As last to go in a six-horse jump-off, Germany’s Marcus Ehning showed everybody how it is supposed to be done when winning the €300,000 Rolex Grand Prix presented by Audi at the Stephex Brussels Masters 2018.
Together with the incredible stallion Comme il faut 5 (Cornet Obolensky x Ramiro), this was Ehning’s second big win of the weekend – the German maestro also went out victorious in Friday’s Grand Prix qualifier presented by Audi and now has the luxury problem of how to drive two new Audis home to Borken, Germany from Brussels, Belgium.
The CSI5* 1.60m Rolex Grand Prix presented by Audi could not have been scripted much better. The second day of September was exceptionally warm for early autumn, and people flocked to watch world class sport at Stephex Stables.
As first to nail a clear, Belgium’s very own Christophe Vanderhasselt on the lovely 10-year-old mare Identity Vitseroel (Air Jordan Z x Darco) set the tone – making the crowds go wild – and the Grand Prix was off to its very best start.
It was no easy course Uliano Vezzani had built for Sunday’s Grand Prix. Big and wide, the first-round track claimed its fair share of victims and in the end only five others out of the 47 in the competition joined Vanderhasselt for the jump-off.
As first to go, Belgium’s sole hope got an unlucky rail down against the clock to eventually finish fifth. “I came a little bit too quick into the double, and that was my mistake,” Vanderhasselt explained about his four faults. “It is always difficult to start as number one in the jump-off, and I wanted to do a quick round.”
Next to go, Sweden’s Douglas Lindelöw put plenty of pressure on those to come when jumping a clear and fast round on the 13-year-old gelding Zacramento (Cardento x Cortus) – crossing the finish line in 44.11 seconds. Following hot on Lindelöw’s heels, USA’s Lauren Hough gave it a good go but was slightly slower on her 15-year-old Waterford (Coolcorron Cool Diamond x Julio Mariner xx) in 44.52 seconds.
It did not go quite according to plan for Ireland’s Denis Lynch, who eventually ended sixth and when Germany and Stephex Stables’ own Daniel Deusser on Calisto Blue (Chacco-Blue x Con Air) could not catch Lindelöw and Hough on the clock, slotting into a temporary third, the door was open for Ehning.
And as expected, Ehning grabbed the opportunity with both hands – producing another breath-taking jump-off for the crowds at the Brussels Stephex Masters with his trademark tighter-than-tight turns and a run only Usain Bolt could have matched to the final Rolex oxer – crossing the timers nearly four seconds ahead of Lindelöw.
“I saw Daniel straight before me, and I thought his round was not at all that slow but he went into third. I had a very good run. From one to two I took a little bit my time but for the rest of the course it was really good. I was pretty much 150 % sure that he would not knock down the last fence because he loves his speed, so I felt quite safe,” Ehning explained about his race to the final Rolex oxer in the jump-off.
“Comme il faut is an incredible horse. He has an unbelievable heart. Like I said he loves this kind of speed, and now he is also so good in his turns,” Ehning said about his winning partner.
“All the best riders are here with their best horses, and I just tried to put a little bit of pressure on the other ones seeing that I was in the beginning,” Lindelöw explained about his tactics. “I think I could have maybe done a round that was one to one-and-a-half seconds quicker, but it still wouldn’t have been enough to beat Marcus. I’m very happy with my horse, and we did two very good rounds.”
Hough was also beaten, but like Lindelöw not at all disappointed. “He is not the quickest horse in the world,” Hough said of her partner Waterford. “I thought I had a good shot to the second last, perhaps I didn’t take every risk to the last fence but I’m thrilled with my result and to be sitting here today. I have been coming here to the Brussels Stephex Masters since the first year, and I think this is one of the best shows there is – it is a real highlight. I think every year, Stephan improves the small details and I am really honoured I get to come to this show.”
Stephan Conter, Event President, was pleased with the fifth edition of the Brussels Stephex Masters and said: “I would like to thank our sponsors, and these amazing riders for coming here – we are so lucky to have all the best in the world at our show!”
Welcoming more than 50,000 visitors to the Brussels Stephex Masters this week, Conter said: “The riders have given us unbelievable sport, and for me this is what it is all about. The crowds follow the riders, they cheer for them all the way, they are so enthusiastic – and the riders give their everything back. This is how I prefer it.”
“It would be impossible to organize a show like this without sponsors such as Rolex and Audi. We are so grateful for their support, and it is fantastic to have them with us. Also, I would like to thank my team – without them it would be nothing!” concluded Conter.
See full results here:
A master class by Marcus Ehning in the CSI5* Rolex Grand Prix presented by Audi: