It was Olympic Silver medalist Marc Houtzager who stole the show at the Mercedes Benz Challenge after a very challenging 1.55 track designed by Germany's Frank Rothenberger. The track was certainly challenging enough, as we only saw five combinations in the jump off.
The first of those clear rounds came from Switzerland's Pius Schwizer aboard Verdi III. The second came from World number one ranking rider Christian Ahlmann riding his slight-built mare Lorena. Third was Germany's very-own Thomas Voss, who earned a huge applause from the large Hamburg-crowd as he is a well-known and well-liked rider from the area of Hamburg.
The fourth clear round was from Dutchman Marc Houtzager, riding his 12 year old stallion by Guidam. Finally, his Olympic team mate Jur Vrieling was the fifth and final clear round from the first round riding his Olympic mount VDL Bubalu. Out of the forty-six combinations entered in the CSI5* Mercedes Benz Championship of Hamburg 1.55, we saw a total of twenty-one Olympic riders from London's main event last year.
The jump off was sure to be short and quick but who would take home the brand new silver Mercedes Benz?
Pius Schwizer and Verdi looked strong and confident for the first clear jump off but the Swiss combination had the last fence down. Christian Ahlmann and Lorena were fast with a time 44.58 seconds, which would offer them the lead but would their time be fast enough to hold onto that lead?
Germany's very own Thomas Voss, a local to the area, earned a generous applause from the packed arena as he picked up a canter aboard his 12 year old grey mare Carena 11 by Corrado. Thomas rode a steady clear that wouldn't take home the title but would ensure a top three finish.
It was now up to the pair of Olympic Dutchman to take the title from Germany's Christian Ahlmann. Marc set a strong pace aboard Uppity and it looked as though it could be a leading time. Coming around to the Longines oxer, which was the second-to-last fence, it was clear that Marc had the leading time. He had taken all the risks and sure enough he would be rewarded with a winning time of 44.40 seconds.
Last to go was his fellow Dutchman Jur Vrieling riding the 13 year old dark bay stallion VDL Bubablu, by Baloubet du Rouet. Jur certainly looked as though he intended to sweep his fellow countryman out of the leading position but unfortunately a fault at the Longines oxer meant that Jur would have to settle for fourth position, despite having a faster time then Marc at 44.18 seconds.
A great end to the day at the Longines Global Champions Tour of Hamburg.