Under the stunning Viennese lights, the CSI5* Mercedes Benz Championat of Vienna was won by Irish star Denis Lynch, who rode a phenomenally quick round with his bay gelding Abbervail van het Dingeshof. Kent Farrington (USA) took a valiant second place with Willow, and Rolf-Göran Bengtsson (SWE) lined up in 3rd with his grey Clarimo ASK.
With many of the top riders and horses looking in good form, the 1,50 / 1,55m feature class tested the 47 starters in the purpose-built 35m x 90m sand arena as crowds and VIPs watched on from the edge of their seats in this high action competition.
Frank Rothenberger designed a fair but technical course, which allowed the world’s best to flex their muscles ahead of the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Vienna presented by LGT Private Banking. The triple combination caused a few problems in the first round, with the first element off a tight corner catching a few of the riders out. The testing related distance on the far side of the arena caused the most upset, with riders having to push for a long three strides to the final element. With little margin for error, one small mistake in any part of the sequence meant poles would tumble, and indeed many were caught out and unable to progress to the final round.
Local rider Thomas Frühmann (AUT) looked on excellent form with his 19 year old The Sixth Sense as he entered to the cheers of the crowd, which resonated around the City Hall. He looked to be set for a clear until a pole down meant he was unable to progress through to the jump off, much to the groans of the enthusiastic and passionate crowd.
17 combinations went through to the second round, including America’s Jessica Springsteen with Davendy S who set the fastest of the clears in round one. She was joined by the likes of Pénélope Leprevost (FRA) and Ratina d’la Rousserie, Kevin Staut (FRA) and Ayade de Septon Et HDC, Taizo Sugitani (JPN) with Avenzio 3, and local rider Gerfried Puck (AUT) with Bionda 3 to the delight of the crowd.
Frank Rothenberger’s jump off course showcased a galloping track, with plenty of turns to challenge the riders. In all a total of six produced a double clear, after the fast paced round tested the best ahead of tomorrow’s Grand Prix.
Marco Kutscher (GER) was the first to set the pace after a speedy clear round with bay stallion Chaccorina, setting the bar at 37.53s. His compatriot Daniel Deusser (GER) however quickly followed suite and pipped him to the post with the famous Toulago, shaving off a little more time to raise the bar to 36.99s.
As the atmosphere intensified, all eyes turned to Rolf-Göran Bengtsson (SWE) who tightened his lines further still and shaved off time on the corners with his eager grey 12 year old Clarimo ASK to cross the line in 36.90s putting them momentarily in the lead to the cheers of the crowd.
Next to enter was Denis Lynch (IRL), who made his intentions clear right from the bell. He rode a blistering round with Abbervail van het Dingeshof and took out a stride to the last, making it a bold seven strides to the final fence and riding a galloping round to finish in 33.99s, a full three seconds ahead of his closest competitor Rolf.
Others tried but failed to come close to Denis’ exceptional time. Kent Farrington (USA) and Willow made a valiant effort but were approximately a third of a second behind and finished in 34.39s, taking 2nd place overall.
Tomorrow will see the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Vienna presented by LGT Private Banking take place at 18:30 local time. With the top three all in hot contention for the title, it’s set to be an exciting round of action for the 14th leg of the 2015 Championship Tour. For a full broadcast schedule, please click here