In a fairytale finish, the 18-year-old KWPN stallion Taloubet Z (Galoubet A x Polydor) was ridden to the final victory of his career by Germany’s Christian Ahlmann in the Longines FEI World Cup Grand Prix of Leipzig CSI5*-W on January 21, 2018.
Earlier in the week, Ahlmann announced his partner of nine years would retire following Leipzig CSI5*-W, and ultimately hoped they would go out on top in Sunday’s feature class.
Witnessed by their home crowd at the tenth leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2017/2018 Western European League in Leipzig, Germany, Ahlmann and Taloubet out performed 39 horse and rider combinations to secure 1st place honors and the lump sum €160,000 in prize money.
“I really didn’t want to mess it up for him. This was just a normal World Cup like we have every week, but it was very special because it was the last class for Taloubet,” said Ahlmann. “We took the risk to jump him so he could say goodbye here where everyone knows him, and leave the sport in great shape.”
The duo were one of 15 combinations to qualify for the shortened track designed by Germany’s Frank Rothenberger. Last in the order, the pair crossed the timers in a winning 43.19s to roaring applause.
“To have a good result and finish with a proper round like that under pressure, it makes me so happy,” Ahlmann continued. “It’s the greatest day of my life for sure, not for the points or the money, it’s much more than that. It’s because this great horse who still has all this power even at this age is ending his career in a great way, with a great win!”
Ahlmann isn’t normally one for big emotion, though his voice broke when talking about the horse that was such a prolific winner. Together they went to four World Cup Finals and claimed the FEI World Cup™ Jumping title at this very venue in 2011. At the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro they claimed Team Bronze and individually finished ninth.
Colombia’s Carlos Enrique Lopez Lizarazo and Admara 2, winners of Friday’s Qualifier for the World Cup Grand Prix, finished 2nd in 43.39s.
Harrie Smolders of The Netherlands and Zinius, winners at last months World Cup qualifier Mechelen (BEL), gave it their best shot but fell short by two-tenths of a second to finish 3rd in 44.28s.
With just three qualifiers left to go in the division, the next being Zurich (SUI) CSI5*-W next Sunday, Ahlmann has now qualified for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2018 Final in Paris (FRA) in April. Like Smolders, who has also made the cut, that wasn’t on the Ahlmann’s radar until today, with him stating “I’ll have to have a re-think about that now.”
The full results can be viewed here.