Philipp Weishaupt was saluted for his brave and daring jump off round as he clinched his first Global Champions Tour Grand Prix win in Estoril tonight.
The 26-year-old German pulled off a brilliant clear on Leoville in an unbeatable time of 44.96 which his boss Ludger Beerbaum described as a triumph of “youth over age”. Great Britain’s Michael Whitaker was second on Viking in 45.65 and Ludger on Chaman came in third in 47.46 in a vintage jump off on the eighth leg of the GCT 2012 series.
Weishaupt took a smart inside turn after the second fence, the Cascais wall, and was seriously lucky at the Massimo Dutti fence when the rail held and allowed him to go flat out over the final part of the course.
Edwina Tops-Alexander remains overall GCT ranking leader and, despite four faults in the second round today, she has extended her lead further to 189 points - a whopping 68 ahead of her nearest rival Denis Lynch.
The climax of the GCT Estoril took place under floodlights in an electric atmosphere in the chic Cascais resort on the Atlantic coast. The footing on the new grass surface was widely praised as the “best ever” by riders including Whitaker and Beerbaum.
It was a breakthrough Grand Prix for leading Saudi rider Kamal Bahamdan, who will be going to the Olympic Games in London in only a few weeks. Kamal, riding Noblesse des Tess, the bay mare by Cumano, took some courageous risks in a brilliantly executed round with a blistering finish over the final GCT fence in 48.98 and fourth place.
It was a feast of world class show jumping for the crowds packed into extended spectator stands as 20 riders went clear in the first round, more than usual, despite the big challenging course. In the second round there were only six clears, including Christian Ahlmann, but a number of riders fell into the trap set by course designer Frank Rothenberger when they knocked a brick out of the high Cascais wall, which had risen 10cms. Denis Lynch, Gregory Wathelet, Roger-Yves Bost were among the casualties. Other riders who did not make it through to the jump off included Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum who was caught out at the Jaeger-LeCoultre oxer and the GCT triple.
(Photo credits: Sportfot/GCT)
Philipp Weishaupt was asked if he was in trouble for beating his boss and said: “I am happy to beat Ludger once in a while. It is not easy to beat Ludger but it is even better when we are both on the podium.
Asked about his horse Leoville, the 12-year-old bay stallion by Landor S, he said: “I have used him more as a speed horse in the last few years, but he has come better the whole year and I felt really comfortable and that is why I brought him here for the Grand Prix.
Michael Whitaker, the British show jumping legend, showed off a master class in the sport in his first and second rounds. Despite an ultra fast start in the jump off he was unable to beat Philipp’s time at the last fence.
He joked: “I checked him at the last, maybe I chickened out.”
On the grass surface he said: “It is the best outdoor surface I have jumped on this year, ever. It is absolutely top.”
Ludger Beerbaum said of his third place, the first on the GCT podium this year, “I am really happy at the way my horse jumped. It was a little bit of youth against age and Philipp got it. He did really go and you have to be really brave to do that. He tried everything and really deserved to win. Philipp is selected for the Olympic team and won some really good Grand Prix this year with Monte Bellini. He is not just a good rider but also a winner. I am sure it won’t be his last.” Ludger admitted he was unlikely to make it into the top five of the GCT ranking this season despite coming second to Edwina last year.
Edwina Tops-Alexander, still top of the GCT ranking after eight shows in the 2012 GCT series so far, praised her horse Ego Van Orti who jumped an impressive debut Grand Prix. She said: “I didn’t decided until yesterday which horse I was going to ride but we made the right choice. He is in great shape and has a lot of potential.”
Estoril show organiser and GCT partner Duarte Guedes said: “It is fantastic. I took the advice to change the surface and I am very happy at what everyone has said about it.” This is the seventh GCT here. We started very small and each year we make improvements and something new. This event has become one of the classics of sport in Portugal, it is very important here.”
GCT President Jan Tops said: “We can see everything has improved here. With a partner like Duarte, he thinks about the horses, about the sport. He knows what it takes and he does many events outside horse sport. He is a great friend and a quiet achiever.”
Marta Torres Jaeger-LeCoultre, GCT’s official partner and timekeeper, spoke of the natural connection between the luxury watchmaker and elite show jumping. She said: “It is a perfect match, the craftmanship, precision and innovation of equestrian sport and a watch brand like Jaeger-LeCoultre.”