Christian Ahlmann and Dominator 2000 Z won their second Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of the season after the most legendary jump-off in the Olympic Stadium of Stockholm.
Home hero Henrik von Eckermann had to settle for second place in the LGCT Grand Prix of Stockholm presented by Fabege by just 0.11s with King Edward after winning all three other CSI5* classes so far this weekend. However, he doesn’t go home empty-handed as Ahlmann has already qualified for the LGCT Super Grand Prix in Prague handing the prestigious golden ticket to the Swede. Bronze place on the podium was secured by first to go in the spellbinding jump-off Marcus Ehning and his super stallion Stargold.
Crucially this win means Ahlmann extended his lead in the overall season Championship to 188 points which is 34 points clear of Ben Maher in second on 154 points. Now two time LGCT Champion Ben Maher has catapulted up the rankings, Pieter Devos is pushed down to third with 139 points and Niels Bruynseels hangs on to fourth with 124 points.
Speaking after taking the lion's share of the €334,000 prize purse Ahlmann smiled: "It was unbelievable, all the people here you can tell are horse people and know the sport, they are behind every rider and it feels great - I am more than happy. Dominator is an absolute superstar. This win is a very big step for the overall championship. We had a great season so far but it is only half-time. I am very pleased with my horses and my whole team who work really really hard and I really hope that everything stays sound and focused and we can make it at the end of the season."
Jokingly Ahlmann apologised to the crowd after denying them a home win as he laughed: "I feel a little bit sorry for everyone here but it felt very great today."
It was ecstatic scenes in the centre of Stockholm as fans celebrated late into the night after an exceptional performance of top sport in front of a sell-out crowd in Sweden’s beautiful capital city. The world’s best riders and horses went into combat in the Olympic Stadium where the Olympic Games were staged in 1912.
The action got underway in the first round as riders faced Uliano Vezzani’s 1.60m course which took no prisoners and required power and precision. No one in the first half of the field could produce the all-important clear round after the last line of a short three strides to a wide oxer caught out some of the world’s best.
But Marcus Ehning raised the temperature as he punched the air and praised Stargold when he crossed the finish line clear and fast. He was shortly joined by the biggest horse and rider legends in show jumping Max Kühner and Elektric Blue P, Jens Fredricson and Markan Cosmopolit, Ben Maher and Explosion W, Christian Ahlmann and Dominator 2000 Z and Henrik von Eckermann with King Edward making it the strongest 6 man jump-off this season.
With two Swedish hopes in the jump-off and three Swedes, Peder Fredricson, Evelina Tovek and Rolf-Göran Bengtsson on fast four faults it made it 50% Swedish combinations in the top 10 of the LGCT Grand Prix in Stockholm.
There was a tense silence around the arena when Marcus Ehning and Stargold entered the arena as the first to go in the jump-off. The pair set the pace making tight rollbacks and a flat-out gallop to the last to stop the clock in 35.87s.
In the end ...
In front of a full house Max Kühner was the first to take a risky 5 strides instead of 6 in the first related distance but it still didn't pay off as he went clear on Elektric Blue P but in a slower time of 37.65s.
Riding in his first LGCT Grand Prix Jens Fredricson had younger brother Peder Fredricson watching on from the kiss and cry after an unlucky pole in the first round kept him out of the jump-off. Two down for Jens and Markan Cosmopolit meant it wasn’t to be today.
11 time LGCT Grand Prix winner Ben Maher brought out the big friendly giant, Explosion W for his first 5* Grand Prix of the year. The extraordinary horse produced a double clear once again but was way off the pace finishing in 37.16s
The adrenaline surged around the arena as Christian Ahlmann and Dominator 2000 Z took centre stage. It was stunning jumping as the German pushed Ehning off the top spot crossing through the timers in 35.69s and looking set to win his second LGCT Grand Prix of the season but it wasn’t over yet…
The atmosphere was electric ahead of the final rider as the Swedish crowds hoped for a re-enactment from 2019 when Peder Fredricson made it a home win as last to go.
In a nail-biting climax, Henrik von Eckermann stepped forward aiming for not only his fourth win of the weekend but the biggest one with full support from the home crowd. It was down to the wire in Sweden and the gloves were off as spectators held their breath and there was a deafening silence in the arena. Risking it all, Henrik pushed King Edward to take a stride out in the first line doing one less than Ahlmann but still just fractions of a second behind at the halfway point. He gave it everything to the last but stopped the clock 0.11s slower handing Ahlmann the win but still qualifying for the LGCT Super Grand Prix with the aim to defend his title.
Even though it wasn’t a Swedish win today the crowd were on their feet in a frenzy of delight and Ahlmann threw a triumphant wave to the fans and made a victory salute in prize giving.
Next stop on the global circuit is in the centre of Paris as the Tour takes place next week under the Eiffel Tower from 24 - 26 June.