German riders take top honours at the Longines Masters of Hong KongBy LE PAN staff - February 15, 2017
It was a good weekend for German show jumpers at the Longines Masters of Hong Kong. Christian Ahlmann riding Caribis Z took top spot in the main event, the Longines Grand Prix, taking home US$400,000 in prize money in the process. Fellow German Ludger Beerbaum and Casello came second, while Austrian Max Kühner placed third on Cornet Kalua.
“What happened was unexpected,” said a surprised Ahlmann. “Caribis is a great horse but he hasn’t jumped that many rounds at this level. It was a tough course today and he did an amazing job. I thought I’d try to see how far we could get, and in the end, we won.”
In the Longines Speed Challenge, another highlight of the three-day event at AsiaWorld Expo, German Daniel Deusser and Happiness van T Paradijs triumphed ahead of Switzerland’s Pius Schwizer on Leonard de la Ferme CH in second and Italy’s Bertram Allen riding Quiet Easy in third.
The Longines Masters of Hong Kong is the third and final leg of the Longines Masters Series, which begins in Los Angeles, visits Paris and concludes in Hong Kong. The three-day event kicked off on February 10 with the Hong Kong Jockey Club Race of the Riders, and concluded with Ahlmann’s victory in the Grand Prix.
Ahlmann is now on track to win the Grand Slam Bonus of €1,000,000, awarded to the winner of three consecutive Grands Prix, with the next two competitions to be held in Los Angeles in September and Paris in December.
For Deusser, victory in the Longines Speed Challenge was his second win of the weekend, after pipping Ahlmann and fellow German Philipp Weishaupt to claim the 5* AsiaWorld-Expo Trophy.
“To be honest [Happiness] easily gets nervous but she is actually a very quick horse,” said Deusser, who took away a total of US$129,600 in prize money. “In the end, she just had a very good day today.”
For some riders, the weekend was a thrilling family affair: Belgian Olivier Philippaerts, aboard H&M Challenge vd Begijnakker Z, took the Hong Kong Tatler Trophy, while his twin brother, Nicola, came in second. Britain’s William Whitaker followed in third place, with legendary rider John Whitaker – his uncle – coming fourth.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club Race of the Riders paired local jockeys and top international show jumpers in a sprint relay. Team Magic, featuring Hong Kong’s Joao ‘Magic’ Moreira and French rider Roger Yves Bost, ultimately beat other pairs to the top prize.
The city’s next generation of equestrians also shared the limelight. Select members of the Jockey Club’s Junior Equestrian Training Squad competed in the inaugural HKJC Junior Challenge, a style competition judged by world-renowned Australian rider Edwina Tops-Alexander. Melinda Ma, riding Cantor de la Pommes, became the first recipient of the award, while Sham Hang-yuk and Baily’s de Lanzelle won the HKJC Junior Trophy.
Between nail-biting equestrian performances, visitors were treated to special performances by ‘horse whisperer’ Santi Serra, choreographed exclusively for the Hong Kong crowd, and Belgium musician Alice on the Roof. Meanwhile, gourmands at the VIP Masters Club were served two-star Michelin cuisine by Belgian chef Yves Mattagne.
The Longines Masters of Hong Kong was attended by more than 25,000 visitors over the three-day weekend. “I can safely say that this has been our best edition yet,” said Christophe Ameeuw, founder and CEO of EEM, creator of the Longines Masters Series.
“Capacity crowds have turned out to marvel at the skills of the world’s greatest show jumpers, as well as to cheer on their own local, up-and-coming equestrian stars. It’s been an incredible three days and we look forward to returning to Hong Kong again in 2018.”
The Longines Masters of Los Angeles is set to take place from August 31 to September 3, 2017, while the Longines Masters of Paris is scheduled for November 30 to December 3, 2017. longinesmasters.com