Christian Ahlmann and his World Cup winning horse Taloubet Z had set the time to beat at 50.48 seconds. Only one other rider was able to master the 320 metre long final course designed by Frank Rothenberger in a faster time: Nick Skelton.
The crowd already gasped as the 54-year-old took the first obstacle, because the British rider literally flew round the course on the “holy green” at the Soers. With a clear round in a time of 49.77 seconds, the number 5 in the world rankings steered his brown stallion to victory in the Prize of Europe. Third place went to the reigning Swiss Champion, Janika Sprunger, with Palloubet D Halong 2 (0/51.29 seconds). 12 pairs from the original field of 55 reached the jump-off over 1.55 metre high obstacles.
Skelton – who won double bronze at the 2011 European Championships in Madrid (team and individual) – revealed that he will also be saddling Big Star at the Olympic Games in London. The self-confessed Warsteiner fan (“I really drink a lot of Warsteiner”) commented that the 9-year-old stallion is an excellent partner and “the best horse I have ever ridden,” and he has great hopes of achieving a good result in London. “Big Star is ambitious and always knows precisely what to do. There is simply nothing he can’t do,” commented Skelton. He also mentioned that he may have been fast in the jump-off of the Warsteiner Prize, but hadn’t taken any unnecessary risks. “Fast, but safe” is the English show-jumper’s motto.
Christian Ahlmann was also satisfied with his result. “Taloubet is in good form,” the 37-year-old said happily. He still is not shure whether he will ride Codex One or Taloubet Z in the Grand Prix of Aachen on Sunday. He had actually planned to ride Codex, but after Taloubet came second in the Warsteiner Prize, everything is up in the air again. “I have a very good alternative,” is how Ahlmann analysed his position – which is also a clear statement to his fellow-competitors.
The copyright-free photo shows a thirsty Nick Skelton and Lothar Menge, Gastronomy Commercial Director of the Warsteiner Brewery, congratulating him.