The Global Champions Tour (GCT) ranking board has tightened dramatically after the Valkenswaard Grand Prix as Ludger Beerbaum celebrated a decisive win at his “favorite show of the year”.
The 2012 series is now more tense than ever with reigning champion Edwina Tops-Alexander still holding on to her overall lead, but with world class riders mounting serious challenges with three events to go.
Ludger rode three masterful clear rounds on Chaman in the GCT Grand Prix sponsored by VDL Groep. Rolf-Göran Bengtsson had already set a tough target in the sweltering heat with a beautiful round on Carusso La Silla in 43.43. The normally quiet Swede even whooped with delight as he cleared the final VDL fence after executing smooth but tight turns in the early part of the course. Richard Spooner, dubbed ‘Master of the Faster’, on his champion ride Cristallo found a way to shave off more than a second and finished in 42.05 – adding to the huge success of the USA riders in Valkenswaard this weekend.
Ludger coolly rode into the ring in front of the packed grandstands and VIP suite and by the final double was still slightly behind. But he accelerated into the upright that followed and flew over the Jaeger-LeCoultre oxer and the final fence to win in 41.32.
As the GCT series moves to Lausanne in Switzerland (14-16 September) the leader board is promising a thrilling finale in November. Christian Ahlmann, Marco Kutscher and Philipp Weishaupt have also climbed the ranking following good performances in today’s Grand Prix.
GCT Valkenswaard took place only 2 weeks after the amazing Olympic show jumping and when it came to the jump off, it was a story about three superstars of the sport striving for victory at a top quality event.
Ludger Beerbaum and Chaman at GCT Valkenswaard (Sportfot/GCT)
“This is one of my favourite shows in the world. I am really happy to win here today. I really enjoyed it. Superb facilities and I have always been lucky here. It is a real horsemanship show so to compete and win here is great.” said Beerbaum.
Asked about the heat: Horses have no problem with the heat. The warm up area was in the shade so it could not be better.
On Uliano Vezzani’s Grand Prix course: I think the courses were fair and technically straightforward. I think Uliano was probably quite nice to day with the time but you had to go a little bit in the first round.
USA’s Richard Spooner, on missing out on victory by half a second, said “Ludger was just better than me.”
“It is good to hear someone like Ludger who has been all over the world being so positive about the event here. It is the 19th year (in Valkenswaard) and we try to be consistent. And that is the GCT brand to have a long-term vision. This year our podium is fantastic, three great riders who can win anywhere in the world. Three great champions and now it is very close and very tense and I think the season will go right to the last minute.” said GCT President, Jan Tops.