Die Longines Global Champion Tour ist schon eine ziemlich abgehobene Springserie. Dass mich das finale Turnier zu Saisonende – ausgerechnet in Doha! – doch so bewegt, hat mit der unwahrscheinlich schönen Story dieser elfjährigen Partnerschaft des Schweden Rolf-Göran Bengtsson und seines 17jährigen Hengstes Casall ASK zu tun.
It was a night of dreams and the story of those who never give up, as Rolf-Göran Bengtsson (SWE) and the phenomenal 17 year old stallion Casall ASK claimed both the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Doha win and the prestigious 2016 LGCT Champion of Champions title in a magnificent showdown in Qatar. Describing the Title win as “a dream come true”, Rolf heralded his magnificent horse Casall as “just amazing”, with their 11 year partnership one of the most respected in the world.
His powerful season performance propelled him into pole position in the ranking for the final leg in Doha and Rolf’s victory saw him take the lion’s share of the €1 million bonus prize money as he takes his place on the list of LGCT Champions. On a Tour that saw the world’s top show jumpers visit 15 incredible destinations, kicking off in Miami Beach, and reaching spectacular cities such as Mexico City, Monaco, Shanghai and Rome, it was the culmination of a fantastically consistent season for Rolf and Casall, with the pair taking wins in Valkenswaard and Paris, as well as podium finishes at other stops on the circuit.
The top 18 riders would progress to round two, an impressive 9 of whom were German riders, including the full Olympic team, as well as rising stars Philip Houston (GER) and Andreas Kreuzer (GER). After his masterful first round, Rolf-Göran Bengtsson (SWE) was in pole position and the final rider to go. Laura Kraut (USA) and Zeremonie, World Number 1 Simon Delestre (FRA), Lorenzo de Luca (ITA), Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (GER), Christian Ahlmann (GER), Daniel Deusser (GER), Janne-Freiderike Meyer (GER) and Marco Kutscher (GER) joined Rolf on zero faults and the chance to create a jump-off.
It would be a seven rider jump-off with Rolf and Casall once again in prime position of entering last after another breath-taking display of partnership and trust between horse and rider. The final round, in the final class of what’s been a phenomenal show jumping season belonged to Rolf and Casall. Silence fell as the pair entered the ring, watched on by hundreds of thousands all around the world, through GCT TV, international live broadcast and the Tour’s own Facebook Live.
Jan Tops, Founder and President of Longines Global Champions Tour: “I think Rolf really deserves to be champion of the year. Casall and him have been on the podium many times and coming in as a favourite and winning is amazing.”
Omar Al Mannai, Commercial Manager of AL SHAQAB: “I really congratulate the riders. Rolf has done a great job all through the Tour and now he has confirmed he is champion.”
Rolf-Göran Bengtsson, 2016 LGCT Champion of Champions: “It was an evening you can dream of, but for it to come true you never think it is possible. My horse Casall ASK is just amazing. Still jumping at 17 years.”
Source: Press release LGCT
Photos: © Stefano Grasso / LGCT