Paris, France – June 25, 2023 – The comeback king Christian Ahlmann (GER) emerged victorious in the Saint Laurent Eiffel Challenge, taking back to back wins after his stunning triumph in the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Paris CSI 5* the day before.
Riding a different horse today, Ahlmann and Otterongo Alpha Z beat Pénélope Leprévost (FRA) and GFE Candy de Nantuel by just over half a second to deny the sold out crowd a home win once again. Last year’s winner of the Saint Laurent Eiffel Challenge Omer Karaevli (TUR) gave it everything to try and retain his title but had to settle for third place on Policeman.
Held under the iconic Eiffel Tower, the final day of the Longines Global Champions Tour of Paris was a thrilling spectacle in of one of the world’s most enchanting cities.
Commenting on his remarkable back-to-back victories, Christian Ahlmann (GER) expressed his gratitude for the unwavering support of his team after returning from his injury he sustained in Mexico 8 weeks ago. He acknowledged the immense competition at the Longines Paris Eiffel Jumping and commended his fellow riders for their exceptional performances.
Commenting further on the career and talent of his nine-year-old Otterongo Alpha Z, Ahlmann touched on his breeding career as a stallion, and careful progression through the ranks which has ultimately landed him his first win on the Longines Global Champions Tour. “This horse is born in Zangershide, so we have him since 9 years, he was breeding since he was young… we build him up very carefully,”
As the sun began to set behind the Eiffel Tower, 29 of the world’s top international horses and riders took centre stage in the 1.50/1.55m Saint Laurent Eiffel Challenge.
Gregory Bodo (FRA) put together a challenging and technical course, featuring plenty of related distances. The unique aspect of the Paris arena is its slope and rather square shape, making for shorter distances and disrupting the rhythm in the lines. A hefty Saint Laurent double claimed a few victims. An excruciating single time fault for home favourite Edward Levy (FRA) and Mark McAuley (IRL) kept them out of the power-packed jump-off as 8 combinations came back to win the lions share of the €152,500 prize purse.
First out the starting gates, Ben Maher (GBR) had a perfect roll back and took strides out where possible. Riding Point Break, he played it a bit safe in the final line but crucially kept all the fences up finishing in 36.63 seconds, putting pressure of the rest of the field and giving him a chance of a podium today.
It wasn’t to be today for Philipp Weishaupt (GER) on Krokant as two rails fell, putting them down the order while local hero Julien Epaillard (FRA) opted to retire Hoover after way round after an early fault.
Once again early to go in the jump-off Christian Ahlmann (GER) pulled out all the stops on his 9-year-old, proving the pressure didn’t get to him and with a flat out gallop, finished sub 35 seconds as he punched the air and pointed at his horse to a standing ovation from the passionate crowd.
Temperatures soared as Pénélope Leprévost (FRA) entered the arena onboard GFE Candy de Nantuel. Riding her wave of epic form, they looked close to the win, with fans on the edge of their seats but even the smoothest of turns couldn’t beat Ahlmann’s dearing time as they stopped the clock in 35.36 seconds.
It was back to back double clear’s for Omer Karaevli (TUR)and Nicolas Pizarro who both flew effortlessly around the arena much to the delight of the crowd. However they were no match for the mighty German, Ahlmann, way off his pace proving how he is in a league of his own once again.
With his hopes set on a home win and last to go and second in yesterday’s Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Paris, Roger Yves Bost (FRA) looked to be in with a chance of taking top honours with Delph de Denat HDC but was off the pace to finish just outside the top 5.
As the sun set on the final day of competition at the Longines Paris Eiffel Jumping the weekend once again captivated the hearts of equestrian enthusiasts, showcasing the exhilarating pursuit of excellence in a truly unforgettable setting of one of the world’s most iconic landmarks. The tour now heads straight to Monaco from the 29 June – 1 July for the 9th stage of the season.
Final Results – €152,500 Saint Laurent Eiffel Challenge CSI 5*
1) Christian Ahlmann (GER) & Otterongo Alpha Z – 0 / 0 – 34.79
2) Pénélope Leprévost (FRA) & GFE Candy de Nantuel – 0 / 0 – 35.36
3) Omer Karaevli (TUR) & Policeman – 0 / 0 – 35.94
Source: Press Release from LGCT – Longines Global Champions Tour
Photos: © LGCT – Longines Global Champions Tour