Season 2 of the Longines Masters ends the way it started, on a spectacular victory in its major class, the Longines Grand Prix. Christian Ahlmann probably wasn't the greatest favorite at start, but as the champion he is, he rode this class with perfection, as always, if we may say. An amazing end for this new year of the Grand Slam Indoor whose conclusion couldn’t be any more positive for the future.
Italy’s course designer Uliano Vezzani had put into his course of the Longines Grand Prix all the technicality and tricks only he is capable of. First round was tough, a level as we can expect from a 5* Grand Prix, with two decisional fences, two palanques, feared a lot by the riders and which indeed had helped to draw out the best. Different from a traditional Grand Prix, the Longines Grand Prix of Hong Kong was going on with a 12-riders second round. Among them, Roger-Yves Bost, Simon Delestre, John Whitaker, Lorenzo de Luca, but also two women: Edwina Tops-Alexander and Pilar Lucrecia Cordon. This second round will be as technical as the first, in which riders will take all risks to sit in the leading blue chair. We expected the domination of experienced riders and fast horses, but all predictions were wrongs.
Christian Ahlmann himself is surprised by this victory over the more experienced pair: “It’s unexpected. Caribis Z is a very good horse, with great qualities, but he hadn’t jumped a lot of classed at this level”. Indeed, the grey stallion was considered to be a good second horse, but you can count on the German champion expertise to make the best out of his horse when needed. That’s what Ludger Beerbaum, who came in second in this Grand Prix, wanted to point out : “I have a lot of respect for what Christian has done today. He made the trip with a 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”. The Zangersheide was quite moved by this admission.
In third place is one other German, native, competing under the colors of Austria, Max Kühner. Also, the excellent performance of Lorenzo de Luca must be highlighted, as his stallion Halifax van het Kluizebos participated for the first time in a 5* Grand Prix, and he finishes fifth, after the legend John Whitaker.
Ahlmann succeeds Marco Kutscher, grand winner of the 2016 edition in Hong Kong, and ends the second season of the Longines Masters on a high note. He also now becomes the new contender for the €1 million Grand Slam Bonus whose history will continue in Los Angeles. The City of Angels will also be the occasion for the EEM teams to reveal all new developments that are, as of now, already in preparation backstage. They will as expected, keep proposing the best of sport and lifestyle during each one of their events.
Time now must be focused on the achievement, more than positive according to Christophe Ameeuw, CEO and Founder of EEM: “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. Today, Hong Kong is reported to be the equestrian capital of Asia, and it’s a real proud to have brought the Longines Masters at this level. We are traveling horses and riders in three of the most beautiful cities in the world, and I think it’s the best credibility and visibility possible for our sport”. Keeping in mind the idea to push their limits, let’s see what EEM is cooking for next season.
Rendez-vous of the season 3:
· Longines Masters of Los Angeles : August 31th to September 3rd 2017
· Longines Masters of Paris : November 30th to December 3rd 2017
· Longines Masters of Hong Kong : February 9th to 11th 2018