NICK SKELTON IS A BIG STAR IN HAMBURG
Saturday 19 May 2012
British rider Nick Skelton produced an electrifying clear round in the jump-off in Hamburg today to win one of the toughest Grand Prix of the GCT season so far.
Course designer Frank Rothenberger predicted a seriously challenging 1.60m CSI5* competition in Germany and after two rounds of world class show jumping, the jump off proved to be a thriller. A healthy total of 15 combinations were clear in the first round, together with 3 fast combinations with four faults, including Hamburg 2010 winner Lauren Hough.
The second round produced some fantastic top-level jumping in the big Hamburg arena in front of a packed crowd. Five riders jumped double clear to clinch places in what turned out to be a thrilling jump off.
Last year’s winner Rolf Goran Bengtsson and Casall la Silla were first to go, turning inside to the triple bar and then jumping the Jaeger-LeCoultre fence on an angle setting an impressively speedy clear round in 49.32 seconds. Despite a solid round Janne Frederike Meyer picked up a fault. Nick Skelton and his nine-year-old stallion Big Star, owned by Beverley Widdowson, was uncompromising and took every possible inside track to produce a stunningly quick clear on 47.97. Watching from the sidelines, Swedish rider Rolf knew he was beaten then.
Maikel van der Vleuten started strong, but in the end had two fences down so it was up to 22-year-old newcomer Katrin Eckermann, who had never ridden in Hamburg or in any GCT event before, to try and beat the decades of international experience of Nick Skelton. Undaunted, she took an even riskier inside turn but had the first fence of the combination down leaving Skelton to take the first place on the podium.
Skelton picked up the top prize money pot of €94,050 and 40.00 valuable GCT ranking points and a specially engraved Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso watch from General Manager Northern Europe Jurgen Bestian. The beautiful timepiece was engraved with the design of the GCT Trophy.
At the press conference Grand Prix winner Nick Skelton said: “My horse is only nine years old, but has the mind of a twelve-year-old. He has been consistent all year. He is a very smart horse that likes to jump and do the job and he has made me very happy today. I thought the second round course was very big”.
Second place rider Rolf-Goran Bengtsson said: “I was first to go in the jump off today and could not have done anything better. Nick was very very fast and I am happy with second place.” Asked about his horse Casall la Silla he added: “He is easy and consistent and really likes the ring here. He jumped very good in all three rounds.”
Current GCT ranking leader Edwina Tops-Alexander: “For me the pressure was over as I was not in the jump off. I think we saw fantastic sport and a very exciting jump off. Frank (course designer Frank Rothenberger) built well for all the good combinations that were here today. He did a good job.”
GCT president Jan Tops: “Germany is a leading horse country, so the GCT has to be involved here. Hamburg is in the heart of breeding and the spectators here are very involved. Today we saw great sport with two experienced riders and young talent coming up as well”.
En Garde Volker Wulff: “In principle the contract will continue. Details will be negotiated over the next two months. After a class like today everybody is happy and, thinking ahead, it is hard to top this.”
Australian rider Edwina Tops-Alexander remains top of the GCT leader board after three events so far in the 2012 series. Global Champions Tour will travel to Wiesbaden in the south of Germany next weekend for the Tour’s first-ever event in Europe’s oldest spa town. The GCT Livestreaming broadcast will start on Friday May 26th at 17.00 CEST. Eurosport International will broadcast the second round of the GCT Grand Prix on Saturday May 27th at 21.45 CEST and Eurosport France at 23.15 CEST.
Results of the Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Hamburg
1. Nick Skelton (GBR) Big Star 47.97 Euro 94.05
2. Rolf-Goran Bengtsson (SWE) Casall La Silla 49.32 Euro 57.000
3. Katrin Eckermann (GER) Carlson 48.87 Euro 42.750
4. Janne Friederike Meyer (GER) Cellagon Lambrasco 49.13 Euro 28.500
5. Maikel van der Vleuten (NED) VDL Groep Verdi 59.76 Euro 17.100
Photo credit - Sportfot/GCT