Saut Hermès au Grand Palais, Sunday 18th March 2012 - "This is the most wonderful victory in my career!" Although the German rider who rides for the Ukrainian team was trying to contain her emotions, her words expressed just how much this first women's win in the Grand Prix Hermès meant.
Katharina Offel (35 years old) never had any genuine chances to express herself at the highest level for her native country (she was born in Cologne where she still lives today). In 2005, she had the opportunity to change nationality which means she can now benefit from invitations to major competitions like the Saut Hermès.
In Germany, there is fierce competition for places alongside the Beerbaums, Kutschers, Ehnings and Ahlmanns. Indeed, Christian Ahlmann believed he could go for the double today, after his victory at the Grand Palais last year, confiding that his horse Taloubet Z was "even stronger than a year ago." "And I hope he will keep this great form until this summer," he added, alluding to the Olympics in London.
However, Katharina, who can also dream of the Olympic Games since she has already qualified individually, was the strongest today. In any event, she showed she was the boldest by going for the 39 hundredths of a second that made the difference: "I have been riding Cathleen for three years and am getting to know her really well. She finished 2nd in the World Cup in Lyon last November, and after that she had a dip in form and I rested her at the end of the year after the World Cup in Mechelen, in Belgium.
This is her first major competition after her outing in Dortmund last week; I think I have managed her programme well. I love the Saut Hermès at the Grand Palais, it's really an exceptional place." After this fantastic exploit, Katharina only had one thing in mind: "to get back home as quickly as possible and give my son a big hug. That will be my way of celebrating this win." All in all, a very wise lady!
Completed results online: http://results.scgvisual.com/2012/hermes/index.html