round to stop the clock just behind in 28.24s. Further clears came from Simon Delestre (FRA) and Hermes Ryan, Lucy Davis (USA) and Caracho 14, Janne-Friederike Meyer (GER) with Indi, and Simone Blum (GER) with DSP Alice.

Ludger Beerbaum (GER) put in a tidy effort with Chacon, leaping clear in 27.94s to the delight of the home spectators. But it was Nayel Nassar (EGY) who shone during the first CSI5* class.

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