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[Vienna, Austria] The stage is set for a fight to the finish in Abu Dhabi with three riders in contention for the 2012 championship after a dramatic night of show jumping over the weeked during the Global Champions Tour debut in Vienna.
The 11th leg of the Global Champions Tour delivered a Grand Prix packed with surprises and left Edwina Tops-Alexander and Rolf-Göran Bengtsson on equal points in the GCT ranking - but with Edwina still leading due to her win in Doha at the start of the season. “We are both going to give it our best shot,” said Tops-Alexander after the grand prix. It means the final event of the 2012 season in Abu Dhabi in November will be the most dramatic climax to a GCT year.
The magnificent floodlit Rathaus City Hall towered over the action-packed showground where public grandstands and VIP tribunes were at bursting point for the Grand Prix, which was won in style by Pénélope Leprevost of France on Mylord Carthago. The historic and cultural Austrian capital has never seen an equestrian event like it. All the rides praised the venue as “amazing” and “beautiful.”
Leprovost on her way to the win. Photo ©Sportfot/GCT
The world’s top riders, including Olympic stars, had to negotiate one of the most difficult courses of the season with some fences at 1m65 and some oxers at 1m85 wide. A fantastic atmosphere greeted the riders as the first round delivered several shocks. Some of the biggest names in show jumping retired with Michael Whitaker, Laura Kraut, Marco Kutscher, Olympic gold medallist Steve Guerdat and Billy Twomey.
There were only six clear rounds after the first round, but that did not include Edwina who had 8 faults on her champion Cevo Itôt du Chateau. Rolf jumped a superb clear on his less experienced horse Carusso La Silla putting heavy pressure on Edwina’s ranking.
Course designer Frank Rothenberger did not let up the pressure in the second round.
15 riders including Ben Maher, Ludger Beerbaum, Philipp Weishaupt and Richard Spooner,had rails down and there were no clear rounds in sight. Kevin Staut on Silvana, Simon Delestre on Valentino Velvet and Christian Ahlmann were all on 4 faults and leading until Olympic silver medallist Gerco Schröder swept round the arena and clinched a double clear on his amazing chestnut stallion Eurocommerce London. Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum also delivered a controlled clear on her intelligent mare Bella Donna. Pénélope Leprevost on Mylord Carthago completed the double clear rounds to set up a classic jump off.
The power of Eurocommerce London was used to full effect as Dutch rider Gerco engineered a stunning clear round. London leaned at a sharp angle as he raced around the Jaeger-LeCoultre oxer and went flat out to the final fence to finish in 40.09.
"London is in super form. It has been a super season," said Schroeder. "He did fantastic today, three fantastic rounds. I am very happy with him."
Michaels-Beerbaum took advantage of Bella Donna’s big strides and with some well judged turns she finished in 38.67.
"There will never be another Shutterfly but I am absolutely delighted to have Bella Donna," commented Michaels-Beerbaum. She is a fantastic mare, by far my best horse right now. I am very proud of her at the Olympics and here."
Leprevost rode into the ring on her amazing grey Mylord Carthago and had a lucky break early on with a top rail. She was faster than Meredith as she raced to the last and seized victory in 37.16.
"I was a little bit lucky in the second round," said Leprovost. "I am really happy for my horse. I was last to go into the jump off so it was easier to try because I had nothing to lose. I did not feel I was ahead of Meredith."
Top Ten – Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Vienna CSI5*
Rider | Horse | Nation | Round 1 Faults | Round 2 Faults | Jumpoff Faults | Jumpoff Time
- Penelope Leprovost | Mylord Carthago | FRA | 0 | 0 | 0 | 37.16
- Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum | Bella Donna 66| GER | 0 | 0 | 0 | 38.67
- Gerco Schroder | Eurcommerce London | NED | 0 | 0 | 0 | 40.09
- Kevin Staut | Sivana HDC | FRA | 4 | 0
- Simon Delestre | Valentino Velvet | FRA | 4 | 0
- Christian Ahlmann | Codex One | GER | 0 | 4
- Marlon Zanotelli | Edesa S Banjan | BRA | 1 | 5
- Nick Skelton | Big Star | GBR | 4 | 4
- Patrice Delaveau | Ornella Mail HDC | FRA | 4 | 4
- Denis Lynch | All Star 5 | IRE | 4 | 4