The second season of the Longines Masters ended the way it began, with a spectacular win in its major class, the Longines Grand Prix. It was none other than Germany’s Christian Ahlmann who rode to victory in the $400,000 Longines Grand Prix of Hong Kong on Sunday, February 12, 2017 at the Longines Hong Kong Masters CSI5*.
By the end of the day, the 1.60m course designed by Italy’s Uliano Vezzani, would see 12 of the original 26 starters advance to the shortened course, five of which would ride double clear.
All eyes were on the Longines Grand Prix of Paris winner, Gregory Wathelet, as well as on last year’s Longines Grand Prix of Hong Kong winner Marco Kutscher. However, both riders would miss their chance to advance to the jump off as they each accrued four faults over the first round course.
Ahlmann contradicted expectations of a more experienced horse and rider combination to dominate Sunday’s class when he crossed the timers in an unbeatable time of 37.94 seconds to secure Sunday’s win with a horse that’s only beginning to compete at the higher levels.
Ahlmann was surprised himself by the victory, but nonetheless pleased with the performance of the developing 10-year-old grey Zangersheide stallion Caribis Z (Caritano x Canabis Z).
“It’s unexpected. Caribis Z is a very good horse, with great qualities, but he hadn’t jumped a lot of classes at this level,” Ahlmann shared.
Praising Ahlmann for his skill despite his mount’s inexperience at the five-star level, was Sunday’s 2nd place finisher and fellow German rider Ludger Beerbaum.
“I have a lot of respect for what Christian has done today,” said Beerbaum. “He made the trip with an inexperienced horse, perfectly knowing he wouldn’t be one of the favorites for the Longines Grand Prix.But I think we can all agree on the fact the he rode with accuracy, perfection, at his best level and that he fully deserves this victory”.
Beerbaum and the 14-year-old Holsteiner chestnut gelding Casello (Casall x Carolus I) followed close behind Ahlmann but would come in at 38.58 seconds for 2nd place honors. Third place went to Austria’s, Max Kühner and the 12-year-old DSP gelding Cornet Kalua (Cornet Obolensky x Platin) stopping the clock at 38.85 seconds.
Great Britain’s John Whitaker finished in 4th place aboard the 12-year-old Holsteiner mare Ornellaia (For Pleasure x Calato) in 38.87 seconds while Lorenzo De Luca of Italy’s 10-year-old BWP stallion Halifax van het Kluizebos (Heartbreaker x Fetiche Du Pas) concluded his first-ever five-star grand prix performance with a double clear effort and a time of 39.21 seconds for 5th place.
CEO and Founder of EEM Christophe Ameeuw shared his appreciation and excitement for another successful season of sport at the Asia-World Expo.
“The Longines Masters of Hong Kong is a real success. I’m very happy with this second season and thanks to all of you, our sponsors, the riders, the public, the organizing teams, without whom, all of this would not exist,” said Ameeuw. “Today, Hong Kong is reported to be the equestrian capital of Asia, and it’s a real honor to have brought the Longines Masters here at this level. We are bringing horses and riders to three of the most beautiful cities in the world, and I think it’s the best credibility and visibility possible for our sport”.
Sunday’s win means that Ahlmann becomes the newest contender for the €1 million Grand Slam Bonus. The third stage of the Masters Grand Slam Indoor Series will take place in Los Angeles, California, USA on August 31st-September 3rd, 2017.
View full results at this link.
Photography by ©Power Sport Images
Press Release Source: Longines Masters